Mini overseas : Spain
The Costa Mini…
As well as ADO16s, Authi also produced their version of the Mini for local consumption. As with its larger brother, the aim was to achieve 100 per cent local content, and as a result, the Minis that rolled out of Pamplona were very interesting indeed. The easy route to component supply in these transplant operations is to import as many of these items as possible from the UK, but in the case of Authi, this avenue was not open to them, thanks to the Spanish government’s insistence on full local content. As a result, components such as SU carburettors, Lucas lights and Smiths instruments were all assembled under licence in a new factory at Manresa, north of Barcelona. Other items that would ordinarily have been supplied by component suppliers in the UK, were blueprinted by BMC and produced in Spain.
Even the A-series engines used by Authi were produced locally, at a factory at Los Conrales near Santander. Interestingly, one feature unique to the Authi-produced cars was the driveshaft design – whereas the standard Mini/1100 arrangement of Rzeppa CV (constant velocity) joints was used world-wide, the Spanish version had to make do with a more simple double UJ (universal joint) arrangement. This was because there were no suitable Spanish manufacturers of CV joints at the time… Another unque-to-Authi feature was the casting code: NMQ.
Authi’s Mini was introduced as the 1275C in October 1968, at the same time as the Spanish-built Morris 1300, and although it looked very much like a standard-issue UK Mini, it differed in many areas. The “C” in 1275C did not denote Cooper, although the inevitable comparisons were made because of their similar specification sheets. The 1275C was an interesting derivative, though, because it featured the 1275cc version of the A-series engine, but came with a high level of equipment, such as a dash-mounted rev-counter and bumper-mounted driving lights – both firsts on a factory-produced Mini. The interior was nicely finished in leather, with a wood-rimmed steering wheel and supplementary gauges… a true precursor of the 1990 Rover Mini-Cooper!
So, the 1275C certainly looked the part with its wider wheels, but it did not go like a Cooper did, thanks to the low compression, Morris 1300-tune engine with its single 1.5-inch HS4 SU carburettor. Power output was 59bhp – identical to that of the Morris 1300 – and it endowed the 1275C with a maximum speed of 88mph; reasonable, but not Cooper-fast.
In January 1969 the Mini 1000 was launched in standard from, and was joined three months later by the 1000E. The latter model carried some of the equipment found in the 1275C, such as its Riley-style full width wooden dash, but it was also priced more realistically (the 1275C had been hampered by a price some 20 per cent higher than the Cooper’s UK list price).
The Mini and 1100 were selling in significant numbers in Spain, but despite press acclaim and customer good-will, the Pamplona plant never reached anywhere near its 100,000 per year production capacity. In 1971, the actual number of cars produced was 40,000, which spurred British Leyland management back at Berkeley Square to take-over the operation completely. BL bought 50 per cent of NMQ’s share capital, plus management control of Authi, all for £9 million, and the product range was quickly expanded in the hope of attracting further customers.
Soon after, the Mini 850 and Mini van were launched – and from October 1970, the Mark III bodyshell was utilized (unusually, this was more closely related to the UK bodyshell than those from Italy). The 1275GT was also introduced, although Authi never offered in with the Clubman-style body, but with the same front end as all their other Minis.
In October 1973, and in a move completely out of step with the parent company back in the UK, Authi launched its own Mini-Cooper. Outwardly, the Authi Mini-Cooper looked identical to the Innocenti Mini-Cooper thanks to its Rostyle wheels, but it was unique in many ways. According to Simon Wheatcroft of Mini Magazine “…on prototype cars, the front vertical seam covers were actually made in stainless steel but they had reverted to the more common painted type by the time production had commenced”. Other unique features were the Authi instrumentation and blacked-in Rostyle wheels. The roof was covered in vinyl, while rear wash/wipe and chromed interior door grab handles featured on the options list.
Just under 4,000 Authi Mini-Coopers were sold during its two-year production run, out of a total 126,387 Minis. In 1975, it all ended, when British Leyland sold the Authi operation to SEAT.
Minis produced by Authi
Graham Arnold’s breakdown of all the Mini models produced in Spain between 1968 and the closure of the Authi factory in 1975.
The production of Minis in Spain is confusing due to the bewildering array of different versions produced and the fact that the designations given to many of the different versions were very similar. Below you will find a breakdown of all the Minis produced in Spain in chronological order according to the dates of introduction of each model.
