One of our core beliefs here at ViaRETRO is that any classic is better than no classic – yes, we love the exotic, the sporty, the rare and the unusual as much as the next person, but we also love the unexceptional, relatively ordinary, everyday heroes of yesteryear – many of which are now as scarce – and sometimes more so – than so many of the more collectable and valued classics. And while we’re not shy of occasionally including an E-type, a Pagoda SL or even a Ferrari among our weekly Prime Finds, we generally try to find cars which we feel represent good value for money and which don’t necessarily cost the equivalent of an arm and two legs to buy and indeed to run. After all, we should never forget: Any classic is better than no classic!
This week’s Prime Find is an excellent example of the kind of car that used to roam our streets in packs, an almost ubiquitous presence in both town and country, and the means of transport for many a family.
The ADO 16 (as it was known internally) was launched onto the UK car market by the British Motor Corporation, or BMC, in 1962 and for most of the next decade was the best-selling car in the country. The mainstays of the range were the Austin and Morris 1100 and 1300. But in common with many other BMC and later British Leyland cars, there were numerous other badge-engineering versions from within the BMC/BL family, wearing the Riley, MG, Wolseley and Vanden Plas badges and otherwise distinguishable by their trim levels and wheels. Estate and GT versions were also made available in later years, the 1300GT being perhaps the best and most desirable variant.
Like the Mini before it, the 1100/1300 featured hydrolastic suspension, front-wheel-drive and a very space-efficient interior, said to be more spacious than the bigger Ford Cortina Mk 1. It was launched as a four-door, with two-door versions following from 1967. This Alec Issigonis concept had a body styled by Pininfarina, continuing a co-operation between BMC and the Italian design house that had begun back in 1958 with the Austin A40, which the 1100/1300 range was to replace.
The 1100/1300 was unequivocally a huge success – even though it had strong competition from the Ford Anglia and later, Ford Escort – with about 2.1 million sold between 1962 and 1974, more than half of which were sold in the UK – they were everywhere. And now? Fewer than 2000 survive in the UK – not even 0.002% of those sold in its home market.
One of that 0.002% is our Prime Find this week – a 1971 Morris 1300 four-door Deluxe, which is up for auction with Morris Leslie Auctioneers in Perth, Scotland on next Saturday May 25th. What makes this car special – besides the fact that less than 125 of this particular model are still on UK roads – is its combination of warranted low mileage – a mere 42,866 – and its “one lady owner” history. Originally bought from John S. Greig Cars in Kirkcaldy, Scotland by said lady owner for £960, the price included seat belts, wing mirrors, under seal, heated rear window, mud flaps and a parking lamp. The car is in Bedouin with Autumn Leaf upholstery – or beige and tan if you so prefer.
There isn’t a great deal more information on the auctioneer’s website, but based on the pictures which we have borrowed from them this little car looks to be in very good original order without being too pristine to drive and use. It has an estimate of £4,500 – 5,500 currently equating to €5,200 – 6,350 and comes with its original purchase receipt and some of the other original paperwork.
As a budget classic, this neat little Morris 1300 looks like a good entry point into the world of classics ownership. It’s a charming little reminder of what ordinary family cars used to be, yet whoever buys it won’t see too many around now. You can view the auction entry here – 1970 Morris 1300
With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org