Monica (automobile), Balbigny, Loire, France 1972 till 1974

Monica 560 drive

1973 Monica 1973 - Schriftzug am Heck

Monica 560

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1973 Monica 560
Overview
Manufacturer Monica
Model years 1973 – 1975
Assembly France: BalbignyLoire
Designer Tony Rascanu, David Coward
Body and chassis
Class Grand tourer
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout Longitudinal front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Powertrain
Engine 5.6 L Chrysler LA V8(gasoline)
Transmission 3-speed automatic (TorqueFlite )
5-speed manual (ZF)
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,769 mm (109.0 in)
Length 4,928 mm (194.0 in)
Width 1,803 mm (71.0 in)
Height 1,346 mm (53.0 in)
Kerb weight 1,821 kg (4,015 lb)

Mon­ica is the name of a French lux­ury au­to­mo­bile pro­duced in the com­mune of Bal­bigny in the de­part­ment of Loire be­tween 1972 and 1974.

The beginning

The Mon­ica car was a pro­ject of Jean Tastevin, a grad­u­ate en­gi­neer of the École cen­trale de Paris. His fa­ther Ar­naud bought the Ate­lier et Chantiers de Bal­bigny in 1930. That com­pany was a man­u­fac­turer of min­ing and rail­way equip­ment. In 1955 Jean suc­ceeded his fa­ther, be­com­ing Chair­man and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor. He re­named the com­pany Com­pag­nie française de pro­duits métal­lurgiques, or CFPM, and began to spe­cial­ize in the man­u­fac­ture and rental of rail­road tank cars. The fac­tory where the rolling stock was man­u­fac­tured op­er­ated under a dif­fer­ent name, being Com­pag­nie Française de Matériels Fer­rovi­aires (CFMF). The com­pany pros­pered, even­tu­ally com­ing to have 400 em­ploy­ees.

Tastevin was an au­to­mo­bile en­thu­si­ast who per­son­ally owned cars from Aston Mar­tin and Facel Vega. After Facel Vega shut down in 1964 he bought a Jaguar, but re­gret­ted not being able to buy a French-made car of that class.

In pur­suit of both his in­ter­est in cars and a way to di­ver­sify his rail­way busi­ness, Tastevin began mak­ing plans to launch his own brand of au­to­mo­bile in 1966. He made his long-time as­sis­tant, Henri Szykowksi, the pro­ject man­ager. He would also set aside a por­tion of his fac­tory in Bal­gigny so that the cars could truly be said to be made in France.

The car was named in ho­n­our of Tastevin’s wife, Monique Tastevin.

Monica 1973 in video

Development history and prototypes

Au­to­mo­tive en­gi­neer and rac­ing dri­ver Chris Lawrence’s com­pany Lawrence­Tune En­gines had de­vel­oped a 2.6-litre ver­sion of the Stan­dard en­gine used in the Tri­umph TR4. Lawrence’s ver­sion used a cross­flow cylin­der head of his own de­sign and Tecalemit-Jack­son fuel in­jec­tion to make a claimed 182 bhp (136 kW) bhp. Au­to­mo­tive jour­nal­ist Gérard ”Jabby” Crom­bac had seen the en­gine at the 1966 Rac­ing Show at Olympia West Hall in Lon­don. The ar­ti­cle he wrote about it had caught Tastevin’s eye. Tastevin wrote to Lawrence ask­ing about hav­ing Lawrence­Tune sup­ply 250 en­gines per year for his new car. Upon learn­ing that the car was not yet de­vel­oped, Lawrence of­fered the ser­vices of his own com­pany. Crom­bac, who was fa­mil­iar with Lawrence’s rac­ing ex­ploits, vouched for Lawrence and Tastevin en­trusted de­vel­op­ment of the Mon­ica to LawrenceTune.

The first chas­sis and the jig to pro­duce it were built to­gether. Lawrence laid out a chas­sis with a cen­tral tun­nel made of four square-sec­tion 18 gauge steel tubes with ex­ten­sive cross-brac­ing. Two long steel boxes with tri­an­gu­lar cross-sec­tions were made of 16 gauge steel and at­tached to the chas­sis in the door sill area. These stiff­ened the chas­sis and were also to serve as the car’s fuel tanks. 16 gauge alu­minum formed the front and rear bulk­heads and floors and was used on both sides of the cen­tral tun­nel to stiffen the car fur­ther. Voids in the tun­nel were filled with ex­panded polyurethane foam to add even more stiff­ness and deaden sound.

The front sus­pen­sion used very tall up­rights with the wheel spin­dles on one side and a short stub axle ex­tend­ing in­wards on the other. Spring­ing was by ver­ti­cally mounted coil-over-damper units mounted in­board and op­er­ated through rocker-style upper arms. The lower arms were con­ven­tional wide-based wish­bones made of a one-piece wish­bone and long ra­dius arm run­ning back to­wards the bulk­head. Steer­ing was rack-and-pin­ion mounted high, at the same level as the upper wish­bone.

The rear sus­pen­sion was a De Dion sys­tem with coil springs, two par­al­lel lead­ing links on each side and a Pan­hard rod. The dif­fer­en­tial was from the Rover P6B (also known as the Rover 3500) with a crown-and-pin­ion made by Hew­land, but with an ad­di­tional nose-piece that gave the op­tion of two rear-axle ra­tios; a high-nu­meric ratio for in town and a low-nu­meric ratio for high-speed cruising. A lever in the cock­pit al­lowed the ratio to be changed while in mo­tion.

Brak­ing was pro­vided by a dual-cir­cuit power as­sisted Lock­heed and Girling sys­tem with 12-inch vented disks in front and 10-inch solid disk brakes in the rear. The rear brakes were mounted in­board and the front brakes were mounted to the stub-axle on the front up­right, which brought them out of the wheels and into the air-stream for cool­ing.

As the pro­to­type chas­sis was near­ing com­ple­tion Lawrence began to have sec­ond thoughts about using the Lawrence­Tune/Stan­dard-Tri­umph en­gine. Lawrence knew that the Tri­umph en­gine was to be phased out of pro­duc­tion by 1967. He also felt that this rel­a­tively heavy, rough, and noisy en­gine was not ap­pro­pri­ate for a new lux­ury car.

Lawrence put Tastevin in touch with Ed­ward C. “Ted” Mar­tin, who had de­signed an en­gine that Lawrence thought would work well in the Monica. After eval­u­at­ing the en­gine Tastevin bought the de­sign, rights and ex­ist­ing tool­ing for Ted Mar­tin’s en­gine. The agree­ment in­cluded four com­plete 3.0 litre engines.

The Mar­tin en­gine was an all-al­loy V8 with a sin­gle over­head camshaft (SOHC) per bank dri­ven by a toothed-belt (orig­i­nally Gilmer belt – see also Tim­ing belt). De­signed for the new 3-litre limit an­nounced for the 1966 For­mula One sea­son, it weighed just 230 lb (100 kg) with an­cil­lar­ies and pro­duced 270 bhp (200 kW)@7000 rpm. An un­usual fea­ture of the Mar­tin V8 was that four of the con­nect­ing rods were forked at the big end, much like those on the Rolls Royce Mer­lin engine. The con­nect­ing rod for the op­pos­ing cylin­der bore fit into the gap of the forked rod. This meant that the cylin­der banks were not off­set on the crank-line, re­duc­ing over­all en­gine length. The en­gine was used in the Pearce-Mar­tin F1 car as well as the Lu­cas-Mar­tin, a mod­i­fied Lotus 35 For­mula 2 frame that was run briefly in For­mula One. It also ap­peared in 2.8-litre form in some spe­cials, in­clud­ing some of Lawrence’s own Deep Sander­son sports and rac­ing cars.

