History : BMC, BL, Rover and other Development Codes

Ever wondered what all those ADO, YDO and LC numbers mean when we’re discussing the history of BMC, BL and Rover cars? Worry not, because our exhaustive list of development codes should help you work out what’s what.

The XC Development Codes

The XC numbers (signifying ‘eXperimental Car’) were applied to projects headed up by Alec Issigonis at Longbridge. These cars (with the exception of XC9000) all went on to be developed into production cars.

CodeDetailsDatesPicture
XC90001.5 litre saloon
Forerunner to the XC9001 – rear-wheel-drive saloon, resembled a Citroën due to its elongated wheelbase.
Dev: 1956-1957
XC90011.5 litre saloon
Initially a front-wheel-drive XC9000, but restyled by Longbridge and Pininfarina. Renamed XC9005 in 1960.
Dev: 1958-1960
XC9002BMC 1100/1300
Initially a scaled down XC9001, but later restyled by Pininfarina. Became known as ADO16 from around July 1959.
Dev: 1957-1959
XC9003BMC Mini
Also known as the ADO15.
Dev: 1957-1959
XC9005BMC 1800/2200
XC9001 refined in style and re-engined with the 1.8-litre version of the B-Series engine. Became known as ADO17 from 1960.
Dev: 1960-1962

The ADO Development Codes

After the merger between Austin and Morris in 1952, all subsequent new cars in development were given ADO project numbers. ADO stood for ‘Austin Drawing Office’ – the fact that they referred to an Austin and not a Morris Drawing Office gives some clue as to where the loyalties of BMC chief Leonard Lord lay.

Following this list (based on material supplied by the Archive Department at the British Motor Museum) can be confusing because the project numbers were not always in numerical order. In some instances, this muddled system made sense (ADO15, 16 and 17, for instance), whereas at other times, it obviously did not.

Look, for example, at ADO77, 88 and 99: ADO77 seems logical enough, as it follows ADO73, 74, 75 and 76, but following that comes ADO88, which was cited by Charles Griffin as being so called because of its 88-inch wheelbase. Following that came the ADO99, which again, possessed a 99-inch wheelbase. Was this pattern coincidence or was it chosen because of its nice, cascading numerical pattern?

At the time of writing (July 2017), we are still without an answer to this question.

