BMC 1100/1300 : New Zealand variations

Production of the ADO16 in New Zealand followed fairly close on the heels of the initial UK launch, and lasted into the early 1970s.


The first (and second) New Zealand-assembled Morris 1100s, photographed at the Newmarket plant on 1 February 1963.

The first (and second) New Zealand-assembled Morris 1100s, photographed at the Newmarket plant on 1 February 1963.

AS related by Ian Walker in his article on ‘BMC>Rover in New Zealand’, by the 1960s the franchises for the Austin and Nuffield brands in New Zealand had been consolidated into two independent operations: Austin was handled by the Austin Distributors Federation, while the Morris, MG, Riley and Wolseley marques were handled by Dominion Motors Ltd. With regard to local production (or rather, assembly from CKD kits), it appears that Dominion were first off the mark, with the first Morris 1100 rolling out of their Newmarket assembly plant on 1 February 1963, within six months of the UK launch – and over a year before the model was launched in Australia. As the Sixties progressed, the Newmarket plant also saw the assembly of the MG, Riley and Wolseley variants, and by the late Sixties, the 1300 models were also being churned out there.

The 1100 quickly established itself as the best-selling of all the BMC models offered in New Zealand, finding popularity with private and business purchasers alike. As was the case elsewhere, the Austin and Morris versions were the volume sellers, although the MG, Riley, Wolseley and even Vanden Plas versions were available for those prepared to pay the premium.

With the formation of British Leyland in the UK in 1968, the days of New Zealand’s separate distribution channels were numbered, and following a visit by Donald Stokes the following year, the process of bringing Dominion Motors and the Austin Distributors together was set in place. In 1970, this culminated in the formation of the New Zealand Motor Corportation (NZMC). Production of both Austin and Morris 1100/1300s was now taking place at the Newmarket plant, and around this time, NZMC began importing various Australian-built Morris models, including the ADO16-based 1500 and Nomad; somewhat curiously, most of these Aussie-import models were rebadged as Austins for the NZ market.

In 1974, the various ADO16 models finally gave way to the Austin Allegro, which was also assembled in the Newmarket plant until its closure in 1978.

A Dominion Motors showroom, circa 1964. An MG 1100 steals the limelight in this shot, although another ADO16 (possibly a Morris 1100) can be seen tucked away in the background.

A Dominion Motors showroom, circa 1964. An MG 1100 steals the limelight in this shot, although another ADO16 (possibly a Morris 1100) can be seen tucked away in the background.

This New Zealand trade fair stand has a clear ADO16 bias, with Morris and MG 1100s keeping the MGB company beneath the MG, Nuffield, Morris and Wolseley banners of Dominion Motors Ltd. Dominion also handled the Riley franchise, of course.

This New Zealand trade fair stand has a clear ADO16 bias, with Morris and MG 1100s keeping the MGB company beneath the MG, Nuffield, Morris and Wolseley banners of Dominion Motors Ltd. Dominion also handled the Riley franchise, of course.

Peter Shore (centre) is shown around the Newmarket plant during his tenure as Under-secretary for Economic Affairs (1966-67) in the British Labour government of the day. On the left is Sir Walter Norwood, head of the family-owned Dominion Motors, and they are flanked by a couple of 1100 bodyshells mounted on jigs during the assembly process.

Peter Shore (centre) is shown around the Newmarket plant during his tenure as Under-secretary for Economic Affairs (1966-67) in the British Labour government of the day. On the left is Sir Walter Norwood, head of the family-owned Dominion Motors, and they are flanked by a couple of 1100 bodyshells mounted on jigs during the assembly process.

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

5 Comments on "BMC 1100/1300 : New Zealand variations"

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  1. Graeme Roberts says:

    Allegro didn’t go into production until 1975. I visited that Newmarket plant as a student mid-year and it was still happily knocking out the last of the 1100/1300s. The Kiwi Allegro Mk I wasn’t built for long, was the first NZMC product with a heated rear window (Pilkington’s local monopoly unit having finally tooled up) and had a round steering wheel.

    • John Bristow says:

      I used to pick up BMC parts from Dominion Motors Newmarket in 1969. Do you know if they also sold Rambler Javlin?

  2. Dean G says:

    The MG’s were imported built-up and not assembled locally, in a Motorman test in Nov 1965 it is described as ‘the best selling, built-up. non-remittance vehicle sold in the country’. The NZ market only ever took 4 door models, which is why the Riley took over as the performance model, when the MG was only available as a 2 door in 1968, the 1300GT took over from the Riley when it was discontinued. The Riley, 1300GT and Wolseley were assembled in NZ along with Morris and Austin.

  3. christopher storey says:

    Poor old Peter Shore . He forgot to get in the queue when the gorms were handed out

  4. John Bristow says:

    I worked at Spraggs Garage in St Heliers Auckland New Zealand during 1969 – 1970 as spare parts delivery driver.
    Dominion Motors was a regular drop in for me, actually to pick up spare parts. I have a memory of seeing a new Rambler Javlin on the showroom floor. Does anyone know if I have that right?

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