Unexceptional Classics

Unexceptional Classifieds: Austin 1300 Countryman

by Antony Ingram
16 September 2022 2 min read
Unexceptional Classifieds: Austin 1300 Countryman
Photos: eBay

Price: £3995
Mileage: 66,000
Condition: Honest, but would benefit from attention
Advert: eBay

The seller of this 1973 Austin 1300 Countryman rightly notes that they’re “a rare sight these days”.

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Austin 1100s and their other ADO16 ilk – that’s Amalgamated Drawing Office, project 16, the car’s internal code – are among Britain’s most popular classics, as they were once Britain’s best-selling cars.

But the estate versions, dubbed Countryman when wearing Austin badges, are few and far between. DVLA figures through the How Many Left website suggest just three were still registered in the first quarter of 2022, with another couple on SORN. While not always perfectly accurate, the fact the same site lists 52 of the sporty 1300 GT still on the road puts the Countryman’s figure into perspective.

We suspect it’s the usual estate issue. Wagons are working vehicles at their core, and were especially so before the 1990s when cars like the Audi RS2 and Volvo’s BTCC exploits made them officially cool.

A lifetime of being used just that little bit harder than their saloon and hatchback counterparts would eventually take its toll, and coupled with lower sales figures to start with, numbers soon declined.

The ADO16 Countryman (and its Morris 1100 Traveller, in parallel with the respective Mini monikers) debuted in 1966, and the last 1300 Countryman models left the line in February 1974. This one was registered in April 1973, making it a Mark III – denoted, primarily, by that black plastic grille.

Don’t be fooled by the 1300 badge though. True enough, there was a 1275cc A-series under the bonnet, but Austin still kept something in hand for the sportier ADO16s – where a 1300 GT made 70bhp (as did MG and Riley versions), this 1300 Countryman would have put only 58bhp to the front wheels.

In this car it would have been hobbled further by an automatic gearbox, but in the recent past this one’s been fitted with a four-speed manual. Stick aside the interior’s a bit of a hodgepodge, with brown seats, green doorcards, and a tan carpet (none of which go especially well with the blue exterior paintwork), while a badly-fitted stereo and footwell-intrusive speakers could probably find better homes too.

A look at the exterior reveals more areas that need attention, but to be fair the seller makes it very clear the car could do with work. The good thing is these Austins are still affordable – a fiver under four grand isn’t bad when you remember what mechanically-similar Minis go for – so perhaps budget a couple more grand for improvements and unforeseen issues, since the car’s MOT-exempt status means it’s not had a test in a while.

Get everything ready for next summer and you’d also have a fine Festival of the Unexceptional candidate. Even at a show where rare and underappreciated cars are welcome, we suspect you’d not see another.

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  • Giles Griffin says:

    My first car, no less. Not the actual one, which I am sure is long gone. But the exact same model and year. It was called Egbert and had an extremely vague gearbox, a good dose or rust and startlingly little go. Perhaps no bad thing for an eager new 18-year old driver… a frightening 42 years ago…

  • J.wentworth says:

    As a child in the 70s my mum had 2 a dark blue 4 door 1.3 H reg then a 2 door J reg 1.3 , went to Auctions with my dad to buy them both from John o Gaunts Rothwell Leeds. Mum sold the first 1 to my uncle for £60 to my knowledge he was pleased as punch for the amount of time he has it

    They must have been like white goods as the last 1 was replaced by a Simca then MK2 Escort vans that belonged to the Oldmans business mum preferred them to the Austin’s Simca even had seats in the back.

  • David ramshaw says:

    I bought this little gem I’ve since but bew front seats in all interior has been done now black with new carpets gt dash and clocks new engine mounts refund engine and bay new front discs and pads I am now doing bits of bodywork that need doing and will be doing wheel refurbishment and new tyres

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