CodeDetailsDatesPicture
ADO6Austin Hire Car and Taxi
FL2, FL2D, FX4, FX4D – better known as the London ‘Black Cab’.
Dev: 1956-1959
Prod: 1959-1971
ADO8Austin A40 Farina
MkI: BMC’s first hatchback, styled by Pininfarina.
Dev: 1956-1958
Prod: 1958-1961
ADO9Farina ‘B’ models
B-Series-engined Farinas:
Austin A55 Cambridge MkII (ADO9A), Morris Oxford Series V (ADO9M), MG Magnette MkIII (ADO9G), Riley 4/68 (ADO9R), Wolseley 15/60 (ADO9W).
Dev: 1956-1958
Prod: 1958-1961
ADO10Farina ‘C’ models
C-Series-engined Farinas:
Austin A99 Westminster and Wolseley 6/99.
Dev: 1956-1959
Prod: 1959-1961
ADO12Hydrostatic transmission
As installed in an Austin A35 prototype.
Dev: Mid-1950s
ADO13Austin-Healey Sprite
MkI – otherwise known as the ‘Frogeye’ Sprite.
Dev: 1956-1958
Prod: 1958-1961
ADO14Austin MaxiDev: 1964-1969
Prod: 1969-1981
ADO15BMC Mini
MkI and MkII (originally codenamed XC9003) – includes Wolseley Hornet and Riley Elf, but not the Cooper versions (ADO50).
Dev: 1957-1959
Prod: 1959-1969
ADO16BMC 1100/1300
Originally codenamed XC9002 – includes all badge-engineered varieties.
Dev: 1957-1962
Prod: 1962-1974
ADO17BMC 1800/2200
Originally codenamed XC9005 – includes all badge-engineered varieties.
Dev: 1958-1964
Prod: 1964-1975
ADO19Austin Ant
Prototype off-roader, cancelled by Leyland so as not to interfere with Land Rover sales.
Dev: 1967-1968
ADO20Mini MkIII and Clubman
Significant revisions to bodyshell, including slightly larger doors with concealed hinges and wind-up windows; also marked a return to rubber-cone suspension. Clubman and 1275GT lasted until 1980.
Dev: 1968-1969
Prod: 1969-2000
ADO21MGB replacement
Mid-engined sports car, styled by Harris Mann/Paul Hughes and powered by the E4 engine. Dropped in favour of the TR7.
Dev: 1969-1970
ADO22Facelift and re-engineering of ADO16
Major redesign of ADO16, incorporating revised suspension and under-structure and revised bodywork. Cancelled by British Leyland, in favour of ADO67.
Dev: 1967-1968
ADO23MGBDev: 1958-1962
Prod: 1962-1974
ADO24Austin-Healey 4000
4.0-litre version of the Austin-Healey 3000, cancelled by British Leyland.
Dev: 1966-1968
ADO25E6 engine
6-cylinder E-Series power unit, as used in ADO17 (and its derivatives), Antipodean Marinas and ADO71.
Dev: 1965-1972
Prod: 1972-1982
ADO26Austin Healey 3000 MKIIIDev: 1961-1963
Prod: 1963-1968
ADO27Austin and Morris 1800 Facelift
This appears to have started out as a major facelift of ADO17, but the project was cancelled at an early stage. Code was passed on to the X6 project (codenamed YDO19 in Australia).
Dev: 1968-1970
Prod: 1970-1975
Riley 1.5/Wolseley 1500 facelift
The earlier of two recorded ADO27 projects, this would have seen these Morris Minor-based cars treated to Farina-style rear fins, perhaps not unlike those of the Australian Morris Major Elite (pictured is a Series II Lancer/Major), which was itself based on these cars.
Dev: Early 1960s
ADO28Morris Marina
Using A- and B-Series engines.
Dev: 1968-1971
Prod: 1971-1980
ADO30Austin-Healey replacement
Project was vetoed by Sir William Lyons as it would have competed with the Jaguar E-type.
Dev: 1966
ADO31MGA 1600Dev: 1958-1959
Prod: 1959-1961
ADO32E4-series engine
Four-cylinder OHC E-Series engine, as used in the Maxi and Allegro, and also in the Australian Morris 1500.
Dev: 1965-1969
Prod: 1969-1981
ADO34Mini-based MG roadster
There were at least two distinct ADO34 prototypes: a ‘Longbridge’ car, designed and built by Pininfarina (pictured) and an ‘Abingdon’ car, produced in-house at the MG factory.
Dev: 1960-1964
ADO35Coupé version of ADO34
The car pictured is understood to be a development of the ‘Longbridge’ ADO34 (see above).
Dev: 1960-1964
ADO36Austin-Healey versions of ADO34 and ADO35
The car pictured is based on the ‘Abingdon’ ADO34, and differs from it only in respect of its grille and badge.
Dev: 1960-1964
ADO37Princess 3-litre
Based on the Austin A99 Westminster, as a replacement for the Austin A105 Vanden Plas. It was marketed as the Vanden Plas Princess 3-litre from 1960 onwards.
Dev: 1959
Prod: 1959-1968
ADO38Revised Farina ‘B’ models
Austin A60 Cambridge, Morris Oxford Series VI, MG Magnette MkIV, Riley 4/72, Wolseley 16/60.
Dev: 1960-1961
Prod: 1961-1971
ADO39Taxi
FX4 replacement, cancelled by British Leyland.
Dev: 1967
ADO40Austin Freeway and Wolseley 24/80 Mk I
Produced in Australia and fitted with B-Series six-cylinder engine…
Prod: 1962-1964
ADO41Austin Freeway Utility
Prototype still exists in Australia.
ADO42Austin-Healey Sprite MKII
Re-bodied version of the MkI Sprite.
Dev: 1960-1961
Prod: 1961-1964
ADO44Austin A40 Farina
MkII
Dev: 1960-1961
Prod: 1961-1967
ADO46Farina ‘B’ diesels
Only the Austin A60 Cambridge and Morris Oxford versions were offered in diesel form. Originally for export only, they became available in the UK from 1962. The diesel Cambridge was withdrawn in 1968.
Dev: 1961
Prod: 1961-1971
ADO47MG Midget
MkI – Badge-engineered version of ADO41.
Dev: 1961
Prod: 1961-1964
ADO49Farina ‘B’ Pickup
Pick-up truck based on Riley version of ADO9/ADO38; built and sold in Argentina.
Prod: Early 1960s
ADO50Mini Cooper and Cooper S (ADO50S)
997 and 998cc – and 970, 1071 and 1275cc (ADO50S).
Dev: 1961
Prod: 1961-1971
ADO51Austin-Healey 3000 MkIV
This was to have been a badge-engineered version of the MGC, but was cancelled at Donald Healey’s insistence.
Dev: 1962-1965
ADO52MGCDev: 1961-1967
Prod: 1967-1969
ADO53Revised ADO10
Became the Austin A110 Westminster and Wolseley 6/110.
Dev: 1961
Prod: 1961-1968
ADO56MG Sport
This Mini-based coupé proposal was conceived by Alec Issigonis, and featured front-wheel drive and a transverse Mini-Cooper engine. It apparently came very close to entering production.
Dev: 1958-1959
ADO58Joint BMC/Rolls-Royce coupé project
To have been based on a short-wheelbase version of Bentley Burma (pictured), the forerunner to the 1965 T1. The car would have been built and marketed exclusively by BMC, using the F60 six-cylinder engine, but it never reached production.
Dev: Early 1960s
ADO59Morris Minor 1000 (1.1-litre)
1098cc A-Series powered Morris Minor.
Dev: 1962
Prod: 1962-1971
ADO61Austin 3-litre
Replacement for ADO53.
Dev: 1962-1967
Prod: 1967-1971
ADO66Vanden Plas 4-Litre RDev: 1964
Prod: 1964-1968
ADO67Austin AllegroDev: 1968-1973
Prod: 1973-1982
ADO68Project Condor
ADO68/28-1
A very stylish Roy Haynes-styled 2-door coupé version of the Marina.
Dev: 1969-1970
ADO68/28-2
Late in 1969, the Italian designer Michelotti was commissioned to produce a version of Condor. His proposal was then amended in-house at BLMC to become ADO68/28-2, which hints at the shape of the 2-door Marina.
Dev: 1969-1970
ADO68/14
This version of Condor, designed by Harris Mann, was based on the Maxi. It’s not hard to think of this design as the starting point for ADO71.
Dev: 1969-1970
ADO68/67
The other Condor proposal was all-too-obviously based on the Allegro. Like the other Condor prototypes, this car met with its fate when Brtish Leyland cancelled the project.
Dev: 1969-1970
ADO69Taxi
Replacement for FX4 – cancelled.
Dev: 1970
ADO70Michelotti Mini
Michelotti-styled coupé model, based on ADO20.
Dev: 1970
ADO7118-22 Series/Princess
Replacement for ADO17.
Dev: 1970-1975
Prod: 1975-1982
ADO73Marina 2/Morris Ital
Originally intended as a front-end facelift, but became the O-Series version. Ital was known as ADO73 F/L.
Dev: 1972-1978
Prod: 1978-1984
ADO74Ant/Dragonfly/Ladybird
Supermini project, powered by the H/K-Series engine, shelved by John Barber in 1974.
Dev: 1972-1973
ADO75MGB GT V8Dev: 1971-1972
Prod: 1972-1974
ADO76Revised MGBs
Replacement MGB – based on a Michelotti-styled base.
Dev: 1972-1974
Prod: 1974-1980
ADO77New Marina
RWD Ford Cortina rival, ‘merged’ with the SD2 project – and then became TM-1.
Dev: 1972-1975
ADO88Supermini
Metro predecessor, cancelled due to unfavourable results from customer clinics. Re-engineered to become LC8 (Austin Metro).
Dev: 1974-1978
ADO99Family hatchback
Replacement for Allegro, after internal re-organisation and the death of TM-1. Became the LC10/LM10 (Austin Maestro). Project instigated by Spen King.
Dev: 1975-1977

