Wednesday, July 29, 2009

1974 Austin Vanden Plas 1300 Princess

One of the great things about the Brits is that they'll turn most any car into a luxury car. It doesn't have to be big and bloated like American luxury cars, it doesn't have to be uber-fast like a German car and it doesn't have to be high-tech like a Japanese luxury vehicle. Some leather, some wood and a couple of picnic tables and any British car becomes a luxury car.

The 1300 Vanden Plas Princess is one of the BMC ADO16 cars. We recieved two of them here in the States, the MG 1100 and the Austin America. (You can read about my experience with an Austin America here) They were decent cars that BMC never quite figured out how to market here.

The Vanden Plas Princess was never officially sent to the States. It comes with the tried and true 1300 engine driving the front wheels. The suspension was BMCs Hydroelastic suspension, which provides an amazingly good ride in a car this size. This car has a 4 speed manual transmission. The transmission shares its lubricant with the engine. A clever, space saving idea, but it can cause problems when bits of the transmission find their way into the engine. Still, it's better than the automatic, which was trouble prone.

The Vanden Plas shared its body with the rest of the ADO16 line, but got a more formal front end. The interior is where things got really different.

Wood, leather and deep pile carpeting abound. There are picnic tables attached to the back of the front seats. Picture a shrunken Rolls Royce interior and you get the idea. (OK, not quite, but close enough.)

It seems like this car was recently imported from the UK as the seller states it has a recent "MOT". The carpets and seats were recently redone. The seller claims that the body is straight and rust free. (It would be important to check the body prior to purchase as these cars rusted badly.) The engine has been serviced and the car appears to be sitting level, so the suspension is probably in good shape.

The ADO16 shared a lot of mechanical parts with the Mini, making them relatively easy to get in the US. Body parts and trim are still available (mostly used) in the UK. I suspect the Vanden Plas interior parts are fairly hard to come by, though.

This is another one of those cars that you probably wouldn't want to use everyday, but would be great to bring to car shows.

Click here to see the eBay listing for this car.


Anonymous said...

how much do these cars typically sell for in the US market right now?

Anonymous said...

I just purchased this vehicle for $7500. It is worth it as I had another years ago. This is really a fun car and more comfortable than a Mini Cooper from BMW.

Just A Car Geek said...

Kurt -

Nice buy! I'm glad to see it finally found a good home.

Good luck with it.


Kurt said...

I must say that this was quite a score. I found out that this was the last one made in Kingsbury May 1974! What a piece of history! I am very pleased and it is in immaculate show condition. I am still in shock!

Anonymous said...

Hi does anyone know where I could purchase one either a lhd American import or British rhd

Croan McCormack