Raise a glass to : 60 years of the BMC 1100/1300

Would you believe that it’s six decades since the brilliant, best-selling BMC 1100/1300 (ADO16) was launched, and a generation of drivers was introduced to the delights of front-wheel drive?

But it’s true – 60 years on, Ian Nicholls ponders what impact this unassuming but technically advanced saloon had on the national psyche and the car industry as a whole.


BMC 1100/1300: a born winner

Morris 1100

Sixty years ago, on 15 August 1962, the BMC ADO16 range was launched as the Morris 1100 at Worcester College, Oxford, during the summer break, where the foreign press stayed.

As this site’s BMC 1100/1300 development story relates, around 2.1 million were manufactured in its life, in plants all over the world. It was also Britain’s best-selling car every year from 1963 to 1966, and 1968 to 1971. In conjunction with its smaller sibling the Mini, the ADO16 achieved overseas market penetration no other British volume cars managed.

In a time period stretching from 1962 to 1971 BMC/Austin Morris had the world at its feet. Yet new parent company British Leyland cataclysmically failed to replace both models adequately, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and allowing rival manufacturers to exploit the demand for this type of car.

Creating a new class of family cars

In his book, ‘British Leyland – The Truth Behind The Cars’, author Jeff Daniels put forward the notion that the ADO16 was a Ford Cortina rival and that BMC/BLMC failed to develop the car to compete with the larger Mk3 Cortina announced in late 1970.

However, with the passage of four decades since ‘British Leyland – The Truth Behind The Cars’ was published, we can see that some of Jeff Daniels’ assertions were a bit wide of the mark.

In reality, like the Mini, the ADO16 created its own class, just as the Cortina did with its marketing emphasis targeted at fleet buyers. The market sector exploited by the Cortina, resulted in copycat rivals such as the Hillman Avenger and Vauxhall Viva HB and, eventually, the Morris Marina. As events panned out, the Cortina would eventually be bracketed in the class above the ADO16.

ADO16: the clever money car

Austin 1100

The ADO16 was, from the outset, targeted at more sophisticated private buyers, both at home and abroad. And it was overseas that the first ADO16 rivals emerged. In 1969, Fiat launched the award-winning 128. This was a car that should have sent alarm bells ringing within the UK motor industry, that it had to up its game to compete with the best Europe had to offer.

However, 1969 had been a record year of vehicle exports, front-wheel drive was deemed by all the clever people now running things to be unprofitable and sophisticated car imports from Europe had their retail price inflated by trade tariffs. So insular was the UK motor trade, and so confident were those at the top that no one would be stupid enough to emulate BMC and switch its volume car production over to the front-wheel-drive format, that complacency reigned.

In the 1970s, the UK motor industry seemed to be wholly focused with toppling the Ford Cortina from the top of the UK sales chart, and Ford’s abundant profits convinced all the clever people that selling rep mobiles was the way to go. The reality, though, was that while Ford could sell all the Escorts and Cortinas it could manufacture, the plants of its rivals were working at reduced capacity.

The company car culture

BMC 1100/1300

If you were entitled to a company car back then, not being given a Ford, but a rival product, was tantamount to an insult, and a reason for seeking employment elsewhere in the hope that the required Ford would be provided as part of the salary package. Ford was always ahead of the game, why would you opt for a pale imitation playing catch up?

As related in this site’s Austin-Morris story, Finance Director John Barber and his other former-Ford cohorts were utterly convinced that the Mini was losing money, and the ADO16 1100/1300 was barely profitable, and convinced his fellow BLMC Board members that this was indeed the case. My close analysis of BMC’s financial results suggests that, if BMC really weren’t making a penny from 50% of its output, then it was making a hell of a lot on the remaining 50%!

As a consequence of all this, the ADO16 was superseded by the built-to-a-price Austin Allegro (ADO67), billed as British Leyland’s Car for Europe, as it was launched in the year Britain joined the European Economic Community. In May 1974 the ADO16/Allegro and Fiat 128 were joined by another class rival, the Volkswagen Golf, which had the added benefit of a hatchback.

