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BMC 1100/1300 : Concepts and prototypes

While the 1100 was an Issigonis concept from the outset, it took Italy’s Pininfarina to give the car its undeniable style.

Development began in 1958 with XC9002, a scaled-down version of the 1956 Issigonis XC9001 prototype; however, this was soon thought to look too much like BMC's new Mini.

Development began in 1958 with XC9002, a scaled-down version of the 1956 Issigonis XC9001 prototype. However, this was soon thought to look too much like BMC’s new Mini.

In-house attempts to distance the style of the new car from that of the Mini, such as this mock-up produced by the Morris factory later in 1958, were less than successful. In fact, according to production engineer Reg Job, it was the "plain and uninteresting" frontal design of this car that prompted the commission for Pininfarina to re-style it.

In-house attempts to distance the style of the new car from that of the Mini, such as this mock-up produced by the Morris factory later in 1958, were less than successful. In fact, according to production engineer Reg Job, it was the “plain and uninteresting” frontal design of this car that prompted the commission for Pininfarina to re-style it.

By January 1959, Pininfarina had produced this comprehensive re-working of the original XC9002 proposal. This version was considered to be too complictated (and therefore too costly) to put into production, but a simplified version was scaled-up as a proposal for the ADO17 project.

By January 1959, Pininfarina had produced this comprehensive re-working of the original XC9002 proposal. This version was considered to be too complictated (and therefore too costly) to put into production, but a simplified version was scaled-up as a proposal for the ADO17 project.

Pininfarina's second, simplified offering of 1959. Now codenamed ADO16, the front is much tidier (though with a makeshift bumper), and the door frames have been smoothed out.

Pininfarina’s second, simplified offering of 1959. Now codenamed ADO16, the front is much tidier (though with a makeshift bumper), and the door frames have been smoothed out.

Alternative (nicer?) less gaping front-end treatment from July 1959, on the same body as above. Door frames would change again before it reached production.

Alternative (nicer?) less gaping front-end treatment from July 1959, on the same body as above. Door frames would change again before it reached production.

Even before the Austin 1100 had reached the marketplace, plans for an estate version of the ADO16 were already at an advanced stage, as demonstrated by this photograph of the split-tailgate prototype from May 1963; after all, the car's main Ford rivals – the Anglia and Cortina – were both available in estate form. However, demand for the saloon versions proved to be so strong that the estate body didn't see the light of day until March 1966, when it was launched simultaneously as the Austin 1100 Countryman and Morris 1100 Traveller. This delay meant that it was produced for just 18 months in MkI form, and when the MkII version arrived in Autumn 1967, the rear bodywork was carried-over wholesale.

Even before the Austin 1100 had reached the marketplace, plans for an estate version of the ADO16 were already at an advanced stage, as demonstrated by this photograph of the split-tailgate prototype from May 1963; after all, the car’s main Ford rivals – the Anglia and Cortina – were both available in estate form. However, demand for the saloon versions proved to be so strong that the estate body didn’t see the light of day until March 1966, when it was launched simultaneously as the Austin 1100 Countryman and Morris 1100 Traveller. This delay meant that it was produced for just 18 months in MkI form and, when the MkII version arrived in Autumn 1967, the rear bodywork was carried-over wholesale.

This facelifted version of ADO16 was investigated prior to the 1968 merger. It appears to bear the hallmark of Roy Haynes, particulary in the way the headlamp/indicator set-up resembles that of the MkII Ford Cortina.

This facelifted version of ADO16 was investigated prior to the 1968 merger. It appears to bear the hallmark of Roy Haynes, particulary in the way the headlamp/indicator set-up resembles that of the MkII Ford Cortina.

 This rebodied 1100 was considered as a more radical alternative to the facelifted car. There was also a revised Hydrolastic suspension system under development for this car, but the project was cancelled by the Leyland management in favour of ADO67.

This rebodied 1100 was considered as a more radical alternative to the facelifted car. There was also a revised Hydrolastic suspension system under development for this car, but the project was cancelled by the Leyland management in favour of ADO67.

Consideration was also given to extending the Issigonis 9X supermini into an ADO16 replacement. Compare this with the proposed ADO16 facelift shown above. (Both cars eventually lost out to the Allegro.) This design also bears a passing resemblance to the Autobianchi Primula, which itself looked rather like an ADO16 hatchback.