This ini­tial pro­to­type first ran at Sil­ver­stone in 1968 with­out bodywork. The dri­ve­train for the car was a 3-litre Mar­tin V8 dri­ving through a Tri­umph TR4 gear­box with overdrive. The car weighed 1070 kg. Over­all per­for­mance was good but the test­ing un­cov­ered prob­lems with the en­gine and its lack of road-car an­cil­lar­ies.

Body­work for the first pro­to­type was fab­ri­cated by Mau­rice Gomm. This car was very dif­fer­ent in ap­pear­ance from the sub­se­quent pro­to­types and the pro­duc­tion mod­els and has been com­pared to an over­sized Pan­hard CD. Nei­ther Tastevin nor his wife were happy with the ap­pear­ance of the first pro­to­type.

A sec­ond pro­to­type chas­sis was built and sent to Williams & Pritchard, who pro­duced a body for it in alu­minum. The style of this body was much more an­gu­lar than the first. Tastevin per­son­ally re­quested some last-minute changes to the shape which would be un­done in later pro­to­types, but in gen­eral pro­to­type #2 set the gen­eral di­rec­tion for sub­se­quent bodies. This sec­ond car was reg­is­tered as a Deep Sander­son and given reg­is­tra­tion num­ber 2 ARX. After its use as a de­vel­op­ment mule pro­to­type #2 was used as a per­sonal car by team mem­ber Colin James, after which it was ac­quired by Peter Dodds, an­other mem­ber of the Mon­ica team.

In 1969 pro­to­type chas­sis #3, the first to re­ceive a ZF 5-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion, was built. At this time the Tastevins in­tro­duced Tudor (Tony) Ras­canu, a Ro­man­ian exile and for­mer shop man­ager for Vi­g­nale in Italy, to the pro­ject. Ras­canu was en­trusted with the job of com­pletely restyling the body­work for the third pro­to­type, but was not al­lowed to make any mod­i­fi­ca­tions to Lawrence’s chas­sis, which was to be sent to French coach-builder Henri Chapron in Paris. Chapron was to build a full-sized ma­que­tte, or body-form, of the re­vised car under Ras­canu’s oversight. Ras­canu and Capron’s work met with Tastevin’s ap­proval. With hid­den head­lamps in a slop­ing aero­dy­namic nose and wide hor­i­zon­tal tail­lights it was much more ap­peal­ing than the pre­vi­ous two at­tempts. The ma­que­tte was then sent to Car­rozze­ria Al­fredo Vi­g­nale in Turin to be used as a base for Vi­g­nale to pro­duce a body in steel.

Be­fore de­liv­er­ing the ma­que­tte to Vi­g­nale, Tastevin asked Lawrence to first de­liver pro­to­type #2 to the work­shops of Vir­gilio Con­rero, also in Turin. The fa­mous Alfa me­chanic was to do a de­tailed as­sess­ment of the Mar­tin en­gine and eval­u­a­tion of the car’s performance. Con­rero was crit­i­cal of al­most every as­pect of the Mar­tin en­gine and was skep­ti­cal of the power curves pro­vided by Lawrence. He told the fac­tory “this en­gine is a trap that will never work under nor­mal traf­fic conditions”. Con­rero in­sisted on a fly­ing-kilo­me­tre test of the pro­to­type, after which he would run his 2-litre Giuli­etta on the same course for com­par­i­son. Lawrence sus­pected that Con­rero was try­ing to dis­credit both the Mar­tin en­gine and Lawrence­Tune in an at­tempt to take Lawrence’s place on the Mon­ica pro­ject. He ex­am­ined the times recorded for the Mon­ica’s run and dis­cov­ered an ir­reg­u­lar­ity in the num­bers. When Tastevin con­fronted Con­rero with this in­for­ma­tion the test­ing was halted and Con­rero’s in­volve­ment in the pro­ject ended.

Lawrence de­liv­ered chas­sis #3 to Vi­g­nale’s car­roz­e­ria, and they com­pleted the body in steel. While pro­to­type #3 was a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment the Tastevins were not yet en­tirely sat­is­fied with its ap­pear­ance. Per­for­mance of this car was also dis­ap­point­ing due to it being be­tween 200 kg (440 lb) and 250 kg (550 lb) over­weight. By way of ex­pla­na­tion Lawrence drilled a hole into the scut­tle. The drill pen­e­trated 13 mm (0.5 in) of lead. Vi­g­nale, in the mean time, sold his com­pany to DeTomaso in De­cem­ber 1969 and died three days later in an au­to­mo­bile ac­ci­dent while dri­ving a Maserati.

Dur­ing the May 1968 events in France, Tastevin de­camped the en­tire staff of CFPM to Geneva and tasked Lawrence to keep the Mon­ica pro­ject going. Tastevin pro­vided Lawrence with fund­ing to find sub-con­trac­tors to build cars in England. Lawrence ap­proached Jensen, who he knew were al­ready build­ing cars for SunbeamVolvo and Austin-Healey as well as their own C-V8s and In­ter­cep­tors. Jensen was not set up to pro­duce the body pan­els though. Pan­els for their other as­sem­bly con­tracts came from out­side of the com­pany. Lawrence took pro­to­type #3 and went look­ing for some­one to pro­vide the pan­els. He found a com­pany named Air­flow Stream­line in Luton that spe­cial­ized in pro­duc­ing alu­minum cabs for trucks. Air­flow only asked for a com­plete set of en­gi­neer­ing draw­ings, a chas­sis and the num­ber of body pan­els that Lawrence would require. Chas­sis #4 and #6 were de­liv­ered to Air­flow Stream­line and Ras­canu was in­stalled there to su­per­vise the pro­duc­tion of the nec­es­sary draw­ings.

An­other sub-con­trac­tor would be needed to sup­ply the en­gines. Two pos­si­bil­i­ties pre­sented them­selves. One was Coven­try-Vic­tor, and the other was Rolls-Royce. Lawrence had heard that Rolls-Royce had re­cently idled one of their pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties due to the loss of a con­tract and might be in­ter­ested in tak­ing on the Mar­tin V8 project. Lawrence met with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Rolls-Royce, who were fas­ci­nated by the small size of the Mar­tin V8 and in­trigued by the forked con­nect­ing rods so rem­i­nis­cent of those in Rolls-Royce’s own Mer­lin. Rolls-Royce sub­se­quently won an­other de­fense con­tract which would re­ac­ti­vate the pre­vi­ously idled plant and bowed out of ne­go­ti­a­tions. Lawrence went back to Coven­try-Vic­tor.

In the in­ter­ven­ing time things had set­tled down in Paris, and Tastevin wanted to move the pro­ject along quickly. Chas­sis #5 was sent to the fac­tory in Bal­bigny while Lawrence set about es­tab­lish­ing a ma­chine shop at Lawrence­Tune En­gines able to pro­duce the en­gines as well. Prob­lems with cast­ings com­ing from a com­pany called Birm­ing­ham Al­loys prompted Lawrence to have Tastevin search his con­tacts in the French alu­minum in­dus­try for an al­ter­na­tive sup­plier, set­tling on a com­pany called Montupet.

Air­flow Steam­line was still with­out their tech­ni­cal draw­ings and was not get­ting any in­for­ma­tion out of Paris. It turned out that Ras­cenu, sadly, had died in 1970 be­fore being able to com­plete the drawings. Lawrence met with Air­flow Stream­line to dis­cuss the changes they wanted in the ma­que­tte and Lawrence con­vinced Air­flow to build two bod­ies on the two chas­sis they had using pro­to­type #3, which would be left there, as a struc­tural guide. The car they would pro­duce, pro­to­type #4, would be Lawrence’s favourite Mon­ica of all.

