Tag Archives: British Leyland

Michelotti Zest – Triumph TR4

Project Zest was the code name for the Triumph TR4 which was launched in 1961.

Triumph TR4, TNF Herts, Ware,

It turns out that the TR4 gave Giovanni Michelloti a second crack at updating the Triumph TR3A having designed the body for the Italia 2000 GT, which was built on a Triumph TR3A knock down kit, first seen in 1959.

Triumph TR4, TNF Herts, Ware,

Michelotti’s new design did away with the window curtain’s of previous TR’s replacing them with proper glass window’s operated by proper window mechanisms, it was also one of the earliest cars to have a removable roof panel, predating the Porsche 911/912 Targa Top by five years.

Triumph TR4, TNF Herts, Ware,

Mechanically new for the TR4 was synchromesh on all gears, with a Laycock overdrive on 2nd, 3rd and 4th gears and the steering was altered to accommodate a rack and pinion.

Triumph TR4, TNF Herts, Ware,

Two engine options were available for the TR4 one just under 2 litres / 122 cui and the other just over.

Triumph TR4, TNF Herts, Ware,

TR4’s found competition success in the USA where Bob Tullis drove a Kas Kastner prepared example to class victory at Sebring in 1961 and SCCA class championships followed in 1962, ’63 and ’64.

Triumph TR4, TNF Herts, Ware,

This particular TR4 was part of the works rally team and was driven to a 4th place overall finish in the 1962 Alpine Rally by Mike Sutcliffe and Roy Fidler.

Triumph TR4, TNF Herts, Ware,

Sadly of the over 40,000 TR4’s built between 1961 and 1965 less than 1,000 are still registered with British Authorities.

Thanks for joining me on this “Michelotti Zest” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

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The Three Captains – Austin Maxi

Queen Elizabeth the II’s cousin born seventh in line to the British throne on the 4th of July, Michael George Charles Franklin, is better known as HRH Prince Michael of Kent.

From 1961 to 1981 Prince Michael served his country after training at Sandhurst he was commissioned into the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own) who’s motto is Death of Glory.

Austin Maxi, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,

The ADO 14 Austin Maxi was the first all new model to be launched by the newly merged British Leyland in 1969, it was also the last production design to come to fruition by the Grecian British designer Sir Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis who’s CV included the designs for the Morris Minor, the BMC Mini, BMC ADO 16 1100/1300 series cars, and BMC ADO 17 1800/2200 series cars, like the 1100, and 1800, models the Maxi featured a transverse mounted engine powering the front wheels and hydrolastic suspension.

Organisers of the 1970 Daily Mirror World Cup Rally which was to run 15,000 miles through Europe, Southern and Central America from London to Mexico received entries for four Austin Maxi’s, two for cars crewed entirely by ladies.

Austin Maxi, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,

The Royal Hussars & 17th/21st Lancers entered today’s featured Maxi that was to be crewed by Captains; HRH Prince Michael of Kent, who like Alec Issigonis lays claim to Grecian ancestry, Capt. Gavin Thompson and Capt. Nigel Clarkson.

With some support from the Leyland works team this Maxi unlike regular production Maxi’s has a welded up hatch back tailgate to give the body additional rigidity and a rudimentary aluminium boot / trunk lid has fitted with even more rudimentary hinges.

Austin Maxi, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,

Like wise the sheet steel door skins, shared with the 1800 Landcrab series, have been replaced with aluminium panels to save weight and the steel bonnet / hood was replaced with a glass fibre example with two non standard fairings to accommodate the non standard twin SU carburetors.

As I understand it both the two works Maxi’s and the two private entries were fitted with the smaller 74 hp 1500 cc / 91.5 cui 4 cylinder motors although now this and the surviving Marshalls of Cambridge example appear to have the larger 1750 cc / 106 cui motors fitted.

Austin Maxi, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,

The motors will have been detuned with lower compression ratio’s to cope not only with the poorer quality fuels available along the route, but also the altitudes on the South American legs which reached 15,000 feet where even some of the crews had to be given oxygen.

Alf Ramsey, later Sir, the England football team manager who had overseen England’s one and only World Cup win in 1966 returned to the scene of his greatest victory to flag off the eventual 96 starters from Wembley Stadium on the 19th of April 1970.

Austin Maxi, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,

The 4,500 mile European leg of the Daily Mirror World Cup Rally initially headed east across the the continent through Munich in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia as far as Sofia, Bulgaria.

From Sofia the route headed South East through Italy to Monza through France and Spain to Lisbon in Portugal where the surviving crew’s caught a boat across the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Austin Maxi, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,

Up to this point the three Captains were looking good and made it to Lisbon with 70 other surviving crews on the 25th of April in time for the Atlantic crossing to Brazil aboard the SS Derwent.

12 days later on the 8th of May the three Captains were flagged off in their #70 Maxi for the 12,000 Southern and Central American leg of the event from down town Rio de Janeiro.