YDO Development Codes

BMC Australia had trodden their own evolutionary path, once left to run with the BMC range of cars, and from 1962 the Antipodean subsidiary decided to use their own code numbers to denote development of cars specific to them.

CodeDetailsDatesPicture
YDO1Morris Major Elite
First production type.
April 1962-1963
YDO2Morris Major Elite
Prototype of YDO1 with raised turret to improve rear seat headroom – not produced.
YDO3Austin Freeway MkII/Wolseley 24/80 MkII
Based upon Farina-style YDO9 vehicles and fitted with 2433cc B-Series six-cylinder engine (unique to Austin). Produced in Austin and Wolseley sedan form, and Austin Station Wagon version…
August 1964-1965
YDO4Mini (Morris only)
Standard version with Australian wind-up windows, 848cc engine and rubber cone suspension.
1965-1969
YDO5Mini Deluxe (Morris only)
…with Australian wind-up windows, 998cc engine and Hydrolastic suspension.
Also includes the Morris Mini K with with 1098cc engine.
1965-1969
1969-71 (K models)
YDO6Mini Cooper S (Morris only)
…with Australian wind-up windows, 1275cc and Hydrolastic suspension.
YDO7Morris Mini Moke
…with 10″ wheels.
1966-1968
YDO9Morris Nomad
ADO16 style five-door hatchback designed at Longbridge in conjunction with Australian Engineers. Fitted with E-Series 1500cc engine with manual gearbox or A-Series 1275cc engine with automatic transmission.
1969-1971
YDO10Morris 1800 Utility
Pickup version of the Austin 1800 ‘Landcrab’.
YDO14Austin X6 Tasman/Kimberley Ute
Proposed pick-up version of Austin X6 cars (number not used, or not proceeded with).
YDO15Morris 1500 and 1300 sedan
Similar to British 1300s and fitted with E-Series 1500cc manual or 1275cc automatic…
1969-1971
YDO18Mini Moke (Morris and Leyland versions)
Update of YDO7 to 13″ wheels and initially fitted with 1098 and 1275cc engines. Last units were 998cc to achieve emissions requirements.
1968-1973
YDO19Austin Tasman/Kimberley MkI and MkII
Update of ADO17 with E-Series six-cylinder in single- (Tasman) or twin-carb (Kimberley) form, featuring revised front and rear styling…
Nov 1970-Jun 1971
YDO21Mini Clubman
Australian standard version. 998cc and rubber cone suspension. Initially marketed as a Morris, then a Leyland…
1971-1978
YDO22Mini Clubman Super
Australian deluxe-type version. 998 and 1098cc. Initially Hydrolastic suspension,
reverting to rubber cone later.
1971-73 (Deluxe)
1973-78 (S)
YDO23Mini Clubman GT
Australian version, 1275cc engine.
1971-1973
YDO24Morris Marina/Leyland Marina
Sedan (four-door) and TC Coupe (two-door). Australian version using E-Series 1500 and 1750cc engines.
1972-1975
YDO25Leyland Marina
Six-cylinder versions using the 2.6-litre E-Series engine.
1973-1975

Notes:
It is rumoured that YDO26, 27 and 28 were allocated to the P76 sedan, station wagon and Force 7 coupe respectively, but were not proceeded with as Lord Stokes decided on the P76 code name. YDO Numbers not used: YDO8, YDO11, YDO12, YDO13, YDO16, YDO17 and YDO20.

