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Owning an ADO16



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  History of the ADO16


1959 saw the launch of the Mini "revolution on wheels", but BMC had problems from day one. Although there was full press coverage of the launch, and it appeared that the car was popular however people were scared at how revolutionary the car was, and were therefore reluctant to buy. It wasn't until BMC lent Mini's to famous people that sales began to boom. But BMC were unprepared for the sudden boom and therefore owners were waiting as long as 6-weeks before they could get there hands on one. Unfortunately for BMC warranty claims were mounting and the only way to clear these debts, was to design a car that used the same technological advances as the Mini, but would act as the new medium family saloon to replace the aging Morris Minor. Plans were already in place to build a much larger car, providing the Mini had been more successful. This car took on the form of the 1800. But plans to build the 1800 were put on hold until BMC could clear some of the Mini's debts.

BMC decided that Alec Issigonis, the wizard who created the Mini, should have a say on the engineering side of things and the main structural panelling. Pininfarina would be drafted in during the development process to style the body, after his success some years earlier with the Austin A40. A great deal of the ADO16 styling was actually carried out by Sergio, Pininfarina's son.

Also drafted in to design a new revolutionary suspension system would be Alex Moulton, and overseeing the development would be Charles Griffin who oversaw the Minor and Mini. And much later he oversaw the Marina, Allegro and Metro development.

It was said that cars had to go through the "proper channels" before being commissioned to be built. However Issigonis could do no wrong in the directors of BMC's eyes, and when Pressed Steel Fisher, the panel pressers, came into the equation several rust traps were to be left undeveloped because of the managements decision to trust Issigonis' design.

Finally the 1100 was ready to be built, however in an effort to minimise waiting lists etc, BMC started building the cars as early as March at Cowley, and housing cars in fields, sometimes for anything up to two years before they were required. Besides being stored outside, body shells were also stock piled underground at Longbridge, and in the roof.

On August 15th 1962 the Morris 1100, two and four door models, were launched. The Morris 1100, like the Mini, was designed with an ‘east west’ engine and front wheel drive, which allowed 80% of the car’s length to be used for passengers and their luggage. Also featured was the then-revolutionary new Hydrolastic suspension, making its debut.

The Morris 1100 as launched on August the 15th 1962.

In October 1962, the MG 1100 two door and four door versions were announced. Fitted with a twin-carburettor version of the 1098cc A series engine, this model featured the traditional MG front grille and more luxurious trim.

The Austin 1100 models, introduced in September 1963, differed from the Morris version only in that the typical Austin grille (eight ‘wavy’ bars) and a different facia panel layout were incorporated. The facia panel that was fitted in the Austin models was similar to the one Issigonis originally wanted to fit in Morris versions. However, it wasn't as slim as he intended it to be. The 1800 used the slimmer version.

In 1963 when BMC announced it was building an up market version of the 1100 the press and consumers went mad to see what the new model had to offer. It wasn't just BMC's idea. The original idea came from Fred Connolly (owner of Connolly Leather) who, in 1962, commissioned Vanden Plas to build him a more luxurious version of the 1100. BMC soon realised that this was a sector of the market currently untouched by the range, and so stole some of the potential modification sales from companies like Radford.

The Vanden Plas 1100, as featured at the 1963 Earls Court Motor show. Launched to gauge public reaction. Really this particular car was an MG 1100. The Vanden Plas would feature the 55bhp 1098cc A Series engine.

The plusher Vanden Plas interior completes the look. The dashboard, and door cappings ensure that none of the cars paintwork can be seen internally by it's passengers.

The Riley Kestrel and the Wolseley 1100, both announced at the 1965 Motor Show, were mechanically identical to the MG and Vanden Plas; there are differences of interior trim, the Riley’s facia incorporating a rev-counter, and seats trimmed in leather. Externally they are distinguishable by their traditional Riley and Wolseley front grilles, the latter incorporating the illuminated Wolseley badge.

The Riley Kestrel 1100 & Wolseley 1100. The Riley is trimmed with leather, and fitted with a rev counter. The Wolseley uses the same dashboard as the MG. The seat centre panels are trimmed in leather.