Austin Maxi, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,

10 miles from the start at Ltuporanga, the #70 Maxi with the three Captains aboard left the road and with smashed drive shafts were left with no alternative but to withdraw.

The two works entered Maxi’s made it to the finish with the #74 London Evening Standard sponsored Maxi crewed by Rosemary Smith, Alice Watson and Gina de Rolland classified 10th behind the Winners Ford Escort crewed byHannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm.

Austin Maxi, Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon,

The #96 British Leyland / Autocar sponsored entry crewed by Terry Kingsley, Peter Evans, Michael Scarlett came home last but one in 22nd place.

The Austin Maxi probably never received so much attention again, apart from the larger engine and a small interior upgrade in 1971 the car soldiered on until 1980 before a face lifted Maxi 2 went into production for just 12 month’s before production was halted with over 400,000 units built.

Today amongst one hundred patronages and Presidencies HRH Prince Michael of Kent is President of the Royal Automobile Club in Piccadilly London, Royal Patron of the Brooklands Museum and Patron of the Commission for Global Road Safety.

Thanks for joining me on this “The Three Captains” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

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Neville’s e-bay Find – DOHC Jaguar V12

A couple of years after retiring the works Jaguar Racing Team, from front line competition in 1955, Sir William Lyons and Chief Enginner William Heynes discussed building a team of 3 mid engined “G-type” models and returning to Le Mans the scene of five Jaguar victories with their XK 120 C, C-Type and D-Type models.

Jaguar DOHC V12,

In 1963, according to Jaguar records, the board of directors agreed to progress the first Jaguar V12 motor with a view to returning to Le Mans in 1965.

Jaguar DOHC V12

The first of two 5 litre / 302 cui double overhead cam (DOHC) V12’s, essentially 2 x 6 cylinder XK blocks sharing a common crank, ran for the first time in July 1964, it was started by the same Jim Eastwick that is seen at the control panel in today’s blog.

Jaguar DOHC V12

A number of factor’s including the planning for the production of the XJ6, launched in 1968, and a shortage of cash which led to the merger of Jaguar into British Motor Corporation which became British Motor Holdings in December 1966 meant the XJ13 project saw just one prototype completed in May 1966, but nothing was done with it until the following year.

Jaguar DOHC V12

At some point the second DOHC V12, today’s featured motor, was run in a prototype Mk 10 Jaguar and by 1969 it was run for the last time by the works for comparison emissions tests with a single overhead cam (SOHC) V12 that would go into production for the V12 E-type, XJ12 Saloon / Sedan, XJ 12C, Daimler Sovereign equivalents and XJ-S Coupé.

Jaguar DOHC V12

Today’s featured motor was then tidied up for a career on Jaguars exhibition stands at motor show’s in the UK and abroad, complete with chrome flywheel, it would appear that in the early to mid 1970’s it got left behind by the Jaguar works, by now part of the British Leyland empire in Germany.

Four years ago Jaguar enthusiast and racer Neville Swale was thinking about building a replica Jaguar XJ13 when a fellow racer who had similar idea’s but insufficient funds Richard Woods from the Avro Shacketon Preservation Trust told Neville about today’s featured motor which appeared on the German e-bay sight.

Jaguar DOHC V12

Neville knew he had to have it and as he boarded a train a few hours before the end of the auction he put in a bid by mobile phone and promptly lost reception.

Some hours later still on the train Nevilles reception returned and he was surprised to learn he won the auction and one of the rarest Jaguar motors ever built.

When he got the motor home from Stuttgart Neville determined not just to build a replica but a tool room replica XJ13 as close to the original 1966 version, sans big wheels and flared arches, as humanly possible.

I’ll cover the build of the car in future edition, but over the last 4 years Neville has converted the motor back to dry sump lubrication and built up a new fuel injection to replace that which was missing when he bought the motor.

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the first start of this motor in 45 years and the video shows the start and shut down.

At the end of the film Jonathan Heynes a former Jaguar apprentice who worked on the XJ 13 and son of the late Chief Enginner William Heynes who oversaw the development and build of DOHC V12 is seen shaking the hand of Jim Eastwick. Apologies for bad sound on the film.

My thanks to Neville and his wife Lizzie for making me feel so welcome during the start up proceedings. You can see more of Nevilles work on the project on his Building the Legend website linked here.

Thanks for joining me on this “Neville’s e-bay Find” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be taking a look at what is believed to be the oldest surviving stock car to take part in a NASCAR event. Don’t forget to come back now !

5/11/14 Correction this text originally stated Peter Crespin alerted Neville to the presence of the motor on e-bay it was in fact Richard Woods from the Avro Shacketon Preservation Trust who informed Neville. Apologies for any confusion.

