The converters : Creech Mystique (BMC 1100 Hatchback)

It would appear that BMC could have defined the Volkswagen Golf class a decade or so before the Germans got around to it. Meet the BMC 1100-based Creech Mystique…

This five-door hatchback was built by Somerset-based Creech Motors and made great use of the MGB GT’s tailgate.


Creech Motors Mystique: hatching out the BMC 1100

Creech Mystique

The little-known Creech Mystique was offered for sale during the 1960s and into the ’70s, and proved that it wasn’t just Crayford Engineering which was adept at converting the best-selling BMC 1100 range into a five-door hatchback.

Making the four-door saloon a more practical proposition occupied the minds of many entrepreneurial souls, and it wouldn’t take a great leap of imagination to think that this car – as well as the Crayford 1100 Estate – ended up inspiring BMC to go on and develop the Australian-market Morris Nomad.

Moreover, as can be seen from the photos, this is a very good-looking solution.

Creech Mystique

The Mystique demonstrates a neat approach to giving the BMC 1100 a rear hatch. Developed and produced by Gerald Fry, the owner of Somerset-based BL dealers Creech Motors, the conversion made ingenious use of an MGB GT tailgate, which was neatly integrated into the 1100’s sloping rear end.

The fuel filler was relocated from the bodyside onto the rear panel, giving the car a cleaner overall appearance. Delivery time was six to eight weeks and the cost of the conversion was just £145. It is not known how many Mystiques were built and, sadly, none are thought to have survived.

Given that, by the mid-1970s, the car market was full of five-door hatchbacks like this, it’s a shame this lovely little car hasn’t received the recognition it really deserves…

Creech Mystique
Not a Crayford, which you can find elsewhere on this site, but the lesser-known Mystique, which utilised an MGB GT rear hatch to good effect
Keith Adams

24 Comments

  1. If only…. Hindsight is a wonderful thing – who would (or could) have known back then? BLMC management (or at least the ones that had enough of the say) were far too complacent and trusting of the British buying public. Frankly, a lot of us in the motor trade at that time probably were too.

  2. It’s a lot better than Crayfords attempt and it looks like it was designed that way from day 1. The ADO16s shape really worked well for a hatchback. I am surprised Innocenti didn’t create a version to go head to head with the Primula, especially with their expertise.

    • Considering how Innocenti at times extensively adapted BMC models like getting Ghia to rebody the Sprite to create the Spider / C Coupe, it is indeed perplexing why they did not adopt a comparatively cheaper solution like this to create a Combinata version of ADO16.

  3. This treatment at the back, a facelift at the front, add the e series engine to the range, and BL would have had their best selling c-segment car for the early 70s. Might still be here

  4. To be fair to BMC we have to remember that the hatchback concept was still new in the early 60s. The conversion looks great but that additional £145 in say 1965 is equivalent to around £3200 in 2022. You’d really have to want that hatchback to buy it. Sure, if BMC had done it themselves then the price would have been a lot less. But they had the Traveller/Countryman variant from 1966 and were already selling as many ADO16 as they could make so arguably didn’t need it anyway.

  5. Did they ever do this conversion on the MG versions of ADO16?

    Given that they used the MGB tailgate, which gives the whole rear end an MG look, adding the tailgate to a two-door MG 1300 would effectively have created a FWD MGB GT – with rear seats you can actually sit in.

    I bet the 1275 A-Series engine in a lighter FWD car would have run rings around the MGB GT itself….which would probably be a reason not to do it. After all, the Cooper-S spec 1275 A-Series was detuned when it went into the Mk3 MG Midget, so the Midget wouldn’t outperform the MGB.

    I wonder how easy it would be to build one now. Off the top of my head I’d say the way to do it would be to chop out the whole rear end out of the ADO16 and weld in the rear panels from an MGB GT – which, from the photos, is probably what Creech Motors did. The panel work surrounding the tailgate, especially the area above the bumper, looks very much like it came straight outta Abingdon.

    The main sticking point would be the need to put the finished car through an IVA, which would mean the car would be assessed against current regs. And the ADO16 shell probably has a few too many sharp edges to meet new-car rules without further mods.

