International variations : Austin Victoria Mk2

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Could the Mk2 version have saved Authi?

Victoria Mk2 article written by Graham Arnold
with reference to messages contributed by members of the Spanish Authi chat forum
Updated, 8 January 2013

For some time now there has been evidence, in particular on the Spanish Authi chat forum, that Mk2 versions of the Austin Victoria were being prepared for launch just months before a disastrous fire engulfed part of the Authi factory in Landaben on 9 October 1974. It seems that this fire was one of the causes of the disappearance of Authi.

However, it also seems that some examples of Mk2 Victorias had already been sold on the Spanish market some years before the model’s impending launch was reported in the Spanish motoring press. Another twist in the fate of the Austin Victoria? Read on…

The story starts with the discovery of an article published in the July 1975 issue of the monthly Spanish car magazine Quatroruedas announcing that Mk2 versions of the Austin Victoria had been readied for sale, but that the version had got no further than the pre-production stage.

The text was accompanied by photographs of the front and rear of what was supposed to be a prototype version of the car and in which Mk2 badges could clearly been seen fixed to the radiator grille and bootlid. The article goes on to say that apart from the badges, the main differences between this Mk2 version and the previous (let’s say, Mk1) versions were a front-mounted radiator instead of a normal side-mounted one, together with an electric fan, plus newly-designed seats incorporating headrests and a completely different dashboard which, it was rumoured, might have been a copy of the Austin Apache one.

It finishes by saying that two or three examples of this model were built before the disastrous fire destroyed many valuable components of this version, and that the Mk2 never went into production due to the subsequent closure of the Authi factory. Perhaps I should point out here that it seems that these Mk2 versions were in no way connected with the Authi MG Victoria which was displayed on the Authi stand at the Feria del Autom—vil in Barcelona in April 1973.

However, the story takes on another twist, as several 1973-’74 Victoria Mk2s have now come to light. A regular contributor to the Authi chat forum owns a red Victoria Mk2, while a green one (pictured above) appeared in the “For Sale” section of the December 2002 issue of the Spanish classic car magazine Motor Classico.

When the owner of the red Mk2 approached the former Authi (now Rover) dealers in the northern Spanish city of Burgos to enquire about the possibility of the existence of Mk2 versions, he was told that one of their clients also has a Mk II, and that the main differences that they has seen were that the Mk2s came with homocinetic transmissions instead of the rubber versions, a front-mounted radiator with a fan, front seats with headrests and a speedometer incorporating a tripmeter, together with a different dashboard design.

When the son of an ex-Authi design office employee was asked about these mysterious Mk II versions, he said that they had been factory test cars. Some had been built incorporating new seats with headrests, while some had tinted glass, and others came with an electrical radiator fan.

What is not known is whether these Mk2 versions of the Victoria now extant are in fact these ex-factory works cars which had been sold on at a later date, or whether there were also examples of Mk IIs which had been sold through Authi dealerships. This last point is interesting as it has also been suggested that the reason why so few Mk IIs were ever sold in Spain (whether ex-factory or via dealerships) was that they were not actually built in Spain at all, but brought in from abroad. As an aside to the story, a forum member has also stated that some South African Austin Apaches were in fact imported into Spain!

I have tried to find out more about this last point on the Authi chat forum but so far to no avail.

So, how many Mk2 versions of the Austin Victoria were there, either in production, being imported or being readied for production? Your guess is as good as mine! Anyway, basically that is the story as far as we can tell for the moment. Until new information comes to light, that is. I will post any new details as soon as I get them.

We would also be very interested, and grateful, if you have any reliable information which could be added to the above story, thus helping to tie up some of the loose ends and put everything into a better perspective.


Update: 8 January 2013

Agustin Calvo Ingelmo

Regarding your search for new information about the Austin Victoria Mk2, I send you a link to the Authi cars forum, where I’ve spotted the only complete report of this model that I know of. Anecdotally, I can say too that 20 years ago, I saw in my the village a ‘strange’ dark green Victoria that could be a survivor of two or three prototypes.

