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Lot 005: Austin 3-Litre Saloon

Classic Car, Motorcycle & Automobilia, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (24 June 2009)

In 1968 BMC launched its last, large executive saloon to be badged as an Austin, bringing to an end an Austin tradition spanning over sixty years. Called simply the Austin 3-Litre it followed on from the ageing A99/A110 range using a new, improved version of the 2912cc C-series engine which it shared with the new MGC launched at the same time. Driving through the rear wheels and producing 124bhp, it propelled the heavy car to a respectable top speed of 106mph.

The model was never a good seller, partly because it was launched just as British Leyland took over the marque and they were much keener to promote their own Rover and Triumph 2-litre cars. It also suffered from a perception that it was merely an enlarged Austin/Morris 1800, with which it shared its central section and doors, although it was in fact a quite different car.

The best aspect of the car was undoubtedly its chassis which enjoyed a lot of Rolls-Royce input thanks to an earlier collaboration with BMC. Using hydrolastic suspension with self-levelling hydraulic rams at the rear, it won widespread praise for its superb ride and handling characteristics. Those who did buy the car were soon won over by its great character, as a former BMC manager recalled: "The 3-Litre had a lot of charm. Senior management at Longbridge hung on to theirs as long as they possibly could, to the despair of the Leyland bosses. I loved driving them and all who rode in them liked them too."

Sadly the 3-Litre fell victim to the British Leyland corporate axe and died quietly in 1971, by which time only 9,992 cars had been built. Survivors are now rare and sought after and this particular car, body number 8,940, is one of the last to be made and must be one of the finest examples left.

The car is showing less than 39,000 miles on the clock which is believed to be genuine though there is insufficient history to warrant this. Certainly the condition of the car would appear to support the low mileage  the interior is particularly fine and the seats look as though they have barely been sat in. It also has the very rare 4-speed manual gearbox. It has an MOT until September and is said to drive well.

The car was repainted in the original Damask Red in the mid-1990s at which time it was also fitted with new front wings, genuine BMC items which are now impossible to get hold of. Altogether a lovely car with possibly the most cavernous boot you have ever seen! Where would you find a better one?

Lot Details
Auction Classic Car, Motorcycle & Automobilia
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Leominster
TypeCar
Lot Number005
Estimate£2500-£3500
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£2000
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1971
Condition rating0
Registration numberWPY 66K
Mileage-
Chassis numberABSAD8940M
Engine number231ARCH9067
Engine capacity (cc)2912
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors