Our Cars : Keith Adams’ Austin 1300

Another month, another new motor. And this one’s a bit special, as it’s a reasonable example of a car I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember. In fact, I do wonder why on Earth I’d never actually owned a BMC 1100/1300 yet. Well, until today, anyway.

This evening, I had this beauty delivered to my place after coming to me at a price I really couldn’t refuse. It needs a few bits and bobs doing to it, but it’s overwhelmingly healthy, doesn’t look too rotten underneath and is actually – and amazingly – the first car I’ve owned that is registered as Historic.

So far, I’ve driven it around the village as the exhaust needs re-hanging, and it’s absolutely delightful. The highly-charismatic A-Series gear whine when you pull away, the way the Hydrolastic suspension rises and falls gently and the smell of hot vinyl and plastic inside took me straight back to my childhood and simpler times.

Being a 50-year old car, it’s far from perfect, but there’s an absolute pile of spare parts with it which I’ll get to fitting in time. There’s a box with a new carpet set in it, as well as a new grille. I’ve not been through everything in the boot yet, but the brand new boot badge has already been fitted.

I’m not sure what my plans are for it yet. My Audi 80 is already performing classic duties, but this one should star at the more British car-themed events I’m planning to do, including the upcoming AROnline 20th anniversary bash at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon.

I’m just excited to have a car that I’ve admired and loved for so long. It’s fair to say that the 1100/1300 was one of the cars that inspired me to create AROnline all those years ago. I just hope that this Mk3 (my favourite type of ADO16) performs admirably in the coming months and years. I suspect it will!

Austin 1300 01

Keith Adams
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24 Comments

  1. Cor, I had one of those! Mine of course was as the proverbial pear but as my first car I remember it fondly. I’m seeing elements of Mk2 in yours though such as grille and dash, and Mk3 such as seats. With a reg date July 71, was there such a thing as Mk2 1/2?

    • That’s just what I was thinking – The MK3 cars had the wooden dash with twin round dials and penny flap air vents didnt they? – Regardless its a very nice example and actually has the definitive ADO16 Dash with strip speedo.

  2. Well done Keith saving a classic! Looks quite straight from the pics, though that is one of those colours I hate! I have a Vanguards Allegro model in that awful colour. BMC/BL definitely didn’t learn from Ford that good colour choices do sell cars.

  3. My first car was an 1100.. Austin if memory hasn’t failed.
    XBH69J beige 2door.
    Great fun!

  4. My wife’s first car was a nearly new Morris 1100 with the AP automatic transmission, which I bought for her because it was really super to drive. The only car of the 80 odd we have owned that I have ever sold for a profit, by trading it in in Weston super Mare (where auto 1100s were very popular) for a brand new Spitfire Mark 3 (which did not appeal to the octogenarians of Weston!)

  5. A great little car with character. I knew a few people who owned these and my brother had a Morris 1300GT (H reg). Looked sporty and was a nippy car. Good luck with this beauty.

  6. I had BVF688J, a Bedouin (beige) Mini 850 back in 1987. Your 1300 is a Mark II, yet has Mark III seats and steering wheel – not that it matters much!

  7. Keith – great article. It brought back many happy memories. I’d really forgotten all about 1100s, but reading this made me realise how much they played a part in my early motoring years.

    As a small boy I remember seeing a Morris 1100 and begging my grandad to buy one. 12 months later I remember going with my grandad to Longbridge to pick up a Honolulu blue Austin 1100 bought at discount on the employee scheme.

    I loved the silver dash with the ribbon speedo and the ripple grille and beige trim. Sadly, AOB 636B was written off by someone pulling out of a side road. At 17 I survived another crash in a green 1100 and swore never to go in a green car again.

    My dad bought a grey Austin 1100 KOJ 212E on the employee discount scheme. In those days employees bought a new car, sold it after 12 months and could then fund another new one. Dad kept that car till 1984 when he replaced it with an MG Metro. Over the years I lost count of the welding that car needed – it must have doubled in weight with the amount of lead he used in repairs – even the windscreen pillars rusted. He also fitted two SU pumps so if one failed he had a backup. I learnt to drive on that car, but hated the gearchange – preferring my own Morris Minor’s slicker change.

    After having the Minor for a few years, for £100 I traded up to my Uncle’s Austin 1100 GOF 169D and loved it. It was a joy to drive – none of the gearchange issues of my dad’s car. That got stolen but fortunately they tried to get away quickly and sheared the drive couplings, so I got the car back. My favourite mod was to remove the front number plate and move it to the middle of the grille – with a pair of spots, it looked great.

