British Motor Corporation

British Motor Corporation

Infobox Defunct Company
company_name = British Motor Corporation
slogan =
fate = Merged
successor = British Motor Holdings (BMH)
foundation = 1952
defunct = 1966
location = flagicon|UK, Longbridge, England, UK
industry =
key_people =
products =
num_employees =
parent =
subsid =

The British Motor Corporation (BMC) was a UK vehicle company, formed by the merger of the Austin Motor Company and the Nuffield Organisation (parent of the Morris car company, MG, Riley and Wolseley) in 1952.


BMC was the largest British car company of its day, with (in 1952) 39 percent of British output, producing a wide range of cars under brand names including Austin, Morris, MG, Austin-Healey, Wolseley as well as commercial vehicles and agricultural tractors. The first chairman was Lord Nuffield (William Morris) but he was replaced in August 1952 by Austin's Leonard Lord who continued in that role until his 65th birthday in 1961 but handing over, in theory at least, the managing director responsibilities to his deputy George Harriman in 1956.

BMC's headquarters were at the Austin plant at Longbridge, near Birmingham and Austin was the dominant partner in the group mainly because of the chairman. The use of Morris engine designs was dropped within 3 years and all new car designs were coded ADO from "Austin Drawing Office". The Longbridge plant was up to date, having been thoroughly modernised in 1951, and compared very favourably with Nuffield's 16 different and often old fashioned factories scattered over the English Midlands. Austin's management systems however, especially cost control and marketing were not as good as Nuffield's and as the market changed from a shortage of cars to competition this was to tell. The biggest selling car, the Mini, was famously analysed by Ford Motor Company who concluded that BMC were losing £30 on every one sold. The result was that although volumes held up well throughout the BMC era, market share fell as did profitability and hence investment in new models, resulting eventually in the merger with Leyland Motor Corporation.

At the time of the mergers, there was a well established dealership network for each of the marques. Among the car-buying British public there was a tendency of loyalty to a particular marque and marques appealed to different market segments. This meant that marques competed against each other in some areas, though some marques had a larger range than others. The Riley and Wolseley models were selling in very small numbers. Styling was also getting distinctly old fashioned and this caused Leonard Lord, in an unusual move for him, to call upon the services of an external stylist.

BMC Farina

In 1958, BMC hired Battista Farina to redesign its entire car line. This resulted in the creation of three "Farina" saloons, each of which was badge-engineered to fit the various BMC car lines:

The compact Farina model bowed in 1958 with the Austin A40 Farina. This is considered by many to be the first mass produced hatchback car: a small estate version was produced with a horizontally split tailgate, its size and configuration would today be considered that of a small hatchback. A Mark II A40 Farina appeared in 1961 and was produced through 1967. These small cars used the "A-Series" engine.

The mid-sized Farinas were launched in 1958 with the Wolseley 15/60. Other members of the group included the Riley 4/68, Austin A55 Cambridge Mk. II, MG Magnette Mk. III, and Morris Oxford V. Later, the design was licensed in Argentina and produced as the Di Tella 1500/Traveller/Argenta. The mid-size cars used the "B-Series" straight-4 engine.

Most of these cars lasted until 1961, though the Di Tellas remained until 1965. They were replaced with a new Farina body style and most were renamed. These were the Austin A60 Cambridge, MG Magnette Mk. IV, Morris Oxford VI, Riley 4/72, and Wolseley 16/60. These mostly remained in production until 1968, with no rear wheel drive replacement produced.

Farina also designed a large car. Launched in 1959 as the Austin A99 Westminster, Vanden Plas Princess 3-Litre, and Wolseley 6/99, it used the large "C-Series" straight-6 engine. The large Farinas were updated in 1961 as the Austin A110 Westminster, Vanden Plas Princess 3-Litre Mk. II, and Wolseley 6/110. These remained in production until 1968.

