Auction Watch : Previously unseen BLMC design sketches hit the market

John Worker - Princess Proposal

A hugely exciting haul of previously unseen BLMC, Chrysler and Ogle Design sketches by John Worker are to go under the hammer at Anglia Car Auctions’ 4 November sale.

The remarkable collection of original design and concept drawings include fascinating ‘what might have been’ proposals for British Leyland cars such as the BMC 1100/1300, 1800/2200, Mini, Morris Marina, Austin Allegro and Princess, and Project Condor.

John Worker started his career with Ogle Design in 1967 before joining British Motor Holdings’ Design Studios at Cowley under Roy Haynes, working alongside Harris Mann. He was involved in the design of the Marina, Princess and early stages of the Allegro, before the Cowley operation was wound down and integrated into Longbridge’s Elephant House studio.

Some of his images give us an insight into the thought processes behind the 1100/1300 Mk3 programme, Mini-based Calypso and the Condor, Zanda and Diablo programmes. He worked at Cowley for two years and, after staying at Longbridge with his colleague Harris Mann until 1972, he then returned to Ogle Design.

According to one contemporary colleague, he was quite a character, and was addicted to eating apples! His own car was a Lancia Flaminia Berlina which cut quite a dash in the Longbridge car park. In 1972, he set up his own design consultancy and, over the course of the next three decades, worked in many different fields for clients such as Foden Trucks and Alexander Buses.

John Worker Morris Marina proposal

There’s a total of 87 drawings and they’re being offered as individual lots, offering plenty of opportunities for enthusiasts to add a unique piece of British design history to their collections.

The AROnline view on this is that the sale is good news for historians, because it at least means that the images can be saved digitally and used to help enhance the stories of a number of important cars in development during the early and optimistic years of British Leyland.

View the 87 auction lots on the Anglia Car Auctions website

Keith Adams


  1. Having clicked on the link and looked at them all, many of those designs would’ve looked good for their time.

    One stood out as being unbelievably hideous – the 1971 Rolls Royce Styling Concept. (Lot 9JW)

    And the BMC Mini Based Sports Car immediately made me think of a Bond Bug. (Lot 13JW +).

  2. I agree with both KC and Alistair’s comments. The Rolls does look like a nasty American revival of a Packard or Duesenberg! Som of those designs were better than what we got!

  3. Particularly interested in the BMC tractor but the designer hasn’t given any consideration to cab access…

    The CV300 appears to show a photo of an actual onesided styling mockup – would like to learn more about that project.

  4. Like some of the 1100 face-lift styling proposals, also intrigued by the BMC Taxi proposal (was it based on ADO17 or from another project?).

    The Possible Allegro Replacement Concept meanwhile looks a bit on the small size and its three-box body immediately brings to mind the the details mentioned for the Allegro-sized ADO74 Dragonfly proposal.

    As for CV300 from the rest of the AROnline site, it says the idea was Stan Dews first concept for a new Leyland van pre-Sherpa, which used the 1800/2200 (ADO17) power packs for front drive and, as a result, was blessed with a superb low loading floor, very much like that of the Citroën HZ. It was possible to walk about in the back even without a high-roof conversion – something unheard of in standard-spec panel vans of the time.

    • ‘The Possible Allegro Replacement Concept meanwhile looks a bit on the small size and its three-box body immediately brings to mind the the details mentioned for the Allegro-sized ADO74 Dragonfly proposal.’

      Hmm, I think that’s misdescribed. The timings suggest it’s an early AD067, not its replacement

      • I think it probably is an Aggro design idea, not really a replacement. That would make it the first idea other than the car we got. This has been something that has been mentioned on the last year on here, where is the alternative ideas? Looking at it, I think it is definitely based on the AD016?

  5. The Princess could have been made more radical if Worker’s input into its design was taken forward and a hatchback was added. The finished product managed to stand out against the conservative Marina and bulbous Maxi, and was praised when launched in 1975, but it could have been made more radical like the Citroen CX and more of a fastback. I could imagine a Workerised Princess could have done well in France against the Citroen CX as the car had many features the French liked such as the Hydragas suspension, fwd and a wedge shape.

  6. Meant to say “more of a Triumph look”.

    Anything it is possible the BMC Taxi proposal might be for either ADO39 or ADO69 as potential FX4 replacements, ADO39 was to have been based around a proposed replacement for BMC’s 250JU van whereas nothing more is known about ADO69.

    However for ADO69 is it possible it was connected to the CV154 van project that succeeded CV300 and preceded the Sherpa or another short-lived project before the stillborn FX5 in spite of the projects not matching up chronologically?

  7. The P76 concept was a real throwback to 60s Amercian styling, an unpleasant mismatch with a Valiant AP5 nose and a Pontiac Parisienne rear. The final product was a much more modern and elegant design imho.

  8. One word. Wow.
    Irrespective of personal tastes and practicality this collection is a treasure trove. A glimpse of what could have been and how designers in the past saw the future.
    Work like this belongs in the public domain not a private collection

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