Please note that in several cases there are discrepancies with some of the dates, especially as to when the model was discontinued. Please contact me if you can provide more accurate dates for any of the models listed.
|Make & Model||Introduced||Discontinued||Notes|
|Morris Mini 1275-C||30 September 1968||1970||Various sources refer to this model as:
– Morris Mini 1275-C (on the cover of the brochure of this model, and also in an Authi press advert).
– Morris Mini 1275 C.
– Mini-C (in an Authi press advertisement dated November 1968).
– Mini 1275 C (also in a press advert).
Morris Mini 1000 E
|14 April 1969
(on sale May 1969)
|May 1970 (September 1970?)||This model is something of a mystery to me. It is mentioned in the Authi Mini section of the Austin-Rover site as being the first Mini introduced by Authi in Spain. However, the only other reference I have found to this version is in an Authi press advertisement dated May 1969 which clearly speaks about a “Mini 1000”. There is no mention however of the “Morris” name although the Morris badge can clearly be seen on the bonnet of the car in the photograph used in the adverisement. Nor is there any reference to the “E” designation which, together with the Mini 1000 S, has been considered to be the first Authi Minis in production, at least according to one source consulted on the history of Authi. This poses several questions. If in fact this model did exist as such, why isn’t it mentioned anywhere else? Alternatively, perhaps Authi had not determined the final designation yet of the model – hardly likely I would have thought since they had already started advertising the model. And finally one would have thought that the “S” version would also have been mentioned in the same advertisement since according to one source it had been launched at the same time as the 1000 E, or should we say just 1000?|
|Morris Mini 1000 S
|14 April 1969||May 1970|
|Mini 1000 B/b||October 1969||May 1970||Different sources quote the designation of this model as 1000 B or 1000 b. In contemporary Authi publicity a capital “B” is used although it is written slightly below the line. Also, I would like to know if this version was badged as a 1000 B/b or only as a “1000”.|
|Mini 850 †||February 1970||June 1970?||One source I have found states that the Morris badge was not used on Authi Mini models from December 1970 onwards, being replaced by the Mini logo. However, in an Authi press advert dated August 1970 you can clearly see the Mini logo on the bonnet of the car. Was this a pre-production car in the photo or is there a discrepancy with the dates?|
|Mini 1000 †||May 1970
|November 1970||replaces Morris Mini 1000 E / 1000 B / 1000 S|
|Mini 850 Normal ‡||November 1970||1975|
|Mini 1000 Normal ‡||November 1970||1974 *||* No more were built after this date although they were still being sold until 1976.|
|Mini 850 de luxe ‡||November 1970||February 1974 (1975?)|
|Mini 1000 de luxe ‡||November 1970||April 1974|
|Mini 1275 GT ‡||February 1971||1973||An Authi advertisement also refers to this model as “Mini GT”.|
|Mini Van 850||24 April 1971||1973|
|Mini Van 1000||24 April 1971||1975|
|Mini Cooper 1300||December 1973||May 1975 *||Press presentation: October 1973.
* No more were built after this date although they were still being sold until 1976.
|Mini 850 LS||April 1974||1974 *||* No more LS models were built after this date although they were still being sold until 1975.|
|Mini 1000 LS||April 1974||1974 *||1000 LS replaces 1000 de luxe.
* No more LS models were built after this date although they were still being sold until 1975.
|Notes & queries|
|†||to ADO15 specifications|
|‡||to ADO20 specifications|
|1||In December 1970 the “Morris” nomenclature disappeared from Authi-built Minis. The Mini 850 Normal / de luxe and Mini 1000 Normal / de luxe were introduced in November 1970. I wonder whether any of these models were badged as “Morris” during that first month of November.|
|2||In official Authi circles, were any of these Authi-built Mini models ever designated as Authi Mini 1000, or whatever? I have only found one mention of the “Authi” designation being used before the word “Mini” in literature on the Authi-produced Minis, although this was not an official Authi advert. The “Authi Mini 1275 C” was mentioned in a press advert advertising British Leyland special tuning parts for sale by a company in Madrid called “Tremaosnur”. They were also Authi main dealers.|
|3||Some dates are contradictory, which might be due to differences in the dates of the press presentation of the model and the actual date of introduction as set by Authi. Press release information for these models would, I am sure, clear up some of these discrepancies.|
Authi Mini gallery
|Authi Mini ad||Authi Mini ad||Authi Mini Cooper ad|
With thanks to Ian Nicholls for the source material and Graham Arnold for the pictures and production table.