Gallery : Those doors

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

BMC 1800/2200

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.

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.

Austin 3-litre

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.

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.

Austin Maxi

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.

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.

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.


The might-have-beens

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...

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.

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.

Maxi saloon

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.

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.

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.

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.


And finally…

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)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)

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

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.

9 Comments on "Gallery : Those doors"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. marcobruno says:

    wonderful cars. most of them dident see  the light of production

  2. Philip Simpson says:

    Shame we didn’t get the X6 models over here.

    • Geoff Ellis says:

      X6! I think the appropriate phrase would have been “had them dumped over here” rather than “get them over here.” BLMC cynically used Australian customers as unpaid, involuntary test engineers and went broke because of poor market research and warranty bills.

      The X6 was the worst car ever mass produced in Australia; All the complexity of FWD and a poorly conceived OHC arrangement. Can’t believe any are being driven these days; I haven’t seen one for years……

  3. Chris Baglin says:

    That hideous Panther car would cost nearly £290,000 in today’s money! Those doors don’t even suit the profile of the roof! Wonder how many they actually sold? And did Panther ever produce a decent car- with the possible exception of the Dolomite-based Rio?

    The ‘Aussie Rules’ Landcrabs were rather handsome- shame they weren’t sold here. Even the VDP looked good- more so than the Wolseley version that did make production.

  4. Rob Metselaar says:

    For who is interessed in the rubber door profile of those doors Maybe I can help you out! I have a panther DeVille saloon from 1987 and the profile fits perfect.

  5. mm says:

    The 4 door booted Maxi, has the Mk2 Cortina look to my eyes, was Roy Haynes involved with this model?

  6. Geoff Ellis says:

    I notice that nobody ever mentions the Australian Morris 13oo on this site. This was the ultimate triumph of British engineering down under……

    The E series motor was so tall that they had to put a bulge in the bonnet to fit it in the 1100 shell; then they realised that the auto box was bigger than the manual, it wouldn’t fit under the E series! So they grabbed leftover Mini 1275cc A series motors to power all the auto versions.

    I am surprised they didn’t just mount the transmission/engine sub-assembly in the back, driving the rear wheels. The boot was useless anyway…..

  7. Geoff Ellis says:

    A Rolls Royce version of the 1800? BMC/BLMC management never really understood badge engineering, did it? The idea was to encourage the buyer to aspire to the more expensive marque. Chev buyers lusted after Buicks, the Buick owner dreamed of a Caddy……because the dearer car was better………..but BLMC thought the idea was to dress the dearer car down so that there was no coherent reason to buy anything. Although I was always impressed by the way a Wolseley badge glowed in the dark I never knew why I should buy one instead of a Morris, or an Austin, or a Riley or…….

Have your say...