Austin Morris meet at Brooklands March 2016
The venue is the location of the worlds first purpose built motor curcuit, and although only a short stretch of the track remains, it’s still a draw for motor as well as aviation enthusiasts. The curcuit then became a working airport which is reflected with a variety of static vintage aircraft including a recovered Wellington bomber from Loch Ness and an example of Concorde as well as a racing car, motorcycle, bicycle and bus exhibits.
Owners of Morris and Austin (and derived models) were invited to display their cars, and participate in a motorcade culminating in a photographic opportunity to park up on the high speed bank, known as the Members Bank. The spread of cars covers the entire range of Austin and Morris cars, with pre-war, Morris Minors and Minis being the most well represented examples.
The meet is always a welcoming and friendly event, with an perfect opportunity for owners to chat and for the public to appreciate a bygone period of British motoring.
One of several dozen pre-war Austins, this 1935 Austin Seven powers along the members banking. Owners braved the cold weather to bring their cars to Brooklands, illustrating the typical dedication and enthusiasm of owning a classic car.
The MG badge refers to the name Morris Garages, who produced 2 seater sports cars in Abingdon until 1981. Of all the brands associated with Morris and Austin, the MG is the mostly commonly recognised and this is very evident on the numbers of surviving cars across the world.
Austin survived the 2nd World War, despite the massive bomb damage to the Longbridge factory. The A30 model was one of the first post war designs, and a direct rival to the Morris Minor. Both cars eventually had very long lives, surviving well beyond their intended lives (the last Austin A35 was produced in 1968) This model was only ever produced with a Austin badge.
Well known and respected in the classic car world, the Morris Minor was another long lived design, with the last 1972 cars sharing many styling cues and parts with the 1948 original. They are durable and charismatic cars, with a wide fan base.
The Lilac example in this line up signifies a genuine limited example to celebrate 1,000,000 Morris Minors rolling off the production line in 1960 – 350 were badged as the Morris 1000000.
A 1956 prototype example of the drop head convertible.
A line up of cars readying themselves for the drive around Weybridge…
…and waiting for the Members banking park up.
Commercial versions of the Minor remained in production for a little longer than the saloons, due to the demand of the British utility companies, such as the Post Office. The very last ones were badges as Austins.
V8 powered custom ‘Royal Male’ van.
Unlikely modern day scenario of a Morris Minor police car ‘chasing’ a Austin A40 – possibly a scene that would have been more likely in the 60’s!
The A30/A35 model was replaced by the Pininfarina designed A40 Farina range (Austin had also used the A40 badging over several other models) so referred (but not badged) the car as the Farina. The similarly styled Countryman estate has claim to be the first British car to feature a split hatchback rear opening.
A variation on Alec Issigonis’ Mini theme, this popular family car soon became Britians best selling BLMC car. Known as the ADO16 as many BL cars have inherited their design project names, in a way to help identify a family of badge engineered models.
It’s quite possible to believe that this is a period photograph of an original ADO16 owner!
The Austin Cambridge, sold as the A40, A50, A55, and A60 offered both small and large capacity engines. This model was the last Austin not to have a Morris equivalent. Somewhat typically the design became long lived having survived in van form until 1972.
The ‘Farina’ Morris Oxford (also badged as the Austin Cambridge) was one of the more common and became a well liked car. Their solidity and simplicity made them popular secondhand cars well into the 80’s, which also gave them favour on the banger racing tracks.
Referred to as the Farina by owners (again not be confused with the smaller A40 Farina) as BLMC had established a relationship with the Italian styling house Pininfarina. This image shows some of the visual differences available on the the same design.
A 2 door convertible model of the Farina, a Wolseley 16/60. All other examples including the Morris, Austin, Riley and MG variants were sold as 4 door saloons or estates, making this very well finished one-off privately converted example unique.
The FWD Morris 1800 ‘Landcrab’ is an example of a well executed foresighted design idea that was never fulfilled by its parent company. The car was made alongside the very different RWD Farina models at the time, offering the public 2 similar sized cars within the Morris range. Further competition came from within BL’s stable of cars, which meant that there was never enough money to develop the car further and resolve the issues that plagued the car for its life.
An adventurous child inadvertently demonstrating how spacious the Austin 3-Litre boot capacity is. The 3 Litre was a ill-advised foray that used the style of the 1800 Landcrab models but used the more traditional RWD layout, the car was a failure not helped when in-house rivals like Triumph and Rover where producing far superior large cars.
