VotW – The Wonderful MG 1100

Our Video-of-the-Week for you this second week of January is about one of my all-time favorite cars, the MG 1100. The video comes by way of Shelburne Films and their MG Cars Channel. I say “they” but Shelburne films is essentially the very talented and knowledgable David Shelburne. Great guy. We have featured his videos before, and I am happy to do so again.

I will whole-heartedly admit that I love MG 1100s. And 1300s. And Austin Americas. And, especially Vanden Plas Princess 1100s & 1300s. And … well let’s just say that I have a peculiar fondness for and addiction to the entire ADO16 family of cars. Also sometimes called the BMC1100s. I have owned two different MG 1100s in the past, neither of which I ever restored as planned, but that is a different story. Currently, I have a much-beloved 1966 Vanden Plas Princess 1100 named Catherine. If we ever get to go back to shows, you may get to meet her sometime.

For those of you who don’t know, the 1100 was a prime example of badge engineering from the folks at The British Motor Corporation. Code named ADO16 during development, the first iteration of the car was released in 1962. Over its long life through 1971, variants of the car were produced as Austin, Morris, MG, Wolseley, Vanden Plas, Riley, and even Innocenti. You well even find licensed variants and kit cars based off of it.

Two important points to know about these cars that set them apart. First, they have the same transverse-mounted, front-wheel drive engine and transmission as the classic Mini. This was design by icon of the British car industry Alec Issigonis. Along with the Mini these cars were pioneers of that design and it is amazing how much space that gives them inside.

diagram of the hydrolastic suspension of MG 1100 ADO16

Secondly, they have hydrolastic suspension that was developed by Dr. Alex Moulton. Basically this is a liquid-based suspension system that connects the front and the rear via pipes so that when deflection occurs at one wheel it is compensated for by the connected wheel. Watch the video and you will understand more thoroughly

You won’t find many of these cars on the roads in the US these days, but those of us who have them are fairly dedicated to them. Another one of the devotees is Terry Looft, whom you will see in the video. In addition to being a multiple example owner, he is the head of the MG 1100 – 1300 Register of the North American MGB Register.

Terry Looft Chairman of the MG 1100 1300 Register of the NAMGBR

If you are interested in the ADO16 family of cars, make sure to check out The 1100 Club. The club is a wealth of information and spares and produces a fantastic monthly magazine. Also, check out my friend Todd Miller’s site at Austin America USA. There is also a Google Group devoted to these cars.

Michael Carnell
Editor at Just British

Michael Carnell is the editor and founder of the Just British Online Motoring Magazine. As a lifelong British car enthusiast, he has owned or driven British cars of all ages from Austins and MGs to Jaguars and Triumphs. He currently owns a 1966 Vanden Plas Princess 1100 and a 1977 MGB. But there is always room for more - no matter what his wife says.

2 Comments

  1. Michael, I am amazed that you have any BMC 1100/1300 in the States. Weren’t we brave to send them over to you!!! You are not alone in having events moved or cancelled, the day after I sent my cheque off for the annual Drive-it Day ( which is on St Georges Day) it was moved to late August so I guess we are not too confident about the vaccine solving all our problems, still things will get better so we can enjoy our “silly” cars. I wondered about us humans in that our friends in the US like English cars and we over here in Blighty like American cars despite them being far too big for our little country lanes. Thanks for continuing to provide a very interesting mag.

    • I love my VDP 1100. I truly believe that the main problem they had over here was that people didn’t know how to take care of them. From mechanics who didn’t know the engines and suspension to owners who didn’t understand that they weren’t just drive-and-forget like big American iron.

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