Essay : The decline of BMC – the European dimension – Part Two

Ian Nicholls follows up on one of 2016’s most popular essays, adding some fascinating overseas price data and insight to his piece on the failure of BMC in mainland Europe.

These good Europeans certainly enjoyed their Austin 1800

The original article on BMC’s attempts to sell its wares to Europe produced some terrific feedback so, in this second article, I have taken the opportunity to reproduce some of the most constructive contributions for posterity. Uwe from Munich kindly contributed some new car prices extracted from a West German car magazine, Hobby Magazin, mostly from 1965. This gives a terrific counterpoint to the UK-centric idea of historic car pricing.

Car prices in West Germany in 1965

  • Opel Admiral (1965): 12,200 DM
Vauxhall Cresta (1965): 11,485 DM
Mercedes-Benz 200 (1965): 10,800 DM
  • Fiat 2300 6-cyl. (1965): 9990 DM
  • BMW 1800 (1965): 9985 DM
  • Austin 1800 (1965): 9960 DM
  • BMW 1600 four-door (1965): 9485 DM
  • Glas 1700 (1965): 8850 DM
Hillman Super Minx (1962): 8800 DM
Ford 20M TS 6-cyl. (1965): 8740 DM
  • Ford 20M 6-cyl. (1965): 7990 DM
Morris Oxford (1964): 7825 DM
Audi (1965): 7690 DM
  • Simca 1500 (1965): 7450 DM
  • Fiat 1500 (1965): 6990 DM
Ford 17M 1500 (1965): 6990 DM
VW 1600 TL (1965): 6690 DM
  • Morris 1100 (1965): 6490 DM
  • Autobianchi Primula (1965): 6290 DM
Ford 12 M (1965): 5390 DM
  • Opel Kadett (1965, new model): 5175 DM
  • Simca 1000 (1965): 4775 DM

Unfortunately, there is no West German Mini price listed, but the first thing that strikes me is that an Austin 1800, the basic version of the ADO17, is nearly as expensive as a BMW 1800, regarded as an upscale car. Also a Morris 1100 ADO16 is more expensive than the front-wheel-drive Autobianchi Primula.

AROnline’s long-standing Deputy Editor, Alexander Boucke, commented: ‘Basically the Morris 1100 MkI and Austin 1800S my parents bought new up to 1970 could easily be classed as luxury cars with prices as seen above. The 1800S was about the same price as a Citroen ID19 or a Opel Commodore 2500… A Vanden Plas 1100 (yes, there was one MkI sold as new in my home town!) was deeply into Mercedes-Benz money and would probably have been sitting near the top of the above list.’

Uwe from Munich then made another great contribution. ‘In the foreword of the British cars’ section of German publication Auto-Modelle – Katalog 1972/73, the author reports that, ‘in 1970 Britain exported 91.000 cars to the EEC (market share: 1,7 per cent) while EEC countries exported 126.000 cars to Britain (market share: 11,6 per cent).

‘In this publication, British cars are obviously listed with new “EEC prices”. Absolutely competitive to models of similar (engine) sizes from France and Germany and real bargains compared to a Volvo 144.’

British car prices in West Germany (1972-73)

  • Peugeot 504 (11,450 DM)
  • Triumph 2000 Mk II (12,750 DM)
  • Mercedes-Benz 200 (13,930 DM)
  • Rover 2000 TC (13,990 DM)
  • BMW 520 (14,000 DM)
  • Saab 99 four-door-saloon (14,110 DM)
Citroen DS 20 (14,450 DM)
  • Volvo 144 E four-door-saloon (16,600 DM)

Rover P6 was well regarded in Europe, and especially in West Germany

Uwe commented: ‘The Rover 2000 was an excellent car, no doubt. It was highly praised in the German motor press for its clever framework construction and the excellent rear axle. Only criticism: a rather small boot and limited room for back seat passengers. But for potential German buyers driving dozens of miles to the next BL dealer to get it serviced or fixed properly was not an attractive option. So they preferred the solid but rather conservative Mercedes 200, even though they had to wait several months for delivery.’