The final evolution of the Mini FWD concept, this was the first product under the British Leyland name tag and on paper there’s no reason to suggest that the car wouldn’t do well. It used the same concept as the Renault 16 – offering a large family car with the practicality of a hatchback, combining the save spacing layout of FWD….
..alas severe cost cutting and poor development severed any chances of the car becoming a major success. The car was relaunched with a larger engine and improvements and sales became respectable….
…but the car was virtually left undeveloped yet continued production into the 80’s.
The Harris Mann designed Austin Princess shows how despite the lack of funding, overlapping models and quality issues that plagued the brand in the 70’s, BL were still adventurous enough to release distinctively unique designs. Curiously BL continued to sell the Maxi alongside the Princess which along with the Marina and various Triumphs shows how much BL products were competing for sales against each other. Now scarce to see on UK roads, time allows us to appreciate the ‘wedge’ styling and well proportioned body.
Of all the BL era cars, the Marina seemed to have been the one that is the most ridiculed, not helped by the recent idiotic media perception. The Marina was actually BL’s biggest seller in the 70’s, as it offered a straight forward no-nonsense conventional experience for families and fleet markets. This late example is pleasingly tongue in cheek and contemporary in its personalisation.
The Marina was offered in 3 body styles, the 4 door saloon, 5 door estate and a 2 door coupe, which is what this beautifully restored and very rare Mumford Cabriolet is based on. It shows how uncluttered and balanced the styling was, which made helped make it a common sight when current. The owner of this car has done a superb job and mentioned that he also owns a DeLorean…..
A rare variant of the Allegro, a Crayford cabriolet. Crayford were a independent coachwork company, who specialised in making cabriolet and estate versions of existing production cars. The Allegro was the replacement for the best selling ADO16, but despite claiming significant sales, it never surpassed the earlier cars success.
The Austin Maestro was another late arrival to the fiercely competitive small family car market and replaced the desperately dated Allegro and Maxi. The styling was crisp and offered the occupants excellent visibility and interior space, however the curse of poorly developed engines soon slowed down the initially brisk sales. Like the bigger Montego, the post late 80’s development (and improved build quality) came too late.
The last Austin badged car was released in 1984, and sold quite well as a competitor in the fleet markets. Typically under developed (particularly the engines) dampened its appeal, but by the end of its production run some 10 years later, the Montego (particularly as a diesel estate) became quite well respected in the motor trade.
No BL event would be complete with at least one Mini. Badged as both Austin and Morris, the only visible clues between the two brands was a different grill and name badge. The tuned Cooper models (again sold with both Austin and Morris badges) was a clever marketing ploy capitalising on the rally successes of the Mini. They became very desirable when announced and created a new genre of sports car.
As the car became more common, owners would rarely refer to their cars as a Austin or Morris and BL eventually branded the car just as Mini. The car also became highly customisable and allowed owners to make their cars unique….
To highlight this point we have two examples of mid 80’s minis which have been retro-customised – quite a common theme that seems to affect later examples.
The Cooper was discontinued, its replacement was the luke warm 1275GT. It wasn’t quite as fast as the Cooper, as the engine was virtually standard but sold in greater numbers as it was cheaper to insure and to run. The 1275GT used the square nose Clubman front end and was designed at one time to replace the original….
…but it didn’t, as the sales of the original Mini were still strong enough for the car to regularly appear in the top 10 best sellers lists. The Clubman was discontinued shortly after the introduction of the Metro.
Badged initially as the Mini Metro, the car was essentially a repackaged Mini in a spacious modern body shell. The cars promised to overhaul BL’s fortunes in reliability, exports and quality and for a period the strong sales suggested this.
Higher spec cars used sloping headlamps and under the MK2 guise the Metro was eventually released as a 5 door but the sales had started to tail off, as the cars Mini origins began to expose its shortcomings.
During the late 80’s, a new injection of money brought in by new owners British Aerospace, which helped the company develop its products and while there wasn’t quite enough for a total overhaul of the now drastically reduced Austin-Rover brand, it did showcase what can be done on a budget. The relaunched Metro, now a Rover, was noticeable for its strong range of engines and improved dynamics. It still used the same basic bodyshell, which hampered its potential but did suggest a revitalised company.