Car of the Month : March 2009
A standard looking Austin 1300 MkII is nothing special you think? An original and completly unrestored one is surely a rare thing these days, finding one that had a Downton treatment and all the matching documents is close to a miracle…
Tim Saunders has had previous experience with an ADO16, an early MG 1100, but serious rust meant that this wasn’t to last. But once stung… so he set off looking for another one – and found a very special car indeed.
The Austin 1300 was a fairly new addition to the ADO16 range back in 1968. The engine, derived from the Mini Cooper S 1275, was added to keep performance of BMC’s bestseller competitive, an area where the little car has received quite a few criticisms before. The larger engine offered a nice level of mid-range torque and the longer gearing gave the car the stride needed for motorway driving. For those wanting more, but not prepared to spend more money for the more prestigous and higher tuned MG, Riley or Wolseley variants, BMC offered factory approved tuning kits made by Downton through the dealerships.
Words and pictures: Tim Saunders
Bunty, the Downton 1300
AFTER a patient wait until it came up for sale, we have just bought the 1968 Downton Austin 1300 formerly owned by Mark Forster, renowned BMC tuning auto historian and Downton expert (see Mark’s website).
A Mk 2 Super de Luxe, it was dispatched to the dealer in late June 68 and registered by the dealer on 1st August 68 to its first owner, then sent by the dealership to Downton Engineering Works for a BMC Comps Stage 1 conversion 2 days later. This involved fitment of Downton performance ported head, valves, springs, manifold, exhaust system and other internal tweaks, giving an ultra smooth very torquey engine with greatly improved acceleration across the range.
Until relatively recently the car was with its original owner in the New Forest, who only used it locally before putting it into storage for an extended period. It was then given to a friend’s son who was unable to get it back on the road before passing to Mark, who has given it a light restoration.
The car has very low mileage, is very original and completely correct. It requires a fresh coat of Alaskan Blue paint in due course as the paint has been sun damaged during a lengthy period of storage – but it is the original stuff and is 40 years old! Equally the Fresco blue interior is very good apart from a couple of very minor bits of sun damage.
In addition to a very full set of Downton paperwork the car comes with a set of original Dunlop D1 alloys to be fitted, and some other nice bits like a mint original unused toolkit, correct BMC rubber mats, and so on.
I had kind of fallen for this car after going round Croft Circuit in her with Mark in August 2008 at high speed.
My wife Sarah has named the car “Bunty” after the infamous Bunty Richmond, a key part of the Downton story.
Tim is not new to the fun of A-series engined cars, as he has a strong interest in special bodied Spridgets and started dosumenting these on his website – the Williams and Pritchard Register