David Cow­ard was hired from Au­to­car mag­a­zine where he was work­ing as an illustrator. Prior to that he had worked at coach­builder James Young. Cow­ard re­fined Ras­canu’s de­sign by low­er­ing the side win­dow line and deep­en­ing the wind­screen to give the car a more con­tem­po­rary ap­pear­ance. The body was also low­ered three inches be­tween the floor pan and the roof and four inches were added to the width.

After sort­ing out some is­sues with pro­to­type #4 at­ten­tion turned to tool­ing. Tool­ing to pro­duce the body­work in alu­minum turned out to be pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive, but a com­pany named Ab­bate was found in Turin that would make tool­ing out of resin that would be able to pro­duce up to 100 body sets in steel. The price for the set would be £100,000.

When the un­rest in Paris had sub­sided the idea of con­tract­ing out pro­duc­tion of the car had ended, but Tastevin had kept Coven­try-Vic­tor under con­tract to pro­duce the en­gines. They had been asked to pro­duce 25 copies of the en­gine in a 2.8 litre dis­place­ment. Coven­try-Vic­tor was only able to pro­duce 18 en­gines be­fore de­clar­ing bankruptcy.

At the same time Lawrence had pressed ahead with pro­duc­ing the en­gines at Lawrence­Tune head­quar­ters in Eng­land. Tests of the 2.8 litre en­gine led him to be­lieve that this ver­sion was un­der-pow­ered for the car, and so he en­larged his. With dis­place­ment in­creased to 3423 cc fed by four 2-bar­rel Weber 40 DCLN down-draught car­bu­re­tors and the Mon­ica name in script cast into its valve-cov­ers, the re­vised en­gine pro­duced 240 bhp (180 kW)@6000 rpm. While max­i­mum torque wasn’t pro­duced until 4000 rpm the torque curve was rel­a­tively flat from 2500 to 4000 rpm.

Even­tu­ally the tech­ni­cal draw­ings were com­pleted and ap­proved by Tastevin, which Lawrence de­liv­ered to Turin along with pro­to­type #4 so that pro­duc­tion of the body pan­els using the resin/steel hy­brid tool­ing could begin. Com­par­isons have been drawn be­tween the final shape of the Mon­ica and many of its con­tem­po­raries, with the front view hav­ing been com­pared to the Maserati Indy and Lotus Elan +2, the rear to the Fer­rari 365 GT 2+2, and the side el­e­va­tion to the Aston Mar­tin DBS.

Prob­lems con­tin­ued with the en­gine how­ever. Blown head-gas­kets were com­mon and dif­fi­cul­ties with de­liv­er­ies of both block and cylin­der head cast­ings held back development.

In an ex­clu­sive ar­ti­cle in l’Auto-Jour­nal, writ­ers Jean Mis­tral and Gilles Guérithaut pub­lished a pre­view of the Mon­ica’s debut at the up­com­ing Salon de l’Auto in Oc­to­ber along with an in­ter­view with Tastevin. Among the things the founder re­vealed were his plans to build 400 cars per year.

Tastevin de­cided that the car would debut at the Salon de l’Auto show in Paris in Oc­to­ber 1971. The car on dis­play was pow­ered by a Mar­tin V8 and was called the Mon­ica 350. Tastevin arranged to have a car raised to the tenth floor of a Paris hotel the day be­fore the show, and then have it moved over to the Salon, where the car was re­ceived en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. The morn­ing after the day of the show Lawrence was ap­proached by Zora-Arkus Dun­tov, who asked if he could take the car for a drive. Lawrence handed him the keys.

Shortly after the Paris auto show, Tastevin phoned Lawrence and told him that he had arranged for the car to be eval­u­ated by a team from Matra. A team of six from Matra drove the cars for over three hours straight and then met with Tastevin. The out­come of the eval­u­a­tion was that the Matra en­gi­neers thought that the car should go into pro­duc­tion, but only with a dif­fer­ent engine.

Con­sid­er­a­tion was given to using an Aston Mar­tin V8, but that op­tion was too ex­pen­sive to pur­sue. Lawrence was sent to the United States to meet with Ford, Chevro­let and Chrysler to arrange for a sup­ply of en­gines. Ford and Chevro­let were quickly elim­i­nated from the run­ning but Chrysler was very open to the idea. At the be­gin­ning of 1973 the de­ci­sion was fi­nally made to aban­don the Mar­tin V8 and adopt a North Amer­i­can en­gine, specif­i­cally the 5.6-litre (5563 cc) “340” Chrysler LA se­ries V8.

To han­dle the extra weight power-steer­ing was added, and the rear axle was beefed up. As an added bonus, Chrysler shipped the en­gines with an air-con­di­tion­ing com­pres­sor, so that fea­ture was added at the same time. Other minor changes in­cluded fab­ri­cat­ing the req­ui­site motor mounts, hav­ing two new vents let into the fend­ers and, on later mod­els, two ad­di­tional grilles fit­ted to the hood.

Dur­ing road test­ing the new Chrysler en­gines began to fail. After in­ves­ti­gat­ing it be­came ap­par­ent that the cause of these prob­lems was that these en­gines were not de­signed to run for ex­tended du­ra­tion at the speeds pos­si­ble on the con­ti­nent. Lawrence re­turned to the States look­ing for the re­sources to rem­edy these prob­lems.

The en­gines des­tined for use in Mon­i­cas would all be spe­cially tuned by Racer Brown in the United States. Mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the en­gines in­cluded a Racer Brown stage 3 road camshaft with hy­draulic lifters, an Edel­brock Tor­quer in­take man­i­fold, a 4-bar­rel Holly R6909 750 CFM car­bu­re­tor, a Chrysler ma­rine spec­i­fi­ca­tion oil pump, Cle­vite shell bear­ings, Forge True pis­tons, Ma­rine spec­i­fi­ca­tion valves, and a Fel­pro race-qual­ity gas­ket set.[1]:181 The com­pres­sion ratio was 10.5:1. All of these changes com­bined to bring out­put to 285 bhp (213 kW)@5400 rpm and 333 lb⋅ft (451 N⋅m)@4000 rpm.

It is re­ported that some cars may have been built with the larger 5.9 litre (5898 cc) “360” ver­sion of the Chrysler LA en­gine. These cars would have been des­ig­nated Mon­ica 590s. The di­men­sions at­trib­uted to this ver­sion by var­i­ous sources dif­fer, some­times sig­nif­i­cantly, from those of the 560 model. In par­tic­u­lar the 590 is listed as being 630mm shorter with a 100mm shorter wheel­base and 140 kg heav­ier. It was also more pow­er­ful, the en­gine being rated at 315 bhp (235 kW) and 332 lb⋅ft (450 N⋅m).

The re­vised and re­named Mon­ica 560 made its world pre­mier at the Geneva Auto Show in March 1973. It would ap­pear again at the Paris Auto Show in Oc­to­ber. The car was priced at 164,000 francs (roughly US$34,000 at the time), at a time when a Rolls-Royce Sil­ver Shadow cost 165,000 francs.

After the Geneva show Tastevin in­vited sev­eral rac­ing dri­vers and au­to­mo­tive jour­nal­ists to Paul Ri­card’s cir­cuit, Le Castel­let, to eval­u­ate the new Chrysler-pow­ered car. Among those there was dri­ver/jour­nal­ist Paul Frère, whom Tastevin in­vited to “lend a hand” in sort­ing out the car’s han­dling. He would also be the per­son who wrote the semi-of­fi­cial obit­u­ary for the Mon­ica car.

