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.