By Julian Mounter
With a streak of inspiration now rarely demonstrated in the British motor industry, British Leyland’s Austin-Morris group today launches a new and revised range based on the popular, but hitherto rather stodgy, 1800 model.
By giving thn car a six-cylinder 2.2 litre engine, the group has extended its life considerably; by competitive pricing it might also have guaranteed the range wider appeal and better sales. The 1800 unit is retained, but the Wolseley 18/85 version has been dropped, as have the S versions of both cars.
So the range is now
With its enormous space, excellent road holding because of front-wheel drive and comfortable hydrolastic suspension, the 1800 has always been good value on paper. But its roughness of character often seen as inconsistent with what is expected of a “big” car: smooth power and a really unfussy, quiet ride.
The six-cylinder engine has changed all that. lt has added the qualities of smoothness and high performance to those of good roadholding and ride. I would therefore thoroughly recommend the six-cylinder models to anyone with £1,370.63 to spend on a big car, or £1,520.63 to spend on the more luxurious Wolseley.
The 2200s are £300 cheaper than the Triumph 2000, only a few pounds more than the new Victor 2300L and a lot cheaper than some of the imported big cars. The Wolseley, in my opinion, becomes one of the finest £1,500 cars for the big family. It is only £22 more than the 18/85S which it replaces, but offers much, much more.
Even the 1800 is improved slightly. The gear change is made more positive with rod operation, the interior has been cleaned up and the exterior styling made less fussy. One particularly welcome change is the placing of the handbrake between the front seats. The heater controls have been changed and mounted closer to the driver and the ignition switch incorporates a steering column lock.
Acceleration of the new six-cylinder cars is considerably quicker than that of the ordinary 1800s. 0-60 mph can be achieved in about 13 sec, compared with 17 sec, and 0-80 mph comes down to 24 sec from 35. The penalty is that the cars are more thirsty. British Leyland says that at a steady 30 mph, 36 mpg can be achieved with the 2200 and Six, compared with 42.7 mpg with the 1800. In fact consumption in ordinary driving will be considerably less in both cases.
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.