Cheeky and adorable is the best way to describe the styling of today’s Nice Price or No Dice Austin America. Let’s see if the price tag on this classic Brit is just as attractive.
It seems that, for most of you, the thought of owning any mid-aughts BMW that doesn’t have both an M and a 3 in its name is as desirable as harboring rabid bats in your attic’s rafters. That fact was laid bare in the comments on yesterday’s 2003 BMW X5 4.6is, which, while seemingly well-sorted, was thought by many to portend financial ruin to come. That was too much for its $15,500 asking price to bear, causing the big Bimmer to fall in a 76 percent No Dice loss.
So, I thought you might like to know that the Queen’s English Car Show is coming up, the annual event held in sprawling Woodley Park, near the headwaters of the Los Angeles River. I expect to be there in a Morgan. Should you also wish to participate in the annual “oiling of the grass,” then you could do far worse than to show up in this 1968 Austin America.
The America was built on the ADO16 platform which also saw duty as the home-market Austin 1100, the Morris 1100, MG Sport Sedan, Riley Kestrel, Wolseley 1100, and Vanden Plas Princess. Hell, if a car line was part of the British Motor Corporation or had a licensing agreement with the company, it in all likelihood got an ADO16 to call its own. Of all of those, the Austin had the longest run of the group, being built from 1962 all the way through 1974 when it was replaced by the Allegro. The America, along with the MG Sport Sedan, became BMC’s sales workhorses here in the States. Offered as both two- and four-door models, the Austin employed standard A-series power that stepped up in a progression of displacements over the course of its production run.
This handsome Mark II two-door has a 1275 cc motor fed through a single SU side-draught carburetor. As such, popping the hood on any ADO16 should prove a familiar experience for (original) Mini owners since the larger car shares the Mini’s drivetrain layout and engine. Unlike a modern FWD setup which has the engine on one side of the bay and the gearbox on the other, the ADO16 has the engine sitting atop the gearbox with both components sharing their lube like a pair of randy lovers. This is an elegant and extremely compact arrangement and works very well so long as the oil is maintained on a regular basis.
Another cool feature of the ADO16, and hence this America, is its Hydrolastic suspension. That eschews traditional springs and shocks for high-pressure fluid displacement dampers interconnected between the front and rear wheels. This setup proves remarkably space-efficient while at the same time offering excellent ride characteristics. It was far more complicated and expensive to produce than a traditional steel suspension, but its creator, Alex Moulton, and ADO16's lead designer, Alec Issigonis, were able to sell BMC on the idea, thus creating a car that could stand out against the competition.
This America stands out since it’s likely one of the only editions you’re going to find hanging around anymore. It officially falls into classic car status and should prove to be a fairly easy classic to own and maintain since most mechanical systems have decent parts availability and are pretty reliable.
The car comes with what the seller describes as a mechanical restoration, and for that offers to show $8,500 in receipts. Of the 1275 and four-speed gearbox combo, the ad says it “runs like a vintage mini cooper,” and calls all of the electrical and mechanical systems “excellent.” New donuts underpin, riding on steel wheels wearing their factory caps.
Aesthetically, the car appears good from far but far from good. There’s no rust here, but the seller deems the paint to be just “ok” and says the car could use a new headliner. The seats show some tears at the shoulders and the squabs, but otherwise, there’s not much about which to complain around the interior. Plus, the vintage AM radio and beer tap shifter look like some old-school fun.
The title is clean and the car carries a mere 44,000 miles to date. This would make for a fun weekend car, although not necessarily in the traditional sense as might an MGB or Triumph Spitfire. That oddball nature could make it all the more intriguing. And, who wouldn’t want to regale onlookers with stories of Hydrolastic suspensions and engines that share oil with a gearbox? What might such an adventure be rightfully worth?
In the case of this America, the asking price is $10,500. That gets you a turn-key car with some minor (but not Morris Minor) issues that could easily be corrected down the road. What do you think, is that $10,500 price a fair deal to get on that road? Or for that much, is this an America that’s not so beautiful?
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