The Princess truly is the car with no name. It was launched as as a series of three models, from Austin, Morris and Wolseley, then became the ‘marqueless’ Princess just six months later. And pretty much everyone just called it a ‘Leyland’.
It might have been a controversial car when new, but not because it it was a poor car. Far from it – the Princess was a case of the politics being more interesting than the product.
The Princess couldn’t have looked more different from the 1800/2200 series it replaced, even though it retained the same four- and six-cylinder engines and front-wheel drive. Lack of build qualityand reliability in the earliest cars let down an innovative design, although if a hatchback had been incorporated right from the start it might well have sold better better especially in export markets. More appreciated now than when current.
Reviews, blogs and news stories
The Princess never actually started out as such – but a marque-confused midliner to replace the slow-selling Landcrab. However, BL’s wedge-shaped odyssey didn’t sell that well, either, although that was more down to the poor reputation of the company that built it – and early build niggles – than any weakness in the product itself. […]
Fiat launched the Strada with one of the most memorable car adverts ever made. It shows the the company’s brand new car being built using its state of the art robots, to the sound of Figaro’s Aria from Rossini’s Barber of Seville, and presents the car as cute, cutting edge and just damned desirable. The advert was directed […]
Below are some pictures showing the development of ADO71 – or Diablo, as it was known in the early stages. Wedge development Slippery wedge… Three-box alternative Frontal treatments Interior designs
The main problem with Hydragas is that, over time, the sealed units would lose gas and become less effective. Alexander Boucke describes the steps involved in getting your Hydragas suspended car back into rude health Update: More than 11 years after the initial work, the first units that were fitted to a Maxi in autumn […]
The wonderful wedge has just turned 40 and Mike Humble pauses for moment to reflect on one of British Leyland’s less talked about cars – the Leyland Princess… Charge your glasses folks… for it’s birthday time again. This week saw the launch of the Princess range back in 1975 – this was another Harris Mann-styled car but one which, at least, stayed pretty loyal […]
Keith Adams As memories of BL’s constant struggles throughout the 1970s begin to fade with the passing of time, we’re left with many legacies of a bright, creative and interesting car manufacturer that wasn’t afraid to introduce bold-looking and innovative cars. For younger fans, born long after British Leyland had gone to the wall, to […]
After the Princess received its O-Series engine in 1978, it was finally capable of battling with the rest of the best of the full-sized European opposition. The main target was the base model Ford Granada, but the Europeans were strong in this sector, too. Keith Adams compares the Renault 20 and Ford Granada against the […]
Hydragas suspension was one of the quiet achievements pioneered and refined by British Leyland – and yet, it never received the praise it deserved. KEITH ADAMS briefly explains how the system works. Pioneer that led nowhere… SINCE the introduction of the Mini in 1959, BL’s predecessor, the British Motor Corporation (BMC), had been right at […]
Keith Adams It’s a shame that car manufacturers rarely release videos like this – ones that follow the design process and engineering development of a new car from its conception. Okay, so the Post-Ryder British Leyland Motor Corporation was doing its best to stay afloat in 1975, but this video clearly shows that the Princess […]
Kevin Davis It may not be the most revered product from Austin-Morris, but this month the Austin Ambassador celebrates its 30th anniversary. Back in 1980 the marketplace was changing. Vauxhall’s next Cavalier would be a hatchback and Ford’s Cortina replacement, the Sierra, would also be a five-door. Austin-Morris realised that the lack of a fifth […]
Kevin Davis The Princess Club 100 Special is surely the rarest of rare Princesses, rarer, even, than the much sought after Wolseley. The Club 100 was an internal Austin-Morris product brought about by the need to provide a car for their top 100 performing dealer principals, known as the ‘Club 100’. Rewards typically included holidays […]
Keith Adams The continuing series of features about cars on the endangered list in the UK, according to data supplied by the brilliant How Many Left? website based on DVLA data. 10: Austin 1800/2200HL One of the most enjoyable aspects about researching the In Memoriam series of articles is searching through lists and lists of […]
The O-Series was designed to act as the company’s mid-range engine mainstay for the late 1970s and beyond. If at first you don’t succeed… The formation of Austin-Morris from the ashes of BMC in 1969 allowed BLMC’s product planners to focus on the demands of the middle market, without worrying too much about the more […]
BL’s most important mid-sized car for a decade was a mid-1970s technical tour de force, but what the Princess lacked was a diesel version. But 50 were built, and went out testing. The diesel Princess The Princess went on sale in March 1975, it wasn’t actually called a Princess at all. The wedge shaped saloon […]
The Princess saw many detailed changes during its life – and here, we catalogue them for your enjoyment. This timeline, compiled by Chris Bird, has put the car’s production history in the UK into factual order. Developing the beast Year Month Details 1975 March 18-22 Series 4-door saloon range introduced. Available as Austin 1800, 1800 […]
In the mid-1970s, Woodall Nicholson bravely took on the Princess… IT has to be said that the Princess would not be the first car to spring to mind if considering a stretch-conversion, not least due to its rising shoulder-line, which would surely result in rather awkward lines. Well, coachbuilders Woodall Nicholson were not daunted: after […]
The Torcars Princess was sold through the franchised BL dealer network, and was covered by the BL’s Supercover warranty. The text and pictures below have been taken from the Torcars brochures. A Torcars conversion designed to meet the growing demand for five-door saloons – and what a fifth door this is! The original sleek wedge […]
And here is the car that the Princess should always have been: Crayford produced its own hatchback versions of the 18-22 series/Princess, but at a time when the five-door saloon was still a rarity, they announced their product as an estate car.
The Special Six version of the Princess was a perfect range-topper… And thanks to Stephen Harper, we have some new images of the design themes for its side graphics. The sleekest of the sleek The Princess had been on sale a mere two years when the Special Six Automatic made an appearance on the marketplace. […]