When the British first perfected the art of unreliability aided by the likes of Joseph Lucas "Prince of Darkness", even broadcast radio was just a gleem in Marconi's eye.
I would rather believe that it was an unspoken contest between all the designers and engineers and the builders, the builders being out to prove how many pieces were unnecessary. Most British vehicles, especially motorcycles can arrive at their destination with about 20 percent of their parts malfunctioning or missing, while still running perfectly, well, running anyway. Thus proving that the missing parts were not needed. Unfortunately, their overzealousness would often result in a necessary part falling off or failing, hence the well earned reputation of British machinery in general.
Another direct result of this contest was the inability to progress technically. Any new ideas from the designers and engineers resulted in the builders immediately applying their expertise to prove that this advance was unnecessary. Thus it can be seen that the British motorcycle and car manufacturing industries travelled an unavoidable road to ruin, as each technological advance was accompanied by an equivalent decrease in reliability.
Having said all that, I know a guy with a couple of Morris Minors composting in his garage in Lansing, MI. Interested? : )