After the first British car was built by Daimler in 1897, Coventry’s manufacturing industry grew until it reached a peak in the 1950s and 60s. At this stage, the UK was the second-biggest carmaker in the world and a host of the major companies were based in and or around Coventry, including the British Motor Corporation (maker of the Mini), Jaguar and Rootes Group, which later became part of Chrysler and then Peugeot. During this period, the average wage in Coventry was about 25% higher than the rest of the county.
However, as the car industry fell into decline, so did Coventry, providing Britain with a similar story to the downfall of Detroit in the US, albeit on a smaller scale. In the late 1970s and early 1980s it is estimated that the top 15 employers in Coventry cut their combined workforce by almost half. Today, the only significant car production in Coventry is of London’s black cabs, made by the Chinese-owned London Taxi Company. Jaguar closed its Browns Lane plant in 2005.