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Sydney Miller and Southern Organs


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#1 ian senior

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Posted 17 November 2003 - 15:50

This man and his company sponsored almost everything that moved in British national racing in the mid 1970s. He then did a Dexy ( a midnight runner), leaving lots of people high and dry and there were warrants issued for his arrest. Was he ever brought to trial, and what happened?

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#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 17 November 2003 - 16:14

A bit of work on the BB search brought up this link, posted by 2F-001 some time back

http://www.vigil-pro....com/organs.htm

(This page should win a "Difficult to read due to a lousy choice of text and background colours" award :rolleyes: )

#3 Mallory Dan

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Posted 17 November 2003 - 16:41

Very interesting, I remember this well, I think there was a TV documentary about Miller many years ago. IIRC not only did Southern Organs sponsor racing, but also 'Miller Organs' and 'National Organs'. Were any TNFers in receipt of sponsorship from Mr Miller, and if so did you get paid?? Also who was Jeff Green, a driver mentioned in that piece.

For a time Ian's right, it seemed that every championship and driver had a Miller connexion. Didn't he sponsor David Morgan's F1 Surtees drive at Silverstone in 1975 ?

#4 RTH

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Posted 17 November 2003 - 16:53

Quite right Dan, I remember the documentary, it was a phoney leasing finance racket with apparent monster sales of Church organs, he seemed to sponsor just about everyone and everything at that time - not so difficult when its not your money ! Even that report seems to read like a work of fiction - with' Herr Flick ' in charge of the case !

Some pretty extraordinary people seem to be attracted to motor racing.

#5 Vitesse2

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Posted 18 August 2005 - 23:03

Looks like that link no longer works. :rolleyes:

In the latest Motor Sport, Dave Morgan recalls his only F1 start, sponsored by Southern Organs, as Dan remembered. He seems to think that Southern were undone by some sort of new luxury goods tax: considering we'd had VAT in place as the only tax on goods sold by retail since 1973, that seems a rather spurious memory!

#6 EDWARD FITZGERALD

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 08:13

I RECALL HE WAS HIDING OUT IN THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS , I THINK THE TV PROG INTIMATED THAT MANY DRIVERS ENDED UP AS ORGAN OWNERS ( THOUGH THEY DIDNT KNOW IT ).

#7 2F-001

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 09:43

I think we've discussed "Organs" at some length before, so a search through old posts might yield something.
I seem to remember that the story was further enlivened by a complex police hunt for the perpetrators and the involvemnt of a 'psychic detective'!

#8 Mike Lawrence

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 00:55

Sydney Miller and Southern Organs spread themselves around. They had branch in my home-town (Chicheter) and I could not understand how they stayed in business. Selling (musical) organs is not an obvious way of making a lot of money, and Miller was sponsoring everything in sight,

It was all going to end in tears and Miller and his partner organised a barbecue, a helicopter came down and carried them them off. They were later found on an otherwise uninhabited Scotch island and were glad to have neen found.

I had supper with Dave Morgan in 1987 and he had visited Miller in prison (Coventry if memory serves me). Apparently Sydney was the most popular guy in the nick, everyone loved him, inmates, screws, everyone. That was Miller's story on visiiting day., I cannot back it, but sounds right for a con man. Dave Morgan would not say a bad thing about Miller even though he had underwitten an hp deal on one of Miller's organs and it left him broke and out of motor racing.

If only I had been born with more charm and fewer scrupels...

#9 roger_valentine

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 04:52

He seems to think that Southern were undone by some sort of new luxury goods tax: considering we'd had VAT in place as the only tax on goods sold by retail since 1973, that seems a rather spurious memory!

Maybe not so spurious. VAT was introduced in 1973 at a rate of 10%, but at some time in the 70s (I don't have the exact date to hand) this was REDUCED to 8% for 'standard' goods and INCREASED to 25% for 'luxury' goods (and 12.5% for, I think, 'white' goods).

I recall that the 25% rate had a serious effect on many luxury goods suppliers.

#10 Vitesse2

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 12:25

My mistake :blush: I remembered the cut from 10% (I was working for WH Smith at the time and we spent a whole Sunday repricing the entire VAT-applicable stock!), but I'd forgotten the luxury rate.