Based on information compiled by Peter A Jones, Roger Foy and Tony Dingle.


LC and LM Development Codes

To signify the new direction the company was heading following the Ryder Report in March 1975, the single and integrated Leyland Cars division changed the way of identifying upcoming new car projects. This new system was implemented to replace the ADO system employed by Austin-Morris, as well as the fractious and none-too established naming employed by the Specialist Division.

The LC prefix stood for Leyland Cars, while LM referred to Light Medium. The Light Medium division came about due to a marketing reshuffle at BL in the autumn of 1979, when the Specialist Division was disbanded. The Light Medium division did not last long, being replaced by Austin Rover in 1980.

The LM codes changed on a fairly regular basis, as the business and the company’s relationship with Honda changed, but this list represents those projects actively pursued by Austin Rover.


LC Development Codes

CodeDetailsDatesPicture
LC8Austin Metro
Picked up the pieces of the ADO88 project, employing that cars understructure, engines and suspension. LC8 signified a smarter body style.
Dev: 1978-1980
Prod: 1980-1991
LC9Triumph Acclaim
Also known as Project Bounty by BL.
Dev: 1979-1981
Prod: 1981-1984
LC10Austin Maestro
Signified the BL phase of the mid-sized car development programme, formerly known as ADO99 (and renamed thus to break links with the ADO naming scheme). Also covered a saloon version which would eventually become the Austin Montego (LM11).
Dev: 1977-1980
LC12CoupéDev: 1978-1980
LC40Jaguar saloon
Jaguar’s XJ40 renamed in 1977 to tie in with the rest of the single integrated Leyland line-up. Codename only briefly used, reverting to XJ40 in 1978.
Dev: 1972-1986
Prod: 1986-1994

LM Development Codes

CodeDetailsDatesPicture
LM10Austin Maestro
Final development name for this car – in this period, the rear suspension was altered.
Dev: 1980-1982
Prod: 1982-1994
LM11Austin MontegoDev: 1980-1983
Prod: 1983-1994
LM12Coupé
2-door coupé based on the LM11 floorpan – intended to be badged as an MG and replace all MGs and TRs.
Dev: 1980-1981
LM14Five-door hatchback
Hatchback rear end for the Montego – similar in execution to the contemporary Talbot Alpine, VW Passat. This was to have been a more upmarket car than the Montego, with no 1300cc version.
Dev: 1980-1981
LM15Executive car
Rebodied SD1; dropped by management on the advice of Roy Axe in favour of the Rover-Honda XX.
Dev: 1980-1981
LM19Austin Ambassador
Rebodied ADO71.
Dev: 1978-1981
Prod: 1981-1984

Notes:
According to different BL/Austin Rover corporate plans, there were also references made to the LM16 and LM17. LM16 was referred to variously as an open-topped version of the LM12 or a hatchback version of LM15. LM17 was another code used in reference to an executive class car, but the re-bodied SD-1 LM15 project was actually seriously evaluated.


Honda/Rover Development Codes

Unlike the long-running ADO series and the politically sensitive LM series, the more recent development codes never seemed to catch the public’s imagination in quite the same way.

