The cars : Authi Victoria

The three-box ADO16, as restyled by Michelotti – it shared its basic body structure with the South African Austin Apache and, to this day, fans say that this car should have been launched in the UK to boost BL’s sales.

But would it have been a success here in 1972? Sadly, we’ll never know.

The Austin Victoria. According to Julian Marsh, who drove the car some time back, it suffered from a rather "difficult" gear change and was fitted with an eight-track stereo!

IN October 1972, Authi replaced its Morris and MG ADO16 models with the Victoria (Spanish for victory, so not named after a girl, queen, place or station). There is a rumour that the name was a chosen as a sardonic comment on the similarity of Michelotti’s styling job to his previous Triumph 1500 design, particularly evident from the rear.

The bodyshell was borrowed from the Austin Apache produced in South Africa. It has to be said that, in reality, the Victoria was a failure, as was Authi itself, although one can’t help wondering whether it could have been a success in the UK market…

A Mk2 version was developed and a handful of examples were built before fire swept the Pamplona factory, and the Authi adventure came to an end…

This MG-badged Victoria (above), with a tuned, twin-carb (83bhp) version of the 1275cc engine, twin headlamps and a revised interior, was shown at the Barcelona Motor Show in April 1973, but never entered production. (Picture: MG: The Untold Story, by David Knowles)


A small selection of Mk1 Victoria images culled from brochures, adverts and magazines.




Victoria pictured in the wild in 2008. (Picture: Rob Cawley)

UK Victorias

Seven years ago, at the 2012 BMC/BL Rally in Peterborough, an Austin Victoria was compared with its Michelotti-styled contemporary, the Triumph Dolomite. There are some striking similarities.




Keith Adams
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  1. I will never understand why, in 1974, these did not come to the UK and carry the Austin/Morris brand, the revisions of 1500 and 1750 engine, and provide a distinct, small, FWD saloon competitor to the Chevette, Escort etc.

    There’s a hint of 1970’s Audi in the designs, that looks clean and modern.

  2. I totally agree Richard, these would have also sold really well in New Zealand up against the escort. Leyland had managed to stuff the 1500 engine and sell them into the proper ADO16s in Australia, so it had already been done successfully.
    They could have had a range that went from 1300 A series to 1500 and 1750 variants.
    This paired with the interesting Morris Kimberley / Tasman 1800 replacements would have gone a long way toward filling the void in sales that the Allegro / Maxi / Princess created.

    • It was the Austin Kimberley and Tasman in Australia, Morris in NZ! I know one of each in top condition for sale soon.

    • Having owned several Morris 1500 (ADO16)I would hardly use the word “successfully” to describe how they were “done”. BMC/BLMC used the Australian public as test engineers. There are three different head gaskets for the 1500, to change a clutch you have to pull out the motor, the things overheated…….

      • I had a rear main replaced in the Ausi Morris 1500, Nz Austin 1500 I owned many years ago by a Leyland workshop I had the vehicle back in less than 8 hours I would be very surprised if that was an engine out job

        • I don’t know if it was a deliberate design strategy in anticipation of the constant need to remove and install engines but those things (1500/1300/1100 motors)can be taken out quite quickly with the right tools (sockets with universal joints) and a bit of practice…….

          You only need to remove the battery holder (four bolts accessible from the wheel arch) unbolt the four engine mounts (at least one of which is usually in need of replacement), undo the four bolts holding each of the CV shafts to the diff output shaft flange, undo the two nuts on the exhaust/manifold flange and drop the gear shift lever (two bolts or screws, can’t remember, under the floor)and disconnect the fuel line.

          Then you’re ready to hoist the gearbox/engine lump to the height necessary to get to the clutch housing retaining bolts…..With luck the electrical cabling (little that there is of it)will have enough slack.

          Reverse the process when you’re done.

          If the workshop had two skilled people working together (one under the car, one under the bonnet) they could have it ready by lunchtime……assuming you had the correct rear main, there were three different ones, one of which was quite rare by the late 70s, so engine serial numbers were very important when ordering parts….

          Ah, they don’t make them like that anymore……..