It was actually two separate changes though: basic rate to 8% on July 29th 1974, 25% rate introduced April 15th 1975. But I think Miller used that as an excuse rather than it being the reason.

For those who fancy a really depressing read, browse through the 1970s entries on this page: Key economic events 1955-79. Some painful memories there .... :

#11 Bonde

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 21:14

...'tseems everything must be considered a luxury in Denmark since we have 25% VAT on everything, plus various other taxes. For instance, a car is first taxed at 180% - and then the 25% VAT is added :eek: . Little wonder you don't see that many decent cars here - and they won't let you build your own either... :mad: :cry:

#12 ian senior

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 10:16

Originally posted by Bonde
...'tseems everything must be considered a luxury in Denmark since we have 25% VAT on everything, plus various other taxes. For instance, a car is first taxed at 180% - and then the 25% VAT is added :eek: . Little wonder you don't see that many decent cars here - and they won't let you build your own either... :mad: :cry:


I heard about this attitude by succesive Danish govenments a long time ago and it baffles me completely. Are they so anti-car? Just how does yer average Dane manage to cope with this? I seem to remember that anyone selling cars in Denmark has to provide really low specifications on all models to keep the retail price just about manageable. And I honestly can't think of any Danish-made cars, apart from the Sommer Joker.

#13 Bonde

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 13:19

Ian,

I think it's called 'cognitive dissonance'. Danish society would break its back if we banned cars overnight - even the politicians and the most ardent anti-car lobbyists know that.

Danish sentiment is very much based on envy - it's part and parcel of distributing wealth more equally than in most other countries, which, of course has a lot of good things to commend it.

From the dawn of motoring, cars have been regarded as something of a luxury, a toy of the elite, which was true - a long time ago. Thus, cars have always been taxed heavily, and especially after WWII when there were severe restriction on imported goods in order to limit foreign currency use. However, it bites itself in the tail, doesn't it? By taxing cars out of reach of Joe Average, only the elite can afford them - oh, the logic of politicians. Still, even though scorning anything elitist, Danes still want to be like the elite. So most people take out big mortgage loans (often on the real estate) to buy the cars they, like everyone else, desire. So they borrow the money.

Not having an automobile industry as such, import of (the necessary) cars could be considered detrimental to Denmark's balance of payment. However, successive Danish Treasures have repeatedly admitted that cars are instead, in fact, a boon to the balance of payments and balance of trade: Since Danes pay for three cars every time they buy one, they deposit a vast amount of money in the state coffers - money that then cannot be spent on importing other goods or services. Motorists pay much more than they cost society here, no matter what way you calculate it. Danish car owners should be thanked - not scorned!

And not having an automobile industry obviously also means that Danish motor racing has always fought with one hand tied behind its back - note that the big Danish names in racing have made their mark abroad, hardly in Denmark.

Cars have been produced in Denmark by a number of smaller companies prior to WWII, but never in great number, and generally with imported engines - we are a small country, and with the anti-automobile sentiment endorsed by successive governments, it is little wonder a motor industry never flourished here. There have been assembly plants for imported cars until around 1970 IIRC (I've visited the GM assemblyplant i Copenhagen way back when), and numerous coachbuilders, but no serious attempt at indigenous (sp?) a Danish car industry have been made after WWII. The rugged 'Nimbus' motorcycle survived from the twenties to the late fifties, and were used by the police and postal services for decades. There is today, however, a fairly healthy subcontract and component industry for auto manufacturers Word-Wide, bringing in a lot of export revenue.

Not finding Denmark a conducive society to their aspirations, some Danes have made automotive history outside of Denmark, notably Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen who founded DKW, which was the mainstay of Auto-Union and thus provided the basis for today's Audi marque (I like to think of DKW and Audi as the closest you get to a Danish auto make ;)), and William S. Knudsen, who was head of GM in the thirties, IIRC. There's also Henrik Fisker, who's been chief stylist at AM-Lagonda, BMW and Ford, I think.

I myself did my automotive 'apprenticeship' in the UK, with Delta Race Cars in Hove in 1983 (they folded shortly afterwards, so we'll leave the cause to speculation)...

Anyway, end of Off-Topic rant...

PS: There is one advantage to keeping cars in check here: We tend to get less traffic congestion and polution than a lot of other places...except we have a lot of older, "un-clean" and "non-crashworthy" cars.