Concepts and prototypes : Austin Montego Estate (LM11E)

Lots of thought went into the estate conversion on the Austin Montego

Here’s the inside story from its Designers.

Montego LM11E, the estate version

LM11 Estate

As with the LM11 saloon, there were several styling themes investigated with the estate version, but it looks like the best theme made it into production.

John Ashford, the Designer of the Montego estate, said: ‘Steve Harper and myself did a proposal each. Steve’s was more of a fastback and mine had the more vertical back which became the preferred option for production.

‘I wanted to distance the estate from the Maestro hatch to give more capacity and make it obviously different. Although it looks larger than the Montego saloon, it is actually the same length.’

LM11 Estate
Two tailgate proposals in one – these photos were taken at the Longbridge Exterior Studio, October 1981. The two alternative studies for the Montego LM11 Estate by John Ashford (upright Volvo style) and Steve Harper (Mercedes-Benz fastback style, furthest from camera). (Picture: John Ashford)

John added: ‘I was keen to provide a level floor into the boot area to make an easy load platform and, from my point of view as a keen walker, possible to sit there comfortably, with the tailgate raised, to change from boots to shoes without muddying the interior. This requirement dictated the central drop line of the rear bumper.’

Austin LM11E estate
Double-sided clay model in the design studio. (Picture: Stephen Harper)
Austin LM11E estate
Further work on the double-sided model at the Kremlin, and it looks quite close to the final production car, save a few details. Steve ‘Topper’ Clarke is shown taking sections of the clay model for draughting. (Picture: Stephen Harper)
Keith Adams
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  1. I always thought the estate Montego was the best looking of all thr models. It was a good load lugger, especially in Diesel form. A friend of mine’s dad owned one and only replaced it with a Bluebird when the rust killed her off.

  2. I had several Montego Estate models over the years through the Rover Management Car Scheme, and I must agree that the diesels were superb. We travelled all over Europe and they were brilliant, especially with the self leveling rear suspension.

  3. I had two over a 10 year period, a 2.0GSi and a Countryman 2.0i. Both were great cars, the GSi in particular, achieving 225K miles in 6 years and only killed by the rust. Quick, comfortable, economical, handled well and generally reliable. 7 seats and self levelling rear suspension. Volvo estate capability for Sierra estate money.

      • @ Dave, the Austin era cars were bad for rust, actually worse than the Ambassador and Maxi that seemed to be quite resistant to rust. Even in the Rover era, when the Montego became a much better car, the wheelarches could still rust after 4 years.

  4. A work colleague bought one around 1990, it was a 2.0i in a sort of metallic maroon.

    Looked smart but after about four years the rear wheelarches and the rear ends of the sills erupted in rust. Investigation showed that it had spread into the inner sills, and the rear footwells. There was also catastrophic rust in the front valance behind the plastic bumper.

    Exit Montego, my colleague took a massive financial hit, and only ever bought Volvos and SAABs after that.

  5. The facelift Monty Estate (1989?) was my preferred version. A colleague had a 1.6LX in light blue metallic with smart silver wheelcovers (popular then before alloys). it was a good drive on the open road and seats were comfortable.

    From memory I think it was reliable despite doing a high mileage. My colleague bought it from the firm when he retired.

  6. I remember my Dad once hired a Montego estate for a family visit when his Cavalier needed a collapsed wheel bearing sorting out.

    He wasn’t impressed with it’s handling compared to the Cavalier, and it was a little reluctant to start when cold after a sub-zero night on a driveway.

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