Tag Archives: Issigonis

The Gearless Green Car – Mini 9X ADO20

Today’s featured British Leyland Motor Corporation Mini 9X test car was built to trial the replacement overhead cam engine intended to replace the BMC ‘A’ series push rod that had been introduced in 1951 along with the Austin A30, and a new gearless transmission.

The single overhead cam eight valve four cylinder engine has a capacity of 1500 cc / 91.5 cui with a rubber belt driving the cam, when tested it produced 50hp at 4000 rpm.

BLMC Mini 9X ADO20, Atwell Wilson Motor Museum

Despite achieving only 20 hours running time over 4 and half weeks on a test bed in 1975 due to leaks and other faults this car was regularly driven up until 1987 with only a cam belt failure on the M5 in 1982 during high speed testing.

The transmission consists of a torque converter and a mechanical final drive sourced from an Austin Allegro, the only gear options being forwards or reverse.

BLMC Mini 9X ADO20, Atwell Wilson Motor Museum

Other novel features on the 9X test cars were a redesigned nose, vertical strut suspension, this car was also fitted with competition aluminium doors, with sliding windows and original ADO15 type exterior hinges and boot lid, the unique bonnet and wings were also in weight saving aluminium, the original doors and boot lid corroded and have been replaced by steel items.

Four ADO20 Minis were converted to house the 9X transmission three of which also had the 9X single overhead cam engine also fitted, today’s example seen at the Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, Calne, was the second to be converted and the first to be fitted with the 9X engine, known at the factory as The Green Car, originally painted Connaught Green, resprayed in 1985 to the current Tundra Green, it was purchased in 1975 by the father of the Mini Sir Alec Issigonis who used it as his preferred transport for many years until he sold it back to Austin Rover as BLMC had become.

One prototype to an all new 9X design featuring the overhead cam engine, gearless transmission, front strut suspension and hatchback tailgate was built before the project was cancelled leaving the Mini in production until 2000 having out lived it’s eventual successor the Austin miniMetro that was in production from 1980 to 1997.

Thanks for joining me on this “The Gearless Green Car” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Mercedes Monday, don’t forget to come back now !


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 !


Rally Landcrab Recreation – Morris 1800 (ADO 17)

1964 saw the launch of the third in range of Alec Issigonis practical front wheel drive British Motor Corporation (BMC) models that started with the Mini variations in 1959 progressed to the ADO16 1100 and 1300 variations first seen in 1962 and had grown to the ADO 17 1800 variations for 1964 with the launch of the Austin 1800 that was followed two years later by the Morris 1800 of the type featured today.

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Prior to the current owner of this 1966 model purchasing it for £200 on the 28th of February 2011 the car had spent 17 years in a barn and a further two years rotting in a garden because the clutch had failed in 1992.

Morris 1800, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol.

Since 2011 the owner has replaced the clutch, rebuilt and refurbished the braking system scraped, cleaned, etch primed and coated the under side in bitumen under seal and carried out a few welding repairs to the wings / fenders around the headlights.

Morris 1800, Classic and Sports Car Action Day, Castle Combe

By May 2012 the Morris had passed it MOT and was back in use as a daily driver. Since then the owner, a member of the Norton Radstock Classic Vehicle Club has attempted to use the vehicle as a starting point to recreate a period works rally car of the type that was used in the 1968 London to Sydney and 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally marathons where Landcrabs finished 2nd and 9th respectively.

Morris 1800, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol.

The AD0 17’s in Austin, Morris and Wolseley guises, all affectionately known as land crabs were extremely roomy and rugged vehicles but ultimately even in up market Wolseley guise a touch to pragmatic for owners of vehicles of this size and consequently did not perform in the market as expected. The ADO 17’s were eventually produced in three different series being joined by six cylinder 2200 variations in the third series from 1972. Production of the Morris 1800/2200 variants totaled 95,271 between 1966 and 1975 when the model was replaced by the new wedge shaped ADO 71 Morris 1800 and 2200 which soon after became known as the Princess.

Thanks for joining me on this Morris 1800 (ADO 17) edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


More Power Bigger Drums – Morris Oxford II

For 1948 Alex Issigonis designed the Morris Oxford to compliment the smaller Morris Minor is the Morris model mix, the Oxford MO boasted a 40.5 hp 4 cylinder side valve motor inherited from the prewar Morris 10 which it replaced, unitary body construction, torsion bar front suspension and hydraulically activated 8 inch drum brakes with which to bring the 72 mph vehicle to rest.

Morris Oxford II, Cotswold Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

In 1952 Morris merged with it’s great rival Austin with William Morris, now Lord Nuffield, becoming the British Motor Corporation’s first Chairman, thanks to the merger Morris was able to ditch it’s antiquated motors for those from the Austin range.

Morris Oxford II, Cotswold Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

As a consequence the Morris Oxford II first seen in 1954 was powered by a 50 hp Austin designed 4 cylinder over head valve B series motor which increased the top speed to 74 mph better acceleration and better fuel consumption 28 mpg up from 26 mpg of the Oxford MO.

Morris Oxford II, Cotswold Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

The column shift 1955 Oxford II, seen here earlier this year as the Cotswold Classic Car Club Meeting held at Frogsmill Andoversford, was equipped with 9 inch hydraulic brakes to cope with the increase in performance and came with a heater as standard.

