BMC 1100/1300 : Concepts and prototypes

While the 1100 was an Issigonis concept from the outset, it took Italy’s Pininfarina to give the car its undeniable style.

Development began in 1958 with XC9002, a scaled-down version of the 1956 Issigonis XC9001 prototype; however, this was soon thought to look too much like BMC's new Mini.
Development began in 1958 with XC9002, a scaled-down version of the 1956 Issigonis XC9001 prototype. However, this was soon thought to look too much like BMC’s new Mini.
In-house attempts to distance the style of the new car from that of the Mini, such as this mock-up produced by the Morris factory later in 1958, were less than successful. In fact, according to production engineer Reg Job, it was the "plain and uninteresting" frontal design of this car that prompted the commission for Pininfarina to re-style it.
In-house attempts to distance the style of the new car from that of the Mini, such as this mock-up produced by the Morris factory later in 1958, were less than successful. In fact, according to production engineer Reg Job, it was the “plain and uninteresting” frontal design of this car that prompted the commission for Pininfarina to re-style it.
By January 1959, Pininfarina had produced this comprehensive re-working of the original XC9002 proposal. This version was considered to be too complictated (and therefore too costly) to put into production, but a simplified version was scaled-up as a proposal for the ADO17 project.
By January 1959, Pininfarina had produced this comprehensive re-working of the original XC9002 proposal. This version was considered to be too complictated (and therefore too costly) to put into production, but a simplified version was scaled-up as a proposal for the ADO17 project.
Pininfarina's second, simplified offering of 1959. Now codenamed ADO16, the front is much tidier (though with a makeshift bumper), and the door frames have been smoothed out.
Pininfarina’s second, simplified offering of 1959. Now codenamed ADO16, the front is much tidier (though with a makeshift bumper), and the door frames have been smoothed out.
Alternative (nicer?) less gaping front-end treatment from July 1959, on the same body as above. Door frames would change again before it reached production.
Alternative (nicer?) less gaping front-end treatment from July 1959, on the same body as above. Door frames would change again before it reached production.
Even before the Austin 1100 had reached the marketplace, plans for an estate version of the ADO16 were already at an advanced stage, as demonstrated by this photograph of the split-tailgate prototype from May 1963; after all, the car's main Ford rivals – the Anglia and Cortina – were both available in estate form. However, demand for the saloon versions proved to be so strong that the estate body didn't see the light of day until March 1966, when it was launched simultaneously as the Austin 1100 Countryman and Morris 1100 Traveller. This delay meant that it was produced for just 18 months in MkI form, and when the MkII version arrived in Autumn 1967, the rear bodywork was carried-over wholesale.
Even before the Austin 1100 had reached the marketplace, plans for an estate version of the ADO16 were already at an advanced stage, as demonstrated by this photograph of the split-tailgate prototype from May 1963; after all, the car’s main Ford rivals – the Anglia and Cortina – were both available in estate form. However, demand for the saloon versions proved to be so strong that the estate body didn’t see the light of day until March 1966, when it was launched simultaneously as the Austin 1100 Countryman and Morris 1100 Traveller. This delay meant that it was produced for just 18 months in MkI form and, when the MkII version arrived in Autumn 1967, the rear bodywork was carried-over wholesale.
This facelifted version of ADO16 was investigated prior to the 1968 merger. It appears to bear the hallmark of Roy Haynes, particulary in the way the headlamp/indicator set-up resembles that of the MkII Ford Cortina.
This facelifted version of ADO16 was investigated prior to the 1968 merger. It appears to bear the hallmark of Roy Haynes, particulary in the way the headlamp/indicator set-up resembles that of the MkII Ford Cortina.
 This rebodied 1100 was considered as a more radical alternative to the facelifted car. There was also a revised Hydrolastic suspension system under development for this car, but the project was cancelled by the Leyland management in favour of ADO67.
This rebodied 1100 was considered as a more radical alternative to the facelifted car. There was also a revised Hydrolastic suspension system under development for this car, but the project was cancelled by the Leyland management in favour of ADO67.
Consideration was also given to extending the Issigonis 9X supermini into an ADO16 replacement. Compare this with the proposed ADO16 facelift shown above. (Both cars eventually lost out to the Allegro.) This design also bears a passing resemblance to the Autobianchi Primula, which itself looked rather like an ADO16 hatchback.
Consideration was also given to extending the Issigonis 9X supermini into an ADO16 replacement. Compare this with the proposed ADO16 facelift shown above. (Both cars eventually lost out to the Allegro.) This design also bears a passing resemblance to the Autobianchi Primula, which itself looked rather like an ADO16 hatchback.
This modified ADO16 is one of five cars produced under BLMC's Safety Research Vehicle (SRV) project in 1974. Designated SRV5, the car featured a spring-loaded pedestrian-catching cage which was activated in the event of an impact. Thus, it would be raised from its dormant position atop the front bumper in order to prevent the accident victim from sliding down into the path of the car's wheels. Well, that was the theory, anyway...
This modified ADO16 is one of five cars produced under BLMC’s Safety Research Vehicle (SRV) project in 1974. Designated SRV5, the car featured a spring-loaded pedestrian-catching cage which was activated in the event of an impact. Thus, it would be raised from its dormant position atop the front bumper in order to prevent the accident victim from sliding down into the path of the car’s wheels. Well, that was the theory, anyway…

This page was contributed by Declan Berridge


Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk 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

22 Comments

  1. Would the ADO22 facelift have been a better idea than the Allegro?

    I seem to recall that the argument against it was that the work requires would have cost as much as a completely new car – the Allegro design and development cost was reported as £21m, less than half the £45m the Marina cost.