A rapid suc­ces­sion of pro­to­types would be built to fi­nal­ize the car. The cars at Le Castel­let were num­bers 8 and 9. Num­bers 10 and 11 were built for crash-test­ing and num­bers 12, 13 and 14 came after. Pro­to­type 14 was ba­si­cally pre-pro­duc­tion and would even­tu­ally be one of the cars Tastevin kept for his per­sonal use. Tastevin had hired a di­rec­tor to get pro­duc­tion under way at Bal­bigny, but noth­ing was built for a year while the new di­rec­tor stalled and made changes to the car. Even­tu­ally Tastevin fired the di­rec­tory and turned pro­duc­tion over to Lawrence­Tune again while he looked for a new director. The car was also sub­se­quently shown at the Earls Court auto show.

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AGENDA 21: SANTA MONICA TAKES OUT 1 CAR LANE FOR BIKE CORRIDOR ON BRIDGE.
LAFD Engine 43 / Auto / EB Santa Monica FWY @ Overland

The car

With the long de­vel­op­ment pe­riod fi­nally at an end, pro­duc­tion gets un­der­way in Bal­bigny.

The car is built on Lawrence’s steel-tube and sheet metal chas­sis. The body is Ras­canu’s de­sign with Cow­ard’s re­vi­sions ex­e­cuted en­tirely in steel. Five ex­te­rior colours are avail­able: At­lantic Blue, Azure Blue, Pur­ple Ama­ranth, Chest­nut Brown and Beige Sand. The final ver­sion of Lawrence’s rocker-arm/De Dion sus­pen­sion is au­to­mat­i­cally lev­el­ing, and the car sits on four Miche­lin 215/70VR-12 Col­lec­tion tires mounted on 14 inch alloy wheels. The orig­i­nal sill-mounted fuel tanks have been re­placed with a sin­gle tank under the floor of the trunk due to reg­u­la­tory re­stric­tions.

The power-as­sisted rack-and-pin­ion steer­ing is con­nected to an ad­justable steer­ing col­umn that is topped by a cus­tom Mo­tolita steer­ing wheel.

Brak­ing on the pro­duc­tion Mon­ica was still a dual cir­cuit sys­tem with Lock­heed disks in­board at the front op­er­ated by a 4-pis­ton caliper and Girling disks at the rear op­er­ated by a 3-pis­ton caliper but the disks front and rear were both now 11 inch ven­ti­lated pieces.

The seats are up­hol­stered in Con­nolly leather avail­able in three colours: Ma­rine, Ha­vana, and Cham­pagne. The floor is cov­ered in Shet­land wool car­pet­ing. The dash­board is fin­ished in burl elm wood and suede.

The state of the car is mon­i­tored by a brace of cus­tom Jaeger in­stru­ments all bear­ing the Mon­ica name. Gauges in­clude a speedome­ter, tachome­ter, oil tem­per­a­ture gauge, oil pres­sure gauge, am­me­ter, water tem­per­a­ture gauge, fuel gauge, and clock.

The win­dows are elec­tri­cally op­er­ated. A High-fi­delity sound sys­tem with in­te­grated tape recorder and player is stan­dard equip­ment, as is an air-con­di­tion­ing sys­tem with sep­a­rate con­trols for the rear seat pas­sen­gers. The doors on the Mon­ica are elec­tri­cally op­er­ated to open and close silently at the touch of a but­ton. In the trunk is a com­plete set of cus­tom lug­gage.

With a quoted top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph) the Mon­ica 560 could lay claim to being “The fastest sedan in the world” at the time.

Pho­tos from the pe­riod in­di­cate that a fu­ture coupe and con­vert­ible were al­ready being planned.

The end

The Mon­ica 560 makes its last pub­lic ap­pear­ance at the Paris Auto Salon Paris Auto Show in Oc­to­ber 1974. On Feb­ru­ary 7 of 1975 Tastevin an­nounces the ces­sa­tion of pro­duc­tion and closes the com­pany.

Many fac­tors con­tributed to the fail­ure of the car. It en­dured a seven-year long ges­ta­tion pe­riod. The car was re­mark­ably ex­pen­sive while lack­ing the kind of rep­u­ta­tion or recog­ni­tion en­joyed by other more es­tab­lished mar­ques in this mar­ket. It faced com­pe­ti­tion from many sim­i­lar-sized low-vol­ume man­u­fac­tur­ers. Fi­nally, it had the mis­for­tune to be of­fi­cially re­leased just as the first major oil cri­sis made fuel prices jump and large ex­pen­sive mo­tor­cars less de­sir­able.

Five Mon­i­cas re­main­ing at the Lawrence­Tune head­quar­ters were sold by Lawrence to Cliff Davis and Bernie Ec­cle­stone, the pro­ceeds being pay­ment for Lawrence­Tunes work for Tastevin. Lawrence was dri­ving pre-pro­duc­tion car #21 at the time. The Tastevins kept three Mon­i­cas for their own use.

The pro­duc­tion as­sets of the Mon­ica com­pany and as many as thirty cars in var­i­ous stages of com­ple­tion were sold to French race dri­ver and For­mula One team owner Guy Ligier. Ligier did not re­sume pro­duc­tion.

In April 1976 Motor Sport mag­a­zine re­ported an an­nounce­ment by Bob Jankel of Pan­ther West­winds that his com­pany and C.J. Lawrence and Co. would re­sume pro­duc­tion of the Mon­ica. C.J. Lawrence and Co. would man­u­fac­ture sub-as­sem­blies and Pan­ther would as­sem­ble, paint and trim the car. Power was else­where ru­mored to be com­ing from a Jaguar V12 motor. Pro­duc­tion would move from Bal­bigny to Sur­rey. Noth­ing came of these plans.

Six pro­duc­tion Mon­i­cas are known to exist. At least three of the pro­to­types are re­ported to re­main in Britain. Chris Lawrence per­son­ally owned a pro­duc­tion Mon­ica for sev­eral years that was sold from his estate.

Gallery

Literature

  • Monica – edited by Emory Christer ISBN 978-6-134977-82-1
  • Preston Tucker & Others: Tales of Brilliant Automotive Innovations ISBN 978-1-845840-17-4
  • Monica, automobile française de prestige by Frédéric Brandely. Hardcover (published June, 2012) ISBN 979-1090084049
  • Monica, automobile française de prestige by Frédéric Brandely. Paperback. ISBN 978-2-913307-13-1
  • Kevin Brazendale: The Encyclopedia of classic cars. Advanced Marketing Services, London 1999, ISBN 1-57145-182-X (engl.).

References

  1. abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzaaabacadaeafagahaiajakal Lawrence, Chris (2008). Morgan Maverick. Yorkshire: Douglas Loveridge Publications. ISBN978-1-900113-04-5.
  2. abc “1972/1975 Monica…”http://www.gatsbyonline.com. Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  3. ^ “London Racing Car Show 1967”http://www.sportscars.tv. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  4. ^ “Ted Martin and the AMCO Engines”http://www.modelenginenews.org. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  5. ^ “Anglo-French Monica”http://www.motorsportmagazine.com. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  6. ^ “Monica Prototype No. 2”classiccars.brightwells.com. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  7. ^ “Tudor Rascanu, de Dody à Tony”voronet.centerblog.net. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  8. ^ “ECLIPSE AVORTEE”http://www.automobile-sportive.com. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  9. ^ “Monica : Belle, luxueuse, française et ancêtre des coupés 4 portes”blog.p.free.fr. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  10. ^ Georgano, Nick (2001). The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile (2nd ed.).
  11. ^ “1973 Monica 590 technical specifications”http://www.carfolio.com. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  12. ^ “History of Lawrence Tune     …… continued”http://www.lawrence-tune.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  13. ^ “Monica”http://www.allcarindex.com. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  14. ^ “1974 Monica”http://www.silverstoneauctions.com. Retrieved 2016-12-13.