Consideration was also given to extending the Issigonis 9X supermini into an ADO16 replacement. Compare this with the proposed ADO16 facelift shown above. (Both cars eventually lost out to the Allegro.) This design also bears a passing resemblance to the Autobianchi Primula, which itself looked rather like an ADO16 hatchback.

This modified ADO16 is one of five cars produced under BLMC's Safety Research Vehicle (SRV) project in 1974. Designated SRV5, the car featured a spring-loaded pedestrian-catching cage which was activated in the event of an impact. Thus, it would be raised from its dormant position atop the front bumper in order to prevent the accident victim from sliding down into the path of the car's wheels. Well, that was the theory, anyway...

This modified ADO16 is one of five cars produced under BLMC’s Safety Research Vehicle (SRV) project in 1974. Designated SRV5, the car featured a spring-loaded pedestrian-catching cage which was activated in the event of an impact. Thus, it would be raised from its dormant position atop the front bumper in order to prevent the accident victim from sliding down into the path of the car’s wheels. Well, that was the theory, anyway…


This page was contributed by Declan Berridge


Keith Adams

About the Author:

AROnlineholic between 2001 and 2014 - editor of Classic Car Weekly, and all round car nut...

10 Comments on "BMC 1100/1300 : Concepts and prototypes"

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  1. Robert Leitch says:

    Would the ADO22 facelift have been a better idea than the Allegro?

    I seem to recall that the argument against it was that the work requires would have cost as much as a completely new car – the Allegro design and development cost was reported as £21m, less than half the £45m the Marina cost.

    As it was much of the work was done anyway for overseas subsidiaries – Morris 1500 and Nomad, Victoria and Apache.

    The Allegro’s worst failing was styling totally at odds with what the most advanced manufacturers in Europe were turning out. Extending the life of ADO16 to 1975-6 would have given Leyland a chance to see how the wind was blowing, and respond appropriately.

  2. Paul says:

    I think a lot of the Marina cost was related to manufacturing costs – the closed conveyor bridge at Cowley, increasing production capacity for the Triumph Toledo gear box and huge investment to put the ancient Morris Minor suspension back into mass production – madness!

  3. Rob B says:

    I never understood with the Marina why they used the Minor suspension. They could easily have developed a new Morris by just stretching the RWD Toledo platform and then they could have had the choice of BMC or Triumph engines and all at a fraction of the cost. The Dolomite/1300/1500/Toledo platform had already proven itself very versatile

  4. Nate says:

    4) Rob B

    Agree with you on having the Marina based on a stretched RWD Toledo/Dolomite platform, powered by 1.5/1.6-2.6 E-Series engines.

  5. JagBoy says:

    The ADO16 was ALWAYS one car i wish i had the opportunity to drive, especially in 1300 GT Orange trim, not that is one gorgeous car….. I can dream, and unfortunately it is one dream that will never come to fruition. :-(

  6. Rob H says:

    Looking at the pictures above, I think an ADO16 facelift carried out by BLMC would have been just as much a disaster as the Allegro. The ADO16 with it’s Pininfarina styling was so right it would have been a tall order to improve on it. In my opinion only Innocenti managed it. By 1974 the underlying design was becoming dated and it’s ability to rust becoming all too apparent. If the Allegro had Pinifarina styling and a hatchback they might have got away with it, that is if the workforce could be bothered to turn up to make any and perhaps at an acceptable quality. I really don’t understand why BLMC broke the link with Pininfarina.

  7. Marinast says:

    By 1973 the ADO16 was too small to be competitive against the Escort, Viva and Avenger. The Allegro was the perfect size and nicely packaged to give plenty of space, only to be let down by its rather dumpy looks and a lack of a hatchback. However in 1973 hatchbacks were still unusual on new cars and BL were struggling enough selling Maxis to allow another hatchback to erode sales here.

  8. kennyg says:

    I am sure Alec Issigonis would have been amazed how much the present MINI Countryman looks like the XC9002.

  9. Graham says:

    Given the lack of style of the ADO16 before the Italians were given the job, it shows how asleep the management was to allow Issigonis to restrict the Italian input on the ADO17 and then be allowed to go his own way with the Maxi.

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