Picking up and running with the format

On the level European playing field, the new product from Wolfsburg carried all before it, even forcing the big American-owned manufacturers to investigate front-wheel drive as an option, resulting in the Opel Kadett D of 1979, sold in Britain as the Vauxhall Astra, and the Ford Escort Mk3 of 1980.

As for British Leyland, the dumpy and underdeveloped Allegro threw away all the goodwill generated by the ADO16 and its successor, the hapless Austin Maestro, also built to a price, managed to do even worse. Meanwhile, the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Astra sold like hotcakes, and, in the 1980s, the Volkswagen Golf began to make steady inroads into the UK market with its reputation for superior build quality.

So, whenever you see a Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra or Volkswagen Golf on the road, remember this: that class of car started with the humble Morris 1100 of 1962. It’s just a pity that British Leyland didn’t appreciate what it had and threw away its technical lead.

Volkswagen Golf

Ian Nicholls
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50 Comments

  1. I lived every moment of this BL demise being a retail dealer watching the over 40 percent market disappear in the late 60s . The Marina a poor attempt to compete and at a time Japanese cars entered the play

  2. It comes up all the time…
    The Mk3 Cortina wasn’t considerably larger, as everybody seems convinced it was.
    It was actually fractionally shorter and just three inches wider than the Mk2, despite being built on the totally different Taunus floorpan.

    I know the 1100/1300 is two box as opposed to the three box alternatives but at nearly 2 feet shorter, I can’t say I ever considered them to be rivals.

      • Quite likely. I only ever went in one a couple of times but I briefly had an Austin 1800, which I didn’t like, but it was cavernous inside, far bigger than a Cortina.
        At 6′ 1″, in a Cortina there was no room for a passenger behind my seat. In the 1800, there was enough room to hold a dance.

    • The Mk3 Cortina and, to some extent, the Mk2 had moved to a class above the ADO16, whilst the Mk3 is, as you rightly point out, little bigger than the Mk2, the visual perception of how its sits on the road made it look 1/2 a size bigger than the Cortina Mk2 and with it the Hunter and Viva. In the company car park of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, perception was everything.

      By 1971, the ADO16 competitor was the Escort and this is part of the problem with the ADO16, is that BMC let Ford raise the price point of their products at a time when customers were becoming more aspirational and prosperous and with it Ford’s profit margins, while BMC left their products price point drift down.

      • Drivers such as my Father, the generation of post WW2 motorists, only knew of cars such as the Ford Pop and the 100E 1172 side-valve 3-speed Fords, still performing sterling service for budget motorists in the 1960s. To such men, limited knowledge of anything better, and probably discouraged by anything perceived as radical,. The Mk1 Escort with 4-speed transmission, and OHV engine was a modern car by the standards of Ford. cars such as an ADO16, FWD, Hydralastic suspension, were too innovative for men such as my Father, fearing “what is it goes wrong, how will I fix it?, it was not just the fleet buyers who sought the safe passage of a conventional Ford, my Father and his contemporaries too sought the safe haven of basic motoring technology. I fear he passed down his thinking to myself, my car? A basic Honda Jazz!

        • There’s absolutely nothing wrong with owning a Honda Jazz – in the last twenty years or so and over time, we have had four of them on the family fleet.

          I have always thought of the Jazz as a 21st century Morris Minor!

    • Err, if it had been built on the Taunus platform it would have been FWD! The Taunus prior to the TC, which the Mk3 was the Cortina side, was a FWD car based upon an original Ford USA design. The TC was developed using a stretched Mk2 platform in Britain by American Harley Copp. It may not be bigger in length (1/2 inch in it), but it’s wheelbase was actually 3 inches longer and 2 inches wider therefore making it look bigger.

      • Your point is?
        It was built on the Taunus TC platform. Double wishbone front and trailing arm coil rear suspension, as opposed to McPherson struts and cart springs is a hardly a stretched Mk2.
        The wheelbase was longer but the car was 1/4 inch shorter, not longer, and despite what everybody on here says, it wasn’t “much larger”.
        The side profile of the Taunus TC was virtually identical to the Mk 4 Cortina.

