Tested : Austin Tasman/Kimberley
This excellent article comes from the Australian publication, Australian Motor Sports and Automobiles, December 1970.
NEW AUSTIN AUSSIE SIX
With very Australian names, how can the new BLMC six-cylinder car fail? Its advance specification and increased performance should win over plenty of traditional “big three” buyers.
THIS is it, BLMC’s latest attempt at climbimg aboard the popular six sedan market which is still by far the biggest single segment of our increasingly fragmented market place. Released in mid-November, the Austin six would seem, prior to a test drive, to have much potential, for all the areas of criticism of the 1800 have been taken care of. The Tasman and Kimberley sixes are good looking where 1800 was, to put it pleasantly, ungainly, and should have much superior performance whilst retaining the 1800’s comfortable interior, fine road-holding and good brakes.
Basically, of course, the new models are simply the 1800 extended at both ends with a six-cylinder version of the Morris 1500’s single overhead camshaft, four-cylinder engine placed east-west under the bonnet. That this does the Australian car an injustice for the new Austins are engineered from the ground up for our conditions. The styling is far better than we anticipated even if the new grille bears a distinct resemblance to the English Vauxhall Cresta’s. Best of all, the car looks much longer than the 1800.
This was always a problem, for although it had more interior room than the Falcon or Holden, the 1800 was in fact shorter than the Cortina. The new Austins are still short (the overall length has gone up six inches and wheelbase three inches to just over nine feet), but the interior space is even larger.
The Tasman model is the base version and should sell for around $2600, or just under the price of an 1800. It will come with a bench seat and fairly austere interior. The Kimberley is the luxury version and has reclining bucket seats and full equipment, although both cars share the same basic instrumentation which includes circular dials rather similar in design to those in the Toyota Crown. The Kimberley will be priced at around $3000. Automatic transmission will be optional in both models.
The Tasman comes with a single carburettor engine developing 100bhp at 5500rpm while the Kimberley gets twin carburettors (SU H55 in both cases) and 115bhp at 5500rpm. The Tasman engine develops 110 ft lb at 2000rpm and the Kimberley 119 ft lb at the same revs. By comparison the 1800 has 84bhp and 101 ft lb torque developed at 2200rpm.
Engine capacity is small at 2227cc (135.54 cubic inches), when compared with the current Falcon and Valiant and even Holden six-cylinder engines, but because the Austins are lighter, they should be able to perform at least as well as the base engines in the Falcon and Holden ranges. Certainly the Kimberley will be capable of close to the ton. If any further capacity is required it would be easy to build a six-cylinder version of the new 1750 Maxi engine, which would give a capacity of 2622 cc and close to 110 and 135bhp in single and twin carburettor forms. Bore and stroke are the same as the 1500 at 3 inches and 3.2 inches respectively. Compression ratio is 8.5.
The engine runs on tuftrided seven main bearing crankshaft. The gearbox ratios are identical to those in the 1800 and the gear-change is still by cables with a floor change. On paper the car appears to be low geared with its 4.187 final drive ratio (the automatic is 3.83) which gives 18.9mph per 1000rpm. The automatic is geared at 17.9mph per 1000rpm.
Steering is by rack and pinion which shouldn’t present any difficulty since the new engine weighs 20lbs less than the old four. There are 2.8 turns lock-to-lock. Hydrolastic suspension is retained and the 1800’s already wide track has been increased so the car’s incredible stability should be even better. Radial ply tyres are no longer standard, but can be fitted by the factory. The standard tyres are low profile 6.95×14 with 165×14 radials optional.
Looking at photographs of the car it would seem a very professional job has been done of revising the interior. The steering wheel rake appears to be less bus-like and trim, carpets (in the Kimberley) and fittings are of a high quality. Flow-through ventilation (the car does without any quarter vents), is retained with the similar Ford-style outlets at both ends of the dashboard. A steering lock is included in the very full specification.
