BMC 1800/2200 : Austin 1800 Wagon
We know that BMC investigated expanded the 1800 into van, hatchback and estate versions, but never got much further than the drawing board. However, one interprising individual in Australia went ahead and built his own.
Here’s the story of the fascinating Austin 1800 Wagon…
A new rear is hatched
IT’S often been said that the utterly space efficient ADO17 really deserved expanding into something with an opening rear door – and a larger boot. Although there were several attempts to do just this at Longbridge, they never proceeded very far. However, in Australia, such a car was built, and survived several years of hard use…
According Graham Widmer, it was converted by a friend/colleague (an Engineer with the NSWGR) of his father’s back in the mid-to-late 1960s. ‘He decided that the only car worth owning was an Austin 1800, but it had to be a wagon. ‘Of course they didn’t exist, he set about having one made,’ Graham, recalled. ‘The gent in question still lives in Beecroft, Sydney, where the car resided for many years.’
He added: ‘Various option were investigated for the conversion, including fabricating the entire thing from scratch, but some careful measurements at wrecking yard discovered that the back end of an EH Holden almost fitted, so one was acquired and attached. It wasn’t quite a perfect marriage however. The most disturbing feature was the fact that an 1800 had a roof line that sloped to the back window, and when this was extended, the roof gutter ended up being stupidly low.’
It was a problem that Crayford encountered when undertaking a similar conversion on its Rover P6-based Estoura.
But that wasn’t the end of it. Graham continued, ‘The other problem was of course that 1800s didn’t carry a load very well without sagging in the rear, the additional permanent load meant the car had a permanent sag. The ute suspension might have been the answer. Too late now. The car did of course have all the practical features of a wagon.’
Graham’s recollections didn’t end there: ‘I seem to recall that the conversion cost about as much as the car cost when purchased almost new in 1966. An interesting thought if you convert that into todays values for a similar car. The car was always guaranteed to turn heads where ever it went, and I was lucky enough to have many enjoyable ride in it.
‘In about 1975 the car was sold to friend of mine, see photos, who loved it and drove it around Sydney for a number of years, until it finally gave in to neglect in around 1980.’
…thanks to Graham Widmer