    As it was much of the work was done anyway for overseas subsidiaries – Morris 1500 and Nomad, Victoria and Apache.

    The Allegro’s worst failing was styling totally at odds with what the most advanced manufacturers in Europe were turning out. Extending the life of ADO16 to 1975-6 would have given Leyland a chance to see how the wind was blowing, and respond appropriately.

  2. I think a lot of the Marina cost was related to manufacturing costs – the closed conveyor bridge at Cowley, increasing production capacity for the Triumph Toledo gear box and huge investment to put the ancient Morris Minor suspension back into mass production – madness!

  3. I never understood with the Marina why they used the Minor suspension. They could easily have developed a new Morris by just stretching the RWD Toledo platform and then they could have had the choice of BMC or Triumph engines and all at a fraction of the cost. The Dolomite/1300/1500/Toledo platform had already proven itself very versatile

  4. 4) Rob B

    Agree with you on having the Marina based on a stretched RWD Toledo/Dolomite platform, powered by 1.5/1.6-2.6 E-Series engines.

  5. The ADO16 was ALWAYS one car i wish i had the opportunity to drive, especially in 1300 GT Orange trim, not that is one gorgeous car….. I can dream, and unfortunately it is one dream that will never come to fruition. 🙁

    • My recollections of the ADO16, sports car grip and flat cornering with little body roll, the car cornered as accurately and safely in the rain as in the dry. there always eemed to a large reserve cornering ability with the ADO16
      The interconnected suspension worked well, bumps or pothole on the road but the car would shrug them off.

  6. Looking at the pictures above, I think an ADO16 facelift carried out by BLMC would have been just as much a disaster as the Allegro. The ADO16 with it’s Pininfarina styling was so right it would have been a tall order to improve on it. In my opinion only Innocenti managed it. By 1974 the underlying design was becoming dated and it’s ability to rust becoming all too apparent. If the Allegro had Pinifarina styling and a hatchback they might have got away with it, that is if the workforce could be bothered to turn up to make any and perhaps at an acceptable quality. I really don’t understand why BLMC broke the link with Pininfarina.

  7. By 1973 the ADO16 was too small to be competitive against the Escort, Viva and Avenger. The Allegro was the perfect size and nicely packaged to give plenty of space, only to be let down by its rather dumpy looks and a lack of a hatchback. However in 1973 hatchbacks were still unusual on new cars and BL were struggling enough selling Maxis to allow another hatchback to erode sales here.

  8. Given the lack of style of the ADO16 before the Italians were given the job, it shows how asleep the management was to allow Issigonis to restrict the Italian input on the ADO17 and then be allowed to go his own way with the Maxi.

  9. The 1100 Estate was also built in a van form, with the side windows deleted and the window spaces replaced with steel panels.

    Because of the Hydrolastic suspension any hefty loads in the back of the van resulted in the front of the car pointing skywards and BMC decided not to sell it. As a result those vans already built were only used as company hacks around Cowley and Longbridge, and for some reason all the Cowley vans were painted orange!

  10. I still think the ADO16 was one of the best BMC / BL cars ever made, in all its variants. Might not have been the case if Pininfarina hadn’t got involved. I particularly liked the Riley Kestrel, VDP 1100/1300 and the Austin-Morris 1300GT.

    Even the base 1100’s were a good entry level car with loads of room in the rear particularly.

  11. I’ve always heard good things about them, rust around the rear subframe being the main killer.

    My uncle had one which he liked but felt a little underpowered with a family of 4 & a weeks luggage.

    While on their way to a holiday the big end went, & it cost a lot to get sorted out.

  12. I actually owned an Austin 1100 van in the mid 80’s. It had been rescued from a scrap yard in the Cambridge area. Unlike the estate version, it had no seats in the back but a ribbed floor panel peculiar to that model. It was unfortunately scrapped again after the storms of 1987? finally destroyed it. I still have the commission plates from it.

  13. Though commercial ADO16 prototypes were produced, it is interesting to note the Autobianchi Primula’s chassis would go on to form the basis for the Fiat 238 van with the latter remaining in production until 1983.

    That leads to the question of whether a similar vehicle could have been developed from ADO16 or the Maxi (with a large version based on the 1800/2200)?

    Doubt a compact version of such a vehicle could be developed from the Mini, at best probably a compact Renault 4-type 5-door variant of similar dimensions or slightly larger to the Minivan/Commercial and Elf/Hornet three-box saloon models.

