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  Proposed commercial ADO16


A special correspondent for Motor Trader wrote that BMC had made it clear there were no immediate plans to put the 1100 van into production but said 'its market appeal and essentially practical design must make it a subject of priority for development and ultimate production. The 1100 cars followed the same layout as the revolutionary Mini introduced in 1959, but in a larger body shell and with the 1100cc variant of the A Series engine as standard, against the Mini's 850cc power. At first the 1100s were badged as Austins' or Morris but eventually MG, Riley and Wolseley versions with varying degrees of performance and power followed.

They handled and performed brilliantly and were capable of as much as 45 mpg. For a long time they were best sellers until finally overhauled by the Ford Cortina. As most British light commercials were derived from cars it was only to be expected that a transverse engine, front wheel drive 5 or 6cwt van would follow on, the 1100 base. In late 1967 BMC had produced a prototype batch of 1100-based vans, in the March 1968 article, Motor Transports special correspondent wrote that he had examined one of the prototype batch with 9000 miles on the clock, it was used daily to carry parts from stores to distributors and airports. The article said the most impressive feature was the quietness. With all the works up front there was no reverberation in the rear bodywork. The revolutionary Hydrolastic suspension damped out road noise and so the 1100 van was reckoned to be no more noisy than a car at 60mph. Motor Transport quoted a driver who regularly travelled to Scotland in one of the 1100s, who said he could do 400 miles at speeds up to 70 mph without fatigue. Fuel consumption was reported to be well over 30mpg. This fits with our experience of thrashing 1100 saloons up the M1 in the Sixties. It was quite easy to see an optimistic 90 (Speedo error?) on the clock and driving for economy rather than speed could see them do better than 40 to the gallon. Apart from comfort, performance and economy, the other big attraction of the 1100 shell for a commercial was that the transverse front drive layout should allow more load space. The van pressings were similar to those of the estate car and the top hinged tailgate opened to over 6ft, while the low floor allowed easy loading. Another advantage quoted was the slope of the rear opening which would allow a load to be dumped on the floor before being slid forward. The rear wheel arches did not intrude greatly into the load area and a box section rail at the front of the load area would stop goods sliding forwards. So much for the advantages. As we have mentioned in earlier references to the 1100 van. The biggest problem was in weight transfer, causing the tail to sag and the front end to lift up. reducing traction. The Hydrolastic system provided independent suspension all round but the hydraulic pipes were also connected front to rear.

Motor Transport put it this way:
'When a heavy weight is placed over the rear wheels the rear suspension units compress, transferring load to the front ones, which lift. The result is an exaggerated tail down attitude. Development work on a limiting device to prevent this is believed to be in progress." - We now know this was case, as per Dr Alex Moulton who advised that a self leveling rear suspension suspension system was being devised for the estates and vans. It was like most things swept under the carpet and never got any further than paper.

The article ended on a note of optimism which was to remain unfulfilled. The conclusion was: 'When these problems are finally overcome the result will be one of the most attractive small vans to appear in recent years.' Although there was a successful estate car version of the 1100. the van never went into production. One of the prototype vans was registered KVP 51F, a Birmingham number issued in August 1967. It was lettered 'The British Motor- Corporation Ltd' on the sides and 'Austin Division' with the BMC rosette on the doors. Specification was similar to the Standard Austin Morris 1100 cars. The 1098cc engine gave 48bhp; there was a four-speed synchro gearbox, Lockheed disc brakes at the from and drums at the rear. Steering was by rack and pinion, the fuel tank held 8.5 gallons and the tyres were 5.60 x 12.

It is also claimed that BMC gave BP several vans to be used for testing. No-one knows what happened to any of the 1100 vans. However, BMC couldn't overcome the suspension problems, and as result the van never went into production. Its a shame, because BMC could have perhaps bought time with the introduction of the Van, and kept the ADO 16 in production longer.

This is how the finished article would have looked. Complete with BMC rosettes. The van would have made an attractive addition to the ADO16 fleet.

What you'd give to get your hands on one of these! Although you can't see the total number of van's here, it has been suggested that the full 50 stand awaiting allocation.

 :: Additional information

Over 50 vans were built as a "prototype" for testing by dealers. The vans primary purpose was    to transport parts from the factory → dealer → Airport. Also to be used as service vehicles.
A large single Speedo, similar to those fitted in de Luxe Mk 2 versions were fitted.
Flooring covering was a rubber material, providing a hardwearing surface.
Rear floor area levelled up using plywood.



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