Alexander Boucke added: ‘At that time my father bought another new ADO16 – a MkIII 1300. The (now EEC) price was very competitive, in fact it cost him less than the Morris 1100 MkI, eight years before. But sadly, at this point, the quality was at an all time low, whilst it was quite good on the Morris.

‘When living close to a good dealership, spares supply was actually very good. They needed to stock large amounts of service items back in these days. And everything else came indeed quickly from the central spares depot. In our town we had up to four dealers in the late 1960s into the ’70s, but that was rather luxurious by German standards.’

One thing that annoys me in the ongoing debate on how the British-owned motor industry met its demise, is how many people continue to blame lack of investment without stopping to think why this was so. While I do not dispute that the British-owned motor industry suffered from a chronic lack of investment, it was by and large not a deliberate policy, stemming from a short-term pursuit of avarice.

Advocates of this argument, often with no experience of running a business, seem to think that capital for investment was growing on trees, available out of a tap. This was simply not true, it had to be generated internally and borrowed from banks, who in turn wanted to know how the capital would be spent. That meant a sound business plan based on sales projections.

As related in Part 1, back in 1959, BMC announced its £49 million investment programme to expand production to one million vehicles a year, a target it never reached, the nearest being around 890,000 in the mid-Sixties. With its market reach restricted by Common Market trade tariffs BMC was never going to achieve the 1 million production mark, and the elusive profits needed for renewal were simply not obtainable. In July 1966, BMC held 42  per cent of the UK market – was it realistic to expect more?

Comparisons with the likes of Fiat, Renault and Volkswagen are invidious, for they had access to the larger single market of the EEC, were able to sell more cars, borrow more money and invest more capital. Until 1973, most continental motorists were simply not prepared to pay the higher prices demanded for British-made cars, no matter how innovative, stylish and exciting they were, and the notion that more investment, when it could be obtained, would have solved this problem is nonsense.

How would the British motor industry have fared if Britain had gained early access to the Common Market? We can produce some projections by examining the impressive growth of the major European manufacturers in the 1960s.

First we have some actual production figures

Year UK France Italy West Germany
1960 1,354m 1,175m 596,000 1,817m
1965 1,722m 1,423m 1,104m 2,734m
1970 1,641m 2,458m 1,720m 3,528m

The effects of being locked out of the EEC car market could be seen by 1970. In a decade French car production had increased by 109 per cent, West Germany by 94 per cent and Italy by 189 per cent. In contrast, Britain – dependent on a stagnant domestic market – saw only a 21 per cent increase in production.

What would British production look like had the UK been a member of the Common Market in 1960? If we take the lowest percentage growth, that of West Germany, and apply it to the 1960 UK production total of 1,354,000 we come up with a production projection for 1970 of 2,626,760.

That is probably an unrealistic projection. The UK’s application to join the Common Market was rejected in January 1963. Had Britain been successful, it probably would have been 1965 at the earliest before the UK motor manufacturers could have gained access to the single market.

Britain’s production shrinks

So what were the actual percentage increases in production between 1965 and 1970 by the major European car producing nations? Well, France increased its production by 57.89 per cent, Italy by 64 per cent and West Germany by 77 per cent. In contrast poor old Britain, locked out of the Common Market, saw its car production actually shrink by 4.7 per cent.

If we take the lowest percentage increase, that of France, and apply it to UK production in 1965, we get a projection of 2,718,865 cars for 1970. All this is, of course, conjecture and does not take into account competition between manufacturers, but does indicate how much the British motor industry was falling behind in the dash for growth. Greater volume meant that development costs could be amortised more easily, marketing blunders could be less damaging and, of course, more investment in new plant and machinery.

So how does all this affect BMC and how well would it have had to perform to have avoided being swallowed up by Leyland?

Well, if we take the 1964/65 production figure of 727,592 cars, which does not include commercial vehicles and increase it by 57.89 per cent, to match France’s increase in production from 1965 to 1970, we come up with a projection of BMC producing 1,148,795 cars by 1970.