External links

AMBULANCES + HEARSES part XV on Alphabet beginning with R till S

AMBULANCES + HEARSES part XV on Alphabet beginning with R till S

RAF (Rīgas Autobusu fabrika) Latvia – Ambulances and Hearses

Rambler and Nash-Rambler Ambulances and Hearses

Range Rover Ambulances and Hearses

RANGER off the road ambulances

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Renault Ambulances and Hearses since 1907 till recent

ROBUR Ambulances in combination with IFA – Phänoman – Garant .

An Rocar ambulance is backed up to the Emergency Room entrance to the United Nations field hospital in Mogadishu. The hospital is administered by the Romanians.

ROCAR Ambulances

tpt transport truck lorry wagon rolls royce du maurier cigarettes concours ramsgate

Rolls-Royce Ambulances, Hearses and Limousines since 1910

ROVER Hearses and Resque  Ambulance

Russo Baltique Ambulances from the WWI

That were all the R’s up to the S

AUSTIN Motor Company

 austin_logo21905-austin-auto_1905_logoAustin Motor Company, Longbridge, England, UK, 1905-1952

Austin-ADO-BMC-Hillman-Hudson-Humber-Innocenti-Leyland-MG-Morris-Princess-Riley-Rosengart-Rover-Sunbeam-Vanden Plas-Wolseley

For Austin’s American subsidiary, see American Austin Car Company. For the unrelated American Austin company 1901-1921, see Austin Automobile Company.
The Austin Motor Company Limited
Industry Automotive
Fate Merged, The marque is dormant and may be reused.
Successor British Motor Corporation
Founded 1905
Defunct 1952
Headquarters Longbridge, England
Products Automobiles / Rover / Austin Rover / MG / Morris
Austin Marque
Austin flying A badge.png
Official marque logo, revised by current owners SAIC.
Product type Automotive marque
Owner SAIC
Discontinued 1987
Previous owners Austin Motor Company (1905–1952)
BMC (1952–1967)
British Leyland (Austin Rover) (1967–1986)
BA Rover Group (1986–1988)
Rover Group (1988–2005)

The Austin Motor Company Limited was an English manufacturer of motor vehicles, founded in 1905 by Herbert Austin. In 1952 it was merged with Morris Motors Limited in the new holding company British Motor Corporation (BMC) Limited, keeping its separate identity. The marque Austin was used until 1987. The trademark is currently owned by SAIC after being transferred from bankrupt subsidiary Nanjing Automotive which had acquired it with MG Rover Group in July 2005.

History

1905-herbert-austinHerbert Austin 1905

“Mr Austin is starting new works,
where he will manufacture Austin Cars
at Longbridge, near Birmingham”

1905–1918: Formation and development

While running the original Wolseley business, which had a highly cyclical sales pattern, Herbert Austin, searched for products with a steady demand. Starting in 1895, he built three cars in his free time. They were among Britain’s first cars. The third car, a four-wheeler, was completed in 1899. By 1901 his fellow directors could not see future profit in motor vehicles and so with their blessing and the backing of the Vickers brothers Austin started a separate car manufacturing business still using the name Wolseley.

In 1905 he fell out with Thomas and Albert Vickers over engine design. Leaving his creation, Wolseley, which he had made Britain’s largest motor vehicle manufacturer, Austin obtained the backing of steel magnate Frank Kayser for his own enterprise. Kayser provided funds through mortgages and loans, debentures and guarantees to the Midland Bank thereby allowing Austin to keep virtually total ownership of his own business through his personal savings. Further assistance came from Dunlop patent holder Harvey du Cros. However, Austin’s great rival, William Morris, was able to enter the industry proper (he first repaired cars) a little later funding his operation entirely from his own resources.

In November 1905 Herbert Austin acquired a disused printing works which was less than ten years old. It was located seven miles south-west of Birmingham in the small village of Longbridge (then still within Worcestershire). The following month The Austin Motor Company Limited was incorporated. In the last week of April 1906 a large body of motorists travelled to Longbridge “where snow lay full three inches deep on the ground and was still falling fast” to see the new Austin car, a conventional four-cylinder model with chain drive. It was available as a 15/20 hp complete at £500 (chassis, £425) and a 25/30 hp for £650 (chassis, £550). The sole concessionaire for sale of the cars was Mr Harvey Du Cros junior.

Two things were noticeable about Austin’s new design. He had parted from the Vickers brothers because he had refused to use the then more conventional vertical engine in Wolseley cars. His new car had a vertical engine and, in all but minor detail, was identical to the English-built Clément-Gladiators assembled in the same factory.

1907-austin-30hp1907 30hp

1908-austin-100hp-grand-prix-race-car-heritage-motor-centre-gaydon1908-austin-grand-prix-9-7-litre-6-cylinder-engine-6-cylinder-9657-cc-171-bhp-top-speed-92-mph-or-148-kph-coachwork-open-racing-body-registration-be3-in-the-winter-of-1907-08-austin1908 100hp Grand Prix Race Car

A further injection of capital was needed in 1906 and William Harvey Du Cros (1846–1918) joined the board of directors. After that Harvey Du Cros junior of the Swift Cycle Co and Austin each held approximately half of the ordinary capital. Herbert Austin remained chairman and managing director.

Editing undertaken: Unsharp Mask
Editing undertaken: Unsharp Mask Austin Motors showroom, Long Acre, London, c. 1910

Austin’s cars, like Wolseley’s, were luxury vehicles. The published customer list included Russian Grand Dukes, Princesses, Bishops, high officials of the Spanish government and a long list of Britain’s highest nobility.

1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911 1912 1913
Turnover 14,771 84,930 119,744 169,821 209,048 276,195 354,209 425,641
Cars 31 180 218 1,107 1,500
Employees 270 1,500 1,800 2,300

Sources Note: in 1912 Wolseley sold 3,000 cars.

In February 1914 Austin-manufactured bodies in tourer, limousine, landaulette and coupé styles could be provided with engines of 15, 20, 30 and 60 hp. Ambulances and commercial vehicles were also provided.

Austin became a public listed company in 1914 when the capital was increased to £650,000. At that time in number of cars produced it probably ranked fifth after Wolseley (still largest), Humber, Sunbeam and Rover.

The Austin Motor Co. grew enormously during the First World War, fulfilling government contracts for aircraft, shells, heavy guns and generating sets and 1,600 three-ton trucks most of which were sent to Russia. The workforce expanded from around 2,500 to 22,000.

1919–1939: Interwar success

1919-20-austin-twenty-allweather-coupe1920 Twenty 3.6-litre allweathercoupé

1926-austin-seven-saloon1926 Seven box saloon

After the war Herbert Austin decided on a one-model policy based on the 3620 cc 20 hp engine. Versions included cars, commercials and even a tractor, but sales volumes were never enough to fill the vast factory built during wartime. The company went into receivership in 1921 but rose again after financial restructuring. Though Herbert Austin remained chairman he was no longer managing director and from that time decisions were made by committee.

Critical to the recovery was the appointment in 1922 of a new finance director, Ernest Payton with the backing of the Midland Bank, and a new works director in charge of car production, Carl Engelbach, at the insistence of the creditors’ committee. This triumvirate of Austin, Payton and Engelbach steered the company’s fortunes through the inter-war years.