        I agree that it seemed a different generation, having had an Avenger and nearly a Hunter. They both gave the impression of being extremely narrow compared to the FD Victor and Mk3 and Mk4 Cortinas, which I had a couple of each.
        The difference was only 2 or 3 inches but it seemed much more.

        I also suggest that a lot of the difference was in the door thickness. BMC, from memory, in order to maximise interior space, in the Issigonis era had very thin doors and, although it’s years since I was in a Mk1 or 2 Cortina, I think they were very similar.
        Again it’s years since I had an FD Victor but a mate still has a (mint) Mk3 Cortina and the doors appear noticeably thicker.

        • Perception. A longer wheelbase can make a car look bigger. The BMC 1800 was 165 inches long, 3 inches shorter than a Cortina but was seen at the time as a bigger car competing against the much larger Zephyr/Zodiacs. The Mk3 also came with the option of 2l engines which had previously been only available to the Corsair, which many saw as an upscaling in size, again perception, as the Corsair was longer than the Mk3.

      • Completely wrong. Early Taunus’s where indeed FWD but in 1970 the Taunus TC and Cortina MK3 where developed on a common platform completely unrelated to the Mk2 Cortina – SLA/Wishbone front end instead of struts and a coil sprung rear instead of leaf springs. Look at a Taunus TC alongside a Mk3 Cortina and the common parts are obvious including the windscreen and front door shells and side windows. The main difference is the lack of a Coke Bottle rear window line on the Taunus. In 1976 the Taunus TC was given a front and rear facelift and the resulting car also became the Mk4 Cortina.

        • I am not wrong. The Mk2 and Mk3 platforms are related through development though ended up different. Like many cars, they start out using a previous version to develop the replacement. The Sierra platform was developed from the Cortina, however it is not the same. The Mk3 Fiesta was developed from the Mk1/2 but the final platform is different. Another example, as per Kevan’s comments on here confirmed the Maestro was developed from the Allegro.

          • They’re not related at all. The Sierra was a completely different platform to the Taunus/Cortina reverting to front struts but with an independent rear. It was an all new car, only the initial engine line up was carried over.

          • Car manufacturers often use a current car/body as a prototype “mule” carrying all the new model parts:- platform/chassis/power train often budget determines an element of parts are carried over but there’s very little “cortina in a Sierra” save Pinto engines and blue oval badges similar story ADO16 to Allegro. Strange how a Bmc/BL article gets high jacked by the blue oval badge brigade In the latter years of BMW Rover Group engineers were frustrated they were still trying to keep up with the main benchmark, the VW Golf with a very limited budget design & development on a shoestring!

  3. I vaguely remember the first Austin / Morris 1100s on the roads (I was 7 then). Years later A friend had an 1100 too and i always remember how roomy they were inside. My brother owned a 1970 1300GT which I consider to be the best of them all (bar the VDP)

  4. The problem with the Allegro wasn’t that it was built to a price, as the 1980 Escort was built to a price and sold like hot cakes.

    Indeed the Allegro was a reasonably logical replacement of ADO16, EXCEPT for one thing in that it looked awful. if the Allegro had looked like the Golf, and the Golf looked like the Allegro, things might have been very different…

    • In part you are right.

      But the Allegro did suffer from a number of design and quality compromises to enable it to go toe to toe in pricing with the Escort Mk1, despite its greater sophistication.

      However when Ford were engineering the Mk3 Escort, they were targeting the Golf which of course was a design of equal sophistication. BL should instead have ignored the Ford Escort (that was a job for the Marina) and priced the Allegro to go head to head in a level playing field (excluding import tariffs) with its European peers i.e. Simca 1100 / 1300, Citroen GS and Alfasud, which is exactly what VW did with the Golf.

  5. We often only think of the Allegro as the replacement for the ADO16, but we miss that, in reality, the Maxi should have been as well, effectively it should have reflected the British family car market’s centre of gravity moving from being 1100/1300 to 1300/1500 during the 60s.

