Car of the Month : April 2004

April sees a superb example of my personal favourite ADO16: the 1300GT. Resplendent in bright red, this example owned by Graham Turner shows off the neat little car to perfection…

Graham’s son, Michael, recounts the car’s history…

MXC 222H: A potted history

This car was supplied by Solihull motors on the 7th of April, 1970 to Box Cartons of Birmingham for the use of the owner’s wife, Mrs Cattell. Mrs Cattell became ill and unable to drive but Mr John Patrick Joy who was a friend of the family took Mrs Cattell out in the car to keep it running. When Mrs Cattell died he continued to look after the car but only covered approximately ninety miles in the following three years.

Mr Cattell died in 1989 and left the car to Mr J P Joy who ran it for a few months but because of suspension problems he sold the car to his brother, Mr T A Joy who was serving in the R.A.F. and posted in Cyprus. The car was sold to John Graham Adair, a motor dealer of Newhaven on 03/04/91.

In August 1992, 30 years of the BMC 1100 were celebrated in the heart of BMC country with a cavalcade of 48 cars travelling from the BMC works at Longbridge to Hatton Country World and MXC 222H took part driven by Mr. Woodley.

The car was seen by Mr W Woodley of York and purchased him and registered in his wife’s name, Mrs. B Woodley, on 16/06/91.

No major welding has been needed and the vehicle is original. On purchase the seats and carpets were removed and the floor area found to be dry and rot free. The boot area is as new. The biggest item of expenditure on the car has been five new tyres.

Driving the 1300GT today…

One of the most heartening aspects about viewing the 1300GT today is how it seems that every modern small-to-medium car seems to be a derivative of it. Transverse front wheel drive, two-box design and a focus on the “driver experience”. Yes, it seems that since the launch of the Ford Focus in 1998, manufacturers have finally woken up to the fact that most customers want to enjoy their drive, and so would prefer accurate steering, positive brakes and roll-free handling…

What, I hear you cry, has this to do with Graham Turner’s immaculate 1970 Austin 1300GT? Quite a lot actually. You see, these aspects of the “driving experience” that manufacturers are fighting hard to chase now in the twenty first century, were featured in abundance in Issigonis’ masterpiece way back when.

Don’t believe me? Imagine a Mini with more space, a (slightly) better driving position, better brakes, a more compliant ride, equally good steering feel, and just as minimal body roll and you have a 1300GT. Because the 1300GT was introduced near the end of the ADO16’s life, it benefitted from a raft of improvements over the original (in all aspects apart from rust resistance and some aspects of build quality), not least longer gearing and stronger performance. In GT tune, the sublime handling of the ADO16 is allied to perfectly acceptable on-road performance, and with it’s near-100mph maximum speed and 0-60 time of around 13 seconds, it easily keeps pace with modern traffic – something the original 1100 struggled to do.

All in all – the 1300GT still cuts it in the modern world, and had it not been for the want of a hatchback rear, it would still make a good all-rounder for a growing family. Mind you, if this particular example possessed a hatchback and had been owned by a young family, it would not be in the condition it is! Sometimes life just isn’t fair…

You can enjoy more 1100s at Michael Turner‘s BMC 1100 website…

Keith Adams


  1. Brilliant little car! My brother owned a Morris badged version of the GT in the early 70s. Looked good and was nippy too. I still think it was nicer than the Allegro.

  2. It looks like this article was published over 20 years ago. Which is longer than many (most?) ADO16s lasted.

  3. I’ve always thought that in GT trim – with those wheels – this was one of the best looking cars of its era.

  4. Noooo!! Those horrible pressed-pie-tin wheeltrims were always the sign of a low-rent attempt to “GT-ize” an otherwise nasty car.

    Similar aesthetic nightmares appeared on plenty of Japanese cars, and the Hillman Avenger, in the 70s.

    If you want to do a “GT” version of an otherwise boring car, at least go for Rostyles, Exactons, or Minilites.

    [Or, if you want performance-without-flash, the likes of the Mk.1 Cortina Lotus, and the first-generation hot Mk.1 Escorts eschewed tacky wheels and used wide steels. 6×13 rims, radials with 165-section or later 185/70 rubber… the four-spoke RS alloys came later but were actually heavier than the old Lotus Cortina steels.]

  5. Was the suspension in the 1300GT tweaked for additional firmness compared to that in the more poverty spec versions??

    I remember that the ordinary ADO16 versions I was a passenger in had a nasty bobbing up and down floaty characteristic on seemingly flat roads, but the orange 1300GT a friend’s family had seemed much tauter and planted on the road.

    Were the hydrolastic valves tweaked for the GT?? Whatever, a 1300GT was a good everyday driver competitor to the Mk.1 1300 GT Escort of the day.

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