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Badge Transformation – Morris 1/2 Ton Pickup

The design for today’s 1972 (Nineteen seventy two) Morris 1/2 ton pick up, seen at a recent Avenue Driver Club meeting, dates back to the original incarnation of the Austin Cambridge which in A40 guise first saw the light of day in 1954.

Morris 1/2 ton Pickup, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

The Cambridge was updated in 1954 when it became the Austin A50 Cambridge and again in 1957 to become the Austin A55 Cambridge which stayed in production until the arrival of the Austin A55 Cambridge Mark II fitted with an all new Farina (as in Pinin) body.

Morris 1/2 ton Pickup, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

The Austin Cambridge 1/2 ton pickup was first marketed in 1957 with the latest A55 panels incorporated into the cab with a 4 cylinder 51 hp B Series motor.

Morris 1/2 ton Pickup, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

From 1962 the Pickup was fitted with a unique to type grill and the 61 hp B Series motor from the Farina A60 Cambridge launched in 1961, and Australian spec A55 Cambridge Mk II which was launched in 1959. 1962 also saw the first of these vehicles marketed with the Morris name.

Morris 1/2 ton Pickup, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

The Austin variant of the 1/2 ton pickup was dropped after Austin and Morris part of the British Motor Corporation was further merged with Leyland to become British Leyland in 1968. While the Morris variant continued in production until 1973. Despite having no further significant upgrades since 1962 the Morris 1/2 ton was still marketed with a “New, Tough and Versatile” strap line as late as 1968 !

Thanks for joining me on this “Badge Transformation” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me tomorrow for a look at a Lamborghini Jarama. Don’t forget to come back now !

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Nice Door Handles – Morris Marina ADO 28

With the merger of Jaguar with British Motor Corporation in 1966 the new merger was renamed British Motor Holdings and after a further merger with Leyland commercial vehicles the corporation became known as British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968. British Leyland as it was known decided that the Austin and Morris brands should be differentiated in the early 1970’s with Austin vehicles being based around the front wheel drive (FWD) concept pioneered by Ales Issignosis with models like the Mini, 1100 and 1800 series vehicles while Morris vehicles would be more traditional with front engines driving rear axles (RWD) as they had on the Morris Minor and Morris Oxford models.

Morris Marina, Bristol Classic Car Show, Shepton Mallet

The design of the Marina coded ADO 28 was started by Roy Haynes who’s CV included the design of the popular Mk II Ford Cortina, however a disagreement over a common floor pan to share between models as espoused by Roy led to him quitting and Triumph Designer Harry Webster finishing the job by which time the intended Macpherson strut front suspension had been abandoned in favour of Morris Minor style tortion bars and a new gearbox design was abandoned in favour of an existing item from the Triumph parts bin.

Morris Marina, Atwell Wilson Museum, Calne

All in all the development costs of the conservative RWD concept Marina ended up exceeding those of the more radical FWD Allegro which was developed to be Austin’s competitor in the small family car market. Production facilities at Cowley had to be upgraded which included some comedy as an overpass was built so that the motors could be sent from a plant on the opposite side of a municipal road to the assembly plant, no sooner had the overpass been completed than the municipality offered to sell the road which British Leyland did not think twice to accept.

Morris Marina, Qwara, Malta

On a positive note the AMC Ambassador inspired vertical hinged door handles were a huge hit with Lotus founder Colin Chapman who specified them for use on the Lotus Elite, Eclat and Esprit models, Marina door handles were also adopted by Scimitar for the GTE shooting break while British Leyland used the same handles on the Triumph TR7/TR8, Austin Allegro and they eventually even found their way, finished in matt black, onto the Land Rover Discovery Series I.

Morris Marina, Cotswolds Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

Marina cars were powered by a variety of motors most common of which for the UK market was a 57 hp 4 cylinder A series which did not do much for performance but kept the handling within safer limits than the heavier more powerful motors which promoted lane changing understeer / push which induced the odd brown trousers moment for some Marina pilots.

Morris Marina, Cotswolds Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

The Marinas seen here are in order top to bottom a ’72 Coupé at the Bristol Classic Car Show, Shepton Mallet, ’74 Twin Carburettor saloon sedan at the Atwell Wilson Museum, a Maltese 1500 saloon / sedan with after market alloy wheels and waist trim in Qwara, a ’79 Estate and ’72 Coupé both at the Cotswolds Classic Car Club meeting held at Frogsmill, Andoversford and below a saloon / sedan with an unusually straight rear bumper seen at last years Classics at the Castle, Sherborne.

Morris Marina, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne

Although much derided for almost every detail apart from the door handles the undemanding early 70’s British public lapped up Marina’s painted in tepid colours like Russet Brown, Harvest Gold, and Limeflower Green for the car to peak at second in the sales charts behind the Ford Cortina in 1973 and remain in the top 3 or 4 until 1980. Eventually over 897,000 Marina’s were sold in the UK of which 745 are thought to remain on British roads.

Thanks for joining me on this “Nice Door Handles” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

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