The origins of ADO17 can be traced back to XC9000, the first in a series of designs produced by Alec Issigonis in 1956, following his return to BMC from Alvis.
The rear-wheel-drive XC9000 prototype was developed into the front-wheel-drive XC9001, before the project was shelved in response to the Suez Crisis. The XC9001 design was scaled down to provide the starting points for both the Mini (XC9003/ADO15) and the 1100 (XC9002/ADO16), before the project was revived and enlarged to become XC9005, better known these days as the Landcrab.
The early Issigonis proposals
Produced in 1956, XC9000 represented Issigonis’ first thoughts for a 1500-class car based on the principles he would later apply to the Mini; this car, however, was rear-wheel drive. Inset is the running prototype produced the following year
By 1958, XC9000 had evolved into XC9001, and was now a front-wheel drive design; this is the car that was scaled-down to become the first XC9002/ADO16 proposal. The rear view (inset) shows the recessed wrap-around rear lights, way ahead of their time
Following the success of their designs for the A55 Cambridge and A40, Pininfarina were commissioned to produce an alternative XC9001 proposal. This, their first effort dating from 1959, was effectively a scaled-up version of their contemporary proposal for the XC9002 project
ADO17 first beginnings
By 1960, the decision had been taken to promote the car to the 1800 class, and the project was renamed XC9005. This new Pininfarina proposal from June 1960 is quite close to the design that was finally signed-off, although its front-end styling was thought to be too similar to that of the forthcoming Morris 1100 (ADO16). The side window frames would also be changed before the car was signed off for production
This photograph, taken in March 1962, shows the car in its signed-off form. Those doors would also see service on a variety of other Austins, including the Maxi, 3-litre, Tasman and Kimberley
1966 facelift proposal
BMC designers tried to make the ADO17 more palatable to buyers with this facelift proposal. It didn’t progress beyond this stage…
[Editor’s Note: This page was contributed by Declan Berridge.]