Concepts and prototypes : Meet the LM family

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Austin LM10/11/14/15 family

Sometime in 1979, the Austin-Morris product planners would have met with BL’s upper management to explain the LM10 strategy. This model set perfectly demonstrates how the Montego saloon and estate were developed from the Maestro and, more intriguingly, how an upper middle market hatchback was also planned.

The modular model is comprised of a centre section and several front/rear sections, which can be added and removed as neccessary. It is amusing to think that, in some high level strategy meeting, a member of the Austin-Morris team would have been juggling these models in order to demonstrate the possibilities.

Thanks must go to the nice people at Gaydon for allowing us to photograph these models for posterity.


The models…

LM10

Austin LM10/11/14/15 family
The LM10 – or the Maestro that we all know and love. The shape had been settled in 1976, signed off in 1978, and this forms the basis for the schemes demonstrated in the modular model set…

LM11

Austin LM10/11/14/15 family

Austin LM10/11/14/15 family

Austin LM10/11/14/15 family
Saloon model scheme is almost an identical replica to the full-sized prototype that Roy Axe set eyes upon the second day after he joined BL. This model clearly illustrates how the LM11 was pretty much set for production and that the breadth of Axe’s changes were rather limited
Austin LM10/11/14/15 family
Estate version was changed a great deal between this model and the final production version: thanks to the drooping Maestro shoulder line, the rear side windows were extremely deep, as was the tailgate glass. This was subtly changed by Axe, thanks to the door top ‘moundings’ used in the production Montego. Also, the rear end of the production version was significantly more characterful than this bland effort (which looked eerily similar to the stillborn SD1 estate prototype

LM14/15

Austin LM10/11/14/15 family

Austin LM10/11/14/15 family

Austin LM10/11/14/15 family
Here’s the one that got away: strikingly similar to the Chrysler Alpine, this model would have been pitched above the LM10 and LM11, perhaps being aimed specifically at the European market. Certainly, it would have been conceived as a direct replacement for the upcoming Austin Ambassador, where (it would be hoped) a premium could be charged over its saloon brethren
Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

Latest posts by Keith Adams (see all)

13 Comments

  1. I’ve yet to see a really attractive Roy Axe designed car, although his reworking of the Monty estate was better than the effort above, which looks rather Ital-like. The Monty hatch was far too similar to the unhappy Alpine, which was known for its rust and its awful engines- hardly a car worthy of copying, not to mention poor packaging (the boot floor on the Alpine was very shallow and therefore impractical). Oddly, however, on the Monty hatch the scallops actually add character though.

  2. Imagine if these LC 10/11 had been introduced in ’76 (When styling had been settled)what a big noise they would have been? i never thought the montego looked unattractive when launched-i had a roverised 1.6 SL when i was on my arse and it was a good car.

  3. With key competitors being the Cavalier, Sierra, Alpine and Passat the 5 door hatch LM14/15 should have neen a no brainer. Why on earth didnt they do it?

    • Yes, why on earth was the LM14/15 not launched? A good proportion of sales in this sector (Cavalier, Sierra) were 5 door. Even if not launched early on, surely a new 5 door version would have been a great (and relatively inexpensive) way to boost flagging Montego sales in the late eighties.
      The above car is not bad looking in terms of proportions. Just needs different detailing, a bit of character injecting.

  4. Not sure if the Roy Axe revisions to the Montego saloon were ALL right. The front end looked pretty good I always thought. However, the ‘opera’ rear window looked better more as above. Stepped out of line with the other side windows it gave a ‘dis-jointed’ look. The MG’s spoiler helped though.

  5. Yep, Lc/Lm 10-14/15 were launched far too late, mind in 1976, Allegro was only 3 but it would have been useful to launch the long versions ASAP, 78? to replace Marina and maybe 79-80 to take over the Allegro… No need to waste money on the Ambarasor. What on earth was going on in the highest spheres?

    • There’s a really simple answer….we simply didn’t have the money to move forward as you describe. The SD1 disaster had taken all the money. We had enough left to do LC8 but that was it. By 78, the Ital was the best we could afford, to keep some sales kicking along until we could afford Maestro and Montego. The Acclaim was a godsend and really helped to. The Ambassador didn’t cost much at all – it was designed with a lift-gate in the first place…..but Mr King put a stop to that, in case it took sales from the SD1…..result? ADO71 was launched with a boot lid, Maxi had to carry on for another few years….and still SD1 lost money hand over fist.

  6. Recently been to Gaydon (a real must for everyone on this site, I’d say, really moving to see all those lost opportunities in reality), these models (except LM14?!) are currently on display.

  7. BTW, I remember talk of a LM12 MG Coupé, seems it was not in the original planning, or maybe not as just some 2/3 door variant, but possibly with own sheet metal?

    Could anyone shine some light on this??

Add to the debate: leave a comment