  14. Since it’s apparently possible to augment hydrolastic suspension ala landcrab with supplementary damping, why’d BMC/BLMC not do that for the vans? It wouldn’t have been that difficult and an 1100/1300 van possibly including a high output (MG tune) option? Or even a van with an automatic? Perish the thought!
    People would have bought them in droves and since they’d be free some parts of the passenger cars – they’d have made a reasonable profit.
    The landcrab could have made a good van too – I don’t know the width of a standard pallet but I’d be surprised if an ADO17 van couldn’t be made that’d fit one. I think I’d pick the 2.2 engine though or a supercharged diesel 1800 borrowed from the parts bin and using the supercharger available at the time for the MGB cars. That’d give around 80-85hp and good torque.
    Did BMC/BLMC do any platforming at all? Badge engineering doesn’t count. All the creative derivatives seem to be from different countries and completely ignored.
    Just imagine a well tuned 2.4 B series – easily 116hp, 129hp with an MGB or “S” tune equivalent. And you could probably bore it to 2.6 – a projected and useful 127/142hp although you wouldn’t have much left to work with after that for rebores etc.
    The Wolseley V8 was another missed opportunity.
    They don’t seem to be a car company – they were so much better at producing feet in mouth situations.

  15. Always wondered about the notion of featuring a van from the Landcrab as well as from ADO16 and Maxi, the closest thing was a FWD van proposal during development of the Sherpa.

    Apparently engineer Stan Dews first concept was called the CV300 – A FWD van using the ADO17 1800/2200 engines and featuring very low loading floor reminiscent of the Citroen HZ, which made it possible to walk about in the back even without a high-roof conversion.

    Only for work on CV300 to be unnecessarily halted as a result of the “experts” of the powerful Trade Distributor Panel, giving their input to product plans and claiming a front-drive van would be unable to get up slippery hills in winter.

    Not sure to what degree if any the CV300 concept was linked to the ADO17 1800/2200 beyond featuring the same engines and FWD layout, though there are those who like to cite links between the Sherpa to the Morris Marina and MGB (on top of the Sherpa carrying over mechanicals from the J4 and J2/JU – Which sort of begs the plausibility of BMC producing the Sherpa in the 1960s and replacing it with some form of CV300).

    • The 1798cc can be bored out to 1950cc – I couldn’t find any figures for the 1622cc block but the 1800 overbore figure is 8% so I assumed the same.
      I’ve heard a 6 cylinder B running and it’s as smooth as silk. And with the landcrab/princess running two B series instead of the B/E you have commonality of parts – another saving. You could make a short v4 and v6 out of the B series (v6 sherpa anyone?) and a 3.6/3.8 litre V8 or even a 3-litre v8 using 1500 capacity. The farina engine block (1622cc) would give a 3.2.
      Massive savings could have been made, but they weren’t.
      Another example – A series v8 made from two 850cc blocks – 1700cc – perfect for upmarket Allegro (vdp) or even an 850 based 6 at 1275cc – Kestrel & Hornet I’m looking at you – and all the 1300 range – even an VDP 1300 allegro, metro, maestro. And with the A series being eminently tuneable.. The sky would have been the limit.

      Imagine – a baby XJ12 with an A based 2.6 litre V12. Or a 1098 block based 3.3. The permutations are endless. So were the savings potentially.

      • Much prefer an A-Series with a similar capability to form the basis of a small inline-6 like the Standard-Triumph SC derived 1.6-2.5 Triumph I6 (allegedly capable of being stretched up to 2.7) as well as in-built scope to be enlarged to 1600cc, like the loosely related Nissan A/E along with the Renault C-Type engines (the latter capable of being enlarged to 1596cc).

        Perhaps an A-Series based inline-6 (albeit in 2000-2400/2500cc form) would be compact enough to fit into ADO17 (prior to the E6) as well as in the MGB, especially in light of the MGB being tested with a heavier 115 hp 2.4 B-Series “Blue Streak” 6-cylinder engine (that itself was still significantly lighter compared to the underdeveloped C-Series used in the MGC).

        However with regard to such an engine’s successor (forgetting about the E-Series, 9X, etc for a second), am otherwise unsure whether evolutionary replacement for the A-Series should go down a 4/6-cylinder PE166* path or a 4-cylinder Renault E/K-Type** path.

        *- The 4/6-cylinder PE166 path would potentially feature a displacement range of 1300-2000cc 4-cylinder / 2000-3000cc 6-cylinder, yet not sure about sub-1300cc versions being adequately covered by said path or replaced by a scaled own version (as Reliant OHV was to Standard-Triumph SC) or other clean-sheet small engine designs.

        **- The E/K-Type path would potentially feature a displacement range of 1000-1600cc, allowing larger engines (be B/O/M/T/etc or properly-developed E/S-Series) to cover the 1600-2000cc+ segment.

        As for the 1.8 B-Series engine’s ability to be further enlarged, while it may be the case that the enlargement limit was 1950cc for the 1.8 it does not explain the presence of earlier attempts at developing a 2-litre B-Series one of which displaced around 1998cc during the early/mid-1960s (and featured siamesed cylinder bores and offset conrods in order to use the existing 1.2/1.5-litre cylinder block).

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. News: November 2012 - Richard Aucock | Richard Aucock

Add to the debate: leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.