This projection is not far off BMC’s plans, announced at the time of the merger with Jaguar in July 1966, to increase production to 1.3 million vehicles per year by 1970. Sir George Harriman, the Chairman of BMC, was an advocate of Britain joining the Common Market. BMC also planned to invest £10 million per year in its plants.

Even modest increases in demand might have enabled BMC to have survived. It is not unreasonable to surmise that the company could have sold 300,000 each per annum of the Mini and ADO16 1100/1300 series. They were arguably the most advanced family cars in the world, and only trade tariffs, which made them ludicrously expensive, prevented them from selling more in the Common Market. With the ADO16 achieving 13 per cent to 14 per cent of British car sales, it was probably unrealistic to expect the domestic market to absorb any more.

In 1965, the target of selling 600,000 Mini/ADO16s would have required another 149,973 units, in 1970 even less at 121,781 cars. BMC could possibly have survived on an output of around 880,000 cars per annum. However, the reality is that Leonard Lord’s gamble with the Mini and later with the ADO16 failed.

Product failure

Would BMC have been in better shape had it continued the Farina formula,
perfectly exemplified in this A40 saloon?

It was a gamble that should, with all things being equal, have catapulted BMC to the forefront of the European motor manufacturers league, except things were not equal and BMC failed to generate the profits so necessary to keep pace with its rivals, and investment inevitably suffered. There will always be those who argue that the high technology route was the wrong one to take, and if BMC had served up a diet of stylish bodies based on A35 and Oxford/Cambridge saloon mechanicals, they might have survived, but again that is conjecture.

By the time of the BMC-Leyland merger occurred, some plants such as Cowley were suffering woefully from under-investment. Cowley in 1968 was said to be still using belt-driven machine tools. When British Leyland was formed, Sir Donald Stokes and his team seemed to switch focus from the larger European market to the domestic scene. The Morris Marina was aimed at the lucrative UK fleet market. The resources for this came from Leyland’s coffers, and whether it was justified is open for debate, for it appears to have taken sales away from the ADO16 range, and did not appreciably increase British Leyland’s total car production.

In defence of the Morris Marina, when the decision to develop the car was taken, Charles De Gaulle was still President of France, and there seemed little prospect of Britain joining the Common Market. The Stokes era at British Leyland demonstrated how investment for investment’s sake could go wrong. Cowley was gutted to make way for the Marina, but much of the new technology installed to produce the car was already regarded as obsolete by the major continental manufacturers.

Moreover, in choosing the ADO67 Allegro to replace the long-serving ADO16 series, Stokes and his team demonstrated how it was possible to squander precious funds for no tangible gain. It has been pointed out by one contributor to AROnline that if British Leyland had kept the ADO16 in production, it probably would have sold just as well as the Allegro, albeit in sales decline over its glory years.

The Stokes-era management was slated for giving too much of British Leyland’s profits away in dividends, but probably it would have made little difference. BLMC had fallen way behind its rivals in the dash for volume and they now had greater resources to develop their models thoroughly before inflicting them on the buying public.

Renault 5: considerably more successful than the Mini

A good example of this is the Renault 5. It might not have been the most space-effeicient small car on the market, but its manufacturer had benefited from the surge in European car sales in the late 1960s and it exploited the demand for compact front-wheel-drive cars that British Leyland could not satisfy at the right price. With an already established large customer base, Renault were able to sell in 13 years as many R5s as the Issigonis Mini sold in 41 years!

That is not to say the Mini was inferior, but that until 1973 it was not available in the Common Market at a price consumers were willing to pay, and by 1973 it was no longer at the cutting edge of small car design. No doubt British Leyland would have liked to combat the new generation of European Supermini’s with the Issigonis 9X or the Roy Haynes-styled Mini Clubman hatchback, but it did not have the resources to put them into production, and the reason for this was because the company could not sell enough cars to earn the required profits. The Renault 5 destroyed the notion that Mini cars meant mini profits.