          • Oh, and remove the radiator which is probably the worst part due to the location of the bolts and the sharp edges of the fan cowling…….don’t loose that 1/2-9/16 ring spanner

  3. Another Missed Opportunity…. Despite all the in house competition i.e. Rover/Triumph 2000, spitfire/MG Midget, GT6/MGB etc (although they all appealed to different Buyers) BL condemned any more in house rivalry, Allegro/Princess got head clouting Boot Lids rather than steal sales from the Maxi which wasnt selling that well anyway, whilst I can only guess the Victoria/Apache would have stolen sales from the Toledo/Dolomite.

    Back in the 70s I’m pretty sure this would of sold very well against Escorts, Cortina’s, Avengers, Hunters etc, It probably could have even killed off the Marina? Then again the 1100/1300 was an old design by then and costing a few £££ keeping it in production, so you can see why the Allegro came along complete with cost cutting improvements in every area…. Perhaps if the Agro became a hit a saloon booted style could been pushed forward?

  4. Not so much a car that could have continued the sales of ADO16 but one that could have addressed the criticism of BLMC for not developing the car if it had been launched in 1972.

    It could however had soldiered on in saloon form as a conservative Morris allowing the Austin badge to be used on a hatchback version of the Allegro, preferably with B instead of E series engines allowing a less bulbous front.

  5. I was on holiday in Asturias, northern Spain in the early 1970s when these cars arrived on the beach for a photo shoot..the beach was a small but stunning location called La Franca. This was still the time of Fascism and you could only buy vehicles built in Spain or face huge import duties and everyone drove a SEAT ( old FIAT ) or an enormous Dodge…these vehicles caused quite a stir and made a lasting impression on me as my Mother drove a Wolseley 1300 auto..brilliant car … Father was driving a 2.5 Triumph PI…which created a crowd wherever we went. The red one is clearly on said beach and the poor woman on the car roof is in full Asturian national costume….poor soul.
    Lovely looking car..happy memories…brilliant site, thanks to all who make iy happen…john

  6. We should have had this body style in Australia rather than the re-hashed Morris 1100 that became the Morris 1500 sedan, also the Nomad could have shared the same front end as well. It certainly would have been a more modern and attractive vehicle than what we actually had, maybe sales would have been higher too.

  7. I’m afraid this was Michelotti trying to turn an Austin into a Triumph. It never worked, thankfully the Pininfarina styling was far better, crisper and better balanced. It’s a shame the replacement 1100/1800 ranges didn’t go with the Aerodynamica styling Farina came up with for those models, even Harris Mann said in hinesight they should have gone down that path expect Harry Webster was a fan of Michelotti and probably killed it off. No doubt if the Aerodynamica styling had come from Michelotti, Webster would have gone with it!

  8. Is it just me or are the front bumpers really that much askew in the promotional photos? For heaven’s sake…

  9. It looks like they couldn’t be bothered speccing new wiring to put the indicators further away from their original location then had no more sense than to design & fit large lights which caused the maligned bumper to be even more exaggerated.

  10. The Austin Apache has a different front end, with single square headlights, and the indicators next to them, instead of being separate.

    Thus, the bumper is at the correct angle!

  11. They missed a trick by not producing a more powerful MG-badged version of the Victoria (and ADO16 in general) with 83-90 hp with the Twin-Carb 1275cc A-Series (and possibly an earlier 100+ hp 1.6/1750 Twin-Carb E-Series) instead of the 70 hp in the real-life MG 1300, which is far less then one would expect from a car its size compared to the smaller 76 hp 1275cc Mini Cooper S.

    For the UK, perhaps the Single Headlamp front could have been restricted to the 4-door Victoria under the Morris badged (Morris Manx?) to differentiate it a bit from the Triumph Dolomite, while restricting the Twin Headlamp front for the 3/5-door hatchback (with a neat Mystique-inspired rear hatch) Victoria variant under the Austin badge.

  12. Sure that with a 3 box body, ADO16 was a bigger car, certainly in line with the high end Escort and lower Cortina market, the Eseries allowed it to do so . As for the hatchback version, it was a crime not to introduce it, even more so than the (too?) expensive Pininfarina Aerodynamica. Although based on an old design, they would have updated one of the darlings of the 60’s and maybe kept production lines running, they were worth a premium, which Allegro didn’t seem to justify to the very few customers…AAAh, the luxury of hindsight. A shame though

  13. Certainly better looking than a Marina. I agree wholeheartedly with comments about the Aussie Morris 1500. This is the front sheet metal that we should have had, combined with the E series and 5 speed gearbox and hatchback (similar to Maxi) this car could have taken the fight up to the Corolla and Datsun 1200/1500s that swamped this class in the 1970s down-under.

