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Honda Civic - The Car That Made Swindon Proud Again

Aug 26, 2008
I'm from Bristol a city with a proud heritage albeit with the notable exception of the slave trade. One of the things we Bristolians do possess is a bit of a mischievous sense of humour which often involves taking the mickey out of surrounding towns. Unfortunately Swindon has long been the recipient of a lot of remarks although in fairness they have often been made by people who are actually from the town, most notably Mark Lamarr.

I guess its a bit like when you are running down a member of your family and if your partner joins in you rush to the family member's defence arguing that its ok for you to criticise them but no-one else. Having said that I have been to Swindon on a number of occasions and I have to agree with the sentiments expressed by Andy Partridge the former lead singer of Swindon band XTC. You'll have to look these up for yourself.

Despite the amount of criticism Swindon has received, a fair amount of celebrities and stars including the late actress Diana Dors were born there. Who can forget the likes of Melinda Messenger who proved she had hidden talents whilst working at a local Direct Mail company before going on to more dubious fame.

Swindon has a strong railway tradition and was chosen by Isambard Brunel as the location for his Great Western Railway (GWR) works. Part of the site still remains and is the home of the steam railway museum.

Since the demise of the railways and the overall decline in British manufacturing industry Swindon became a centre of commerce with a lot of financial companies relocating from London to provincial towns and cities in order to reduce costs. As a result Swindon became a boom town in the eighties and nineties and even attempted to boost its importance by applying for City status. Unfortunately this proved to be unsuccessful but Swindon did succeed in drawing manufacturing back in the form of Honda.

This was a real coup for the area and for Britain as a whole which didn't have the best reputation when it came to car manufacturing. We seem to be able to build some of the best cars in the world when it comes to hand crafting luxury or sports models for the rich and famous. When it comes to knocking out utilitarian vehicles for the masses you could guarantee production would last for about half an hour before some kind of industrial dispute would develop.

Honda took a big risk then and entrusted the manufacture of its successful Civic model which had been selling well since 1973 believe it or not. Honda had a brief encounter with Triumph who were part of British Leyland and some pretty ropey cars briefly appeared badged as Triumph and then Rover. Since then two million cars have rolled off the production line at Swindon including about a million Civics.

I must admit that personally I wasn't a big fan of the Civic especially since the time I arrived back to a car park to find a collection of intellectually challenged young men attempting to remove the spoiler from the roof of my Mitsubishi Colt. They were then proposing to attach it somehow to their Honda Civic although as the spoiler was bolted to the roof they just succeeded in causing about 500 worth of damage to my car.

I have since recovered from this and must say that the latest version of the Civic and come to think of it the one before are very stylish cars.

I do still find it intriguing that the appeal of the Civic seems to be divided between those in their twenties and people above retirement age. Honda is no doubt aware of this but even the retro triangular designs of the latest Civic seem to work for young and old. The Civic shows no sign of losing its appeal though and long may it continue. There is no doubt that the Honda plant in Swindon has contributed significantly to the prosperity of the town.
About the Author
Jon Barlow talks about the Honda plant in Swindon UK famous for production of the Honda Civic which can also be found at Bristol Honda
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