A Montego… and then some!
The Montego-based Warwick limousine and matching Hebden hearse were introduced to serve the lower end of the carriage-trade market where its sub-£20,000 purchase price would appeal. It occupied a slot in the market previously served by the Princess-based Kirklees. The Warwick was also likely to have been popular with cost-conscious local authorities as mayoral transport. Both models were stretched by 30in, from 14ft 8in to 17ft 2in, and weighed-in at almost 1.8 tons. The Hebden’s exaggerated roofline raised its overall height to 5ft 5in, making it some 9in taller than the Warwick.
Build was an interesting process – the Woodhall Nicholson Warwick started out as a Montego saloon supplied directly to the company by Austin Rover. Various pieces of interior trim were omitted in order to aid the conversion. The car was stripped and mounted on a special sliding jig, cut in half, and then separated. The Montego was then reconstituted using special panels, which incorporated reinforcements welded into place.
From delivery to the factory to delivery to the customer, the conversion from Montego to Warwick took 10-12 weeks and, as it was a fully Type Approved conversion, Austin Rover was happy to offer a factory warranty on the car.
Perhaps understandably, demand for these cars never put so much as a dent in orders for Coleman Milne’s contemporary core models – the Ford Granada-based Dorchester and Cardinal – but they did at least provide a cheaper alternative for those operating on a tight budget. However, it seems that only a handful of cars were converted, including three MG Montego-based Warwicks. One of these, a Royal Blue example, cropped on eBay in October 2003, selling for just under £1200.