  14. Indeed, BLMC Australia didn’t get the styling right with the Morris 1500. The curse of the E series showed how things were to come when it came to the Allegro’s podgy front end & high waist line.

    • It seems to be a recurring theme around here “the Allegro’s podgy/dumpy styling, high waistline etc”. Look around you people that describes every new car on the road today (Jag F type excepted).
      The Allegro was 40 years ahead of the styling trend.

  15. An interesting car which yes, does look like a Dolomite / Toledo at first sight, which maybe shows how limited Michelotti was with his designs. Certainly an interesting and (presubaly) cost-effective way of updating the ADO 16 and giving significantly more luggage space.
    I would be interested to see an underbonnet picture to see what use if any was made of the extra space around the engine (did they use commin sense & go for a front-mounted coolant radiator?). Plus seeing the grilles on the C pillars, did the car have some sort of throughflow ventilation, or are they just dummies?

  16. Allgro or restyled updated 1300, which is better?
    Only one way to find out.

    How about road testing a Victoria against a mark 1 Allegro and dolomite?

  17. In Australia the only Dolomite we saw was the Sprint so the Victoria would have slotted in nicely below that and made a good bridge between that and the Mini which had a squared off frontal treatment by then.

    The range (my dream team) then would have been:

    “LEYLAND” MOKE (to align it with the trucks)
    MINI (Just Mini, not Austin OR Morris)
    TRIUMPH VICTORIA (Sedan and Hatch/Nomad)
    P76 (just the V8, no six) but called “TRIUMPH 4400”
    JAGUAR XJ6/12

    Note: NO MARINA or E series. Thanks, but, no thanks. This would have saved a lot of effort developing short lived cars that cost so much in warranty claims, (Kimberly, Marina, 1500).

    Chrysler Australia’s Valiant survived for 20 years over here and only used two, basically similar, platforms.

    How about adding a Ford or Vauxhall model into the road test mix?

  18. These AutHI (AutoHispanoIngleses/SpaniardBritishCar), were built in Pamplina. Today, us the same place where VW,built the Polo for Europe.
    Those Victorias, were really good cars. Well finished, and Fast.
    The niche of owners, were in the medim/up of social status (medicals, advocates, profesionnals…), particullarly the Victoria Súper ( round lights, Rostyles, vinyl roof, 1275GT engines…. And British green, of course, exterior paint!)

  19. BMC/BL were basically finished because of a perfect storm that always brewed their way. In the 60s and into the 70s it was work stoppages, strikes that extended to transporters and the dock workers so that even with a demand for cars in the US, the cars sat built and unable to move. Warranty claims and government monetary policy made things difficult for BMC as interest rates and taxes conspired against the home market. In the US, car dealers moved on to other brands such as Nissan et el. Eventually it was the Japanese who ate BL’s lunch.

  20. One question that comes to mind is why BMC did not consider a three box 2/4-door saloon variant earlier on? They did after all build such a variant (albeit 2-door) in the case of the Mini-based Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet.

    It would have also allowed both the existing Mini and ADO16 variants to become hatchbacks from the outset, even without Michelotti styling the three box saloon variant could have still been styled by Pininfarina (minus the large tailfins).

  21. Despite their visual similarities as a result of both being designed by Michelotti, his work on Victoria IMHO looks a lot fresher in most respects at least with regards to being better suited for the 70s whereas the Dolomite and later 1300/1500 look rougher in comparison.

    The only plausible explanation as to why Triumph did not allow Michelotti to give Ajax a more extensive facelift or rebody as proposed for ADO22 for the early 1970s (never mind the later Dolomite facelift) like he did with ADO16 for what became the Apache / Victoria, would likely be because Triumph’s original intention was to develop Toledo/Dolomite (and lightly facelift 1300/1500) as a stop-gap before replacing them all with the Bullet/Lynx-derived Bobcat Project (see Giovanni Michelotti – a free stylist for image of Bobcat) followed later the SD2 and TM1 Projects.

  22. it has just occurred to me that I neally need to know what this front end on the estate would lookmlike

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