Concepts and prototypes : BMC 1800/2200

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

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.
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.
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

XC9001 advances…

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.
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.
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.
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...
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.]

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

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17 Comments

  1. It’s a shame the facelift version didn’t see the light of day. The squared off c-pillar loks more modern & the boot more practical.

  2. But why did they need a British facelift proposal at all? BMCs Australian outpost had already produced a modern looking variant of the car – The Tasmin I think it was called – that could have been adopted with next to no development cost here. Pride and internal politics again wasting millions in wasted opportunity.

  3. The car at the top is not “like a weird mini variant”, the mini was a variant of the car at the top.

    But I agree it still looks weird.

  4. Proof positive that Issigonis should never have been allowed to style his own cars.

    With the Mini he got away with it because there was nothing else like it- the Mini was never actually a pretty car but it did have charm in spades.

    And the Minor was, unless I am mistaken, styled by someone other than Issigonis- and that was a handsome car in its day (and still looks great today in a very ‘retro’ way).

  5. BMC should have used Pininfarina’s design for the 1800/2200. Not the dumpy design that they used. The upscaled Mini design with the stretched looks odd yet better than the production car.

  6. It’s very strange that after all this time that the larger Bini Countryman (MaxiBini) looks so similar to the XC9001 Prototype. I wonder if that Issigonis design had influence for the styling and concept of MaxiBini??
    It just shows what could have been its certainly more palatable than the Landcrab although they should have used the Pininfarina BMC 1800 Citroenesque Design; not sure if the 1960’s British public would have been ready for it though.

    • In a sense it does by default. The MINI was a development of the Mini shape, so anything bigger would be similar to early variations on that theme

  7. Hints of DS about the sweeping rear of the XC9000.

    This and the Paninfarina 1800, BMC/BL might have been the UKs Citroen (though it didn’t help that company much and they soon ended up selling rehashed Peugeots).

  8. The front end of the production 1800 Landcrabs never looked right. But the XC9005 Pininfarina June 1960 proposal pic looks good: the front end has a nice solid look to it (rather like a Lancia) and the doors work better as well. The 1966 facelift proposal for the rear end is terrific; it works well on every count – instead thay had to stick really stupid fins and vertical tail light clusters! Cloning Triumph front and rears onto ADO16s might have worked down under, but it would have flopped in the UK market where it would shared too much road space with Triumphs. A lot of missed opportunities documented here, but thank goodness for the Mark 1 Mini (before they messed up the grill treatment and increased the window area) and for the Mk 1 1100s, (before they messed up the front end – auguably, trimming off the rear fins wasn’t too bad of an idea, shame they stuck the off-cuts onto the 1800s though!)

  9. Generally – going through the history shown on all of these fascinating pages I keep wondering why the final products were so mediocre.
    Back then in Poland I was a keen reader of Autocar, Motor and Car magazines and car design was my main fascination.
    Moreover, Mr Zbigniew Maurer (Alfa designer – 156 for example) was my school colleague.

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