Much has been written about the Pininfarina-styled 1100 released 60 years ago in the UK. Yes, 60 years ago.
With front wheel drive and innovative hydrolastic suspension, it was popular right from the get go.
Devotees of this little car refer to it by its BMC internal project code ADO16, because BMC pumped out so many badge-engineered variations.
ADO16 was first launched as the Morris 1100 in August, 1962.
Next came the MG 1100 in September.
No kidding, an MG.
It was a Morris 1100 with an MG grille and an extra carburettor.
The UK MG Owners Club website provides an astute summary of the car.
“. . . there was a problem identifying which market MG were aiming at with literature and promotional films showing it as an ideal shopping car and at the other extreme, a car suitable for club racing — either way the car sold slowly with nearly 28,000 being sold over a period of five years.”
The Austin 1100 appeared in August, 1963.
That placated angry Austin dealers who had wanted the car from the beginning.
In October, 1963 the luxury Vanden Plas Princess 1100 was unveiled.
The venerable marques of Wolseley and Riley were allowed to have their 1100’s in October, 1965.
Riley was even permitted to give it a name: Kestrel.
A three-door wagon appeared in 1966.
Austin called theirs Countryman.
Morris chose Traveller.
It was a Countryman which appeared in the Fawlty Towers episode “Gourmet Night”.
Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) gave it a “damn good thrashing” when it failed to start.
In total, 2.3 million 1100s were sold.
At one point the car had 15 per cent of the UK market.
But Ford’s Cortina gradually overtook it in sales.