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Austin 1300 GT

The BMC ADO16 ("Austin Drawing Office project #16") is a family of small family cars built by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and, later, British Leyland. It was launched in 1962 and for the rest of that decade the ADO16 was consistently the UK's best-selling car.

Although most of the cars were manufactured in England, they were also built in Spain by Authi, in Italy by Innocenti and at the company's own plant in Belgium. It was the basis for locally adapted similar cars manufactured in Australia and South Africa.

The vehicle was launched as the Morris 1100 on 15 August 1962. The range was expanded to include several rebadged versions, including the twin-carburettor MG 1100, the Vanden Plas Princess (from October 1962), the Austin 1100 (August 1963), and finally the Wolseley 1100 (1965) and Riley Kestrel (1965). The Morris badged 1100/1300 gave up its showroom space to the Morris Marina in 1971, but Austin and Vanden Plas versions remained in production in the UK till June 1974.

The estate version followed in 1966, called Countryman in the Austin version and Traveller in the Morris one, continuing the established naming scheme. The Austin 1100 Countryman appeared in the legendary "Gourmet Night" episode of Fawlty Towers, in which short tempered owner of Fawlty Towers Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) gave it a "damn good thrashing". This episode was first shown in October 1975.

In 1964 the 1100 was Wheels magazine's Car of the Year.

Design and development[]

The ADO16 (Austin Drawing Office project number 16) was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis. Following his success with the Mini, Issigonis set out to design a larger and more sophisticated car which incorporated even more advanced features and innovations. In common with the Mini, the ADO16 was designed around the BMC A-Series engine, mounted transversely and driving the front wheels. As well as single piston swinging caliper disc brakes at the front, which were not common on mass-produced cars in the early 1960s, the suspension system used was the Hydrolastic interconnected fluid system designed by Alex Moulton. The mechanically interconnected Citroën 2CV suspension was assessed in the mid-1950s by Alec Issigonis and Alex Moulton (according to an interview by Moulton with CAR magazine in the late 1990s), and was an inspiration in the design of the Hydrolastic suspension system for the Mini and Austin 1100, to try to keep the benefits of the 2CV system (ride comfort, body levelling, keeping the roadwheel under good control and the tyre in contact with the road), but with added roll stiffness that the 2CV was very much lacking. Pininfarina, the Italian styling studio which had worked with BMC before on the Austin A40 Farina, were asked to do the styling. It was a masterpiece of packaging having comparable interior space to the much larger Ford Cortina.

Mark I (1962–1967)[]

The original Mark I models were distinctive for their use of a Hydrolastic suspension. Marketing material highlighted the spacious cabin when compared to competitor models which in the UK by 1964 included the more conservatively configured Ford Anglia, Vauxhall Viva HA and BMC's own still popular Morris Minor.

The Mark I Austin / Morris 1100 was available, initially, only as a four-door saloon. In March 1966 a three-door station wagon became available, badged as the Morris 1100 Traveller or the Austin 1100 Countryman. Domestic market customers looking for a two-door saloon would have to await the arrival in 1967 of the Mark II version, although the two-door 1100 saloon had by now been introduced to certain oversea markets, including the USA where a 2-door MG 1100 was offered.

An Automotive Products (AP) four-speed automatic transmission was added as an option in November 1965. In order to avoid the serious levels of power loss then typical in small-engined cars with automatic transmission the manufacturers incorporated a new carburettor and a higher compression ratio in the new 1965 automatic transmission cars: indeed a press report of the time found very little power loss in the automatic 1100, though the same report expressed the suspicion that this might in part reflect the unusually high level of power loss resulting from the way in which the installation of the transversely mounted "normal" manual gear box had been engineered.

Mark II (1967–1971)[]

At the end of May 1967, BMC announced the fitting of a larger 1275 cc engine to the MG, Riley Kestrel, Vanden Plas and Wolseley variants. The new car combined the 1275 cc engine block already familiar to drivers of newer Mini Cooper and Austin-Healey Sprite models with the 1100 transmission, its gear ratios remaining unchanged for the larger engine, but the final-drive being significantly more highly geared.

The Mark II versions of the Austin and Morris models were announced, with the larger engine making it into these two makes' UK market ranges in October 1967 (as the Austin 1300 and Morris 1300). An 1100 version of the Mark II continued alongside the larger-engined models.

Unusually for cars at this end of the market, domestic market waiting lists of several months accumulated for the 1300-engined cars during the closing months of 1967 and well into 1968. The manufacturers explained that following the devaluation of the British Pound in the Fall / Autumn of 1967 they were working flat out to satisfy export market demand, but impatient British would-be customers could be reassured that export sales of the 1300s were "going very well". MG, Wolseley, Riley and Vanden Plas variants with the 1300 engines were already available on the home market in very limited quantities, and Austin and Morris versions would begin to be "available here in small quantities in March 1968".