In a quest to expand market share, smaller cars were introduced, the 1661 cc Twelve in 1922 and, later the same year, the1922-austin-seven-1922Seven, an inexpensive, simple small car and one of the earliest to be directed at a mass market. One of the reasons for a market demand for a cars like the Austin 7 was the British tax code. In 1930 every personal car was taxed by the engine size, which in American dollars was $2.55 per square inch of piston displacement. As an example the owner of an Austin 7 in England, which sold for approximately $455.00, would have to pay a yearly engine tax of $39.00. In comparison, the owner in England of a Ford Model-A would have to pay $120.00 per year in an engine tax. And this system of engine displacement tax was common in other European nations as well in the 1930s. At one point, the “Baby Austin” was built under licence by the fledgling1930-bmw-dixi-15-ps1930 BMW Dixi 15 PS BMW of Germany (as the Dixi); by the Japanese manufacturer1937-datsun-16-sedan1937 Datsun 16 Sedan Datsun; as the1939-bantam-convertible1939 Bantam Convertible Bantam in the United States; and as the1928-rosengart-lr41928 Rosengart LR4.jpg Rosengart in France. And in England the Austin was the most produced car in 1930 (the American Austin Car Company operated as a largely independent subsidiary from 1929 to 1934, and was revived under the name “American Bantam” from 1937 to 1941).

With the help of the Seven, Austin weathered the worst of the depression and remained profitable through the 1930s, producing a wider range of cars which was steadily updated by the introduction of all-steel bodies, Girling brakes, and synchromesh gearboxes. However, all the engines retained the same side-valve conformation. Deputy chairman Ernest Payton became chairman in 1941 on the death of Lord Austin. In 1938 Leonard Lord joined the company board and became chairman in 1946 on the death of Ernest Payton.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
1938 Austin Seven Ruby Motor Centre, Gaydon.jpg
 Austin Seven Ruby

Nissan

In the early 1930s Datsun later known as Nissan Motor Company of Japan built cars infringing Austin patents. From 1934 Datsun began to build Austin Sevens under licence and this operation became the greatest success of Austin’s overseas licensing of its Seven. This marked the beginning of Datsun’s international success.

In 1952 Austin entered into another agreement with Nissan for that company to assemble 2000 imported Austins from partially assembled sets and to sell them in Japan under the Austin trademark. The agreement called for Nissan to make all Austin parts locally within three years, a goal Nissan met. Nissan produced and marketed Austins for seven years. The agreement also gave Nissan rights to use Austin patents, which Nissan used in developing its own engines for its Datsun line of cars. In 1953 British-built Austins were assembled and sold, but by 1955, the Austin A50 – completely built by Nissan and featuring a slightly larger body with 1489 cc engine – was on the market in Japan. Nissan produced 20,855 Austins between 1953 and 1959.

1939–1958: War years and post-war years

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Austin A30 1954
 1954 A30

During the Second World War Austin continued building cars but also made trucks and aircraft, including the Lancaster bombers of 617 squadron, better known as the Dambusters.

The post-war car range was announced in 1944, and production started in 1945. The immediate post-war range was mainly similar to that of the late 1930s but did include the 16 hp, significant for having the company’s first overhead valve engine.

Austin of England

From late 1950 to mid-1952 products, brochures and advertisements displayed in flowing script Austin of England as if in response to Morris’s Nuffield Organisation. It fell out of use with the financial merger with Morris in BMC.

BMC

In 1952 The Austin Motor Company Limited merged ownership, but not identity, with long-term rival and equal Morris Motors Limited in The British Motor Corporation Limited with Leonard Lord, who had been managing director of Morris from 1932 to 1936, in charge. William Morris (Lord Nuffield) was first chairman but soon retired. Leonard Lord, who had stormed out of Morris declaring he would “take Cowley apart brick by brick”, ensured Austin was the dominant partner and its (more recently designed OHV) engines were adopted for most of the cars. Various models followed the Morris policy and became badge-engineered versions of each other.

1951-austin-a40-roadsterAustin A40 Sports, ca 1951

1955-austin-az-andrassy-ut-94-elott-az-1950Austin on Blvd Népköztársaság (today Andrássy avenue) in Budapest, end of 1950s

Austin-Healey

Also in 1952, Austin did a deal with Donald Healey, the renowned automotive engineer. It led to a new marque,

1952-austin-healey-100 1952-austin-healey-100-4 1954-austin-healey-100-pt-24-35 1954-austin-healey-100 1954-austin-healey-bonneville-record 1954-austin-healey-record-earls-court 1954-austin-healey-record 1954-austin-healey 1955-austin-healey-100-ad 1955-austin-healey-100m 1956-austin-healey-100-six 1956-austin-healey-100-6-blue-white-ad 1956-austin-healey-rekord-100-6-ad 1957-austin-healey-100-6 1957-austin-healey-sebring 1958-austin-healey-100-six-brochure 1958-austin-healey-100-6-twee-zitter 1958-austin-healey-100-6 1958-austin-healey-frogeye-ad 1958-austin-healey-sal-v-nassau 1958-austin-healey-sprite-8 1958-austin-healey-sprite-2 1958-austin-healey-sprite-ad 1958-austin-healey-sprite-b 1958-austin-healey-sprite-frogeye-bw 1958-austin-healey-sprite-model-an5 1958-austin-healey-sprite 1958-austin-healey

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1959-austin-healey-3000-2seater-ad 1959-austin-healey-frogeye-sprite-an5 1959-austin-healey-frogeye-sprite-white 1959-austin-healey-frogeye-sprite 1960-austin-healey-1960-sebring-sprite-for-le-mans 1960-austin-healey-3000 1960-austin-healey-rally-london 1960-austin-healey-sebring-sprite-for-lemans 1960-austin-healey-sprite 1961-austin-healey-3000-mk-i 1961-austin-healey-3000-4seater 1961-austin-healey-3000-mk2 1961-austin-healey-le-mans 1962-austin-healey-3000-coupe-speziale-22-di-carozzeria-pinifarina-da-turino 1962-austin-healey-3000-mark-ll 1962-austin-healey-3000-mk-ii 1962-austin-healey-3000-mk1 1962-austin-healey-3000 1962-austin-healey-drawing 1963-austin-healey-3000-mkii 1963-austin-healey-3000-poster 1963-austin-healey-ad 1963-austinhealy1963nl801 1964-austin-healey-sprite-3000-mkii-bj7-22 1964-austin-healey-sprite-mk-iii 1964-austinhealeysprite1964nl1201 1965-austin-healey-mk3-sprite-at-the-gymkhana-event 1965-austin-healey-sprite-mk3-ad 1965-austin-healey-3000%e2%80%85mk%e2%80%85iii 1966-austin-healey-sprite-ad 1966-austin-healey-3000-convertible 1967-austin-healey-ad 1968-austin-healey-3000mk3 1968-austin-healey-mk4 1971-austin-healey-sprite austin-healey-a austin-healey-b-healey-museum-plasticon austin-healey-sprite-b austin-healey-sprite-mk-i austin-healey-sprite2

Austin-Healey, and a range of sports cars.

1959–1969: Era of revolution

With the threat to fuel supplies resulting from the 1956 Suez Crisis, Lord asked Alec Issigonis, who had been with Morris from 1936 to 1952, to design a small car; the result was the revolutionary Mini, launched in 1959. The Austin version was initially called the Austin Seven, but Morris’ Mini Minor name caught the public imagination and the Morris version outsold its Austin twin, so the Austin’s name was changed to Mini to follow suit. In 1970, British Leyland dropped the separate Austin and Morris branding of the Mini, and it was subsequently simply “Mini”, under the Austin Morris division of BLMC.

The principle of a transverse engine with gearbox in the sump and driving the front wheels was applied to larger cars, beginning with the 1100 of 1963, (although the Morris-badged version was launched 13 months earlier than the Austin, in August 1962), the 1800 of 1964 and the Maxi of 1969. This meant that BMC had spent 10 years developing a new range of front-drive, transverse-engined models, while most competitors had only just started to make such changes.

The big exception to this was the Austin 3-litre. Launched in 1968, it was a rear-wheel drive large car, but it shared the central section of the 1800. It was a sales disaster, with fewer than 10,000 examples being made.