Many on the Left believed that nationalisation was the only solution to the problems of the British motor industry. When it came to pass in 1975 they were elated. The theory was that the state would be able to invest the capital needed to turn British Leyland into a world player with the added benefit that the employees would be more prepared to remain at their work stations if their company was owned by the state, which was perceived to be nicer than working for powerful private forces. The Ryder Report demanded that, for every £1m provided by the National Enterprise Board, British Leyland’s car manufacturing had to find a further £1.5m out of profits.

We now know that British Leyland ultimately absorbed £2.6 billion of taxpayers’ money, which means that under the Ryder formula, it should have earned at least £3.9 billion in profits.

That was a forlorn hope…

Ian Nicholls
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  1. The big problem in 1972-73, when EU tariffs were lifted, was cars from the EU became 17.5 per cent cheaper. This meant there was a surge in demand for new models like the Renault 5, Fiat 127 and Audi 80 at the expense of British manufacturers, who were now fighting a war on two fronts as Japanese cars were increasing in popularity at the same time.
    Of course, the end of tariffs could have meant an exports bonanza for British Leyland, but we all know about the lukewarm reaction to the Allegro, which could have sold in huge numbers if it was better styled and better made, the reliability woes of the XJ6 and Rover SD1s that scared buyers in Europe away, and regular reports of strikes and government bailouts that made European buyers wary of British Leyland. Why take a chance on a car whose delivery could be held up by strikes, from a company that was in constant trouble, and might not be reliable when it was finally delivered when you could buy a German car from a strike free and successful factory which would be reliable?

    • Germany strike free? I think we need another article on this but from my non-expert recollection Germany has had its fair share of strikes over the years. I might even be tempted to say its workers knew what side their bread was buttered on better than the Brits and have always maintained this option.

      • I did read that German trade unions are organised at national level so workers need to have a national ballot before a strike can be called.

        Ironically this was brought in during the British zone of occupation, I presume to stop Communist infiltrators causing trouble.

  2. And of course, equipment levels were higher in many cases on the new Japanese “invaders” than the equivalent BL cars. So buyers were tempted to try something looking a bit different at a cheaper price.

  3. @ Hilton D, British cars of this time were basic unless you went to the top of the range and paid a lot more. Initially Japanese cars were seen as a joke, a bit odd looking with a poor driving experience, but word spread that they were actually very reliable and excellent value for money and sales started to grow and the cars became more mainstream looking.
    However, motorists wanting a more advanced driving experience and better styled cars after 1972 could pay 17 per cent less for a continental European car and increasingly British manufacturers were losing out to Fiat, Renault, Volkswagen, Audi and Peugeot Citroen, not to mention Sweden’s Volvo making inroads into the Rover market.

    • That’s right Glenn. Up to the mid 1970’s, British cars even like the MK3 Cortina were fairly basic unless you got a GL or 2000E. it was towards 1978/80 that Japanaes cars looked designed more for the Euro market eg the Datsun Sunny & late 1980 year Bluebird.

      My brother owned a 1979 Honda Accord and that was a nice looking car with good build & paint quality – more attractive than much of BL’s equivalent offerings at the time.

  4. When in 1955 The Duke of Edinburgh visited the Austin works at Longbridge, he was very critical to Leonard Lord of BMC,of the what he thought to be an outdated range of cars on the production lines. This was the time of the launch of the Citroen DS and the young queen and Duke were looking to a brighter future with an eye on European approach to developments such as the motor industry now that the war was over, hence this quite stinging criticism which hurt Leonard Lord deeply. See the excellent book Brick by Brick by Martyn Nutland on the life of Lord and of this production genius but perhaps socially shy and sensive personality.
    Lord’s reaction was to look round very quickly for advanced technology approaches in vehicle engineering as well as develop his European Italian connection with Farina designs and of course the well known bringing back of Alec Issigonis from Alvis took place. Working at frenetic speed the Mini was created and Lord could hold his head high again when in the presence of royalty even though the production processes were not properly tested.
    The BMC Product of the 1960s in the form of the Mini and 1100 became a desirable piece of engineering as the car tried to get away from its horse and cart ancestry even if it did mean the engine had to come out to replace the clutch!
    These biographical “moments” which can affect the history of a company can be strangely influential in product planning. What if The Duke of Edinburgh had showed no interest? What if Alec Issigonis had stayed with Alvis? One never knows but what is known is that the Duke’s interest in cars has had a significant and arguably positive influence on the life of the British motor industry in its relation to its European counterparts.

