The previous Austin Westminster was a tough act to follow. It might not have been the last word in performance or refinement, but it was moderately successful in the UK, and certainly epitomised road presence and dignity. Austin was keen to replace it with a vehicle of a similar ilk, but ended up with the 3 Litre instead.
It was a design failure, not least because it was saddled with the passenger doors of the 1800/2200, but with a long bonnet and shapely boot tacked on. That made the 3 Litre oddly proportioned – but as Ford and Vauxhall were producing equally undesirable big cars at the time, it wasn’t the disadvantage it might have been.
The cabin was massive, but at the expense of much of the usual luxury and traditional design that buyers expected in a car of this class. Rear-wheel drive and a 2.9-litre engine shared with the MGC gave reasonable performance, and huge tuning potential – but after three years in production, British Leyland pulled the plug, leaving Jaguar, Rover and Triumph to build its subsequent executive cars.