BMC was the first British manufacturer to move into front-wheel drive so comprehensively. Ford did not launch its first front-drive model until 1976 (in Britain), Ford-Germany in 1962 with the Taunus 12M(P4)), while Vauxhall’s first front-drive model was launched in 1979 and Chrysler UK’s first such car was launched in 1975. Front-wheel drive was popular elsewhere in Europe, however, with Renault, Citroen and Simca all using the system at the same time or before BMC. East Germany’s Trabant used the system from 1958.

In September 1965 BMC completed the purchase of its major supplier, Pressed Steel. Twelve months later it completed the purchase of Jaguar and in December 1966 changed its name from BMC to BMH, British Motor Holdings Limited. In early 1968 under government pressure BMH merged with Leyland Motors Limited and Austin became a part of the large British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC) combine.

1970–1979: Era of turbulence

austin-maxi-1750-hl1979 Maxi

By 1970 Austin was part of the British Leyland combine. Austin’s most notorious model of this era was the 19731975-austin-allegro-registrationAllegro, successor to the 1100/1300 ranges, which was criticised for its bulbous styling which earned it the nickname “Flying pig” as well as the doubtful build quality and indifferent reliability. It was still a strong seller in Britain, although not quite as successful as its predecessor.1978-austin-princess-1800-hl-b-series-engineThe wedge-shaped 18/22 series was launched as an Austin, a Morris and a more upmarket Wolseley in 1975. But within six months, it was rechristened the Princess and wore none of the previous marque badges, becoming a marque in its own right, under the Austin Morris division of British Leyland that had been virtually nationalised in 1975.

The Princess was not quite as notorious as the Allegro, and earned some praise for its practical wedge shape, spacious interior, and decent ride and handling, but build quality was suspect and the lack of a hatchback (which would have ideally suited its body shape) cost valuable sales. It was upgraded at the end of 1981 to become the Austin Ambassador (and gaining a hatchback) but by that time there was little that could be done to disguise the age of the design, and it was too late to make much of an impact on sales.

By the end of the 1970s, the future of Austin and the rest of British Leyland (now known as BL) was looking bleak.

1980–1989: Austin Rover era

1983-british-leyland-austin-metro-autoMetro, launched in 19801982-austin-maestroMaestro, launched in 19831984-austin-montego-goldMontego, launched in 1984

The Austin Metro, launched in October 1980, was heralded as the saviour of Austin Motor Company and the whole BL combine. Twenty-one years after the launch of the Mini, it gave BL a much-needed modern supermini to compete with the recently launched likes of the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Nova, VW Polo and Renault 5. It was an instant hit with buyers and was one of the most popular British cars of the 1980s. It was intended as a replacement for the Mini but, in fact, the Mini outlived the Metro by two years.

In 1982, most of the car division of the by now somewhat shrunken British Leyland (BL) company was rebranded as the Austin Rover Group, with Austin acting as the “budget” and mainstream brand to Rover’s more luxurious models. The MG badge was revived for sporty versions of the Austin models, of which the MG Metro 1300 was the first.

Austin revitalised its entry into the small family-car market in March 1983 with the launch of its all-new Maestro, a spacious five-door hatchback that replaced the elderly Allegro and Maxi and was popular in the early years of its production life, although sales had started to dip dramatically by the end of the decade.

April 1984 saw the introduction of the Maestro-derived Montego saloon, successor to the Morris Ital. The new car received praise for its interior space and comfort, but early build-quality problems took time to overcome. The spacious estate version, launched in early 1985, was one of the most popular load carriers of its era.

In 1986 Austin Rover’s holding company BL plc became Rover Group plc and was privatised by selling it to British Aerospace (BAe).

Plans to replace the Metro with a radical new model, based on the ECV3 research vehicle and aiming for 100 mpg, led to the Austin AR6 of 1984–1986, with several prototypes tested. The desire to lose the Austin name and take Rover “upmarket” led to this project’s demise in early 1987.

In 1987, the Austin badge was discontinued and Austin Rover became simply the Rover Group. The Austin cars continued to be manufactured, although they ceased to be Austins. They became “marque-less” in their home market with bonnet badges the same shape as the Rover longship badge but without “Rover” written on them. Instead any badging just showed the model of the car: a Montego of this era, for instance, would have a grille badge simply saying “Montego”, whilst the rear badges just said “Montego” and the engine size/trim level. The Metro was facelifted in 1990 and got the new K-series engine. It then became the “Rover Metro”, while the Maestro and Montego continued in production until 1994 and never wore a Rover badge on their bonnets in Britain. They were, however, sometimes referred to as “Rovers” in the press and elsewhere.

Possible revival

The rights to the Austin name passed to British Aerospace and then to BMW when each bought the Rover Group. The rights were subsequently sold to MG Rover, created when BMW sold the business. Following MG Rover’s collapse and sale, Nanjing Automobile Group owns the Austin name and Austin’s historic assembly plant in Longbridge. At the Nanjing International Exhibition in May 2006, Nanjing announced it might use the Austin name on some of the revived MG Rover models, at least in the Chinese market. However, Nanjing is for the moment concentrating on reviving the MG brand. The MG brand is traditionally used for sports cars and Nanjing has no rights to the Rover name, so a revival of the Austin name would seem a logical brand for selling more standard cars. It might also be argued that a British name would be more respected in the European market than a Chinese name. Nanjing Automobile Group itself merged into SAIC Motor.

Austin Motor Company Limited

A new “Austin Motor Company Limited” was incorporated in July 2012 by Steve Morgan of Birmingham who also owns the last Mini to leave Longbridge, but was dissolved in 2014.

In 2015, the “Austin Motor Company” and the 1930s “Flying A” logo name and patents was purchased by John Stubbs in Braintree, Essex. The company intend to start manufacturing an all new Austin car in 2016.

Plant

austin_motor_company_longbridgeAustin’s Longbridge plant

Main article: Longbridge plant

Austin started his business in an abandoned print works at Longbridge, Birmingham. Due to its strategic advantages over Morris‘s Cowley plant, Longbridge became British Leyland‘s main factory. Following the Austin marque’s discontinuance in 1989, Rover and MG continued to use the plant. The collapse of MG Rover meant it was not used from 2005 until MG production restarted in 2008.

Models

Cars

1946-austin-12-august-1946-1465cc1946 12 (1465cc)

1975-austin-1800-ado711975 1800 (ADO71)

Small cars

1911-austin-7-h-p-tourer-lo-7562-engine-number-70541910–11 Austin 7 hp1922-austin-7-shanghai-automobile-museum1922–39 Austin 71959-austin-seven-mini1959 Austin Seven Mini 1959–61 Seven, as BMC1963-austin-mini-850-mk11963 Austin Mini 850 mk1 1961-69 Mini, as BMC1986-mini_metro_with_5_doors_in_spain_19861980–90 Metro, as Austin Rover

Small family cars

1913-austin-101911–15 Austin 10 hp1932-austin-ten-four-dvla-first-registered-17-june-1932-1141-cc1932 Austin Ten-Four DVLA First registered 17 June 1932, 1141 cc 1932–47 Austin 101946-austin-8-4-door-saloon1946 Austin 8 4-door Saloon 1939–47 Austin 81954-austin-a30-4-door-saloon1954 Austin A30 4-door saloon 1951–56 A30black-austin-a35Black Austin A35 1956–59 A35austin-a35-vanAustin A35 van1961-austin-a35-countryman-wagon1961 Austin A35 Countryman Wagon 1956–62 A35 Countryman1959-a-right-hand-drive-convertible-austin-metropolitan1959 A right-hand drive convertible Austin Metropolitan 1954–61 Nash Metropolitan/Austin Metropolitan1960-austin-a40-farina-mki-front1960 Austin A40 Farina MkI front 1958–61 A40 Farina Mk Iaustin-a40-farina-mark-ii1961–67 A40 Farina Mk II1972-austin-1300gt-registered-june-1972-1380cc-sic-dvla1972 Austin 1300GT registered June 1972 1380cc (sic DVLA) 1963–74 1100morris-1100-mark-ii-2-door-saloonMorris 1100 Mark II 2 door Saloon 1967–74 13001975-austin-allegro-registration1973–83 Allegro1932-austin-16-westminster-saloon-dvla-2107ccSixteen Westminster saloon 1932

