Archive : Morris 1100 launched today

The BMC ADO16 is announced today
‘Big Brother’ Of BMC Mini Will Be Car Of The Year
From Our Motoring Correspondent

A new car embracing all the technical virtues and fine performance qualities of the BMC Mini cars but with greater power and a full five-seater body is announced today by the British Motor Corporation.

This is the Morris 1100 – or secret project ADO 16 – the long- awaited ‘big brother’ to the Mini. Aimed at countering the Volkswagen’s success in world markets, it is a ruggedly built machine that will cost under £700 in Britain and incorporates an entirely new suspension system using rubber and water.

Its power comes from the proved BMC A-series four-cylinder engine of the Minor 1000 and Mini-Minor enlarged to 1,098 c.c. which develops an output of 48bhp at 5,100rpm As with the Mini, the engine is mounted transversely in the nose, driving the front wheels through a four-speed gearbox. But the water-cooling system is sealed like that of the latest Renaults, with an expansion tank below the radiator level needing no topping-up or anti-freeze.

Cruising speed of the Morris 1100 (an Austin version is not planned at present) is well over 70mph At this speed it will return 28mpg and up to 50mpg at a steady 40mph There are 8in. Lockheed disc brakes at the front, with drums at the rear. All four 12in. wheels are independently sprung, and there are only four greasing points which require attention every 3.000 miles.

Both the Mini and the Austin A40 can be seen in the design, but exceptional internal space is the biggest feature of the Pininfarina-styled body, which is shorter, wider and lower than the Minor 1000. It has clean, functional lines, an unusually wide rear window, slanting bonnet and small fins housing the rear lamp mouldings. Prices for the new Morris, which will not replace any of the current BMC models, range from £661, including purchase tax, for the two-door basic saloon to £695 for the four-door de luxe version.

Behind the heavily patented ‘Hydrolastic’ suspension, tested over 500,000 miles and eliminating the use of conventional dampers, lies six years development by Mr Alec Issigonis, BMC’s technical director and designer of the Morris Minor and Mini cars, and Mr Alex Moulton, whose rubber cone suspension first appeared in the Mini-Minor. This new system, made by Dunlop; is simple, hermetically sealed and designed to require no maintenance throughout the life of the car.

Rubber is the springing medium and water (with anti-freeze) applies the load to the rubber cone springs, which are connected longitudinally by narrow-bore pipes running beneath the car. By this means a controlled interconnection is provided, so that when either front wheel hits a bump a tapered piston rises in the front cone forcing water out of it and along the pipe to the rear suspension unit, which reacts by lifting the rear of the car to the level attained by the front. On rebound the procedure is reversed. Roll and pitch tuning bars are built into the suspension, which automatically stiffens under hard cornering load, with the front wheels continually transmitting information to the rear and keeping the whole machine on an even keel.

Testing the car over some of the worst British roads and tracks I found that it provided a remarkably level ride-an impression of floating. Over pot-holed and deeply rutted tracks the wheels clung to the surface and gave complete stability and light steering control, without transmitting shock. It swept through corners at almost any speed with a roll-free, railway line precision that surpasses even the responsive Mini-Minor’s handling, while on semi- flooded surfaces the roadholding was never in doubt. There was a feeling of solid rigidity about the bodywork. Outstanding speed is not claimed for the 1100, though it is certainly ‘tunable’ and should be a serious contender in international competitions.

My test car, which had covered 1,800 miles, accelerated from standstill to 30mph in 7secs, to 40mph in 10sec., and to 60mph in 21sec. From 30 to 60mph in third gear took 13.5sec. On motorways it cruised at 70-80mph. and reached an optimistic maximum of 87mph (In top gear 1,000rpm represents 14.9mph)

As gearboxes were one of the worst features of the earlier Minis, it is pleasant to report that this car has a fine gearbox, remotely controlled through a solid, floor- mounted lever that encourages full use of the ratios, which are quiet and well synchronized by baulk-ring on the upper three. Movement of the lever is crisp, with first gear giving tip to 26mph, second pulling powerfully to 40mph. and third to 55mph from as low as 8mph, while fourth is more than an ‘ overdrive ‘.

Braking was smooth and progressive, needing fairly firm pedal pressure. As on the Mini, a special valve eliminates pressure on the back wheels to prevent locking in emergency stops. Spaciousness and all-round visibility were the most striking points inside the car. With both front seats pushed back, rear passengers had ample leg and headroom-certainly more than on some two- litre saloons-and convex door panels and windows gave plenty of shoulder width. Although the seats are not adjustable for rake, the driving position is more comfort- able than in the Mini.

Parcel and luggage space is exceptionally good-a square 9-2 cu. ft. boot which houses the spare wheel and 8-5 gallon fuel tank, front door pockets, a deep shelf behind the rear seat, and space beneath the rear seats and in and under the fascia. Generally the standard of trim and finish is good, but more attention will need to be given to detail, particularly the door locks and plastic door and window handles, which look fragile.