  5. Lord a sensitive personality ? About as sensitive as a runaway bulldozer, and a man at whose door a great deal of the blame for all the troubles which followed , particularly in labour relations , can be laid . I doubt in any event that the Duke’s remarks had much influence – it was the Suez crisis and the advent of the Bubble car which really triggered the development of the Mini .

  6. @ christopher storey, I doubt Prince Philip would ever be seen in anything other than a limousine or a Range Rover, and the Mini would be an unlikely member of the royal car fleet, but fair does to him, he knew a bit about the car industry and I’d love to know what he thought of British Leyland’s woes in the seventies. Probably would have suggested the board be sacked and Red Robbo be executed for being a communist.

  7. If tariffs mean that British cars were uneconomic to sell in the EEC, then the obvious thing to do is to build them in the EEC!

    Seneffe was up and running by the mid 60s, so surely the EEC markets were supplied Minis and ADO16s from there instead of the UK, with no tariffs? No benefit to ADO17, but then the poor UK sales suggest that that car had limited appeal anyway!

    BMC’s approach to the EEC seems quite haphazard, with local importers driving production rather than the UK management driving the process. Why, for example was there production by Innocenti as well as Seneffe, surely that’s unnecessary duplication?

  8. Another problem for UK based car makers, including UK subs of USA owned Ford and Chrysler, was the collapse of the USA market in the early to mid-1970’s. (GM by the mid-1960’s imported only EU made Opel models, although stopped by the mid-1970’s).
    The USA’s increasing pollution control and crash injury reduction regulations cost was high and not easily met. Poor quality drove many buyers and dealers away. Pricing of imports to the USA was near equal to much larger ‘compacts’ like the Ford Pinto, GM/Chevy Vega and Nova, AMC/Rambler Hornet and Gremlin, and Chrysler’s Dodge Dart/Plymouth Duster. This was further eroded by Japanese made cars, Toyota, Datsun/Nissan and Honda in the USA which made relatively better smaller cars and price competitive with US and Euro/UK made models.

  9. @ Leon B USA, Canada proved to be a lucrative market for Vauxhall Victors in the sixties, the Americanised styling and relatively low running costs proving popular, but rust protection that was poor enough in Britain, but totally not up to Canadian winters, saw exports ended to Canada. Also the Hillman Avenger was sold as the Plymouth Cricket in America and Canada in the early seventies, but suffered the same fate asd the Victor, it wasn’t built to withstand American winters and lost out to Japanese imports on price.

  10. I’ve heard the Cricket suffered from its looks dating too fast, this was a time when most American cars had their styling tweaked every year & totally redesigned every few years.

    • It’s certainly true that during the period in question, Detroit operated on a roughly 4 year model cycle – Year 1 launch, Year 2 mild facelift, Year 3 major facelift, Year 4 launch new body.

      • If you read the Chrysler 180 story on here, they had planned to do the same body change with that, which probably meant they had the same planned for the Avenger but unfortunately the UK situation lead them towards the Alpine, and Chryslers own financial melt down meant we only ever got the mild facelift which come about as part of the government assistance.

    • The Avenger / Cricket along with what became the 180 was to have a 4 year model life before being reskinned along with a whole number of spin off models.

      However the Unions raped them so much in putting the Avenger into Ryton and moving the Arrow to Linwood that investment was stopped (killing the UK 180) until UK could show that it could make a profit.

      The Alpine started as a post 1970 reskin of the Avenger Estate as the UK struggled to justify future invesment.

  11. @ Richard 16378, the Cricket/ Avenger looked the same until the light restyle in 1976, by which time the car had been withdrawn from the American market. I think by then European subcompacts had been overtaken by better equipped and cheaper Japanese cars, which tended to be more reliable.

