Austin classic car insurance
Founded in 1905 by Herbert Austin, The Austin
Motor Company Limited produced many fabulous and innovative cars,
from the company's initial offerings through the inter-war motoring
explosion of the 1920s and 30s that the Austin Seven and the other
horse-power designated models, such as the 10, the 12 range to the
large and stately 20hp chassis, helped to detonate.
Post-WWII saw a merger with Morris and the
formation of the British Motor Corporation Limited. About the same
time, monocoque, chassis-less construction was introduced and with
it a range of cars including the Seven's successor, the A30/A35.
Later, Farina designed models in the shape of the A40 and A55/A60
Cambridge range were introduced and of course one mustn't forget
Alec Issigonis' masterpiece, the Mini.
Throughout the 60s, the main range included
the Mini, the more conventional A40 Farina, other Issigonis
spin-offs in the shape of the ADO16 1100/1300 range, the 1800 'Land
Crab', the ultra-conservative A60 Cambridge and, at the end of the
decade, the rather groovy Austin Maxi.
There were even executive cars in the shape of
the Westminster and to top them all, the Princess limousine.
A range of engines was also produced by what
was now the overseeing corporate structure of the British Motor
Corporation, allowing a suitable power-plant to be plucked from the
inventory to propel the cars. Throughout the 50s and 60s, the
mainstays of the portfolio were known as the 'A', 'B' and C -
Series, generally with displacements of between 803cc to 1275cc for
the 'A', 1489cc to 1789cc for the regular, 4 cylinder 'B's and
2639cc to 2912cc for the straight six-cylinder 'C' series.
This last engine found its way into BMC's
gruff Austin-Healey 3000, as well as executive class cars, such as
the A99/A110 Westminster types.
But if ever Austin produced a car that could
be tagged a lemon, it was code name ADO18, known quite simply as
the Austin 3Litre.
Designed in the early 1960s, this car shared a
similar central section to the overall smaller ADO17 - Austin 1800,
introduced in 1964. Indeed, the car had a familial look about it.
But whereas the 1800 utilised some of Alec Issigonis' innovative
transverse-engine, front-wheel-drive technology, the 3L featured a
more conventional longitudinal, rear-wheel-drive layout, albeit
with ultra-smooth hydrolastic suspension.
The 3L was unveiled at the 1967 British motor
show as successor to the Westminster range, but production models
didn't hit the road until mid to late summer 1968 and right from
the get-go, the hoped-for sales stampede never happened.
Truth was that the 3L was seen as something of
an ungainly ugly duckling. Its long, low, wide bonnet was mirrored
by a cavernous, but ill-shaped boot. The low overall height of the
car added to the impression of its sausage-dog like appearance.
Even Alec Issigonis was keen to relay that he'd had nothing to do
with the design.
Sales figures were underwhelming, with just
short of 10,000 being produced before the model was quietly dropped
in May 1971. With handsome executive models in what was now British
Leyland's range, such as the Triumph 2000/2500 and the Rover P6B
3500, there was no need to directly replace it.
However, nowadays the 3L provides an
interesting sight amongst crowds of more popular classics and as
such can at last find itself the centre of attention.
Throughout the 70s the Austin badge found its
way onto many cars within the BL portfolio. A car which famously
polarised opinion was the Allegro, with its gimmicky quartic
steering wheel. Another was a vehicle that was to only carry the
Austin badge for a few months - the Princess, although its belated,
hatch-backed and unloved successor was proudly badged as the Austin
The 80s saw the end of Maxi production and the
introduction of the Metro, Maestro and Montego models. All did well
to start with, but a lack of investment in new designs saw these
cars looking rather long in the tooth by the end of the decade.
But the 80s signified another big change, with
the merger of the Austin and Rover brands to produce the
Austin-Rover Group. Within this, the Austin name was used for
budget models, but as high quality imported cars started to become
the norm' on British roads, a last gasp attempt to make the range
more appealing saw the Austin name unceremoniously dropped and with
it a legacy stretching back over 80 years.
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