    However, BMC made it too big and heavy so as to be able to utilise 1800 door tooling and gifted it a criminal lack of desirability by allowing Issigonis to have his way on styling (his way, being not to). If it had been 100″ wheelbase car with neat Italian styling, a logical way to go from the ADO16, history could have been very different.

  6. I learnt to drive at the age of 13, driving my Grandad’s 1971 Austin 1300 up and down the drive and the occasional outing to a private car park. Although, when I was old enough (1981) to drive on the roads, he had a 1979 Chrysler Horizon 1300.

  7. ADO 16 was almost as a big a revolution as the Mini. People were in awe of the passenger room and the ride. Launches of new cars today do not evoke such enthusiasm or emotion. It’s a bit like trying to tell a teenager what it was like to be at school during the 60’s. Pointless – they’ll never ‘get it’
    ADO 16 was a pioneer in so many ways. One was even used as the ‘mule’ in the development of the ‘Africar’ by Howarth. I’m always very conscious not to criticise the past with the benefit of ‘hind-site’ – but find myself struggling with the whole Allegro thing. Having owned many 1100’s and just one Allegro 1300 automatic estate – I still find it unbelievable that management pressed the ‘go’ button!

    • I agree with you, ADO16 moved the whole European small family car forward to a new level, whilst the Allegro is baffling, I have seen it written that they benched marked it against the Alfasud, if they did, it must have been assessed with completely closed minds to conclude the Allegro was a competitive let alone preferable driving experience.

      Having dug into the history, it seems to be that the key factor was the intended “cheap as chips” reskin of the Minor into the Marina, becoming a massively expensive investment in development and tooling, which whilst the Marina was a profitable car to make and sell, its short (intended 4 year) shelf life meant it had no hope of recovering its investment in development and tooling.

      Setting out to do things better with the Allegro, the management pursued very tight cost control, and one easiest areas to save money was not to call in the Italian styling houses as they had done with the Marina. This would probably been less of an issue had Roy Haynes still been heading up the styling department, but he had departed and been replaced by his deputy, Harris Mann.

      Problem was that Harris Mann was whilst being ambitious and radical he was relatively inexperienced, the result was he came up with flawed styling for the Allegro, if you look at his more wedge like sketches, you can see that they have the mess of converging lines at the front and the tubby waist of the final car, but wedge profile that made it acceptable in the sketches, was going to be impossible to translate into the final package, given need to retain of things like the E-Series, (the infamous) Marina heater etc that was also forced on them also by the need to contain cost (and were known to be from the start of the project).

      The dumpy looks alone would not have been enough to ruin the car, if it had a nice driving experience. However, the pressure to contain development costs meant that it was brought to production not properly finished, notably the ride which was overly bouncy and restricted rear room, both of these were resolved with the Mark 2, with 3+ inches of rear room being found with new rear seat, but why had these items not been addressed first time around. If you look at the final Mk3 version, (which I recall Car magazine testing and concluding that despite being in its final years was now a genuinely good car), nothing other than the A plus engine’s electronic ignition could not have been included the car at launch.

      The experience of owning the car was further marred by its reputation for both poor quality and reliability. Much of this was in truth the Red Tops eager to sensationalise stories to shift copy as well as giving a good kicking to a company closely associated with the Labour Government. But genuine problems existed, from both design issues which should have been rectified as part of development and the poor industrial relations at Longbridge and many of the suppliers.

      The final killing issue for the Allegro was the Fuel Crisis and following recession, when the Allegro was conceived, the expectation was that the ADO16 market’s centre of gravity having moved from 1.1 to 1.3, the Allegro would move on to 1.5. Thus, they could allow the Allegro’s size and weight to grow and in truth the Allegro 1.5 was the sweet spot in the range. But due to the recession the Allegro markets centre of gravity remained at the ADO16 1.3 and here it offered a much less peppy drive than the ADO16 along with many of its European competitors (which in the case of the French and Italian cars, had been optimised around 1.1 and 1.3 because of their tax rates that penalised larger capacity engines).

  8. I’d argue that engineering-wise the Simca 1100, Fiat 128 and the Golf had more in common with the Autobianchi Primula of 1964 than the ADO16. But that didn’t stop BMC’s enormous success in shifting 2 million ADO16s and popularising the FWD arrangement for medium cars.