CodeDetailsDatesPicture
HD9Medium hatchback
Five-door version of the Honda Ballade/Triumph Acclaim – probably a Triumph-badged version of the Honda Quintet. A version of HD9 was marketed in Australia as the Rover Quintet.
Dev: 1981
HD14Small hatchback
Sub-Metro sized car, probably a version of the Honda City/Jazz.
Dev: 1980-1981
HD17Executive car
The initial internal name for the Honda-Rover large car to replace the SD1-based LM15 project. Was renamed XX in 1982.
Dev: 1981
XXRover 800
First Honda/Rover collaborative car – became the Rover 800. LWB and CCV versions were developed, but not produced.
Dev: 1982-1986
Prod: 1986-1991
HXHonda Legend
Honda version of the XX – became the Honda Legend.
Dev: 1982-1985
Prod: 1985-1990
YYRover 214/216
Early part of the Rover 200 development programme, renamed AR8 in 1986.
Dev: 1985-1986
HYHonda Concerto
Honda version of YY.
Dev: 1985-1988
AR5Rover 213/216 replacement
Scheduled for a 1989 launch, but was cancelled in favour of the Honda-based AR8 (see below), which served as a replacement for both the Maestro and Rover 213/216.
Dev: 1984-1985
AR6Metro replacement
All-new supermini styled by Gerry McGovern and others under the leadership of Roy Axe, incorporating K-Series engine and steel suspension. Abandoned when it became clear that there were not enough company funds to finance its development. Replaced by the R6 (see below).
Dev: 1984-1986
AR7Maestro replacement
Engineered in-house and scheduled for a 1990 launch, this car was cancelled in 1985 in favour of the Honda-based AR8 (see below).
Dev: 1984-1985
AR8Rover 214/216
Renamed version of the YY. Renamed R8 in 1988.
Dev: 1986-1988
AR9Roverised Montego
Thought to be a rebodied, Roverised version of the Montego, using the M16 power unit, though the existence of this project has yet to be confirmed.
AR16Sub-800 four-door saloon
Counterpart to the 5-door AR17, both of which were based on a shortened XX (Rover 800) platform.
Dev: 1984-1985
AR17Sub-800 five-door hatchback
Counterpart to the 4-door AR16, both of which were based on a shortened XX (Rover 800) platform.
Dev: 1984-1985
SK1Rover 600
Honda-engined models
Dev: 1989-1993
Prod: 1993-1998
SK2Rover 600
Rover-engined models
Dev: 1989-1993
Prod: 1993-1998
SK3Metro replacement
Honda-developed hatchback – developed specifically for Rover and would not have had a Honda-badged counterpart; cancelled in favour of Project R3 (see below).
Dev: 1989-1991
HH-RRover 400/45
Also known as Project Theta. The mid-term facelift which produced the 45 was called Project Oyster. See also X20, below.
NB: Development dates refer to the Honda Domani, the Japanese market-only saloon that the Rover 400/Concerto was based on.
Dev: 1990-1995
Prod: 1995-2005
CB40Land Rover FreelanderDev: 1992-1997
Prod: 1997-2008

Rover/MG Rover Development Codes

CodeDetailsDatesPicture
R3Rover 200/25
Intended Metro replacement (originally codenamed SK3) based on a shortened R8 platform. Was taken upmarket into the Escort market by George Simpson. The mid-term facelift which produced the 25 was called Project Jewel. See also X30, below.
Dev: 1991-1995
Prod: 1995-2005
R6Rover Metro/100 series
Heavily revised Austin Metro, incorporating K-Series engine, PSA-derived R65 gearbox and front/rear interconnected Hydragas suspension.
Dev: 1986-1989Prod: 1990-1997
R6XRover Metro/100 series – alternative body
New styling proposal for the R6, as designed by David Saddington – would
have used no carryover parts for the exterior.
Dev: 1987
Prod: N/A
R7Small hatchback
Shortened R8 platform would have been used as a basis for this small hatchback. Styling theme established by R6X was carried over.
Dev: 1988
Prod: N/A
R8Rover 214/216
Renamed version of AR8; the R8 code was used from the end of 1986 right through to the end of the project. The codenames Tex, Tomcat and Tracer were used for the 400 Tourer, 200 Coupe and 200 Cabriolet versions respectively.
Dev: 1986-1989
Prod: 1989-1995
R9R8-based saloon
This car would have been a larger saloon model than the R8-based 400, sharing only its front door skins. It was dropped in favour of a Roverised version of the Honda Concerto saloon (the car that was eventually launched as the 400). The R9’s role would have been closer to that of the later Rover 600.
Dev: 1986-1987
R17Rover 800
MkII – Hatchback version
Dev: 1989-1991
Prod: 1991-1998
R18Rover 800
MkII –Saloon version
Dev: 1989-1991
Prod: 1991-1998
R30Rover 25/45 replacement
Aborted hatchback, designed using much BMW thinking. Was planned to use the Hams Hall-built NG four-cylinder engines and the joint Chrysler engine
used in the MINI. Cancelled when BMW abandoned Rover.
Dev: 1996-1999
R40Rover 75
Briefly known as RD1 in the early days. See also Core, Isis and X10, below.
Dev: 1993-1998
Prod: 1998-2005
R59
R50
R53
New Mini
Originally codenamed R59, the R50 designation was adopted in May 1996, when Frank Stephenson’s proposal (itself codenamed E50 2+2) was adopted for
the body style. Car was retained and launched by BMW following the split. R53 added as the supercharged Cooper S version.
Dev: 1993-2000
RD60Rover 45 replacement
Controversial hatchback and saloon replacement for the Rover 45 range of cars. Styling by Peter Stevens is supposed to echo that of the TCV Concept Car. Chassis/floorpan modified version of Rover 75/MG ZT.
Dev: 2001-2005
X10MG ZTDev: 2000-2001
Prod: 2001-2005
X11MG ZT-TDev: 2000-2001
Prod: 2001-2005
X12MG ZT V8Dev: 2000-2003
Prod: 2003-2005
X20MG ZSDev: 2000-2001
Prod: 2001-date
X30MG ZRDev: 2000-2001
Prod: 2001-2005
X40MG TFDev: 2000-2001
Prod: 2002-2005
X60MG Version of the RD60
The hatchback based on the Rover 75 floorpan; will contain many TCV styling influences.
Dev: 2001-2005
X80MG XPower SV
Re-bodied and re-engineered Qvale Mangusta, styled by Peter Stevens and manufactured in Italy.
Dev: 2001-2003