    Interesting to compare ‘n’ contrast with the Morris Nomad, which was basically an ADO16 shell with a Maxi-like tailgate.

  6. My father owned an MG version of the Creech Mystique which I used to iften drive. A great car! Just wish he had kept it! I have photos if anyone is interested.

  7. The ADO16 was still Britain’s best selling car at the start of the seventies and this could have formed the basis of a replacement, rather than the ugly Allegro. I’m sure it would have been possible to use the Creech Motors car as a design template for a new ADO16 and combined the handsome design of the ADO 16 with a hatchback and modernised styling. Also since this was a fast enough car with an uprated 1300 engine, there would be no need to fit the E series, which would have compromised the design.

  8. A neat little car that already had good inside room as a saloon and would be even better as a Hatch. This car would have preceeded the Chevette. Another what might have been.

  9. With the exception of the unconventional suspension BMC could have not only defined the Golf segment before Volkswagen, they could have also preceded the Autobianchi Primula before Fiat had BMC stuck to the initial pre-Suez plan of giving the 1100 and Landcrab an end-on gearbox.

    Looking at the Innocenti Austin A40 article showing the sales between the regular A40 Berlina and A40 Combinata hatchback from 1960-1967, it highlights on a small scale how well an 1100 hatchback would have performed over the regular 1100 two-box saloon.

    The same goes for hatchback conversion seen on the BMC 1800/2200 Crayford Estate, combine that with an attractive X6 three-box saloon body together with a scaled-down 1100-based X6 and BMC would be in a good position.

  10. I totally agree Nate. However BMC were both blessed and hampered by Issigonis and Harriman. If Joe Edwards had not fallen out with Leonard Lord, the story may have been different, as shown from his plans when he returned after Pressed Steel came into the BMC fold. His plans for a facelifted ADO16 and the X6 coming to the UK showed his vision.

  11. daveh

    Would also include Leonard Lord for indulging Issigonis’s conceitedness by giving him more responsibility then he actually wanted beyond his FWD trio and for his blind alley V4/V6 pet project instead of pushing for something like an earlier O-Series 4/6-cylinder to replace B-Series and C-Series from mid/late-1960s (allowing time for a late-70s intro with Atl-M/T-Series to meet later US EPA emissions standards – mentioned in the O-Series part in David Knowles’s book on the TR7).

    Joe Edwards would have definitely been able to temper Issigonis’s excesses, unfortunately for him outside of other events cannot see anything but the styling for 9X and 10X realistically reaching production (with the 96-inch 10X possibly being applied to ADO22).

    • Lord’s vanity project with the V4/V6, along with his preference to use the Austin Cambridge underpinnings instead of Morris Oxford, which were reportedly superior, because of his hatred of Morris were examples of his poor management too. You have to ask if the money wasted on the V4/V6 should have been used to develop the end on in gear box?

      • It is my limited understanding the end-on gearbox built on an earlier experimental FWD Morris Minor before Issigonis’s move to Alvis to avoid being a victim of Lord’s anti-Morris purge, only to be abandoned when the Mini became a higher priority post-Suez with its in-sump layout being adopted across the board due to expediency.

        Although it would have been simpler for Leonard Lord to be lenient with his brief regarding the Mini (particularly width) and allow for a blanket adoption of the end-on gearbox layout. It would have probably been better at most to allow for the Mini to initially keep the in-sump and 1100/Landcrab the end-on gearbox layouts, yet allow for an extensive Mini update (either Mk2 or Mk3 – slightly widened) to feature end-on gearbox.

        Let us not forget too BMC’s research department could have been tasked from the outset with taking the cost out of the FWD cars and making them more profitable, which Duncan Stuart tried to raise with Harriman in late-1962 in article below after the V4/V6 was cancelled and whose ideas were only belatedly applied on the Mk3 Mini (not sure about the Mk3 1100 or Mk2-Mk3 Landcrab).

        https://www.aronline.co.uk/facts-and-figures/when-bmc-led-the-world/bmc-story-1962/

  12. Any idea why the V4/V6 was canned?

    I believe the official reason given was that BMC didn’t have the financial resources to realise it, but that doesn’t make any sense since they managed find the wherewithal to put the E-Series into production later on.

