The converters : Crayford BMC 1100 Estate (Hatchback)

The BMC 1100/1300 was a brilliant car out of the box, but that didn’t stop Crayford Engineering improving it, by offering a split-tailgate conversion that anticipated the hatchback-bodied Morris Nomad.

The soft-top version of this best-selling car only went on sale in 1969 following the launch of the Mk2 ADO16 in 1967…

Crayford 1100 Estate: a hatch by any other name

Hitting the market a couple of years before BMC’s own Traveller and Countryman estate versions of the BMC 1100 (ADO16), Crayford’s version was based on the standard saloon bodywork, giving it the advantage of having four passenger doors.

While the split-tailgate arrangement might look somewhat odd these days, it should be remembered that, at the time of its launch, both BMC’s existing Countryman models – the A40 and the A60 – had a similar set-up.

Having said that, the retention of the 1100’s boot-lid to form the lower part of the tailgate must have severely hampered access to the newly-expanded load area. On the plus side, the simplicity of the conversion, requiring only a new aluminium rear-window surround, boot-lid handle, hinges and struts, kept the cost down to just £79.

Finishing touches included the adaptation of the standard rear seat to allow it to fold in traditional estate-car style, a pair of lining panels and rubber floor matting for the boot area, and vinyl-covered C-pillar in a contrasting colour to the car’s bodywork, carrying a centrally-mounted Crayford badge.

Crayford Austin 1100 hatchback
Crayford Austin 1100 hatchback

Eight days to turn your 1100 into a hatchback

For £115, Crayford offered a ‘de luxe’ conversion, which included body-colour rear window surround, a carpeted load area with longitudinal protective strips and an automatically-operated load-bay light. The conversion work took just eight days, and was carried out under contract to Crayford by either FLM Panelcraft in London, or Methven & Thomas in Fife.

The car could be ordered through any of the 30 BMC dealers who already handled Crayford’s convertible Minis. Crayford’s press car was based on an MG 1100, but it is likely that the conversion could have been applied to any of the 1100 variants – with the exception, possibly, of the Vanden Plas Princess, whose more substantial rear seat might have been presented difficulties when it came to incorporating the folding mechanism.

It is not known either how many cars were actually converted, nor how many have survived, but a Wolseley version is known to have been in the hands of an enthusiast in Sussex, as a rolling restoration, in 1995, while an MG version surfaced in Portugal, in fair condition, that same year.

Declan Berridge

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