1934-austin-16-6-carlton-saloonSixteen Carlton 7-seater 1934

1936-austin-20-mayfair-saloonTwenty Mayfair 1936

1938-austin-18-6-norfolkEighteen Norfolk 1938

Large family cars

1912-austin-15-hp-wellington-tourer1913–14 Austin 15 hp1928-austin-twelve-1660-cc-1861-cc1922–40 Austin “Heavy” 121929-austin-16-6-burnham1927–38 Austin 16 (16/18)1932-austin-light-twelve-six1931–36 Austin “Light” 12/61936-austin-twelve-new-ascot1933–39 Austin “Light” 12/41938-austin-fourteen-goodwood-dvla-first-registered-31-december-1938-1939-cc1937–39 Austin 141939-austin-18hp-norfolk-saloon1938–39 Austin 181946-austin-12-august-1465cc1939–47 Austin 12 1948-austin-16-bsi-saloon1945–49 Austin 16 hpaustin-a40-devon-saloonAustin A40 Devon saloon1947-1949-austin-a40-dorset1947-1949 Austin A40 Dorset 1947–52 A40 Devon/Dorset1952-austin-a40-devon1952 Austin A40 Devonaustin-a70-herefordAustin A70 Herefordaustin-a70-hampshire-produced-1948-50-big-brother-to-the-similarly-styled-a40-dAustin A70 Hampshire produced 1948-50, big brother to the similarly styled A40 Devon 1948–50 A70 Hampshire 1950–54 A70 Hereford1952-austin-a40-somerset-saloon1952 Austin A40 Somerset Saloon 1952–54 A40 Somerset1956-austin-a40-cambridge1956 Austin A40 Cambridge1956-austin-a40-2Austin A40 1956 2austin-a50-cambridge-frontAustin A50 Cambridge front

Austin A50 Cambridge
Austin A50 Cambridge

austin-a50-coupe-utilityAustin A50 Coupe Utilityaustin-a55-cambridge-frontAustin A55 Cambridge frontaustin-a55-cambridge-sideAustin A55 Cambridge sideaustin-a55-coupe-utilityAustin A55 Coupe Utility1971-austin-vod-179j-panel-van-2012-hcvs-tyne-tees-run1971 Austin (VOD 179J) panel vanmorris-half-ton-van-license-plate-1970-based-on-pre-farina-austin-cambridge-saloMorris half ton van license plate 1970 based on pre Farina Austin Cambridge saloon 1954–58 A40/A50/A55 Cambridgeaustin-a90-six-cyl-westminster1954 Austin A90 Six cyl Westminster1954-austin-a90-westminster-front-2639cc-c-series-bmc-engine1954 Austin A90 Westminster front 2639cc C series BMC engineaustin-a105-westminster-the-6cylinder-a55-cambridge-longer-bonnet-bigger-engine-better-carAustin A105 Westminster, the 6cylinder A55 Cambridge. Longer bonnet, bigger engine, better car1956-austin-a105-westminster-front1956 Austin A105 Westminster frontaustin-a95-westminster-frontAustin A95 Westminster front

1957-austin-a105-westminster-front1957 Austin A105 Westminster front1957-austin-a105-six-side1957 Austin A105 Six sideaustin-with-vanden-plas-detailingAustin with Vanden Plas detailing 1954–59 A90/A95/A105 Westminster1956-austin-a95-westminster-countryman-sales-brochure 1956-austin-a95country-december 1958-austin-a95-westminster-countryman1956–59 A95 Westminster Station wagon.1958-austin-westminster-a105-211958 Austin Westminster A105 21 1956–59 A105 Westminster1957-austin-a55-cambridge-front-cambrian-north%e2%80%85america1957 Austin A55 Cambridge front Cambrian (North America)1959-austin-a55-cambridge-mark-ii-saloon1959 Austin A55 Cambridge Mark II Saloon 1959–61 A55 Cambridgeaustin-a55-cambridge-mark-ii-estateAustin A55 Cambridge Mark II Estate1961-austin-westminster-mar-1961-2912cc1961 Austin Westminster Mar 1961 2912cc 1959–61 A99 Westminster1962 Austin Cambridge Sedan1962 Austin 60 Cambridge Sedan 1961–69 A60 Cambridge1962-austin-a60-wagon1962 Austin A60 Wagon1966-austin-a110-westminster-beige1966 Austin A110 Westminster beige 1961–68 A110 Westminster1970-morris-1800-mark-ii1970 Morris 1800 Mark II 1964–75 1800/2200 (ADO17)1969-austin-1800-automatic1969 Austin 1800 Automatic1969-wolseley-18-85-107949723951969 Wolseley 18-851973-austin-1800-mk-iii-1798cc-first-reg-jan-1973-rear-three-quarters1973 Austin 1800 Mk III 1798cc first reg Jan 1973 rear three quartersaustin-2200-automaticAustin 2200 Automatic1972-wolseley-six-automatic1972 Wolseley Six Automatic1968-austin-1800-utility-50801852611968 Austin 1800 utility (5080185261)1971-austin-3-litre-dvla-first-registered-20-august-1971-2912cc-at-svvc-extravaganza1971 Austin 3-Litre (DVLA) first registered 20 August 1971, 2912cc at SVVC Extravaganza 1967–71 3-Litre1970-austin-maxi-mki-left-and-austin-maxi-mkii1970 Austin Maxi MkI (left) and Austin Maxi MkII 1969–81 Maxi1975-austin-1800-ado711975-75 1800/2200 (ADO71)austin-ambassador-front1982–84 Ambassador1983-austin-maestro1983–94 Maestro1986-mg-maestro-efi-this-car-had-a-115bhp-2-0-litre-efi-engine1984–94 Montego

Large Cars

1907-austin-30hp-heritage-motor-centre-gaydon-the-oldest-austin1906–07 Austin 25/301906-austin-15-20-25-30-hp1906-07 Austin 15/201908-austin-18-24-hp-with-herbert-austin-at-the-wheel1908 Austin 18-24 hp with Herbert Austin at the wheel

1906-austin-18-24

1908-austin-18-24-norfolk-single-landaulette1908 Austin 18-24 Norfolk single landaulette1910-austin-18-24-speedily-phaeton42999078051910 Austin 18-24 Speedily Phaeton(4299907805) 1907–13 Austin 18/241907-austin-40hp-york-landaulette-43621735091907 Austin 40hp York landaulette (4362173509)1912-austin-40-vitesse1912 Austin 40 Vitesse1912-austin-40-f-and-i-191211091912 Austin 40 f and i 1912-austin-40-r-11091912 Austin 40 r1912-austin-40-rr-11091912 Austin 40 rr1910-401908–13 Austin 40 hp

1906-austin-model-lxr-60-hp-factory-photo 1906-austin-model-lxt-60-hp-factory-photo 1906-austin-motor-co-60-hp 1906-06-30-austin-motor-co-first-finished-car 1907-austin-6-cylinder-60hp-liz16 1908-9-7-litre-6-cylinder-austin-grand-prix-production-60hp 1908-austin-phaeton-six-cylinder-60-hp 1909-austin-60-hp