    I have always suspected that the unit fell out of favour with Issigonis because it was intended for longitudinal fitment in ADOs 16 and 17 except I came across an article in the “Motorsport” archive (can’t find it now, of course) that stated the engine was to be mounted transversely.

    I would love to know more about the V4. Over the years I have only come across a few snippets about it. For instance, Syd Enever wasn’t a fan (he didn’t like it’s uneven beat according to David Knowles’ “MG: The Untold Story”), but his number two at MG, Roy Brocklehurst, said it was a very smooth unit. This is from “Remembering Roy” a pdf document I found online: “Turning to engines, it didn’t take long for it to become clear that Abingdon would have to stick with the ‘B’ series. Initially, though, BMC’s ultimately- aborted 2-litre V4 was a strong possibility, and Roy told me these were fitted to two, or maybe three, MGB prototypes. ‘They were quite a nice power unit… I’m sure that if that engine had gone into production we could have made a reasonable motor car around it… It was extremely smooth.’”

    In hindsight the loss of the V4 (which I understand would have spanned capacities from 1.1 litres to 2-litres) was a grievous loss for the company considering the agonies BL went through getting the O-series into production, and the less-than-stellar qualities of the capacity-restricted E-series.

  13. Second being another interested in finding out more about Duncan Stuart’s V4/V6 engine.

    The Martyn Nutland book Brick by Brick mentions the V4/V6 was secretly developed under Leonard Lord in 1956 before it was subsequently rejected by Issigonis under Harriman in 1962 (when the A-Series proved capable of growing to 1098-1275cc), however in the end it appears the brief from Lord simply boiled down to – “You can use any sort of engine you like, just so long as we have it on our present production lines.”

    Graham Robson’s book on the A-Series meanwhile has it that BMC’s top management were not convinced about the potential of a V4/V6 family and that a massive investment in a new transfer line and machine tooling would not be justified. Opting instead to look for a further stretch of the existing engines.

    In line with the above it is entirely possible people at BMC grossly underestimated the growth potential of the existing A-Series and B-Series beyond their original parameters, they likely never anticipated the A-Series growing above 948-1098cc to 998-1275cc nor the B-Series from 1489-1588cc to 1622-1798cc+ (plus 1998cc prototype and 2433cc Blue Streak Six) despite the challenges of using old transfer machinery and production tooling.

    Recall reading elsewhere of BMC being incredulous at BMC Australia for the latter clandestinely developing the 1622cc 4-cylinder and 2433cc B-Series, which was something they themselves claimed was impossible and suggests the idea they did not know what they had has more than a grain of truth to it.

    Thing is had they foreseen the latent potential of what they had beforehand, would they have opted for the V4/V6 over investing in newer production tooling to update and develop related replacements for the A-Series and B-Series (something the Japanese and others did with great success), thereby technically fulfilling the letter of Leonard Lord’s brief if not necessarily its spirit?

    As for the E-Series engine, the article below by Geoff Johnson states it was Issigonis’s peculiar requirements including the need for a six (as an ersatz replacement for the B/C-Series) that ultimately ruined what should have been a light compact sophisticated belt-driven crossflow OHC small-block 1.3-litre design.

    Am curious to know of the experimental uncorrupted 1.3-litre engine’s stroke ratio and how it correlates with the experimental 1100-1300cc “F-Series” engine, which had similar features to the original E-Series* (e.g. belt-driven SOHC) with F-Series prototypes being tested with equal bore and stroke (1273cc – 74 mm / 74 mm) mentioned in Graham Robson’s A-Series book.

    *- Reputedly started out as a 1.2-litre with others saying 1.3-litres, with a 1160cc being the smallest E-Series planned initially. Which does not disprove both the original E-Series and 1100-1300cc F-Series being one and the same.

    https://www.aronline.co.uk/opinion/i-was-there/sir-alec-issigonis/

  14. Thanks, Nate.

    On the subject of the E-series I have to wonder if BL couldn’t have returned the unit to its original design brief for LC8/ADO88. It was surely a better bet to have developed a 1300cc belt-driven E-Series than the A+? It would probably have been cheaper to build than the 1275cc A series, for one thing. More refined, for another, and maybe more reliable (it’s said that the E-series had the lowest warranty costs of any of BMC’s power units.)

