Archive : BMC/Leyland merger

On this day:

Alec Issigonis replies to Sir Donald Stokes letter of April 10th 1968.

Dear Sir Donald,

I enclose a short resume of work that I am currently engaged on in my new undertaking.

Management approval or rejection of these projects is still to be determined, but at the earliest opportunity I shall discuss the matter with Bertie Fogg in greater detail, so that you can appraise the situation with more facts at your disposal.

Most of the research work outlined below presupposes that we shall continue to produce a Mini in the foreseeable future. It is very important to arrive at a decision over this matter as soon as possible, because on this depends the speed at which the development work is executed. A low priority programme is both time consuming and costly in the long run. The greatest need in combating increased production costs over the year is the development of a new engine for a small car of this type.

The present A-series engine offered a quick way of getting the car into production in 1959, but has outlived its purpose both for weight and cost compared with European competition; although its performance is still well up to modern standards. The enlarged version (1300) is perfectly competitive for cars in the category above the Mini type of vehicle i.e. the lower medium class range.

  • Design and development of a 750/998cc four-cylinder engine and transmission system for transverse or normal drive applications, for a new small car. In addition to this work we are doing a design study, in conjunction with Automotive Products Ltd, for a 4-speed automatic transmission unit.
  • Development of a 6 cylinder version of the above engine to give capacities from 1300 to 1490cc , using as much common tooling as possible including the same transmission system.
  • Development of a new Mini. This is being studied in two versions, one 6 inches shorter than the present car (120 inches) and another 10 inches longer or 4 inches longer than the present model. This will embody common suspension parts but, in order to keep production costs down to a minimum, hydrolastic has had to be abandoned in favour of conventional springing. This is because a simplified version of the hydrolastic design, which we have been working on for some time, has not yet materialised.
  • Development of a small hydrostatic supsension system in collaboration with N.E.L. The arrangement incorporates motors in each wheel and eliminates the use of high pressure hoses to transmit oil to these units.
  • General work on induction systems including the use of updraft carburettors for anti-pollution work. This work is very necessary in order that we can dispense with the expensive after burning devices which we have had to incorporate into our cars at present being sold in America.
Keith Adams

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