On the outside, a slightly wider front grille, extending a little beneath the headlights, and with a fussier detailing, differentiated Austin / Morris Mark IIs from their Mark I predecessors, along with a slightly smoother tail light fitting which also found its way onto the FX4 London taxi of the time. Austin and Morris grilles were now identical. The 1100 had been introduced with synchromesh on the top three ratios: all synchromesh manual gearboxes were introduced with the 1275 cc models at the end of 1967 and found their way into 1098 cc cars a few months later.

Mark II versions of the MG, Riley, Vanden Plas and Wolseley were introduced in October 1968, at which time Riley abandoned the Kestrel name. The Riley 1300 Mark II was cancelled in July 1969, and was the last Riley.

At the London Motor Show in October 1969 the manufacturers introduced the Austin / Morris 1300 GT, featuring the same 1275 cc twin carburetter engine as that installed in the MG 1300, but with a black full width grill, a black vinyl roof and a thick black stripe down the side. This was BMC's answer to the Ford Escort GT and its Vauxhall counterpart. Ride height on the Austin / Morris 1300 GT was fractionally lowered through the reduction of the Hydrolastic fluid pressure from 225 to 205 psi.

During 1970, despite being fundamentally little changed since the introduction of the Morris 1100 in 1962, the Austin/Morris 1100/1300 retained its position as Britain's top selling car, with 132,965 vehicles registered as against 123,025 for the Ford Cortina, in that year entering its third incarnation. By the time the two millionth ADO16 was produced, at the end of June 1971, the Morris badged version of the car had been withdrawn in order to create space in the range and in the showrooms for the Morris Marina. 1970 turned out to be the 1100/1300's last year at the top of the UK charts.

Mark III (1971–1974)[]

The Mark III models were introduced in September 1971. At the launch of the Morris 1100 in 1962 the manufacturer stated that they intended for the ADO16 models to remain in production for at least ten years, which despite BMC's vicissitudes through the 1960s turned out to be reasonably prescient. The range was gradually reduced, with the MG 1300 dropped in 1971 and the Wolseley 1300 in 1973. The final British ADO16, a Vanden Plas Princess 1300, left the factory on 19 June 1974. The ADO16 was replaced by the Austin Allegro and its Vanden Plas 1500 counterpart. By this time, its original rival, the Ford Cortina, had already grown larger, putting ADO16 into the small, rather than medium-sized class.

ADO16 timeline[]

March 1962: The first Morris 1100 and MG 1100 cars were produced at Cowley.

15 August 1962: Launch of the Morris 1100 four-door saloon in Britain. Two-door saloon for export only.

August 1962: The Morris 1100 was exported to Denmark where it went on sale as the Morris Marina. It was initially a slow seller due to a new tax regime that had been introduced in Denmark.

2 October 1962: Launch of the MG 1100 four-door saloon in Britain. Like the Morris 1100, the two-door saloon was reserved for export only. The MG 1100 had a more powerful 55 bhp (41 kW) twin carburettor version of the A Series engine and a more luxurious interior.

November 1962: Both models now have rear mud flaps.

January 1963: Danish sales for the Morris Marina begin to improve.

April 1963: Introduction of the Innocenti IM3. This was an ADO16 assembled on the northern side of Milan, with different front end styling, petrol flap, different bumpers and higher quality interior trim. "IM" was short for "Innocenti-Morris", though the alternative initials "JM" were often used, reflecting those writing styles in which a long 'i' and 'j' can become indistinguishable. The '3' resulted from this being the third BMC model adapted and assembled in Italy by Innocenti.

September 1963: Introduction of the Austin 1100, similar to the Morris 1100 but with the traditional 8 wavy bar grille with Austin coat of arms on the bonnet and different interior trim and dashboard.

October 1963: Introduction of the Vanden Plas 1100. It was the top of the range model with walnut-veneer dashboard, door cappings, picnic tables in the back of the front seats, Connolly Leather hide upholstery, Wilton carpets and West of England cloth headlining.

October 1963: All models had the windscreen washer bottle relocated to prevent it from freezing up.

November 1963: Carpets were replaced by rubber mats.

17 February 1964: Launch of the Morris 1100 in Australia. It had a total of thirty-seven different modifications to make it suitable for Australian terrain, including a modified interior for greater comfort. A bench front seat was fitted, with the handbrake moved to a position between the driver's side of the seat and the door. A long, bent gear lever was used to clear the middle of the seat. Externally, over-riders were fitted to both the front and rear bumper bars and, as an optional extra, a solid or metal mesh sun visor could be fitted to the top windscreen arch to help "protect the front seat occupants from eye strain caused by direct sun rays." Another optional extra was a metal vertically slatted "Venetian Shade" which could be fitted internally to the back window. This was intended to prevent the interior becoming too hot.

September 1964: Revisions: all models have diaphragm spring clutch, improved heater, crush-style sun visors and plastic-framed rear-view mirror.

1964 (12–22 March): Introduction of the Innocenti J4 at the Torino Motor Show. The front end styling was very similar to the Morris 1100 sold in the UK. It was fitted with the straight eight bar grille, and similar side lamps, but with clear lenses.

