V.I.S.I.T. – 1969 Austin America

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British Leyland blessed us with many wonderful cars over the years, and was never afraid to pander to the American car buying public, giving us the big rubber bumpers that we demanded. But before 5-mph bumpers became a fad, we had to get by with the smaller chrome ones, as seen on this 1969 Austin America.

Sold for five long years in US and Canada, the Austin America was based on BMC’s and later British Leyland’s popular and sexy-sounding platform called the BMC ADO16, which stood for Amalgamated Drawing Office project number 16. The ADO16 cars came in many different flavors, depending on which market you were in, and these included the BMC 1100, the Riley Kestrel, the Wolseley 11 (probably forgetting a couple here and just going to refer to them as the Morris Nigel and BMC Incognito), and also a trio of Austin cars called the America, Glider, and Victoria. Since American buyers were (arguably) in America, the version we got was called America. 

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Eagle-eyed readers have by now figured out that this is no ordinary Austin America, but something far cooler. That’s right, this car had been transformed into a track machine by its former owner. In September of 2012 this Austin was featured on Bring a Trailer when it was for sale in Boston for a very reasonable $5300, but a couple months prior I saw it in person at Larz Anderson’s British Car Day where I got a close look at it. Rather than having been restored to original spec, this America was made into a track weapon. Out went the seats, the heater, and the spare tire, a fuel cell was installed, and glass door windows were swapped out for plastic ones. Before we talk about what was placed underhood, here’s a telling quote from the seller “Ear plugs suggested or install Dynamat. ( or both!!)

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Rather than swapping in a V8, which happens with these from time to time, the owner put in a 1380cc engine from 7 Enterprises. “Currently the new block from 7 Ent is a 1300 bored to 1380. It’s using an A+ crank, AE pistons, balanced rods, ARP head studs and duplex timing conversion kit with 1-2-3 brand electronic dizzy. An AP clutch is installed along with all new straight cut drop gears, clubman gear stack, pinned diff as well. Inside, a KAD short shifter operates updated transmission linkage and axles.”

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As you’ve probably guessed, the cost of modifications easily eclipsed the asking price. Some commenters on BaT at the time questioned the rather low asking price given all the stuff that had been done to the car, leading some to speculate that it was not all that well sorted and that the seller was trying to pass on an incomplete or flawed project car that was really more suited as a sleeper rather than a track fighter. Others contended that it was a realistic asking price given the unique appeal of something like this.

What say you, hoons? Would you prefer to rock this large Mini on the road as a sleeper, or on the track (as a sleeper)? 

[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]


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10 responses to “V.I.S.I.T. – 1969 Austin America”

  1. Vavon Avatar

    Okay I won't beat around the bush, I like these little Austins very much!
    [youtube mv0onXhyLlE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv0onXhyLlE youtube]

  2. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    I think the Austin looks fantastic next to the more ostentatiously-branded models with their ridiculous grilles. The estate version of these is rather sharp, too.
    <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3475/3963457257_2c23548b1d.jpg"&gt;

    1. Jay_Ramey Avatar

      Are you saying you wouldn't want to have a Bentleyish grille on one of these, a la Austin Allegro Vanden Plas?

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        I'd drive an ordinary one with a straight face, but something like a Wolseley is akin to those Rolls-Royce kits they sold for VW Beetles.

  3. MVEilenstein Avatar

    Robert: Yes, and yes.

  4. quijoteMike Avatar

    UK only
    <img src="http://www.kilkennymotorclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/ado1.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Cooper S engine, lowered and stiffened suspension – gears too short for crusiing at the UK 70mph limit. Spiffing car, could have done with the colours of that America.
    The ADO16 was the car the Mini should have been. That is it was the one the engineers sorted out after Issigonis had finished doodling. And unlike the Mini it made Brit Leyland money. At one point it held 14% of the Brit car market (IIRC) by itself.
    Now sort after here as 99.99% have been thrown away
    To the original question – I would keep it exactly as it is and run it as a fast street. Adding all the many many tweaks that have been created for Hydrolastic Minis over the years

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      I'd want the Cooper S engine in a Vanden Plas. The idea of all that go plus lambswool, walnut and picnic tables!
      That's how I roll, eh what!

      1. quijoteMike Avatar

        If the Vanden Plas version gets your heart a flutter, you will desire the Allegro Vanden Plas
        <img src="http://gomotors.net/pics/Vanden%20Plas/vanden-plas-1500-04.jpg&quot; width="600">
        With a wide range of engines all introduced too later to help Leyland.

  5. KAH Avatar

    Wow love that car that blue with the black top looks smart. The shape reminds me of the MGB GT. I've never seen one of these Austin Americas, thanks Hooniverse for enlightening me.

  6. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    What are the wheels on the blue car?

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