Concepts and Prototypes : Austin Montego (LM11 saloon)

Part of a three-pronged attack on the medium car sector, the LM11 was to be BL’s new mid-sized saloon, based heavily on the upcoming LM10 (née LC10).

Montego: LM11 styling models

LM11 saloon
A booted Maestro, pure and simple, and although this full-size clay model looks clean and appealing, there were doubts about the appeal of the car. Designers at Longbridge and Solihull were tasked with giving the car more presence on the road, thereby making it a true force in the medium sector of the market…

What became the Austin Montego – known as the LM11 – was originally planned to sit closer to what became the Maestro or LM10 (née LC10). Like that, it would have complemented the hatchback in the same way as the Volkswagen Jetta did to the Golf, or the Orion to the Escort.

As can be seen from the images on this page, the LM11 grew to become a true Ford Sierra or Vauxhall Cavalier rival – and did so in a rather clever way.

The scale model in the photograph below clearly shows that the LM11 saloon started off as a notchback LM10 – and, although it’s not an unpleasant design, it would have had a more limited market appeal than the car than finally hit the showroom in 1984…

LM11 saloon
The re-think resulted in a Roger Tucker design for the front and rear, which gave the car an entirely larger look. Note the rather clumsy rear side window treatment, Ambassador-style note treatment and unaltered LM10 centre section… (With thanks to the British Motor Museum at Gaydon).
LM11 saloon
…but not before this fully-engineered model was produced. Note the Maestro dashboard, 13-inch wheels and smart rear lamp clusters. The rear end treatment is far cleaner and possibly more appealing than the rather fussy arrangement which was devised for the final model…
LM11 saloon
A further development of the LM11 – with clean looking side-window treatment
LM11 saloon
Alternative frontal treatment was devised for the LM11, too – a much cleaner solution than the Maestro. The following three pictures were taken at the Longbridge Round House Studio in November 1981. The pre-Chris Greville Smith Montego LM11 front end design looks clean. (Picture: Stephen Harper)
LM11 saloon
A flush grille for this proposal. (Picture: Stephen Harper)
LM11 saloon
Is there a touch of Ford of Europe with this one? Stephen Harper is photographed with the full-sized clay model. (Picture: Stephen Harper)
Austin LM11 saloon
Further development of this theme with larger rear lamp clusters. This side window treatment was eventually dropped.
LM11 saloon
The Roger Tucker/Ian Beech effort was given the nod, and developed into a full-size prototype – and then okayed for production in 1981… Roy Axe changed very little of this design, but the tweaks he made were certainly effective in tidying up this effort.
Keith Adams


  1. The Roger Tucker/Ian Beech “effort” pictured above is reported to have very less than impressed Roy Axe.

    However, I have often thought this – Whilst Axe’s new indicators and mouldings at the base of the side windows improved things his version of the rear window did not. Imagine this Tucker/Beech car in final trim. Side on, anyway, the rear window treatment looks much more harmonious than the final Axe production car.

  2. The earlier Montego full size models look much better, with their conventional slim C pillar and thicker D pillar, why was this changed to the weird looking arrangement for the production models?

  3. With Harris Mann’s 3/5-door hatchback Longbridge LC10 proposal in mind, is it known if he also produced proposals for the LM11 saloon and estate?

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