  12. @daveh, Chrysler Europe was in a total mess by 1976, particularly in Britain. The 180 had been a flop as sticking an American badge on a French car meant nothing to most British buyers, who would have expected the car to be a Humber made over here, the Imp was ancient and coming to the end of its life, same as the Arrow range was becoming old and sales starting to fall, but the Avenger had been a consistent big seller and was given a mild facelift to tide it over into the eighties. Also hopes were pinned on the Alpine taking up the mantle from the Arrow range with its fwd hatchback design and massive interior space, but its coarse Simca engines and poor rustproofing let it down big time.

  13. Well, even if “evil” De Gaulle allowed Britain to join EEC, I can’t see how such a formidable expansion of the BMC or british output could took place. At the end, it’s not that any eurocontinental never bought a car because it was not a british alternative available, so it had to take sales from more than someone to reach such ideal levels.

    But at expense from who? And with what?

    Mini was -and still is- a real masterpiece, but the 1100 was that much better than a Peugeot 204, Simca 1300, or even R-8/10, Fiat 1100 R, 12-M or Volkswater? Cambridge Farina maybe could sell much better, as the long and wonderful worldwide career of the Peugeot 404 can show it. But as wonderfully efficient as the 1800/2200 and the Maxi were, it’s not easy to see to what question they were the answer.

    At the end, the major problem was that cars like the AD0 16 and the Cambridge Farina were underpowered or lacked larger engines to choose from.A Cambridge with a 2000cc unit, or at least 1800cc, and a diesel option could complete an eventually tough rival for the 404. The same about a 1500cc for the ADO16.Needless to say that if both cars had a decent range to choose from, it would not be needed to spend money in 1800, Maxi or Marina, or at least not in the way that was spent.

    In short: BMC had a very large range of underpowered cars to build and sell, and built with variable quality. Hard to see if they could sell that much better in front of so many competitors, Mini aside, at least not without rationalizaton of the range and improving quality. All these were british and BMC shortcomings, so no De Gaulle, Franco, Andreotti, the Pope or the Moon to blame about.

  14. Your comparators for the ADO16 are interesting. The only one which really was comparable was the 204 although I suppose the Simca 1100 ( rather later ) also would qualify and had the advantage of a hatchback. The R8/10 and VW were rear engined , as was the Simca 1000, and carried definite handling dangers . The Fiat 1100 was a nice car but antiquated in design, and the 12M proved to be something of a disaster for Ford . The ADO 16 was a revelation in ride and handling compared with any of these cars, and it was not significantly different from any of them in performance – the power race only came about in the late 1970s. Its real deficiency was a poor gearchange .

    • Yes, but Rodrigo’s basic premise is correct, the AD016 did need a wider range of engines. And the 1.5 E series would and did fit and was available from the mid 60’s.
      The same is true of both the Maxi and 1800. The maxi needed a 2.0 to compete in the UK never mind in Europe, the 2.2 e6 would have been even better. and not offering a 2.6 option in the 1800/2200 makes no sense.
      Basically limiting the engine choices limited the appeal and thus limited sales.

      However it is also true that tariffs made things difficult in the EU or ECC

      • While agreeing somewhat that BMC models of that period needed larger engines, the problem is that the E-Series engines did not start powering cars until the late-1960s.

        The only other alternatives available in that early-1960s period prior to the E-Series are the existing B-Series, which was already in production as well as the narrow-angle 1.1-2.0 V4 / 3.0 V6 and 2.0 4-cylineder C-Series projects.

        Even if the 1.6 B-Series for example could be installed into ADO16, it would still need to upgraded into a B-OHC (or even feature a reliable 1.6 B-Series Twin-Cam) just to create a suitable gap between the ADO16 1300 and ADO16 1600 models prior to the E-Series.

        In the case of ADO17 and even the MGB, both cars were definitely crying out for a 106+ hp 2.0 B-Series that was considered early on then later revived and forming the basis of the O-Series due to worn out tooling.