Prod: 2003-2005

RD110CityRover
Rebadged and lightly restyled Tata Indica.
Dev: 2003-2004

Prod: 2004-2005

RDX60
RDX130
Rover 45/MG ZS Replacement
MG Rover codename for MG and Rover ranges.
RDX30Rover 25/MG ZR
MG Rover codename for both ranges.
RDX20Rover 45/MG ZS
MG Rover codename for both ranges.
RDX10Rover 75/MG ZT
MG Rover codename for both ranges.

Project Code Names

CodenameDetailsDatesPicture
AdderMG RV8
The project name for the MGB-based roadster which became the MGR V8. The prototype was also known as PR4 (see below).
Dev: 1989-1993
Prod: 1993-1995
CoreRover 75
The initial project name for the car that would become the Rover 75. At this time, it was one of a suite of three large-car projects (the others being Eric and Flagship) based on an all-new Rover platform.
Dev: 1993-1998
Prod: 1998-date
EricLarge avantgarde coupe
The third model in Rover’s initial project mid-1990s large-car programme (along with Core and Flagship), this would have been an executive-class coupe, apparently not unlike the Renault Avantime in concept. Like Flagship (below), it did not progress beyond the fibreglass model stage.
Dev: 1993-1994
FlagshipRange-topping model
Part of Rover’s mid-1990s large-car programme (along with Core and Eric), and as the name suggests, this would have been a luxury saloon sitting above the 800 in the range; it was affectionately referred to within the company as Flashpig. Like Eric (above), it did not progress beyond the fibreglass model stage.
Dev: 1993-1994
IsisRover 75
An old Morris model name, revived to refer to one incarnation of the car that would become the Rover 75. This codename was used between Core and RD1.
Dev: 1993-1998
Prod: 1998-2005
JewelRover 25
Facelift of the R3 Rover 200 to bring it into line with Rover’s new 75-inspired family look.
Dev: 1998-1999
Prod: 1999-2005
OysterRover 45
Facelift of the HH-R Rover 400 to bring it into line with Rover’s new 75-inspired family look.
Dev: 1998-1999
Prod: 1999-2005
PathfinderSoft-roader/SUV
Aborted high-bodied multi-purpose vehicle, using the Rover 800 floorpan. Evolved into the CB40 (Land Rover Freelander) project.
Dev: 1989-1992
SynchroRover 600
See entries for SK1 and SK2, above.
Dev: 1989-1993
Prod: 1993-1998
ThetaRover 400/45
Alternative name for Project HH-R (above). See also X20.
Dev: 1990-1995
Prod: 1995-date
TexRover 400 Tourer
Developed as part of the R8 programme.
Dev: 1988-1992
Prod: 1994-1996
TomcatRover 200 Coupe
Developed as part of the R8 programme.
Dev: 1988-1992
Prod: 1993-1999
TracerRover 200 Cabriolet
Developed as part of the R8 programme.
Dev: 1988-1992
Prod: 1992-1999
TopazRover 100 Cabriolet 
Rover Metro/100 open-topped version.
Dev: 1990-1992
Prod: 1992-1999
TroyLamm Mini Cabriolet
Rover Mini open-topped version.
Dev: 1990-1992
Prod: 1992-1999

Project Phoenix and the PR/PX Development Codes

CodeDetailsDatesPicture
F-16MG-F forerunner
Gerry McGovern-styled car with front-engined, front-wheel-drive configuration. This design marks the birth of the MG-F concept, as its shape was used to form the body panels for PR1, PR2 and PR3.
Dev: 1985-1989
PR1MG-F forerunner
The first of three Phoenix prototypes, this car was built in steel by Motor Panels on Maestro underpinnings and used a front-mounted transverse 2.0 M16 engine.
Dev: 1989-1990
PR2MG-F forerunner
The second Phoenix prototype was built by Reliant using the Scimitar SS1 as its basis, and had a Rover 3.9-litre V8 engine.
Dev: 1989-1990
PR3MG-F forerunner
The third Phoenix prototype, built by ADC. This was the mid-engined design which was successful in being selected to be taken forward as the MG-F.
Dev: 1990
PR3/8300
Styling development of original PR3 exercise, produced by ADC in 1991 as part of the process of ‘productionising’ the design.
Dev: 1991
MG-F
Gerry McGovern sketched this final proposal for the PR3, giving the car much needed character, whilst also doing away with the need for troublesome and aerodynamically inefficient pop-up lights.
Dev: 1991-1995
Prod: 1995-date
PR4MGR V8
This code was assigned to Project Adder, the MGB-based roadster which became the MGR V8 (see Project Adder, above).
Dev: 1989-1993
Prod: 1993-1995
DR2/PR5Parallel MG-F proposal
This Roy Axe design was altogether bigger than the other PR-series cars but, like PR2, it had a front-mounted V8 and rear-wheel drive. It could potentially have become an Austin-Healey if the marque had been revived.
Dev: 1990
PX1Parallel MG-F proposal
A revival of the PR1 project, this car was based on front-engined, front-wheel-drive R17 (Rover 800) underpinnings. Was further developed to become Adventurer-1 (pictured).
Dev: 1991
PX2Parallel MG-F proposal
Related to PX1, but with a shortened wheelbase and retro-styling. Became Adventurer-2 (pictured).
Dev: 1991

Miscellaneous Codes

Of course, in a company as wide ranging as British Leyland, many, many other projects were given their own names, as it was not until the 1980s that a centralised product design and planning system was set-up.

