Austin de Luxe: The 1.0-litre ADO16
In 1974, just as the BMC 1100/1300 (ADO16) was preparing to face its final curtain in the UK, Authi introduced a new 998cc version of the standard-bodied car, known simply as the Austin de Luxe. The specifications make interesting reading – with 55bhp on tap, it would have been likely to outperform a standard 48bhp 1100 model, although it had to make do with slightly less torque (56.4lb ft, against 60lb ft for the 1100).
More likely, though, is that the engine was produced at the Authi factory at Los Conrales. According to BL Denmark employee Erik Loye, the engines used in the Austin de Luxe were identical to the Cooper 998 except for having only one SU carburettor (and Femsa ignition and electrics). He stated that: ‘The engine performed well in the heavier ADO16 body, but needed to be revved somewhat more.’
What was it like to drive and own?
In service, Loye added that the Austin de Luxe was overall a reliable car (as well it should have been after being in production for over a decade): ‘The only real problem with the de Luxe was the plastic heater elements, which did not produce enough heat, I believe all of these had their element changed to a brass one.’
This weakness probably belied the car’s Spanish origins, where heater output was somewhat less important than it would be in more temperate Northern European climes. Barely a year later, BL’s decision to withdraw from manufacture in Spain (see below) saw the axe fall on the Authi operation. However, there must have been considerable stockpiles of this model, as it remained on sale in some far-flung markets.
The 1000-or-so examples of the Austin de Luxe offered for sale in Denmark were sold alongside the remaining 1100/1300s during January and February 1975. However, according to Loye, it could well be that these were sold right through until February 1976, when stocks were finally exhausted.
Meanwhile, in Greece, where the arrival of the new Allegro had done little to dent the ADO16’s popularity, sales continued into 1977.
Thanks to Henrik Thostrup, Erik Loye and Demetris Bouras for the information on sales in Denmark and Greece respectively.
This page was contributed by Declan Berridge