    The difficulty for BMC was how to replace this advanced, attractive and successful car. The competing and popular Escort Mk1 was much simpler with its RWD layout but still packed a lot of kerb appeal, meanwhile the continentals were majoring in FWD – which way to go? Well, we know the answer…

    But, yes, cheers to the ADO16. Mine went for scrap nearly 40 years ago and I still miss it. Sort of!

  9. I agree with Rusty, in that the ADO16 may have started it all, it was the Primula with an end on gearbox that really influenced the rest.

    Not that I have much against ADO16s other than the rust! My Uncle had one when I was little and he loved it. It was a shame that it was not developed properly in its lifetime, as with proper engineering improvements it could have gone on with a rebody well into the late 1970s. Seeing the Australian BMC, Michelotti and Innocenti ideas floating around on the web you realise it still could have soldier on for a bit longer, saving money for projects in the mid market where the Maxi and 1800 just didn’t cut it in the sales figures.

    • The Allegro started out as a simple ADO16 reskin, but ended up totally different after so many constraints were put upon it. A true case of a camel being a horse designed by a committee.

      • Not entirely correct.

        BMH work prior to the Leyland takeover was very much as you describe, a reskin of the ADO16. However, when British Leyland was formed this strategy lost out to the strategy favoured by the many former Ford executives (employed both by BMH and British Leyland) that future models needed to be tightly costed from the ground up and the proposed BMH reskins would retain many of the expensive complexities of assembly that Issigonis’ designs suffered from (brilliant as he was, he was no production engineer).

        So, the Allegro from day one, was effectively a clean sheet design that would utilise the A and E-Series powertrains from the Mini/ADO16 and Maxi plus, of course, the infamous Marina heater.

  10. Coincidentally my mechanic neighbour is currently restoring a 1300. It’s the first time I’ve seen this car in person, and it looks the business.

  11. These cars were everywhere and sold in the sort of numbers the Allegro could dream of. Also the badge engineering meant you could have an interesting choice of cars from a basic Morris 1100 to the luxury Vanden Plas model, with some very nice MG and 1300 GT models in between. Obviously the ADO16 had some flaws- some nasty rust issues in the subframe and occasional reliability issues like most cars of this era- but it was a big success for BMC at home and abroad and was a very advanced car for its time.

  12. Hydrolastic was a bit of a dead end by 1972 to be honest. Cars like the Golf and Alfasud rode extremely well on long travel soft coil springs and excellent damping, and they both handled very well. BLMC needed to replace the 1100/1300 but with something all new and much cheaper to make – with a tailgate.

    • Not entirely correct. The Golf did not exist in the market in 1972, as it was not launched until the summer of 1974.

      Also, of course, at the time of the Allegro’s launch, the Alfasud, GS and 104 were also 2 box saloons. However, unlike the Allegro, their manufacturers revised their designs to offer a hatchback once they saw the way the market was moving.

  13. Imagine how different things could have been had they just developed the ADO16 rather than replacing it with the Allegro. It wouldn’t have been difficult; give it a facelift for the 1970s (the Apache and the Victoria show what could have been done), work on little issues based on customer feedback, bring in a hatchback version, possibly even fit the E-Series engine into it, satisfying dealer demand for a bigger engined car and helping to keep production of said engine high. There could have been BL’s c-segment volume car for the years 1970-1975 – but nope, we got the Allegro.

  14. The lack of a hatchback was blinkered management stupidity.
    Their reasoning was that fitting a hatchback to any other models would detract from sales of the Maxi, failing to understand that if people didn’t want a Maxi but did want a hatchback, they’d buy a different make entirely…

    And they did.

  15. Warts and all, the ADO16 was a huge success for BMC and a lot more advanced than a clunker like the Ford Anglia, which looked totally dated against it. Only when the Escort, Avenger and HC Viva arrived did the ADO 16 start to look old, as it had never received a proper update in the late sixties, but in the handling, ride and performance departments, it was competitive right to the end. Also no one could quite do an interior like that on the Vanden Plas 1300.