BMC Cars

"Inherited" Models


* Austin A125 Sheerline 1947-1954
* Austin A135 Princess 1947-1956
* Austin A40 Sports 1950-1953
* Austin A70 Hereford 1950-1954
* Austin A30 1951-1956
* Austin A40 Devon 1947-1952


* MG TD 1949-1953
* MG Y-type 1947-1953


* Morris Minor 1948-1971
* Morris Oxford (Series MO)1948-1954
* Morris Six MS 1948-1953


* Riley RM series 1945-1955


* Wolseley 4/50 1948-1953
* Wolseley 6/80 1948-1954
* Wolseley Oxford Taxi 1947-1955

BMC Designs


* Austin A40 Somerset 1952-1954
* Austin A40 Cambridge 1954-1958
* Austin A90 Westminster 1954-1968
* Austin Metropolitan 1954-1961
* Austin A35 1956-1959
* Austin Lancer (Australia) 1958-1962
* Austin Princess IV 1956-1959
* Austin A40 Farina 1958-1967
* Austin A55 Cambridge 1959-1969
* Austin Mini 1959-1989
* Austin 1100/1300 1963-1974
* Austin 1800 1964-1975
* Austin 3-Litre 1967-1971


* Austin-Healey 100 1953-1959
* Austin-Healey 3000 1959-1968
* Austin-Healey Sprite 1958-1971


* MG A 1955-1962
* MG Magnette ZA/ZB 1953-1959
* MG Magnette Mk III/Mk IV 1959-1968
* MG Midget 1961-1974
* MGB 1962-1980
* MG 1100/1300 1962-1973
* MGC 1967-1969


* Morris Oxford 1954-1971
* Morris Cowley 1954-1959
* Morris Isis 1955-1958
* Morris Major 1958-1964 (Australia Only)
* Morris Mini-Minor 1959-2000
* Morris 1100/1300 1963-1974
* Morris 1800 1964-1975


* Riley Pathfinder 1953-1957
* Riley 2.6 1958-1959
* Riley 1.5 1957-1965
* Riley 4/68 1959-1961
* Riley 4/72 1961-1969
* Riley Elf 1961-1969
* Riley Kestrel 1965-1969

Vanden Plas

* Vanden Plas 3 litre 1959-1964
* Vanden Plas 1100/1300 1963-1974
* Vanden Plas Princess 4 litre R 1964-1968


* Wolseley 4/44 1952-1956
* Wolseley 6/90 1954-1959
* Wolseley 15/50 1956-1958
* Wolseley 1500 1957-1965
* Wolseley 15/60 1958-1961
* Wolseley 16/60 1961-1971
* Wolseley 6/99 1959-1961
* Wolseley 6/110 1961-1968
* Wolseley Hornet 1961-1969
* Wolsleley 1100/1300 1965-1973
* Wolseley 18/85 1967-1972


BMC Project Numbers

Most BMC projects followed the earlier Austin practice of describing vehicles with an 'ADO' number (which stands for 'Austin Design Office'). Hence cars that had more than one marque name (eg Austin Se7en and Morris Mini Minor) would have the same ADO number. Given the often complex badge-engineering that BMC undertook, it is common amongst enthusiasts to use the ADO number when referring to vehicles as a single design (for example, saying 'The ADO15 entered production in 1959'- this encompasses the fact that when launched, the ADO15 was marketed as both the Morris Mini Minor and the Austin Seven). The ADO numbers used were as follows:

*ADO6 Austin FX4 Taxi
*ADO8 Austin A40 Farina
*ADO9 Austin A55 Cambridge
*ADO10 Austin A90 Westminster
*ADO13 Austin-Healey Sprite
*ADO14 Austin Maxi
*ADO15 Mini
*ADO16 1100/1300
*ADO17 1800/2200
*ADO20 Mini MkIII and Clubman
*ADO26 Austin_Healey 3000 MkIII
*ADO27 Austin Kimberley
*ADO28 Morris Marina
*ADO31 MGA 1600
*ADO34 Pininfarina design for 2 seat roadster based on Mini.
*ADO37 Vanden Plas Princess 3 litre
*ADO40 Wolseley 24/80
*ADO41 Austin-Healey Sprite MkII
*ADO47 MG Midget MkI
*ADO50 Mini Cooper and Cooper S
*ADO53 Austin A110 Westminster
*ADO59 Morris Minor 1000
*ADO61 Austin 3-Litre
*ADO66 Vanden Plas Princess 4-litre R
*ADO67 Austin Allegro

