Four 'different' 1976-1977 Dutch and Flemish brochures


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by Eric Kieboom &
Jacob Poortstra
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These are four brochures that look the same, but aren't. At first we thought there were only two different versions, with their texts aimed at the Dutch and Flemish (Belgian) markets. At first glance, both had the same pictures, all taken in Italy, but on closer inspection, all the photographs were very slightly different. The situations, people, backgrounds and even the Italian number plates on the car were all exactly the same, but it was clear that somehow the pictures had been taken at different moments. We spent years wondering why, even asking the visitors to this website to give us a clue.

Then, while comparing brochures after returning from a classic car show with two more versions that differed only in text, number and back cover, it suddenly dawned on us: they were different brochures for different cars! One was for pre-1977 cars and the other was for cars built after March 1977.
In March 1977, the Triumph Spitfire 1500 underwent a midlife update: from then on, some parts that had previously been chromed were black, like window wipers, mirrors and door handles. At the same time, the seat covers were changed from all vinyl to vinyl and 'Houndstooth cloth' and the steering column switchgear was changed from the old type that was also used in the TR4, TR5, TR6 and Herald to the more modern TR7 type. Post '77 Euro-spec Spitfires also came with cigarette lighters, square instead of round windscreen washer bottles and a radiator fan with more vanes than before.

This remarkable finding means that in 1975 or '76 British Leyland must have taken two Triumph Spitfires to Italy to be photographed: a regular production car and a pre-production, post-March 1977 Spitfire of exactly the same colour and spec, but with all the different details as mentioned! Each car was photographed in exactly the same position, with exactly the same number plates and background and the same people in roughly the same stances.

Note the covers: on the left two brochures, the man is standing on the driver's side sill of the car, leaning over the hardtop towards the girl. On the later brochures on the right, the man is standing next to the car and the girl on the other side, leaning his elbow on the hardtop. The car in the early brochures has small side repeaters on the bonnet which were not standard for all markets. These repeaters are not on the later car.

These are the first spreads of the four brochures. The first brochure is aimed at the Dutch market and has a fairly well written story about two young people who are brought together by a Spitfire. The second brochure has less well written text aimed at the Flemish market. The last two brochures have exactly the same, 'universal text', which is different from the first two.
Note how even the one picture on this spread that doesn't have a car in it still differs slightly! Why? The BL marketing department only knows.
This is the second spread, with some nice detail pictures of the interior, exterior and engine bay, showing the slight differences between pre- and post-March 1977 cars. Note how the green direction indicator light on the dashboard changed position from the left to below the hazard switch...
The last spread is just a single, grainy photograph of an Italian family partying. It looks as though in the first picture they are happier than in the second. Perhaps they were tired of smiling/laughing by the time the car had been changed? Who's to say after thirty years?
When it comes to the back cover, all four brochures are clearly different. The first two both carry the same number 'BLI 43', even though the texts inside are different. The second brochure, the one aimed at the Belgian market, has the address of 'N.V. British Leyland Belgium S.A.' added on the back. The logo also differs slightly from the first brochure.
After noticing how the BL marketing department went to great pains to have different cars and different pictures in early and late brochures, it's somewhat of a surprise to find exactly the same picture on the back of the third brochure as on the first two. We expected a different picture with a different car on the back of the third (and perhaps the fourht) brochure, but somebody decided to use the same pic.
The third and fourth brochure carry the numbers 'BLI 43A' and 'BLI 43B' respectively. Their back covers also carry different logo's: the third still sports the BL logo, while the (most probably later) fourth brochure only show the Triumph wreath logo. Perhaps by that time the British Leyland company was ashamed of its 'name'?
This is the inlay that came with our third brochure, but it's clearly meant for the Flemish market and should probably have been in an earlier brochure, as it mentions Vinyl seat covers ('kunstleder'). It covers all technical details of the car. There was probably a different inlay for the earlier Dutch brochure and the two later brochures, but we don't have them. Yet.

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