Recently, I posted that AROnline had received a very nice Austin ADO74 styling sketch from reader Michael Sutter, who’d picked up a selection of such drawings in a job lot. After swapping emails, it transpired that the vast majority were signed by Vic Hammond, and he was happy to share these with the site.
This sort of email always excites me far more than it should, but mainly because it’s a subject I’m passionate about, and I’d love to fill in all the gaps in our knowledge about these fabulous and ill-fated designs. That’s especially the case here as Vic Hammond was well placed to see the history of our industry unfold before his eyes as he was centrally placed and had a ringside seat.
His career was certainly interesting. He designed the Standard Eight‘s as a Stylist for the firm in Coventry in the 1940s and ’50s. From there, he did a short stint at Volvo in Gothenburg, Sweden, where he worked on the Volvo P1800 before moving to the Ford Motor Company in Dagenham, Essex – it was from there that he moved to the British Motor Corporation and thence to British Leyland.
Moving to British Leyland
By the time he made it to BMC in the 1960s, he’d picked up a considerable amount of experience and was something of an industry grandee. However, despite that, his name is far less well known compared with his contemporaries such as Dick Burzi at BMC and Rex Flemming over at Rootes.
By the time Vic Hammond produced the sketches here, he was – according to one insider – regarded as being one of the ‘Old Guard’ Styling folk, having been recruited by Roy Haynes after he joined the firm in 1966.
By the time he’d made it to the position of Chief Designer – Interiors, Hammond was already deep into the process of designing the cabins for a number of cars that never saw the light of day (such as the way at BLMC in the early- to-mid-1970s).
Quartic wheels for the ADO73 and ADO74
Hammond was a staunch defender of the Allegro’s Quartic wheel after its launch. ‘For a start, it’s far from square,’ he said. ‘The usual circular form of the steering wheel is simply flattened out a little. We did it because we knew most drivers preferred a relatively small wheel, yet we wanted them to be able to see the instruments.’
Indeed, as we can see from the ADO74 image above and the ADO73 (Morris Marina facelift) picture below, he thought that the Quartic wheel was good enough to go into the corporation’s supermini and its Cortina rival. That said, both these sketches were penned in mid-1973 and probably before the ramifications of the press criticism of the Allegro’s wheel fully came home to roost.
What’s clear is that Vic Hammond was thinking bold for the Corporation’s interiors – with lots of interesting curves and colours, some nice control solutions. The ADO74’s dash-mounted rocker switches look very user friendly, and something similar would end up being used by Renault a decade later in the Super Cinq and R25 for example.
It’s also good to see another artifact from the ill-fated Morris Marina-replacement programme at last, the ADO77. The image at the top of this page is marked up with that project’s code number, and it’s interesting to speculate how that bold and swoopy styling scheme would have transitioned from its move from paper to production line.
Chatting with one of AROnline’s many insiders who worked for the firm, it’s nice to add a little colour to these drawings. Hammond was regarded as a bit of a disciplinarian. He said: ‘I got off to a slightly awkward start with him when I’d done a sketch that he wasn’t keen on. However, when I told him about the Entasis on the Rolls Royce radiator grille (slight convexity so that it appeared flat rather than concave) he seemed to warm to me.’
He added: ‘Nevertheless, when I was doing a design job “Foreigner”, I was encouraged by the staff to hide it away in the downstairs loo so Vic wouldn’t see it!’ And yet, later when their paths crossed, and he had retired from Styling he was very helpful.’
Gallery: More of Vic Hammond’s sketches
Click on the images to see them in full-size.
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