BMC Commercial Vehicles

Most BMC era commercial vehicles were sold as Morris but there were sometimes Austin equivalents. Radiator badges on the larger vehicles were often BMC.

Car based light vans

*Morris Z-series ¼-ton (Morris Eight Series E) 1940-1953
*Morris ¼-ton O-Type (Morris Minor van) 1953-1971
*Morris Cowley MCV (Morris Oxford van) 1950-1956
*Austin A30 van 1954-1956
*Austin A35 van 1956-1968
*Austin A35 pick-up 1956-1957
*Morris ½-ton (Morris Oxford Series III van) 1956-1962
*Austin A55/A60 van 1958-1972
*Austin A55/A60 pick-up (Australian built) 1958-1972
*Mini van 1960-1982
*Mini pick-up 1961-1982
*Austin A40 Farina van (export only) 1961-1967

Light Vans

*Austin K8 1948-1954
*Morris J-type 1949-1960
*Morris LD 1952-1968
*Morris J2 1956-1967
*Austin/Morris J4 1960-1974

Light Trucks

*Morris LC4 1952-1954
*Morris LC5 1954-1960
*Morris FV-series (Series I) 1948-1954
*Morris FV-series (Series II) 1954-1955
*Morris FE-series (Series III) 1955-1959
*Morris FG 1960-1968
*Morris FM 1961-1968
*Morris WE 1955-1964
*Morris WF 1964-1981
*Morris FF 1958-1961
*Morris FH 1961-1964
*Morris FJ 1964-1968

BMC agricultural vehicles

With the merge of the Nuffield and Austin interests, the Nuffield Organisation's tractors became part of BMC.

*Nuffield Universal
*BMC Mini

BMC abroad

In the 1950s and the 1960s, BMC set-up twenty-one plants overseas, some as subsidiaries, and some as joint ventures, to assemble their vehicles.One was British Motor Corporation (Australia) who were established at the Nuffield Aust site on the one time Victoria Park horse racetrack in Sydney. This facility went from a marshalling area for fully imported Morris cars (Austins were up until then being assembled in Melbourne, Victoria from an earlier Austin Motors establishment), to a facility for making CKD cars, to the total local fabrication and construction of vehicles, engines, and mechanicals.cite book
title=The British Motor Industry 1945-1994
author=Timothy R. Whisler
publisher=Oxford University Press
id=ISBN 0-19-829074-8

Denmark was a particularly strong market for BMC products in Europe. In the post-war period, the Danish government closely regulated exports and imports to maintain the country's balance of trade. High-value imports such as cars were heavily taxed. Britain bought large amounts of agricultural and meat produce from Denmark, and in response British cars were subject to a much lower import tax than cars from other countries, making BMC products very popular in the country until the 1970s, when these regulations were relaxed.

The end of BMC

In 1966 BMC and Pressed Steel merged with Jaguar Cars to form British Motor Holdings (BMH). In 1968 there was a further wave of mergers in the British car industry, and BMH merged with the Leyland Motor Corporation (LMC) to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC), the original BMC mass-production, and MG sports car products being brought together into the "Austin Morris" division of the new organisation. In 1975 BLMC was nationalised and became British Leyland Limited.

In 2002, BMC (Turkey), a Turkish commercial vehicle builder, originally set up by the British Motor Corporation to build their designs under license in the 1950s, began exporting its vehicles to Britain, This saw the return of the BMC brand to British roads for the first time in over 40 years.

ee also

* Bathgate Lorry Plant
* BMC (Turkey)


External links

* [ Austin Memories]

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