    Having said that, the company did go down this route (sort of) with the S-Series, of course – an engine that was capable of going out to 1800cc according to Autocar’s launch article on the Montego. It doesn’t say if the larger capacity was achieved by enlarging the bore, or by whacking up the stroke to beyond Maxi 1750 dimensions.

    With a capacity spread from 1.3 to 1.8 litres the S-Series sounded like a useful engine and could have done a lot more for the company.

    • JH Gillson

      At minimum they could have updated the A-Series to A-Plus earlier or even been brave enough to go with the A-OHC, the latter had BMC been in a position where the end-on gearbox layout was adopted to add more gear ratios to compensate for the lack of torque in the A-OHC units compared to the A-Series / A-Plus.

      Would have probably gone with an earlier A-Plus, either retaining it as a long-stroke engine with addition of square 1.1-litre or going with the common-block route seen on the South African and A-OHC engines where the 1.1-litre is square and the 1.0-litre is short-stroke.

      Would have probably limited the E-Series to 1.6-litres with 76.2 mm bore and 87.6 mm stroke or roughly similar to the Nissan E16 / GA16.

      If the planned 1160cc E-Series entailed a 74 mm bore and 67 mm stroke using the equal 74 mm bore / stroke of the 1273cc F-Series prototype engine as a rough guide. Given the lessons of the 1100-1300cc F-Series (assuming it and early E-Series are the same) were later applied to the 900-1300cc H/K-Series prototype engines, would be keen to see if the bore and stroke could be reduced to 73 mm and 59 mm as on the Nissan A10 / Nissan E10 engines to take on a stroke-stroke role to supplement the long-stroke 1.0-litre A-Plus units.

      Otherwise would keep lowest displacement for E-Series at about 1.3-litres slightly above the 1275cc A-Plus.

      If Robert Leitch’s comment years back on the 25 lbs difference between the A-Series and S-Series holds true to the equivalent E/R-Series, with the experimental E-Series design reputedly being lighter and more compact compared to the E/R/S-Series engines (on top of slotting into the same space as an A-Series) then it suggests the experimental design could match or be even lighter than the A-Series.
      https://www.aronline.co.uk/opinion/blog-s-series-the-missed-bargain/#comment-22836

      Similar to how the Nissan E OHC spawned the smaller MA and large CA/CD engines (prior to the E becoming the SOHC/DOHC Nissan GA that seems to vaguely draw parallels with the stillborn 4-valve S-Series development), the same would apply to the experimental BMC E-Series spawning a smaller A-Plus successor (in place of K-Series) and possibly a larger early O-Series replacement (short of latter going down modular path akin to a petrol / diesel version of Land Rover’s Project Storm).

  15. The A-series was doing nothing wrong, and was by the ‘70s a known quantity, so no need to train up the dealer network on it to any great extent. It was also, crucially, an engine range that would fit in the Mini, which was still selling well. By the mid ‘70s the cost of redesigning parts of the ranges that used the A-series (Mini, Allegro, Marina, Midget), just so they could have a different 1.3(ish) engine under the bonnet was an extravagance BL probably just couldn’t afford. Yes, the Mini used sub-1.3 engines at that point in time (1275GT aside), and the Midget was due to get the Triumph 1500 engine, but thinning the A-series out of the other ranges would have cost a lot to achieve little benefit, other than to leave the Mini as an outlier with a unique engine – destroying some of the economies of scale that led to it at least being competitively priced in the market.

    Plus, as the A+ refresh brought in with the Metro demonstrated, there was plenty of life in the A-series yet.

  16. What a missed opportunity for BMC!!

    If they had bought the rights and design details for, let’s say £50K, then built it on the two door shell, fitted only the 1300 engine in Cooper S twin carb tune, stiffening up the Hydrolastics,installing a traditional six dial dash using nice round Smiths instruments, call it something like the MG 1300 Sprint.

    It would have been a competitor to the Triumph GT6, and I am sure it would have sold like hot cakes.

    Of course Alec Issigonis would have disapproved mightily, but money in the bank for BMC would have been much more important.

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