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March 2015

My name is Gillian Bardsley and I am the BMIHT Archivist.

The document I have chosen is a simple vehicle build card from the Longbridge factory, something that would usually not survive the production process. It records the specification of an individual vehicle and all of the equipment which should be fitted. The card would be attached to the bonnet as a bodyshell entered the Car Assembly Building (CAB) and travel with the vehicle through the final assembly process to the end of the line where it would be consigned to the bin, being considered of no further use. 

Why This Document?

I have chosen this document because it is a poignant reminder of the progress of the last Rover 75, which made its journey through the Longbridge CAB almost ten years ago during the summer of 2005. Following the collapse of MG Rover Group, the administrators decided to retain a small workforce to finish a small group of vehicles which were sufficiently advanced through the system. This build card accompanied the last vehicle to make it into the assembly hall on 8 April, the day of the collapse. Normally it would take around eight hours to complete the build process and reach the end of the line, but because the automated systems and robots could not handle such a small volume of production (less than 100 cars) it took three months of hand-building to complete the final set of vehicles.

This card stayed on the vehicle throughout that time, ensuring that it was assembled to the standard of a Connoisseur SE pack, one of the highest specifications available in 2005. Details included Firefrost Red metallic paint with Ash and Sandstone leather trim, Xenon lamps, an electric sunroof, air-conditioning, heated seats with electronic controls, heated washer jets, rain sensors, smartnav audio, cruise control and parking aids.

Instead of discarding the card at the end of the line, the remaining workers saved it and ensured that it passed, with the last Rover itself, into the hands of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust which purchased the vehicle for permanent display at the end of 2005.

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The Archive, at the British Motor Museum, preserves and provides access to documents, images and film that record the work and achievements of the people who were employed in the British motor industry

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