Car of the Month : November 2003

This month we feature the estate version of the ground-breaking ADO16.

These are getting thin-on-the-ground nowadays, particularly in the short-lived MkI form.

IN the Spring of 1966, some three-and-a-half years after the launch of the Morris 1100, BMC introduced a pair of three-door estate models known as the Austin 1100 Countryman and Morris 1100 Traveller, in keeping with the traditional naming conventions for such models. The revised MkII models were introduced just 18 months later, but unlike their saloon equivalents, the estates retained the original rear-end styling right through to the end of production in 1974.

Chris Jones owns one of these increasingly-rare MkI cars, and here he lets the car tell its own story:

I rolled off the production line on 3 May 1967, and was then delivered to Voss Motors in Liverpool on 29 July, where I stood until I was sold to my first owner on 4 October 1967. In 1992, havng covered 253,000 miles on my original engine, I had a 1275cc engine fitted. Then, in May 1993, I was taken off the road and put into storage by my previous owner.

I stood there until December 1994 when Chris (my current owner) bought me for just £50. He removed my the vynil roof because it did not look nice, and between 1994 and 2000 I underwent an extensive restoration. During that time, my 1275cc engine was replaced with another 1098cc unit. Finally, by last year, I was ready to be shown at a variety of classic car shows and, of course, I went to the 1100’s 40th birthday event, where I saw six other estates – but only one that was like me. I have now covered 258,000 miles, At the beginning of this year I had my driver’s door and tailgate replaced with better ones and resprayed, so I look a lot better now than I did ten years ago.

Ten ADO16 estate facts

During its short production run, just 15,800 Mk1 Austin 1100 Coutrymans were built (compared with 373,000 MkI saloons from 1963 to 1967).

The 1100 estates were the first BMC cars to have the option of seats which could be folded to form a double bed, an idea which was also adopted for the Austin Maxi.

Two Countryman versions of the Vanden Plas Princess were prepared at Kingsbury in the late 1960s, one of which is thought to have survived.

An interesting 1967 proposal from Moulton Developments to equip the estate models with self-levelling rear suspension unfortunately came to nothing.

During the summer of 1967, Jensen used an Austin Countryman as the basis for a drophead conversion, built with a view to interesting BMC in a production run. However, BMC did not take up the idea.

1967 also saw the production of a batch of around fifty 1100 vans, based on the estate bodyshell but with panelled-in rear side windows. They were intended for use by BMC service agents.

Crayford used the tailgate from the 1100 estate for their own estate conversion of the much larger Austin 3-litre. Crayford had previously stolen a march on BMC by introducing their own “1100 estate” – a split-tailgate conversion of the 4-door 1100 saloon – a couple of years before the official versions were launched.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, television rental company DER ran a fleet of red 1100 estates as pseudo-vans, with the rear side windows covered by clip-on translucent panels bearing the company logo.

In the BBC comedy series Fawlty Towers, Basil Fawlty drove a red MkI Austin 1100 Countryman which he famoulsy attacked with a branch when it broke down for the umpteenth time.

From October 1971 onwards, the Morris-badged ADO16 was available only in 1300 Traveller form in the UK, as the saloons were discontinued to make way for the Morris Marina.

Keith Adams

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