Late 1964/early 1965: Launch of the MG Princess in the USA. 154 cars were sold.

January 1965: Introduction of the Crayford estate conversions of the ADO16.

September 1965: Introduction of the Wolseley 1100 and Riley Kestrel, both of which were mechanically similar to the MG 1100. The Wolseley had a strip speedometer, while the Riley Kestrel had round dials and a rev counter.

October 1965: Optional four-speed automatic transmission available on the Austin and Morris versions.

Late 1965: Introduction of the Mystique conversion by Creech Motors in Somerset.

March 1966: Morris 1100 Traveller and Austin 1100 Countryman launched at the Geneva Motor Show.

May 1966: Reclining front seats become available on all 1100s. When specified on the Traveller and Countryman the interior could be converted into a double bed as pictured.

July 1966: The Innocenti IM3S launched. The model lost over-riders, and was fitted with a different grille.

Mid-1966: Longbridge had developed a hatchback version of the Australian Morris 1500 known as the Nomad. This model would be launched in Australia in June 1969, but would be never sold in the UK.

September 1966: Morris 1100 production begins in Spain, using interior supplied from Innocenti.

Early 1967: 264 MG 1100 two-door saloons were sent to Ireland in CKD form.

May 1967: Introduction of the Austin 1100 Countryman and Morris 1100 Traveller in South Africa.

June 1967: The 1275 cc engine became an optional extra on the MG, Riley, Vanden Plas and Wolseley versions, in single carburettor 58 bhp (43 kW) form. These models were specifically badged up using the 1275 cc badging.

Summer 1967: End of American sales of MG 1100. The Austin 1100 would be used as a place holder until the Austin America in 1968. The Austin 1100 featured a single large speedometer fitted in the centre of dashboard, similar to that fitted in De Luxe versions of the Morris / Austin 1100 Mark II and 1300.

August 1967: Launch of the Morris 1100 S in Australia, with the 1275 cc engine.

October 1967: Launch of the 1100 Mark II models, with cropped rear fins (saloon models only), ventilated wheels, indicator side repeater lamps fitted to the front wings. A revised interior was also fitted. Austin and Morris versions had revised styling at the front end being fitted with a wider grille. Austin and Morris badges were relocated from the bonnet to the grille. Morris model now fitted with black crackle dashboard similar to the Austin. Rocker switches fitted instead of toggle switches on both models. Estate versions gain a simulated wood effect side trim. Still have Mark I styling at the rear. Introduction of the 1300 models, similar to the 1100 Mark II but with 1275 cc, 58 bhp (43 kW) engine and different front grilles. Morris, Austin and MG 1300 available in two- and four-door, while the Riley, Vanden Plas and Wolseley continued in four-door. MG, Riley, Vanden Plas, Wolseley models were available with automatic transmission. Jensen convertible shown at the London Motor show. It was based around an Austin 1100 Countryman.

June 1968: without any formal announcement, it transpired that a more powerful twin carburettor version of BMC's 1,275 cc engine had found its way into manual gearbox versions of the MG, Riley, Wolseley and Vanden Plas models: automatic transmission versions retained the single carburettor engine.

June 1969: Australian Morris 1100 production ended, being replaced by the Morris 1500 and Morris Nomad. Nearly 90,000 had been built, all at the BMC Zetland, New South Wales factory.

May 1973: Launch of the Austin Allegro, replacement for the AD016 models, in the United Kingdom. However, the AD016 models remain in production alongside the Allegeo for the time being.

ADO16 overseas[]

The Austin Victoria was a Pamplona assembled ADO16, introduced in 1972 with a restyled front end and a lengthened rear luggage compartment.

The car was sold with various names in different markets.

In Spain it was sold as Morris, Austin and MG, starting production in the Pamplona Authi (Automóviles de Turismo Hispano Ingleses) factory in 1966, and evolving by 1972 into the Austin Victoria.

In Denmark the ADO16 bore the Morris Marina name. The MG models were sold as the MG Sports Sedan there, as it was in North America from 1962, and was available with a two-door bodyshell that would not be available in the UK until 1968. The Vanden Plas Princess was briefly the MG Princess 1100 in North America, while that market also saw an unusual two-door Austin 1100 (with a hybrid of Mark I and Mark II components).

The Austin America was sold in the US, Canada and Switzerland between 1968 and 1972. This two-door version of the car featured a 60 bhp (45 kW) 1275 cc engine. Various modifications were made to suit the US market including an "anti-pollution air injection system", a split circuit braking system, rocker switches in place of some of the dashboard mounted knobs, a "hazard warning system" and flush door locks.

The ADO16 also formed the basis of the Australian Morris 1500 sedan, Morris 1300 sedan and Morris Nomad five-door, the Italian Innocenti Morris IM3 and Austin I4 and I5, the more powerful South African Austin, Morris and Wolseley 11/55 and Austin Apache and the Spanish Austin Victoria and the Austin de Luxe of 1974 to 1977, which had a 998 cc engine.

The Austin Apache was produced until 1977, the last of the ADO16 line.


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