In October 1965, the AP/BMC automatic transmission became available on the Austin and Morris models. Giving the driver both a manual and automatic gearbox. This set-up was also introduced to the mini at the same time. The AP/BMC automatic unit was one of the most advanced on the markets at the time, and received excellent write ups in the motoring magazines.

The long awaited estate car versions of the Austin Countryman and Morris Traveller were introduced in March 1966, at the Geneva Motor show. At the time the press were interested to see that car was kept to same length and width as the saloon, however boasted huge amounts of luggage space.

The Morris 1100 Traveller & Austin 1100 Countryman, both adding space to space in the range. Identical apart from the grille, bonnet badge, finishing strip on the Morris and a few trimming differences internally.

During 1966, the 1100 continued to hold the lead as Britain's top selling car. With 151,946 sales in the U.K., the 1100 outstripped all competitors by providing a successful combination of economy, roominess and built-in safety features.

In 1967 Jensen approached BMC to purchase three Austin 1100 Countryman's. They were to covert these into a convertible model. By the 1967 London Motor show Jensen had one on its stand which was then sold to a dealers. However BMC never took Jensen up on the idea, it has been suggested that the cost of conversion was too high. Therefore the idea was moth balled.

The Jensen 1100 convertible, BMC later gave the job to Crayford.

In June 1967, the MG, Riley, Vanden Plas and Wolseley 1100 models became optionally available with a 1275cc engine, they were then badged as "1275". This option applied only until October 1967 when the 1300 was introduced.

The 1275cc engine as fitted to all 1275cc/1300 variants.

The 1100 Mk2 range was announced in October 1967, to replace the earlier MK1 1100 models. New features included slotted wheels, redesigned tail fins with larger rear light clusters (saloons only). The new fins were designed to give the car a fastback look and drop the traditional finned look as was common with larger cars Farina cars. Other changes to the models included a steering-column-mounted combination switch unit, restyled seats and trim, redesigned instrument panel layout (Morris), simulated wood side strip (Countryman and Traveller) and revised grille shape (Austin and Morris).

However during the down-time that occurred due the change over of tooling, and materials the 1100 only managed to be the 2nd best seller for the year. Beaten by the Ford Cortina. Ford had sold 33,198 more Cortina's.

The new cropped fin on the 1100/1300 models. The estates would keep the original larger more upright fin.

The Austin 1100 on the left is fitted with the silver dashboard, and on the right the Morris 1100, fitted with the black crackle finish. The controls in both models are in the same place. Both pictures do depict a pre launch model, as none of the Mk2 cars had the Mk1 pull handles.

The 1300 models (Austin, Morris, MG, Riley, Vanden Plas and Wolseley) introduced at the same time, are similar to the 1100 MK2 range but fitted with the larger 1275cc engine (single-carburettor version) all synchromesh gearbox, more powerful brakes and new front grille (Austin and Morris). The automatic transmission also became optionally available on MG, Riley, Vanden Plas and Wolseley models in October 1967.

In early 1968, without official public announcement, British Leyland incorporated the twin-carburettor version of the 1275cc engine in MG, Riley, Vanden Plas and Wolseley 1300 models with manual transmission. In October 1968 the MG, Riley and Wolseley 1300 MK 2 models were announced. Improvements included a revised and updated 1275cc twin-carburettor engine and new close ratio gearbox, new trim and new facia panel layout (MG only).

In March 1968 MG decided to scrap the four door version of the 1100. Between October 1967 and March 1968 only five two door cars had been produced. British Leyland felt that there was no longer a place for this model within the range.

The MG 1100 four door. It was a shame that it was decided to scrap this model, as it looks particularly well placed in this picture.

In February 1969 Crayford Auto Developments Ltd of Westerham, Kent, offered convertible conversions of the Austin/Morris 1100/1300 and MG 1100. Perhaps the major selling point of the Crayford model, was that you could still have a sporty looking car without loosing any boot space, and the hood folded down the back of the rear seat, and of course the Crayford 1300 was still the family car.