This anecdote could be explained because I live in Los Corrales de Buelna, a small town that still exists (under Nissan today) the facilities of Nueva Montaña Quijano and, as an retired employed of the firm told me that mysterious Victoria was occasionally driven from Madrid by the son of an executive of the old factory.

Apart of that time I never saw again the car, and I couldn’t confirm my friend’s story.

Moreover, I include an approximate translation to english of this report published in the issue of july of 1975 by the dissapeared magazine Cuatro Ruedas:

Victoria, the last breath of Authi

Virtues: Front radiator/new clutch/70hp engine with single carburettor/CV joints/electric screenwasher/new dashboard/new seats/rear heated screen/warning lights

From its launch, two and a half years ago, the Victoria received no modification except the gearbox, that in last series was replaced by a new type with direct command and smoother feel. Everything else remained without major modifications.

The car that never was

However Authi worked long time ago in a new version of this model to include many improvements, some of them – as the new clutch announced by Fraymon in the last show car- had been unveiled. But the financial situation of the make, with shadows of doubt about the purchase by General Motors, didn’t make way to this new car and its projected launch was delayed.

Finally, when it seemed that the Mk2 could be manufactured, the tremendous fire suffered in the facilities of Pamplona last October finally cancelled the project because the majority of parts destined to the model was destroyed. Only two or three units remained as a demonstration of this Victoria Mk2 could have been: a car deeply improved in comparison with previous versions, as we can appreciate in this prototype that we localised in central services of Authi in Madrid.

Mechanics totally updated

The most obvious change when we open the bonnet is the new frontal radiator with electric cooling fan commanded by thermostat. The engine coooling is now as good as in more developed models in the market, improving the smoothness because in road use the fan normally remains switch-off and improves the mechanical security too due the better capacity to refrigerate the engine.

The engine presents a pair of remarkable improvements, the first one is the substitution of twin carburation of De Luxe version by a single carb, SU type too, of greater model HS6. The second one is the head, with smaller chambers, passing its compression ratio from 8,8 to 9,5. A new inlet manifold, a redesigned exhaust and a new distributor with different curves complete the engine modification.

The max power now reaches 70bhp at 5750rpm with all these changes, 2bhp more than previous Victoria De Luxe, not much certainly, but the engine is smoother and more useable and presents a consumption similar of better than twin carb version. Other important progress is the clutch, changed by a new diaphragm type more developed and much more progressive and gentle. The transmission was improved too, with new CV joints instead of rubber type ones. Not so new but interesting are other changes as a new alternator, a engine bay light, etc.

Comfort, above all

In the interior the new dashboard personalises unquestionably the car. Very complete and with several gauges well distributed and perfectly readable trough the new steering wheel and all of this forms and attractive set. All instruments are new but with a style very similar to Victoria De Luxe ones.

The fuel, oil pressure and water temp indicators now aren´t joined in a triple gauge but are independent, as in Mini Cooper. The rev counter is similar to previous type, as the odometer with an interesting partial counter.

Moreover we can see interesting changes in switches of the dashboard. Three modifications attract our attention: the warning lights switch, the electric screen washer and the heated rear screen. But the comfort is, maybe, the most important achievement. the new corduroy seats with headrest are really confortable, even more than previous. The improvements in other areas as the soundproofing are remarkable thanks to the front radiator, CV joints and a new noise insulation.

In the exterior of the car there are few changes and the Mk2 only can be distinguished by the vynil roof, a slightly different matt black grille and an additional rear mirror in  right door.

In the rear view highlights the black matt finish, as in the SEAT 1430/1600, the before mentioned rear heated screen and, naturally, the Mk2 emblems and the letter S in C-post instead of  the ‘V’ characteristic of the Victoria De Luxe. The rest of mechanical features remains unchanged. Its road manners, brakes and steering are remarkably good, as the Hydrolastic suspension, and in the field of performances we can refer a maximum speed near of 150km/h – but we can’t verify this figure due the low mileage of our model – and similar acceleration to Victoria De Luxe.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

18 Comments

  1. I really would like an Austin Victoria or Apache. I’ve no idea how to get one though. I guess that there aren’t many in the UK.

    I’d even have a go at driving one back from Spain!