This page includes the one-off project names, plus some of the code series which existed within the individual companies prior to the various mergers.


BMC

CodeDetailsDatesPicture
9XNew Mini
Issigonis-designed, OHC-engined hatchback to replace the Mini. 9X incorporated 850, 1000cc three door Mini-replacement hatchbacks and a further, extended 5-door version using 1200 and 1500c six-cylinder versions of the same OHC engine to replace ADO16.
Dev: 1967-68
Barrel CarNew Mini
Longbridge-produced Mini facelift proposal – not linked to either the 9X or ADO74 projects. Publicised in the Jeff Daniels and Graham Robson books.
Dev: 1968

Rover P Series

CodeDetailsDatesPicture
P1‘D-back’ Ten , Twelve and Fourteen saloons
(P1 Ten continued to end of 1937). Open Tourer Twelve and Fourteen models 1934-36
Prod: 1934-36
P2Phase 1 (1936-40)
New Twelve, Fourteen and Sixteen, more rounded style, enclosed boot, in six-light Saloon and four-light Sports Saloon versions.Phase 2 (1938-40)
New Ten in ‘scaled-down’ P2 Twelve  six-light style plus low-volume Ten 2-door Coupe and Twenty Sports Saloon.Phase 3 (1946-48)
Post-war Ten six-light, Twelve, Fourteen and Sixteen in four and six-light styles. ‘Export only’ Twelve Tourer.
Prod: 1936-48
P3Rover 60, 75.Prod: 1948-50
P4‘Cyclops’ 75, then 60, 75, 90, 105, 80, 100, 95, 110.Prod: 1949-64
P5Three-Litre (first monocoque Rover).Prod: 1958-67
P5B3.5 litre version of the P5 (saloon and coupé).Dev: 1965-67
Prod: 1967-73
P62000, 2200 (base unit construction).Prod: 1963-77
P6BThree Thousand Five – 3.5 litre version of P6.Prod: 1966-76
P6BSMid-engined sports car Porsche eater – development version.Dev: 1965-68
P7Five, six and V6 cylinder versions of P6 used in P8 development programme – never intended for production.Dev: 1962-74
P83.5, 4.0 and 4.4 litre versions of the P5 replacement. Axed by British Leyland at the point of going into production.Dev: 1963-71
P9Productionised version of the P6BS.Dev: 1968-70
P10Became known as the RT-1 and then SD1.Dev: 1969-71

Rover-Triumph

CodeDetailsDatesPicture
SD1Rover 3500
SD stands for Specialist Division
Dev: 1970-76
Prod: 1976-86
SD2Triumph Dolomite replacement
Solihull designed 5-door hatchback, using 1.5 and 2-litre Triumph engines. Merged with the ADO77 project in 1975.
Dev: 1971-75
SD3Rover 213/216
Little-known code applied retrospectively by engineers for the range that replaced the Triumph Acclaim. Apparently, Honda had it in mind to use the code SD2, until it was pointed out that that one had already been taken (see above)…
Dev: 1982-84
SD5Land-Rover replacement
A proposed replacement for the traditional Land Rover…
Dev: 1972-1974
BravoRover SD1 reskin
Late 1970s proposal to relaunch the SD1 with new bodywork, in both four- and five-door forms. Plan was abandoned in favour of Project XX (Rover 800).
Dev: 1979-80
:

Austin-Morris

CodeDetailsDatesPicture
AM2Metro saloon
The three-box Metro was touted for production from 1981/’82, but would end up being dropped in favour of the five-door version, which was introduced in 1984.
Dev: Late 1970s
AM2XMontego
Called this in the lead-up to the creation of Austin Rover Group, when it was rechristened the LM11.
Dev: Late 1970s

Triumph-Morris

CodeDetailsDatesPicture
TM1Family saloon
Short-lived replacement for the Triumph SD2, encompassing both the replacement for the Dolomite and the Marina. Was dropped in favour of the front-wheel drive LC10 project.
Dev: 1975

Triumph

CodeDetailsDatesPicture
BulletSports car
Front-engined, rear-wheel-drive, targa top, two-seater sports car developed to replace the TR6 and GT6. Developed and federalised to produce the Triumph TR7.
Dev: 1969-70
LynxSports car projects
Michelotti-styled coupe version of the Bullet.Dev: 1969-71
Coupe version of the TR7/TR8 – failed to become production reality due to production interruption at Speke.Dev: 1973-77
PumaExecutive car
Triumph replacement for the 2000/2500 models – was cancelled in favour of the Rover proposal, the Canley and Solihull teams joined forces and the joint replacement car became the SD1.
Dev: 1969-70

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

26 Comments

  1. What a fantastic run of information. P6BS looked like an intersting vehicle. Never thought about or seen a Landcrab pickup. Brilliant. Keep the good work and the information coming.