The Morris 1300 & MG 1300 of the Crayford "ADO 16". Mechanically the same as the standard 1300 except for the soft-top conversion carried out, which was approved by BMC.

Unfortunately, very few Crayford's were made, and the result at the time was terrible rusting. Subsequently they are hard to find.

By 1969 BMC realised that there was no place for the Riley in the range, and so it was scrapped in 1969.

Later on in the year, BMC launched two new models, the Austin and Morris 1300 GT. The GT was to be the "Performance car" with slightly lowered suspension, and sharing the same twin-carburettor version of the 1275cc engine as found in the MG and Wolseley. Besides giving the car a sporty feel by adding full black and chrome wheel trims, the car also had a vinyl roof, three spoke alloy steering wheel, a Rev counter, and a stiffer seating arrangement covered in Ambler cloth. BMC had designed the ultimate boy racer car.

The 1300 GT, the "Performance car" for the family.

In 1970, BL had their first major influence, until this date automatic transmission units had been fitted with the standard length gearlever. However this was about to get the chop, and be replaced with a smaller neater unit.

The smaller gear lever, however this would undergo yet further changes in 1972.

Now under the watchful eye of BL, the 1100 was about to have a major facelift. In September 1971 Mk 3 versions of the 1100/1300 range were launched. The MG 1300 Mk 2 was also dropped for the UK Market. However it was still produced in CKD "Completely Knocked Down" form for export only. The new MK 3 cars boasted better looks, and more modern features. The Morris 1100 & 1300 models were dropped in the UK, except the Traveller which was still available.

The Morris & Austin 1100/1300 range. However the Morris versions would be dropped apart from the Traveller.

The Austin 1100/1300 were given new clean look, and new matt black grilles. The only distinction between the 1100 & 1300 models was the grille.

This British Leyland press photo shows how to tell the new models apart. The 1100 has a single chrome strip in the middle of the grille (shown left) and the 1300 model has a group of three bars in the centre of the grille (shown right).

The Austin & Morris versions also had a facelift in side. The Traveller retained the same look, but also had the same grille treatment. The 1100 version of the Traveller was dropped, however continued in Austin form. The trimming in the Austin & Morris versions became more luxurious, and the main selling point was the revised dashboard layout, larger seats and deep pile carpet.

In 1972 the manual 1100 and 1300 A Series engines was given an overhaul. The new revised models boasted new gear change, rod change in place of the remote gear change. This however meant that more engine stays were required as alloy housing wasn't there to act as one. Also making a debut on this new transmission were "pot" joints. Designed so that they shouldn't break up, however they gave a much harder ride and if they did go wrong it would cost a small fortune to repair.

The new A series Engine. As seen in this photo the rods from the gearbox can be seen quite clearly.

Not only did the manual engine and gearbox get its overhaul so to did the automatic. 12 important changes were made to it construction. thus stopping the snatch into some gears. Some other previous construction issues were also addressed. Many will notice that 4th gear was "dropped". In fact it wasn't. Earlier boxes had 1,2,3,4,D. However there was no actual difference between having gear 4 and D. Both gave the same top speed, and meant that there were more gears required in the unit. AP realised their error, and corrected in the later versions. This also saved on the number of components in the box, but improved reliability of the units.

This auto stick has lost its fourth gear, but where did it go? Many say cost cutting made BL loose this cog! - That wasn't the case.

It was announced in May 1972 that the 1100/1300 range would be replaced by 1974. British Leyland had just finished fine tuning the new Austin Allegro & Morris Marina. These would replace the most popular selling cars of the 1960's and early 1970's.

The Austin Allegro & Morris Marina the cars designed to replace the 1100? Could either of them stand up to the legacy left behind? - No!

In April 1973, BL began to axe the 1100, the Wolseley 1300 was discontinued from the range. Followed by the Austin 1100/1300 in May 1974. The last car to roll from the production line was the Vanden Plas in June 1974, when the 1500 Allegro was launched.

The last Princess to roll of the line. Complete with some off the staff who had worked on the VP's.


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