    • They did a VP on the new Bangers and Cash restoring classics the other week. Beautiful car, and the interior was really Rolls looking, even if the bolsters were vinyl not leather like the rest of the chairs.

  16. At most ADO16 had the potential to be almost as ground-breaking as the Autobianchi Primula with regards to both the gearbox and hatchback bodystyle, which would become universal on many FWD cars if not in terms of suspension.

    Yet, for all of the innovative thinking at BMC, they were rather conservative or risk-adverse by going for a two-box saloon layout instead of embracing what was later planned for the Maxi in featuring both hatchback and three-box saloon bodystyles or looking at other ways to broaden its appeal. What ended up happening with the Innocenti A40 Combinata and Berlina should have at least caught their attention, after the former began to outsell the latter.

    Additionally, looking at ADO16 during the 1970s in terms of sales, it could be said that had there been proper development to further bolster its longevity early on including a Maxi like switch from Hydrolastic to Hydragas as well as a Peugeot 305/Citroen Visa switch from an in-sump to end-gearbox (if the latter hasn’t already been implemented from the outset). It would have pretty much negated the need for the Allegro, allowing the savings to be pressed towards an earlier replacement roughly around the late-1970s instead of the early-1980s.

    The Landcrab and Maxi are another story altogether…

      • The Mystique could have worked as a 3-door GT Coupe, given the time period it would have not been completely inconceivable for a regular ADO16 hatchback to have featured a very similar yet more accommodating hatchback layout, exactly like the Primula yet preceding the latter by about 2 years.

        Two possible butterflies in such a scenario for Autobianchi would be that the Primula ends up possessing a design less visually similar as ADO16, effectively an early A111 hatchback as the later saloon’s styling was said to have started out as a variant of the Fiat 123 E4 prototype (if not a more 123 E1 fastback hatchback arrangement). A similar square styling theme was looked at for the A112 during its development.

  17. On a visual level, I always thought the MG version of the 1300 was a really good looking car. Rostyle wheels made a big difference; stopped it looking like an ordinary family model.

    • ‘@ KC, you could order the MG 1300 with two tone paintwork, which really made it stand out, as well as the better front end treatment and the option of leather seats.

  18. Ian Nicholls rightly states:

    “In reality, like the Mini, the ADO16 created its own class, just as the Cortina did with its marketing emphasis targeted at fleet buyers. The market sector exploited by the Cortina, resulted in copycat rivals such as the Hillman Avenger and Vauxhall Viva HB and, eventually, the Morris Marina. As events panned out, the Cortina would eventually be bracketed in the class above the ADO16.”

    The BMC ADO16 and Ford Cortina were the respective progenitors of what are now generally referred to as the C-segment and the D-segment – ultimately, over time, all C-segment 5-Door Hatches (even the BMW 1 Series) had front-wheel drive.

    However, for me at least, there has recently been a perhaps ironic development – the only C-segment 5-Door Hatch with a British-born badge is the soon-to-be-launched MG4. Please let’s not re-open previous debates here but, as can be seen from the illustration in the CAR magazine article at the link below, MG’s new Modular Scalable Platform (MSP), which underpins the MG4, features rear-wheel drive. Here’s the link:

    New MG 4 EV to hit UK showrooms in September, priced from £25,995, Luke Wilkinson, Car, 5th August, 2022

    Interestingly, according to Goodwood Road & Racing, “there is speculation a top model will have two motors, all-wheel-drive and 450PS (331kW) for 0-62mph in under four seconds” – my guess is that version might just wear an MG XPower (or, more accurately, an MG XPOWER) badge… See:

    New 450PS MG4 EV set for 2022 launch, Bob Murray, Goodwood Road & Racing, 4th July, 2022

    • Rear-wheel drive works better for electric cars than front-drive alone, because you have a much more even weight distribution between the front and rear axles and so using rear-wheel drive enables you to utilise the off-the-line torque of an electric motor, whereas with front drive you have to limit the torque to avoid excessive wheelspin as the weight shifts to the rear at launch.

