By Clifford Webb Midland Industrial Correspondent
Now that the ADO 28 has been translated into British Leyland’s Morris Marina a new factory code name has moved to the head of the new car development chart at Austin-Morris divisional headquarters at Longbridge, Birmingham. The ADO 67, a new model for the Austin network, continues the pioneering work begun by Sir Alec Issigonis,’ when he introduced the Mini 12 years ago.
Although still a closely guarded secret the ADO 67 will be built around the front wheel drive concept which so many of the British company’s competitors have copied. The latest, announced only a fortnight ago, was the Fiat 127, a rival for the Mini. The old BMC management took much criticism. for over-engineering the Mini, and its successors, with the result that profit margins were always dependent on exceptionally high production levels.
However in the three years since the merger a combination of intense cost analysis, an influx of Ford expertise to control buying and the development of new and cheaper front wheel drive components by G.K.N. have considerably increased potential profit margins for a new car. It is thought doubtful however that British Leyland will retain the hydrolastic suspension system which although revolutionary at the time it was introduced, is now limited in performance judged by today’s vastly improved standards of roadholding and ride.
As with the Marina the ADO 67 will almost certainly be aimed at the ” C ‘ class sector of the market, the medium family saloon which now accounts for 60 per cent of all cars sold in the U.K. The ADO 67 will be built at Longbridge and to. prepare for this th company is already making progress with negotiations to change from piecework to a flat rate system similar ta that introduced at Cowley for the Marina.
Explaining the long-term strategy behind all this Mr.George Turnbull, managing director of Austin- Morris said: “Our 1975 objective will basically be the position where the only substantial movement will be of steel panels from Swindon for assembly in Longbridge. We are currently at the half way stage which is best illustrated by showing the model terminations and movment in the current year. By the end of this year Cowley will be largely tidied up and the main movement of body sub-assemblies remaining will be into Longbridge from other plants. One major plant, Adderley Park, will have been closed together with two smaller ones at Coventry.”