AUSTIN 1300 REVIEW

With space for all the family and great economy, the fun, practical and now increasingly rare Austin 1300 is fast becoming a highly sought-after classic.

 

AT THE WHEEL

Yes, these cars are practical, but you really buy an ADO16 for its addictive handling. The driving position betrays its close family links with the Mini, thanks to the oddly raked steering wheel, but the seats themselves are supportive and comfortable and the four-speed gearbox is a delight to stir.

None of these cars is especially powerful (48bhp for the 1100, 58bhp for the 1300), but more than a little of Issigonis’ chassis design genius for the Mini rubbed off on all ADO16s, meaning they always feel faster than they really are. This is thanks in no small part to the utterly sublime Hydrolastic suspension and wheel-at-each-corner layout which, allied to the large, airy glasshouse and shallow dashboard, make every model feel like a large go-kart.

They’re evocative little cars, too – the trademark transmission whine is instantly recognisable, while the Mk2’s tail lights would go on to outlive the little cars by years on the iconic FX/4 Austin Taxis.

Practical, endearingly quirky and great to drive – the Austin BMC 1100/1300 offers quite a combination. All you have to do now is find a good one. 
 

VERDICT

BMC ADO16s may not be quite as rare as their A40 Farina predecessor, but you won’t exactly be falling over them at classic car events either, so relative exclusivity is pretty much guaranteed.

They even have an element of small-screen stardom about them – or rather the Austin 1100 Countryman does – for this is the very car to which a suited and booted John Cleese famously administered ‘a damn good thrashing’ with a tree branch in the classic Fawlty Towers episode, ‘Gourmet Night’.

One of the big attractions of ADO16 ownership, however, is their sheer practicality. Even the two and four-door saloons are uncommonly spacious inside, with room enough for four sizeable adults (and a fair chunk of their luggage inside the notchback boot), but for sheer lugging capacity, the Countryman estate is hard to beat, thanks to its massive boot, folding rear seat and wide-opening top-hinged tailgate.
Much, much rarer is the amazing-looking Crayford estate, which took the standard saloon and added a double clamshell bootlid arrangement not dissimilar to that employed by the Range Rover.

It’s fair to say that the AD016s suffered a protracted period during which they failed to gain classic status, but rarity and a growing, devoted cult following have combined to lift them to desirable classics.

If you’re fond of the racy look, then the MG and the GT are the models to go for, but since all models share the same two basic engines, neither offers peppier performance. The GT does sport slightly lower suspension, however, which improves handling slightly.

And yet, superb handling is something that’s common to all models. Go for a 1300 rather than an 1100 and choose the Mk2 over the earlier cars (somehow, they’re so much more modern looking), and you’ll be in possession of a handsome, practical and friendly little car that feels surprisingly contemporary. In fact, your only real problem is going to be finding a good one! 
  

 

Recently Added

49487 1Sponsored Ad
1990
£Auction
TE
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 N/A
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1104625
Lot Number: - Details to follow. MoT November 2018 Recorded mileage 17,000 Estimate: Tbc
1
01553 621 415
View details
49486 1Sponsored Ad
1963
£Auction
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 N/A
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1104624
Lot Number: - From the Bob Empson collection. Having been stored by Empson's on behalf of the pre...
1
01553 621 415
View details
49485 1Sponsored Ad
1981
£Auction
GTI 1600CC
  • 85,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 N/A
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1104623
Lot Number: - Only two keepers from new with the second owner registered since 1992. The vendor a...
8
01553 621 415
View details
49484 1Sponsored Ad
1998
£Auction
3.0 ELITE
  • 57,558
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 N/A
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1104622
Lot Number: - Details to follow. V5 present MoT January 2019 Recorded mileage 57,558 Estimate: No...
9
01553 621 415
View details
49483 1Sponsored Ad
1994
£Auction
2.0
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 N/A
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1104621
Lot Number: - Automatic. Four owners, the last registered since 2010. It comes with the original ...
9
01553 621 415
View details
49482 1Sponsored Ad
1994
£Auction
1.6L
  • 116,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 N/A
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1104620
Lot Number: - Five owners from new, last registered since 2003. It comes with MoT history print-o...
9
01553 621 415
View details
49481 1Sponsored Ad
1971
£Auction
PRINCESS
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 N/A
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1104619
Lot Number: - This automatic Vanden Plas was subject to a full service by Steve Cato around ten m...
6
01553 621 415
View details
49480 1Sponsored Ad
1989
£Auction
S2
  • 18,035
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 N/A
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1104618
Lot Number: - Only two owners from new, the last registered since 1991. Benefits from a new MoT i...
7
01553 621 415
View details
49479 1Sponsored Ad
1967
£Auction
12/50
  • 52,745
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 N/A
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1104617
Lot Number: - This four owner Herald 12/50 comes with various documents, handbooks and recent MoT...
9
01553 621 415
View details
49476 1Sponsored Ad
1956
£Auction
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 N/A
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1104614
Lot Number: - From the Bob Empson collection. Comes only with old style V5 showing two owners sin...
4
01553 621 415
View details
See All Classic Cars for Sale