Our Cars : Keith’s Austin 1300 – 1000 miles on

Keith’s Austin 1300 is soldiering on, but the desire to improve it is starting to surface…

Austin 1300

A change in the weather allowed me to grab the Austin 1300’s keys, pull it out of storage and warm it up for the first run of 2022. As I hinted in my recent note about my Rover 75 Tourer, it’s felt like last winter’s been unending. But last week, things changed – temperatures rose, the perpetual damp lifted and it felt like a good time to have a bit of Austin 1300 time. Seems like an age ago given the wind and rain we’re currently suffering from.

The first outing was a trip to Peterborough to meet up with Peter Crompton, he of Cortina City, to have a poke around his lovely Mk3, which we were featuring in a Parkers video to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first issue going on sale. Of everyone on the team, I’m the only person who was around when Issue 1 was published. Sheesh…

His car, Bramble, was dragged out of a hedge and has been restored to within an inch of its life during an epic lockdown session. However, Pete uses his Cortina daily, and has upgraded it in a way that I am deeply impressed with. So it has a more modern autobox, power steering, streaming and Bluetooth audio, a blueprinted engine and cruise control. Deeply, deeply impressive… My 1300 looked a little sad alongside, and was the day’s wallflower, thanks to the dull day that wouldn’t allow its Limeflower paint to shine.

Still, the rest of the team, as well as Pete and his partner, liked the look of it – although I feel like they were pitying me a little!

Pete Crompton and Keith Adams

But I don’t mind. My 1300 was absolutely lovely to drive up to the video shoot, once again reminding me just how BMC hit the bullseye with this car when originally launched 60 years ago. Okay, so mine is a 1971, and the world had moved on by that point, but it was still extremely relevant a decade after launch. It is roomy for me (with a little modification), the steering is delectable and the overall stability is far better than so many of its contemporaries. In short, a brilliant, brilliant car…

This year will see some work heading its way. I’m going to change the tyres, as there’s a wobble at speed and, although there’s plenty of tread left on them, they’re old and no doubt have all the grip of a plank of wet wood. There are imperfections in the paint, too, with small rust breakouts on pretty much all the panels. The question is will it repair or will I need to get the spray gun out? I really hope not. Finally, the carpet is pretty worn and I have a new set to fit – so that’s a job for the next sunny weekend. Yes, remember that? Sun…

Also, I have to rehang the exhaust as it’s lashed up at the moment, and the coolant temperature gauge is inoperative, which will be a worry when things warm up. Other than that, it’s good to go. The first proper event I’m going to take the Austin 1300 to is Pride of Longbridge at Cofton Park on 23 April. See you there?

Austin 1300

Keith Adams
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12 Comments

  1. I’ve got a load of admiration for people who restore and maintain ‘ordinary’ cars. I’m surprised that more people don’t do it, because they must be more accessible to ‘ordinary’ people like me. Anyone got a decent Maxi, Maestro, or Westminster Farina estate? Thought not.

  2. Never driven an ADO16 but used to get collected from school in a mk3. I always thought that they were a bit close to the ground compared with other saloons of the time but that does not seem to be the case looking at your picture. Also the genius that allows such a short car to give outstanding accommodations also meant that the car need not be externally huge. I wonder if the perceived smallness of the car made it appear less good value than less well designed cars. Having said that they sold plenty of them. What a pity the follow up was so useless by comparison. If they had managed to replicate the success of this car maybe we would still have a British owned car industry. I’ve read all the history and I’m aware of the many problems which brought BL et al to its knees but this most have been a major contributing factor after so many duds from AIec. Why did management ever think a front wheel drive large car was necessary or even desirable. I’ll stop now.

    • Duds from Alec ? Gosh yes, duds like the mini ( nearly 6 million duds there ) and the 1100/1300 ( only 2.4 million duds there ) . Wonderful to drive too

      • He ran out of steam after the Minor, Mini and ADO16 successes – The 1800 and Maxi where indeed duds, commercial failures that would never have cleared a business case if Issigonnis had not been left to do whatever he wanted by BMC. Also lets face it the more Minis and 1100s they made the more money BMC lost. The reason the company was financially on its knees by the time Wedgie Benn brokered the merger with Leyland in 1968.

      • Both made a tasty snack for tinworm, especially the ADO16s, Issigonnis was warned about this early on, but with typical arrogance ignored this.

        Supposedly second hand dealers would remove the rear seat of offered ADO16s, & if they could seen any rust would refuse to buy them.

        One of the few things that went right with the Allegro was it was decently rust proofed & didn’t trap moisture in hard to get places.

        • @ Richard pd, I did hear a story about an Austin dealer on Tyneside around 1971 where an owner complained about water leaking into the boot on his nearly new Austin 1300. The dealer’s fix was to drill two holes into the boot to allow the water to drain out rather than the more obvious way of tracing and fixing the leak. A year later the boot had rusted out and the owner was left with a huge repair bill and vowed never to buy an Austin again. Not necessarily an Issy problem, but typical of the arrogance and brushing problems under the carpet that seemed to blight BMC/ British Leyland from the mid sixties onwards.

  3. Keith’s Austin 1300 and Peter’s Cortina look great photographed together. Both cars I have associations with. My brother once owned a Morris 1300GT and I later drove a fleet of Cortina MKIII Estates from 1972 – 79. Good memories of that motoring era of my life. Hope this pair go on & on.

  4. My Mum had an H-reg 1100 mk2. She was very proud it wasn’t a mk1, because of the shorter tail fins which she said looked more modern. The car was a dark brown with a golden brown interior, and she thought it was beautiful. She still talks about it now, and says it was the best car ever. Tons of space, totally reliable, and she said they always wondered if they’d put a 1300 in it by mistake because it went so well. WGG 6H RIP.

  5. Mine was a Mk3 but I always liked the ‘happy’ visage of these cars, the clang of the doors, the characterful thrum of the A-series engine and the whine of the gears, the cheerful way they’d bounce along the road on their Hydrolastic springs. And of course the rust – literally everywhere! Yours looks great though Keith!

  6. I had a lovely looking six-year-old, Mk2, two-door, automatic in dark green. As an 18 year-old apprentice, it was my dream car and at £240 left me pretty much broke. Sadly, much about the car was also broke. It let me down nearly every day and, after only a fortnight’s ownership, I threw in the towel and got my money back. If I’d had a bit of dosh to spare, I could probably have got it fixed. I replaced it with an HB Viva. Not the best decision I ever made.

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