      • Thank you, that’s a really clear and succinct explanation.

        Here’s a thought, though: perhaps, through the lens of history, the MG4 will be seen as being as ground-breaking as the BMC ADO16 was – especially in terms of the interior packaging.

        I wonder whether any of the Journalists writing the First Drive articles on the MG4 will think to draw that comparison…

          • Well, comparing one C-segment BEV 5-Dr Hatch with the other, perhaps the answer to your question is affordability.

            The entry-level MG4 SE Standard Range will be priced at £25,995.00 when the model reaches the showrooms next month. However, having just checked on Volkswagen UK’s website, the Volkswagen ID.3 currently starts at £36,195.00 – by my reckoning, that’s a difference of £10,200.00. That said, though, I accept that – given the figures here – the concept of affordability is a relative one…

            Interestingly, and by way of an update (as at 23rd August 2022), Autocar’s very own former British Leyland man, Richard Bremner, has now given the MG4 SE Long Range a four (out of five) Star Rating – here’s the relevant link:

            MG Motor 4 EV review, Richard Bremner, Autocar, 22nd August, 2022

  19. Ford might have had its De Luxe, Super and E trim levels for the Cortina, but the ADO16 used badge engineering to great effect. At the bottom you could buy the bog standard Austin or Morris 1100, 1300 versions of the same car after 1967, mid range Riley and Wolseley models with better trim and more performance, sporting MG versions, and the Vanden Plas 1300 for those who wanted luxury. Clearly a car that was designed for all pockets and whose sales were enormous until the early seventies, when it started to become outdated.

  20. Gonna stick in my two-penneth. I am the same age as the BMC 1100/1300 range, having also just passed my 60th milestone. So the 1100/1300 was a very familiar sight during my childhood, but a bit long in the tooth by the time I actually got to drive one. I only owned a late 1100 MK1, for a short while, it failed the MOT on terminal rear floorpan corrosion, apparanly this was an all too common issue. It was a pleasant enough car to drive, but I found the Hydrolsatic suspension choppy and not that smooth, also suffered from the same shortcomings as my earlier Mini, such as an uncomfortable driving position, with a near flat bus-driver steering wheel, offset pedals and badly thought out switchgear. Many years later, I was introduced to the Citroën GS/GSA, and this had the ride quality that I think Alex Moulton was trying to acheive, and it was a real little barnstormer for performance too.

  21. My understanding of Daniels’ critique of BMC’s product planning strategy was not that the ADO16 failed to move up the market, it was that BMC failed to capitalise on the gains made with the 1100 by developing a 1500 saloon, which would have occupied the same market space as the Cortina. Instead, they moved straight to ADO17 Landcrab, which served a far smaller market space with lower volume potential (not withstanding the perceived shortcomings of the design in itself).

    Daniels essentially plots the volume sales of 800cc to 3-litre cars on a scale with volume breaks at (loosely) 800cc, 1100cc, 1500cc, 1800cc, and 2+ litre, which correlated loosely to tax brackets and other economic considerations/consumer preferences, as reflected in the offerings of most car manufacturers in the 1960s. Plotted against volume sales, this scale loosely scribes a bell curve showing lower sales potential for 800cc cars, increasing substantially with 1100cc cars, and peaking with 1500cc cars before dropping away for 1800cc and above.

    In that regard, Daniels’ criticism still stands as the ‘BMC 1500′ (Maxi) failed to appear until late 1969, a full five years after the launch of Landcrab. Again, the perceived shortcomings or otherwise of the design should be set to one side – it is a legitimate and highly significant aspect of the car’s success WITHIN its market, but Daniels’ criticism is that the market itself (the 1500-1600cc bracket) was left open to Ford for five crucial years. The Farina saloons, whilst technically falling into this bracket, were both stylistically and technologically outmoded, and in that sense cannot be deemed a direct competitor to Cortina/Corsair.

  22. In my earlier car interest days at age 10-14, I always considered the Cortina, Corsair, Victor101 & FD to be much more modern looking than the BMC Farina types. I always thought this was a factor in BMC’s / BL decline.

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