Screenwashers and demister are standard only on the de luxe model. Good design points include a non-reflecting ‘crackle-finished ‘ fascia, child-proof safety catches on all doors, built-in seat belt anchorages, stainless steel window surrounds, and an aluminium radiator grille.

Ten thousand of the new model have been built so far and every Morris dealer in the world has one in his showroom today. It will undoubtedly go down as the car of the year in Britain, but its greatest impact will be in the vital European market, hitting directly at the 950-1,340 c.c. cars that sell in Switzerland for £560-£690 -the Auto Union 1000, Fiat 1100, Simca 1000 and Volkswagen 1200.

Technically the Morris 1100 is the most advanced in its class, but it has also the advantage in compactness, with greater intemal room. This is one of the sturdiest perforners that BMC have produced-a car that is assured of success if the present standard of finish is not allowed to lapse under full production and a world-wide servicing organization is kept in step with sales.

Alec Issigonis told Basil Cardew of the DAILY EXPRESS: ‘We have tried to produce a good looking, functional car- while cutting out as far as possible the risk of things going wrong. My main plan was to design a motor car to travel as efficiently as possible from A to B, with full comfort over really rough roads. The world will decide whether we have succeeded’

Keith Adams
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  1. What a brilliant article, only the passage of time and the way things ended up adds a slight tinge of sadness to it. This really was the Focus of it’s day, except, unlike the Focus, this truly was an innovative car and it’s easy to be dismissive of it in today’s uber-technological market. Makes me want one … few hours on Ebay may be in order…

  2. I am very disappointed to hear that “an Austin version is not planned at present”. And I suppose that owners of Riley, Wolseley, MG and Vanden Plas marques of motor cars will also be ignored by the British Motor Corporation.

  3. It was the British Golf Mk.1, more than 12 years before the Germans got there – not a moment too soon.

    Volkswagen sorted out the worst of the Golf’s problems, expanded the range effectively (GTI, Jetta) and came up with a decent successor.

    BMC / BL failed to address the ADO16’s weaknesses, and replaced it with the odd-looking and unloved Allegro.

    What a way to miss out on the chance of world domination…

  4. 0-60 in 21 seconds! How times have changed. Even the most basic car nowadays would do it in half the time.

  5. All the car really needed was a Eurocentric hatchback design and an engine/interior update. It deserved to be its own successor, if only to allow BL enough cash to replace the Marina/Maxi. I’m working on a plan…

  6. So sad, as we know the optimism of the early sixties at BMC was soon replaced by the dark British Leyland era where Morris became a badge on a horrible, backward rwd saloon and the marque died unmourned in 1984. However,in the early sixties it meant innovation.

  7. I had a 1965 Morris 1100. It was a horrible car. It wouldn’t stay in 3rd gear. The exhaust pipe rubbed against one of the CV joints and kept breaking. The water pump failed and the fan went through the radiator. If there was the slightest hint of rain the distributor would give up the ghost and the engine would splutter to a stop. Finally the rear subframe made its way up through the boot floor. I bought an (older) Wolseley 1500 next which was a much better car!

  8. and how good it looks too.

    A world apart from the high- sided offerings of today, with little windows, thick doors and little
    room inside!

  9. Such a great looking car and a real pleasure to see one on the road. However, it’s an ultra rare sight as I can’t imagine how anyone, brought up on a diet of modern cars, could really appreciate just how it could be possible for a car to completely disintegrate with rust inside only 5 or 6 years; the floor plan, the inner and outer sills and the wheel arches couldn’t have disintegrated faster in the rain if they’d been made out of papier mache. Or cheese!

    Got to love the strip speedometer though 🙂

  10. What a different world. I do like “while fourth is more than an ‘ overdrive “, at 14.9mph/1000rpm, lower geared than a series Land Rover! So at the legal limit it is doing 4700rpm, ouch. Something else we just expect nowadays is a high top gear, pioneered of course by the Rover SD1. Back then they geared everything low enough to pull to the red line in top, so old British cars are usually ludicrously under geared unless you live in the Lake District.
    Cheers, David

  11. Such a shame that the Austin Victoria didn’t replace it upon its launch in 1970. It might have led to less criticism about in-life development and addressed the issue of that paltry 9.2 cu ft boot. Poor considering that the rear wheel drive Chevette had a 14 cu ft one.

  12. Happy days… Our dad had one and one summer the whole family drove over to Poland with a ton of luggage on the roof, no sweat. The suspension even handled the bump-bump-bump which was the state of the Belgian motorway at the time!

  13. I bought on in 1964 After having a 3 wheeled Reliant – not reliant Robin , they came later.

    It was like driving a coach, with such a large windscreen, the steering wheel felt almost flat and large in comparison.

    It was a dream to drive and everyone commented on the smooth ride and cornering.

    Only sold it because we emigrated. I am surprised there is not a modern version of it.
    Which modern are do you think is the nearest to them ?

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