        As for the 6-cylinder models BMC at that time did not really have anything aside from the 2.9 C-Series, “Blue Streak” 2.4-litre B-Series and larger “D-Series” 4.0-liter engines, neither of which would have fitted into ADO17 let alone a Maxi.

        • Thinking further about BMC’s engine problem pre E-Series, perhaps it could have been resolved with ADO16 and ADO17 also spawning 3-box RWD saloons? Especially since the original XC9001 prototype featured rear-wheel-drive prior to evolving into ADO17.

          So Austin for example would feature hatchback versions of the FWD ADO16 and ADO17 (with Austin models later featuring E-Series engines), while Morris’s versions of ADO16 and ADO17 would be differentiated much further by featuring more conventional 3-box RWD booted saloons capable of utilizing 1.6-2.0 B-Series engines (albeit uprated to B-OHC or even B-Series Twin-Cam).

        • The E6 was in the pipeline when the maxi was being developed and not engineering a possible E6 version was “short sighted” Originally the E6 was supposed to be a family of engines which included a 1.8 and 2lt with 1.4 and 1.2 E4 going into the ADO16 and possibly the mini. The C MIGHT have fitted into the 1800 but the early adoption on a 1.8 E6 and 2lt E6 would have transformed the car. And by including a 2.6E would have helped make it truly aspirational. Also was the Daimler V8 not available.

          • Could only imagine the C-Series possibly fitting into ADO17 1800 if it were rear-wheel-drive like on the original prototype, essentially being a downsized Austin 3-litre ADO61.

            While hearing of the lower-end E4 engines being planned for use in the Mini or more specifically the Clubman (even though the E3 prototype engines made more sense), have difficultly believing it was possible to install the E4 units into the Mini since it was considered a tall hefty engine.

            Surely there must have been a way for BMC to bring the E4/E6 engines into production quicker? Though cannot envision the 1.8-litre E6 engine putting out much power compared to the 1.75-litre E4.

            It was definitely short-sighted of BMC not to uprate the B-Series to a 2.0-litre before the tooling needed to be replaced.

          • Could only imagine the C-Series possibly fitting into ADO17 1800 if it were rear-wheel-drive like on the original prototype, essentially being a downsized Austin 3-litre ADO61.

            While hearing of the lower-end E4 engines being planned for use in the Mini or more specifically the Clubman (even though the E3 prototype engines made more sense), have difficultly believing it was possible to install the E4 units into the Mini since it was considered a tall hefty engine.

            Surely there must have been a way for BMC to bring the E4/E6 engines into production quicker? Though cannot envision the 1.8-litre E6 engine putting out much power compared to the 1.75-litre E4.

            It was definitely short-sighted of BMC not to uprate the B-Series to a 2.0-litre before the tooling needed to be replaced.

    • Eventually Fiat had the 128 to fit in the gap in the market, & the 124 had touch it even though it was RWD.

      It’s interesting that Renualt didn’t had a FWD car in that catagory, the 12 was a size too big & the 6 was a little too small, & the 5 was also a little small when it came along.

      It wasn’t until the 14 arrived they filled the gap.

  15. I’m not convinced ADO16 needed a larger engine during the 60s

    All its rivals had similarly small engines, and larger cars like the Renault 12 made do with a 1300 engines. Both the R12 and Ford Escort only had 1600 engines in their tuned high performance variants

    The problem was in the middle market where you had a choice of the ageing Farina, “weird” 1800 and “also weird” Maxi.

    In retrospect, what was needed around 66 was a Marina type to replace the Farina and give a RWD option and conventional styling, rather than a high tech Maxi. They could have saved on the E series development as well

    • I could agree with you if BMC were a big player in Europe, but they were not.If you were a german, italian, french or spanish buyer, you had to like too much the ADO 16 or the Cambridge Farina to justify the extra charge, especially if the AD0 16 sported 45-48 hp to the 53-55 of the 204, and the Cambridge Farina had 55 to 62 hp to fight against the 62hp to 88 with injection from the 404, or the 72-75 hp for the SEAT 1500/ Fiat 1500L.

      And that without talking about the the lack of dealers and garage network in front of the competition.

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