    I eventually replaced it with my first new car, a 1500 Allegro which I loved. I know that will surprise many, but it was so much faster and had a much better driving position and looked great in Brazilian Metallic with yellow trim. Sorry, but it was the 70’s!

    So, in summary I’d forgotten how much 1100s were part of my life. I’ve been both passenger and driver for many miles. My dad, grandad and two uncles had them, I’ve survived two serious crashes in them and owned one. My one regret is never owning a 1300GT, which is the coolest ADO16 ever.

    So thanks for reviving those memories, enjoy your car and try putting the number plate in the grille. A design feature copied by Mazda on the latest 3.

    All the best,

    Dave

    • @ dave… I agree the 1300 GT was the best ADO16 in many ways (looked sportier than the MG badged ones). Though the Vanden Plas and Riley Kestrel were more luxurious.

  8. I bet in the 29 degree heat of this week, the vinyl seats will bring back memories of the seats sticking to you in the heat. Then the single speed fan fighting heroically to cool down the inside and failing, with all the windows down to see if that worked. However, this was motoring for millions of people until cars with fabric seats and two speed fans made driving more comfortable later in the seventies. Also loving the period radio, wonder if you fancy some Tony Blackburn or Jimmy Young on your travels.

  9. From France, what was luxury then ?
    Watch, cigar-lighter, 2 speed fan and 2 speed wipers !

    • @ philippe, a luxurious car in Britain 50 years ago meant two things, leather upholstery and wood on the dashboard and door cappings, and plenty of chrome outside. Also add in a rev counter, clock, lighter and extra gauges and this was your British luxury car. Smile nicely at the dealer and he might add some foglights and have a two band radio fitted. Later in the decade, the two band radio became standard and tinted glass was added to mix, although leather became less common on cost grounds and was replaced by some natty velour.

      • Also back in those days base models just got rubber flooring, vinyl seats and no headrests. So cars like Cortina’s in L trim upwards were more common on British roads. Higher management types would qualify for GL / Ghia trims. These days most company cars are Audi, VW, BMW & Mercs.

        I don’t think company cars are as common as they used to be?

  10. Back to the sixties, and beginning seventies only chairmen had company cars in France. The man in the street was driving Simca 1000 Renault 6, Ami8, and middle class Simca 1100, Peugeot 204, Renault 12. Not all were clock-equipped. Executives had Renault 16, Peugeot 404 and top was of course DS.

    • @ Philippe, in the UK, company cars were offered for workers who needed a reliable car to cover long distances like sales reps and quantity surveyors, and as a perk for managers as they were tax free until 1980 and higher earners were taxed heavily over here in the seventies. Ford and Vauxhall dominated the company car market by the end of the seventies as they could offer big discounts and had a huge network of dealers. BL, while having a bigger dealer network than Ford, couldn’t offer the same amount of discount and their cars were seen as less attractive.
      For the private buyer in the seventies, if they could afford to buy new, smaller cars from the British Big Four were dominant in the early part of the decade, but later on imported cars really took off, while more affluent private buyers moved on from Rover and Jaguar to big Fords, Volvos and Audis.

  11. Nice looking car, Keith. I bought one of those when I was 18 from a dodgy dealer back in 1974. It was a 6 year-old, green Mk II 2 door with automatic transmission. It looked great and I thought I had found my perfect car.
    Sadly, it was not to be; the electrics were haywire and most days it wouldn’t start for me. Dodgy dealer wouldn’t fix it so I demanded, and got, my money back.
    A year or so later, I bought a Mini Countryman which had the same problems. By now, I was a bit more tech savvy and knew how to fix it… I wish I had sussed it out for the 1100; it was the better car.

  12. One of my colleagues had a Peugeot 204 company car in 1973 (drove OK but not a handsome vehicle). It’s replacement was a 305 – much better looking and decent performance. I got to drive it a few times

  13. Bought NTC 231K, a blue 1300 super de luxe off my dad’s company, Thomas Riding of Ormskirk to replace DBG 123D, a Mini 850 when I signed my indentures at the Ormskirk Advertiser back in 1977. Wrote it off one Christmas eve on Switch Island, Maghull when I rear ended another car. It was replacedd by UNF 21S, a Simca 1100 Special.

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