    Dave B

  2. “Did the original Range Rover have a ‘P’ code?”
    No, it was simply known as the “100-inch Station Wagon”, referred to as “Road Rover” and designated “Velar” when the pilot run cars were sent out for testing.
    The second generation Range Rover’s P designation is an interesting one: P38. All sorts of speculation as to what it stood for, but the answer is quite unremarkable – it was the number of the Office in which it was designed!

    • P38A actually – was variously Discovery and Pegasus before that. Pegasus was compromised by a supplier so the name was changed. CB40 (Freelander) followed the convention derived from the Canley location of the project office.

    • I believe Road Rover was another, earlier project. It was the ‘100-Inch Station Wagon’. ‘Velar’ was an artificial company set up by Rover so that prototypes were registered in another part of the country. The best explanation for the name was that it was derived from the Italian for ‘hidden’. If the P6BS went ahead, it was to have been badged as an Alvis and would also have worn Velar badging when prototypes took to the road.

    • No it wasn’t…..the P38 designation originated from a conflation of the MGA Developments code – Mustang – or, you’ve got it, P51….and Block 38 at Solihull, where the program management team were situated. Over the duration of the project, the names were conflated into P38.

      (MGA Developments were the primary contractors for the body design and engineering on the project.)

  3. There was a question raised recently on whether SD4 existed?

    Was it a cancelled project?
    An internal project?
    Engineering project?

  4. Re 5: That’s not quite correct. The origin of ‘P38’ is a little more complicated:

    1) The body engineering for ‘P38’ was contracted out to MGA Developments Ltd, of Coventry. MGA gave the project a code name – Mustang. This was very quickly abbreviated to ‘P51’.

    2) In parallel, the Land Rover program team at Solihull was housed in Block 38 (adjacent to the famous ‘jungle track’).

    3) Eventually the ‘P51’ and ‘Block 38’ references became blended in to ‘P38’.

    (I was a Senior Engineer on the MGA team.)

    • You are correct in saying that the programme team was in Block 38 but only part of it hence ’38A’. I was under the impression that the ‘P’ was simply for ‘Project’ as it was referred to as ‘Project 38A’ within Land Rover.

      • The project was in block 38A this is next to block 38 and right next to the ponds. I worked in here on 38A and T5. I do remember the biw concept brochures from MGA sign P51A Mustang on the cover.
        There was previous history P20 rover project was engineered in building 20 at Solihull. You would need to as John Hall for the definitive answer but it is not such a key point in automotive history.

  5. Very well researched information!
    I have seen other “ADO” lists and they have errors and omissions, yours is the best I have seen so far.
    Thanks for including the Australian “YD” codes, there is very little information about them elsewhere.
    Regards from Michael in Australia.
    P.S. Did the South African arm of BMC-Leyland have their own development codes?
    South Africa produced their own Wolseley 1000(ADO15)and Austin ADO16

  6. Great article. Am I right in thinking that on another AROnline page I read that ADO stood for Amalgamated Drawing Office though? After the merger between Morris and Austin?

  7. R9 (and possibly AR9) was a slightly larger ‘600-type’ vehicle based on R8 but with the 2.0 M-series engine. Unsurprisingly it was an expensive investment, especially when Syncho became a possibility.

    It morphed into R8 ‘Long Front End’ but some very clever packaging (and miniscule clearances) got the M-series to fit in the standard R8 engine bay with only a small bonnet bulge.

    Freelander was codenamed CB40, which was named after the building the engineering team were initially mainly based in – Canley, Building 40.

  8. According to The BMC-Leyland Australia Heritage Group book “Building Cars in Australia – Morris, Austin, BMC and Leyland 1950-1975”, YDO13 WAS used – for the original version of the X6 Tasman Kimberley, YDO19 was for the Mark II version only.

  9. According to The BMC-Leyland Australia Heritage Group book “Building Cars in Australia – Morris, Austin, BMC and Leyland 1950-1975”, YDO10 was used for the AUSTIN 1800 MkI & MkII Utility and Cab/Chassis models. No mention of MORRIS 1800 Utility!

  10. I had a Rover Metro Isis. It was either a special or limited edition with sunroof. It does not seem to be listed, can anyone help? For instance what year/s was it made? I loved it.

    my whole family worked for BL, BMC, Nuffield & Rover although a girl I really enjoyed looking at all of these old models which I remember so well. My Father won a green Mini in a suggestion box competition in 1966/67 which my husband & I had in subsequent years. Great fun, my husband was 6ft 4ins & we went to Devon with a child & large Labrador , it was a bit of a squeeze.

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