Morris Oxford II, Cotswold Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

The Oxford II was available in 4 door saloon / sedan or 2 door Traveller Estate / Station wagon variants, the former of which would live on as the Hindustan Landmaster built under licence until 1958 in India.

Morris Oxford II, Cotswold Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

From 1954 87,342 Oxford II’s were built at plants in the UK and Australia until 1956 when the model was replaced by the Morris Oxford III.

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


Twin Carburetor ADO16 – MG 1300 MkII

In 1962 at the same time as the launch of the, rather conventional, MG B the British Motor Corporation (BMC) launched a revolutionary new car the Morris 1100 which was technically like a grown up version of the Mini first seen in 1959 featuring a transverse front mounted engine driving the front wheels through a transverse mounted gearbox. This allowed for the monocoque body to sit low to the ground compared to its conventional contemporaries which need a prop (propeller) shaft to run from the gearbox at the front to the rear axle.

MG 1300 Mk II, Silverstone Classic

Like the Mini the Morris 1100, which had carried the code ADO16 through it’s development, was designed by Alec Issigonis and would become one of Britain’s consistently best sellers through the 1960’s until the more conventional Ford’s began to make an impact thanks to overwhelming competition success on the race track which translated into sexy marketing campaigns. The body work for the ADO16 was styled by BMCs Italian styling house of choice Pininfarina and was available eventually in two and four door variations.

MG 1300 Mk II, Silverstone Classic

BMC also launched badge engineered 1100’s in Austin, Wolseley, Riley, van den Plas and 55 hp twin carburetor MG variants, in the UK market, before offering larger 1275 cc / 77.8 cui variations which in twin carburetor MG form produced 70 hp. In 1962 soon after the launch of the MG 1100 Alan Foster and Andrew Hedges drove a R.W.Jacobs entered MG 1100 to a 12th place overall and 1st in the 1300 cc class in the 1962 The Motor 6 Hours held at Brands Hatch beating a Ford Anglia in class that finished on the same lap.

MG 1300 Mk II, Silverstone Classic

Mk II versions of all the ADO16’s were introduced in 1968 with the rounded rear light clusters and ventilated steel wheels as seen on the 1968 MG 1300 MkII above which also has a walnut dash housing additional revolution counter, water temperature and oil pressure gauges. The leather bound 3 spoke steering wheel completed the sporty look.

MG 1300 Mk II, Silverstone Classic

The options list for all ADO 16’s included reclining seats and heated rear window. MG ADO16’s were replaced in 1971 by Austin and Morris GT variations using the same twin carburetor, MG, motors. In all 26,240 MG variants of the ADO16 were built between 1962 and 1971. One curious thing about the ADO16 when looking at it with the benefit of several decades of hindsight, they never made one with a hatchback only a small boot / trunk. I guess success in this instance bred what would become terminal complacency.

My thanks to Roger Lund, Rod Hunt, Michael Hickey, Ray Bell, Rob Kayemod, David ‘Red Bill Racing’ Coulthard and Frank de Jong at The Nostalgia Forum for their observations regarding the R.W.Jacobs MG 1100.

Thanks for joining me on this “Twin Carburetor ADO16” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a VW Microbus which I used back in my college days. Don’t forget to come back now !


More bodywork with an ash frame – Morris Minor 1000 Traveller

The Morris Minor was conceived by Sir Alec Issigonis, best known as the father of the revolutionary ‘Mini‘ and entered production in 1948.

There were 3 series of ‘Moggie thou’ this particular 67/68 model is one of the third series, distiguishable by a single piece windscreen and officially known as Minor 1000.

Powered by a 4 cylinder BMC A series 1098 cc / 67 cui motor the car could achieve 77 mph.

The two door Estate/Stationwagon version was introduced with the second series of the Minor in 1952.

Minor Travellers like the later Mini Traveller featured a varnished ash framework, the same timber as used internally by Morgan.

At the time production of Morris Minors was discontinued each vehicle was estimated to be losing the British Leyland Motor Corporation around £9.

One might be forgiven for thinking the door lock was an afterthought, but I can remember public awareness campaigns on television advising us to lock cars at all times in the late 1960’s early 1970’s long before the crime of ‘joy riding’ had been thought of.

I have driven a couple of Minors and they are very easy to handle at a sedate pace, they do not feel anywhere near as solid or purposeful as a VW Beetle, great for tootling around country lanes all day but not so comfortable on an Autobahn as the Beetle was.

Minors have featured on a number TV series the Traveller probably most famously on ‘Heartbeat’ a series about the Police in Yorkshire set in the 1960’s. There is even a Corgi die cast available complete with Sergeant Oscar Blaketon figure.

For the serious Moggie Thou fan there is also a 1:12 scale model available complete with opening doors !

Thanks for popping by today’s sedate edition of “Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres”, hope you’ll join me tomorrow for more, don’t forget to come back now !

Please note :- I do not in anyway endorse, or have any commercial interest in the products or distributors highlighted in today’s feature, I am merely passing the information on as an enthusiast of all things motoring, I have no experience of handling these products nor have I used these vendors. I recommend anyone interested in these items or distributors do their own thorough investigation into suitability, reliability and particularly prices of both products and vendors before making any purchasing decisions.