BMC 1100/1300 : Australian variations

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Morris 1500 and Nomad

The Australian market featured a number of interesting variations on the ADO16 theme which we didn’t get on the home market. The most fascinating was the five-door Nomad, which might have kick-started the hatchback family car market years before the arrival of the Volkswagen Golf… or negated the need for the Austin Maxi.

Morris Nomad added much needed versatility to the ADO16...
Morris Nomad added much needed versatility to the ADO16…

In 1964, around a year-and-a-half after its UK launch, a locally-built (but otherwise fairly standard) version of the Morris 1100 was launched in Australia, where it was sold alongside the Mini and Austin A40 Farina. In August 1967, the 1100 was joined by the 1100S, which actually had the 1275cc A-Series engine of the UK’s 1300 models.

Both these models were replaced in mid-1969 by the Morris 1500. This was effectively a hybrid car developed (in the UK) specifically for the Australian market and using a lightly-modified MkII ADO16 bodyshell but with the 1500cc E-Series engine of the Austin Maxi. Transmission choices were initially four-speed manual, although the Maxi’s five-speeder was added later. Interestingly, the AP automatic version of this car retained the 1275cc A-Series engine, as was thus known as the Morris 1300.

However, the most intriguing of the Australian ADO16 models was the Morris Nomad, a six-light version of the 1500 with a Maxi-like rear-end – including the all-important hatchback. The 1500 and Nomad were updated over the years to comply with the progressive requirements of the Australian Design Rules (which governed car safety), before being phased out in 1972/73, in favour of the new Morris Marina.

The Longbridge-developed mock-up (above) for project YDO15, the Morris Nomad; and below, some images from the sales brochure for the production version.
The Longbridge-developed mock-up (above) for project YDO15, the Morris Nomad; and below, some images from the sales brochure for the production version

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created 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


  1. My family owned four Morris 15oos. Two Nomads and two sedans. We always had a Ford or a Holden in the garage as well so the we had a car that we could actually drive.

    • the early 1500 was 4 speed cable, then in 70 became 5 speed, known as the o/d5 model. the last ones had wood trim dash and bucket seats.
      i had a 1500 o/d5, with the bench seat, and a bl special tuning twin carb kit. it flew.

  2. the early 1500 was 4 speed cable, then in 70 became 5 speed, known as the o/d5 model. the last ones had wood trim dash and bucket seats.
    i had a 1500 o/d5, with the bench seat, and a bl special tuning twin carb kit. it flew.

  3. The Australian end of BMC/British Leyland seemed to have lots of good product ideas. How were labour relations?

    Seems like a better BMC from a parallel (and sunnier) universe. A BMC with added vitamin D?!

  4. With hindsight thanks to the “Barber Boom” they could have sold every ADO16 they could make in 71 (shows how far the Maxi missed the market that it failed to achieve its sales targets when there was a waiting list for the ADO16), this not only puts the good sales performance of the Marina in context as the ADO16 was taken out of production at Cowley and withdrawn from the Nuffield dealer network to make way for the Marina.

    Given that it was clear in 68 that the Maxi would miss the market, it would have made more sense to keep the Mini in production at Cowley (the Maxi replaced it) and put the Maxi and Austin 1800 / 2200 on the same track instead, surplus E series production could be soaked up by introducing the 1500 and hatchback variants to the ADO16 range. This would have meant the money invested into the Marina could have been invested into the ADO16 replacement, which might just have and probably should have led to a Bertone styled replacement for the ADO16 being sold alongside the Bertone (Innocenti) reskin of the Mini as a replacement for the Mini Clubman in 1974.

    A lot of if’s and may be to get to that, and we have to accept that nobody saw the Barber Boom coming (or even understood it at the time), but even without I believe the marina was an unnecessary distraction and given its modest objectives, too expensive to bring to production and efforts would have been better spent building on the success BMC had and continued to have with the ADO16 across the globe.

  5. Labour relations were very good compared to the parent company , the management structure did not reflect the class system as it may have done in the UK .
    the 1500/Nomad was prematurely terminated when it was decided to adopt rear-drive platforms across the range .So it never got refinements like the rod change gearbox that would have been such an improvement. Development and promotion of the cars basically stopped after 1970 as all resources went into the P76 project .

  6. Australian cars of the period had more in common with American ones, which the Ford and Holden cars were based on, than the smaller products of BMC, which explains why they introduced the P6 and six cylinder versions of the Marina. At the time, petrol was cheap, Australia is a big country and something like an ADO 16 wasn’t really designed for the Australian climate, or for carrying families in comfort over long distances, where a V8 would be much more suitable.

  7. My aunt had a 1500 O/D5 LP – The LP signified the Luxury Pack which got you bucket seats, carpets, “wood” on the dash and a chrome strip on the side. Oh, and a ‘wood’ gear knob which was uncomfortable to use, broke, and was replaced by the dealer with a Leyland truck shift knob with the same pattern – much more comfortable to use! I suspect most of the luxury pack bits were probably standard on UK cars, and had been stripped out to ‘Australianise’ the cars and make them more suitable for rural use. As for the standard bench seat, you certainly wouldn’t want to travel three abreast in the front of any ADO16 variant!
    Things were always going wrong with the 1500, compared to the 1100s another aunt and uncle both had. The local dealer seemed to have troubles tuning it or keeping it in tune, and it always seemed to run rough at idle but smooth out beautifully once you got going.

  8. I totally agree with Graham’s 20th Jan comment. This is the most sensible “what if” scenario for a BMC/BLMC model structure that has appeared on this sight (apart from outsourcing the entire production process to Ford).

    Imagine NO MARINA and a better 1100 successor ! And if they had stopped building the Minor earlier, surely the 1100 would have increased numbers. BMC should have had the confidence to fully commit to FWD and drop RWD entirely, except for the Luxury end of the market.

  9. These were good cars let down by the cable gearchange which I believe the local producer was forced to use by the UK parent company after they had switched to the rod gearchange for the maxi. Australian management identified this as an issue prior to release but were forced to use the cabled gearboxes to clear stock. It was the cars major fault. It was marketed as the sensible sports car and it came close to this in 5 speed form. Why this model wasn’t sold in the uk always surprised me as it was the logical development of the 1100

    • These cars were rubbish; My family owned 3 of the things. They overheated, had massive torque steer, were impossible to tune, were noisy, had cheap interiors with cardboard shelves and were not properly developed before they were released. The cable gear linkages were the least of our worries.

      They didn’t sell the 15oo in England because BMC/BLMC/LEYLAND would have been sued.

  10. Would be interesting if any owners of the Australian Morris 1500 / Nomad models ever attempted to fit the larger 1750cc E-Series or 1600cc S-Series engines.

    Perhaps a British built Nomad would have been more marketable had it featured the front-end of the Apache / Victoria or even the Maxi (the latter in both twin and quad headlamp forms), along with butterflying away the Austin Maxi as well as possibly even the Austin Allegro.

    • The big problem with the cable change was that the detent interlock was at the gear lever end rather than the transmission as in the 1800, as the cables ran through an arc they never came back to a central position causing the selector fork faces to be loaded against the side of the groove in the gear, this resulted in the forks wearing out, this was overcome in Australia by hard chrome flashing the faces of the selector forks as an interim fix while the transmission cases were reworked to include a ball interlock system operating on the selector forks.

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