When the ADO17 was launched as the Austin 1800 in 1964, few people can have imagined that one of its defining features – its doors – would later appear on a series of cars ranging from a 1.5-litre family hatchback to a 3-litre executive saloon.
But the story doesn’t end there. As well as being pressed into service on no fewer than four distinct production models, “those doors” were at the heart of a plethora of proposed models that never saw the light of day.
The production models
First outing was on the Austin 1800, where they appeared in their purest form. The 1800 would later appear in Morris and Wolseley forms, but while the badges and trim levels may have changed, nothing would shift those doors.
Although it was launched some three years after the 1800, the mighty Austin 3-litre was always destined to share its smaller sibling’s doors. The only concession to the 3-litre’s flagship status, externally at least was the provision of opening quarterlights; however, the first 1000 cars or so made do without them.
Another two years passed before those doors made their next appearance, this time on the versatile Austin Maxi. Reverting to their original, non-quarterlight status for this application, the Maxi’s longevity would ensure that those doors would remain in production for a total of 17 years.
Austin/Morris X6 range
For their final debut, those doors ventured to Australia, where they graced the 1800-based Austin X6 cars, the Tasman and Kimberley. The Australian Design Rules dictated that the original, push-button handles had to be swapped for recessed ones in the interests of pedestrian safety.
BMC 1800 estate
BMC considered turning the 1800 into a sort of half-hearted estate car in 1966. Although the Maxi-like rear bodywork was new, those doors would have been all-too familiar…
Maxi styling proposal
This alternative design proposal for the Maxi, dating from 1967, marks the first point at which BMC considered using those doors for its new 1500cc car.
The Maxi was originally developed in both four- and five-door forms, but only the five-door model was launched. This styling mock-up shows what the four-door model would have looked like.
Vanden Plas 1800
No fewer than three proposed Vanden Plas models featured those doors, based on the Austin 1800, Austin 3-Litre, and Austin Kimberley respectively. The Kimberley-based Vanden Plas 1800 is pictured above, while the other two proposals can be seen in the Vanden Plas prototypes gallery on this site.
Rolls Royce prototypes
If history had taken a different turn, those doors could have graced some very upmarket cars indeed. Pictured above is the proposed Bentley Bengal, while below is its Rolls-Royce counterpart, the Rangoon. Neither of these models made it past the quarter-scale model stage before Rolls-Royce came to their senses. Read more in the Rolls Royce prototypes gallery.
Bob Jankell’s Panther car company produced the £72,215 DeVille during the late 1970s and into the 1980s and those doors made a return appearance. It just goes to show that high cost and good taste are not mutually exclusive (picture supplied by Dale Turley)
This page was contributed by Declan Berridge