Good and all as the Austin sixes are, they represent the thinking of the old guard of BMC Australia and will probably be supplemented and/or replaced by a new V8-powered car in 1972. Development on this vehicle is already going ahead, for the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation is said to be casting V8 blocks for the car. However, the Talisman and Kimberley (it’s good to see the use of some genuine Australian names on the cars) will, or should, increase BLMC’s falling percentage of the Australian market. The 1800 averaged a little over 1000 units per month throughout its life, but new cars are expected to do close to 1500 per month which is a substantive increase. The Tasman is intended to retain the current 1800 buyers, while the Kimberley is expected to lure some of the people who have been buyings Premiers and Fairmonts. It should also have a great deal of appeal to the old Wolseley buyers who have not really been catered for over the past ten years except perhaps by the bigger Toyota and Datsun models. A full detailed road test will be published shortly.
This scoop report came from “Modern Motor” the previous month.
SCOOP: BL’s NEW HOLDEN-BEATER
Here it is – BL’s attempt to cash in on the Aussie preference for six cylinders. Meet the Austin 6 OHC, also known as the Kimberley.
WE came across it by accident, almost. It nestled among a line-up of Holdens, Falcons and the like, waiting to board the NZ drive-on drive-off ferry at Sydney’s Darling Harbour. Syndey wharfies being what they are, we weren’t challenged when the editor produces his trusty Hassenblad and started firing away, electronic flash and all! We even had time to slip in, try the driving position (good) and then lift the bonnet for a look at the hitherto unsighted engine (intersting).
Our examination of the car was all too brief (the cowardly Editor was worried about copping a wharfie’s baling hook between the shoulder blades) so we can’t make any sweeping announcements; but what we did see was distinctly encouraging.
We like the styling. It is neat, still conservative (this is expected of BLMC), but balanced and pleasing. The boot projection is much more pronounced, so that the car has lost the 1800’s stubby look, while the grille is a neat plastic job surrounding four squared headlights.
The interior of the car (it was a deluxe job that bears the name “Kimberley”) looked most interesting. The dash is a big, one-piece plastic moulding, with circular guages mounted behind non-glare conocal lenses. The seats are comfortable, with side and back bolstering and a reclining mechanism. A cheaper version, called “Tasman”, will also be offered. This will have rubber flooring, non reclining front seat and single headlights.
The wheelbase has been extended from the 1800’s 8ft 10in to an even 9 feet. In other important dimensions like track, height and width, it is almost unchanged. Overall length is 14ft 6in – a big lift over the 1800’s 13ft 10½in.
BL have been careful to preserve the good points of the 1800 – like the smooth Hydrolastic suspension, the powerful servo-assisted 10in front disc brakes. They’ve stuck with the rack and pinion steering that caused so much controversy and heart-burn on the early 1800. But they’ve made conventional tyres standard equipment, which should lighten the steering effort considerably. Radial plies are an option. Tyre sizes are 6.95 by 14in the conventionals, 165 by 14in radial. Overall weight is around the 2500lb mark.
The engine is the Kimberley’s most intriguing feature. It is simply an OHC 1500 with two extra cylinders. Bore and stroke are 3in by 3.20in – same as the 1500 – but the two extra pots lift the capacity to 2227cc. The Kimberley engine uses two SU carburettors, and with a compression ratio of 8.6 to 1 (same as the 1500) should produce around 115bhp at 5500rpm. A single carburettor version will be used in the Tasman, and this should produce about 105bhp. A thermostatically-coupled fan is a feature of the motor, which has its radiator mounted conventionally across the front of the engine bay (whereas the 1800 radiator was side-mounted).
Transmission will be cable operated – but better than the originally 1800 and 1500, we hope. The internals are MGB. Alternatively, the Borg Warner three-speed torque converter automatic will be available, with a floor shift arrangement on a centre console.
Performance? We’re guessing at about 100mph top for the twin carb. job, and about 95 for the other. The standing quarter mile will be covered in about 18.5 and 0-60 should come up in about 12.5 sec.
Price? BLMC will, naturally, try to keep it reasonable. We’d guess at about $3100 for the more expensive car, under $3000 for the Tasman. Check again mid-November. That’s when the release is scheduled, and we’ll know for certain then. In the meantime, remember you read it first in Modern Motor.
The articles reproduced on this page were supplied by Michael Hickey.