27 February 2013

Austin 3 Litre Racer - Broadly A Replica

Given enough time, we believe that most things will be done to most cars; eventually every possible modification will be done to every possible car (providing they're available), whether the results are worthy of the effort are of course is a matter of taste. 70's American cars on 22-inch rims? Done. Pro-touring '40 Ford? Done. Broadspeed-inspired Austin 3-Litre? Guess...
To those of you scratching your noggins as to what the hell an Austin 3-litre is, it was introduced by Austin (part of British Motor Holdings at the time, a merger of BMC and Jaguar Cars) at the 1967 London Motor Show. Codenamed ADO61, the car was intended to be their offering in the executive class and was originally designed in the early 1960s, before the merger. Unlike the visually similar but smaller FWD ADO17 range (the Austin/Morris 1800), the 125 bhp 3 litre engine, a 7-bearing, twin SU carb'd variant of the C-Series lump seen in the like of the Austin-Healey 3000 and MGC drove the rear wheels through a conventional 4-speed gearbox. The car used Hydrolastic suspension with self-levelling hydraulic rams at the rear and was praised for its excellent ride and handling.
Out of 9,992 made, there are only 66 of them left on DVLA's register so they're a pretty rare sight even at a car show, so this beast is a true one-off. The owner's remit was to create a Broadspeed homage and we think he's succeeded; think of their XJC and it does capture the spirit of something Ralph Broad would have done, had the 3-Litre been thrust into his hands.
First of, those body mods; those IMSA-style arches are all steel, necessary to take to take the 20" Schnitzer (as in BMW) alloys and Yokohama tyres, which alone set him back the thick end of a grand. The bonnet bulge is GRP, the side windows are lexan and the interior is basically two seats and a roll cage and the boot has a race-style tank, all adding to that racer feel. Moving to the rear he got a little more ingenious with the additions; the rear spoiler was robbed from a Mitsubishi 3000 and is adjustable for height, and true to BMC parts bin ingenuity that cheeky rear splitter is actually a Riley Elf bonnet.
Despite the car talking a good fight, it was built as a flight of fancy and really wasn't meant to be thrown round a race track. Although it sports bigger vented discs and Brembo calipers and those big hunks of wheelage, the car is more for show than go; the C-series is retained under the bonnet, albeit with a few choice Broadspeed stickers to add to the subterfuge and a pair of Harley Davidson silencers to let it roar. You could of course put a Healey-tuned lump in which would be very 'period', but he had a Bentley V8 engine and 'box ready to go in, which would have really completed the transformation from mild-mannered Gentleman's carriage to rip-snorting Thundersports express.
Note that we said 'had'; the sad thing is that the car was sold last November. Now, we'd like to salute the efforts of the unknown soul who built this Austin; it takes a unique mindset to take an obscure car and then modify it in such a way surely no-one would have thought of. We just hope that the new owner takes it a step further and puts in a powerplant that does those brutish good looks justice.

All steel, baby, all steel...

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