  2. The term ‘homocinetic transmission’ sounds like something from cyberpunk fiction!

    The Authi Victoria in my view was a very attractive proposition that could have extended the life of ADO16 but like too many of the projects of the time was even when it came out almost too little too late. I remember the first one I ever saw – when I was on a family holiday in Greece. A nice Michelotti shape, even if it perhaps looked just a little awkward from some angles owing to its short nose origins.

  3. The Victoria does resemble a smoother Triumph Dolomite – and that’s a compliment. BL should have developed this as part of a larger 1100/1300 family and given the 1100/1300 a hatchback, instead of giving us the Allegro and Marina. Oh well, too late now…!

  4. Another foreign ADO16 variant that looked so much better than the original. Although parked up next to the Dolomite, I prefer the Triumph. Of course, they couldn’t have sold the Victoria here because of it’s similarities to the Dolomite/ Toledo.

    However it does go to show that they could have modernised the ADO16 rather than developed the Allegro, and at a fraction of the cost.

  5. From the pics from the Autoscout add the interior is very much like the standard “look” Austin De Luxe imported from Spain by the Danish BL distributor and sold in early 1975.
    The term ‘homocinetic transmission’ probably refers to the better inner CV joints that had replaced the original rubber joints.
    The engine specs are much similar to the MG 1300 MK II, except the Vic had one HS6 carb instead of 2 H4 of the MG.
    The Spanish Austin De Luxe had a 998 cc Cooper spec engine again with a single HS6 carb.

  6. The L-V advert a couple years ago had one of these seriously damaged.. I thought it was a Dolly, but it wasn’t… Would have fit well below Dolly range, then TM or SD2 would have fit above..

  7. For what it’s worth, the story I was told about the closure of Authi was that it had become a whipping boy of the Spanish Labour Unions. Being ‘patriotic’, they reasoned that the best car factory to use for setting pay rises through strike action was a British-owned one! Consequently it became uneconomic to run.

  8. My ideal scenario (Never mind the back end) was – as the 11/1300 was still selling well even in 73 that they gave it the front end of the Victoria as an update for a couple of extra years life in order to get the Allegro – er – sorted and launched in 1975. That’s what I tell myself to do as I travel back in time just before dozing off to sleep of a night time. Zzzzzz. 🙂

  9. It would certainly be interesting to see the Victoria estate car in full. Was the rear end also modified or was the Farina design left alone?

  10. SORRY BUT I DO NOT SPEAK ENGLISH.(SPANISH O FRENCH ONLY).
    I HAVE ONE VICTORIA OF 1973 YEAR FOR SALE. IT IS IN ACCEPTABLES CONDITIONS.

  11. You really have to wonder why this wasn’t made by BL themselves. Instead of the Mk3 version, why didn’t they have this by around 1968? This would have sold well up to around 1977/78. Just look at how sales of ADO 16 sales held up right until they stopped being produced.

    The investment to produce this was far less than required for the Allegro, as the centre section was unchanged. A hatchback could easily have been produced too. It really annoys me that the management at the time were so myopic.

    This and Marina together could have taken on the Cortina. IF done properly, and there lies the rub.

  12. The Victoria / Apache makes me wonder why BMC never considered an earlier three-box ADO16 akin to an enlarged 4-door Riley Elf / Wolseley Hornet, since the Victoria / Apache is the same length as the Austin Maxi as well as being much cheaper to develop in comparison.

    A 1.6-1.75 E-Series would have kept the booted ADO16 saloon (in both regular and Michelotti form) in contention with the mk2 later mk3 Ford Cortina despite being 250cc short of the 2.0-litre mk3 Cortina as well as being 6-inches shorter then the BMC ADO17 (allowing the latter to become a larger 2.0-litre+ car whilst enabling the three-box 1600cc+ ADO16 saloon to replace the Farina B models), though unsure whether it would have been possible let alone necessary for an updated ADO16 to receive a 2.0-litre B-Series / O-Series.

    That would in turn have allowed the existing ADO16 to become a hatchback inspired by the Mystique conversion before it would be in turn updated and rebodied.

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