This work offers a non-technical account of the rise and decline of one of the the most vital trades of the 20th century. It traces how the industry passed through a number of phases, dependent upon the evolution of technology and upon the vagaries of the world economy. The story is taken back to the beginnings of the motor car so as to appraise the judgement of a number of writers that the seeds of the collapse of the 1970s were planted many years earlier. Labour relations and management are analyzed, as is the impact of government policy. Particular attention is paid to national demand conditions and to demand shocks as formative influences.