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Austin 1800 Balanza: a strange bird

Austin 1800 Balanza
ER Classics Desktop 2022

Mainstream classics, the classics we all know or at least have heard about. That's what the trade is all about. There are lively clubs for that. But what do you run into if you are cross? Or if you just fall for a classic because it appeals to you? What if that's an Austin 1800 Balanza? My father once considered buying such a Brit. He was a sales representative in chemical products and made quite a few traffic jam-free kilometers. Buying a Balanza was strongly advised against. Due to the unreliability that the car was attributed to. My father went to drive a Simca 1500. But that crazy Austin Balanza?

The Austin 1800 Balanza was simply called "1800" elsewhere

The designation 'Balanza' was only used for Mark I models sold in the Netherlands and Belgium. The model was produced from 1964 to 1975. The Austin 1800 was Car of the Year in Europe in 1965. And with today's knowledge, we know its fate was virtually sealed.


The almost forgotten Austin 1800 Balanza

The design came from the legendary Italian Pininfarina to the ideas of the equally legendary designer Issigonis who also had the Mini from the 60 to his name. The Balanza was an unbelievably spacious car at that time with Austin's revolutionary Hydrolastic fluid suspension. An Austin in which the concept of space really got substance. With the Balanza, as with the Mini, the wheels were at the extreme corners, which guaranteed good steering and rock-solid handling. The interior was actually very bare. Making it seem even more spacious. The dashboard consisted of a long narrow speed meter, a pair of rocker switches and a few indicator lights and the ignition switch. Nothing else. Below that is a huge parcel shelf that - according to the brochure - offered enormous space for storing small personal belongings, such as cameras, packs of cigarettes, bags etc. as described in the brochure. For all things that you absolutely do not want to see now.

With a famous four-cylinder

The Balanza was powered by the engine of the MGB. But in the Balanza, that block stood in the front. In the MG the four-cylinder 96 produced horsepower, in the 'Austin 1800' there were 85. The gearbox was in the crankcase. The gearbox was operated by cable. That would benefit the shifting flexibility. The idea worked poorly.

The unusual appearance did not do the sales any good. And British cars at that time had a not impeccable name in terms of quality ... At BMC there was not much (development) money in cash either. To continue working across the board, the Austin 1800 in 1966 was also available as Morris. In 1968 there was at least one Mk 2 version.

In the meantime, such an Austin 1800 Balanza has of course become a very fun, usable classic. There are not many copies that have survived the time nicely. In our opinion, no-one has yet begun putting such an orphaned 'land crab' in top condition. Yet there are no rows of buyers to push if one is advertised. Pay attention to rust and the correct functioning of the hydragas spring system if it is your inspection. Oh yes: an Austin 3 liter is also such an exotic.

Austin 1800 Balanza

Austin 1800 Balanza

8 Comments

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  1. I miss in the article that the Balanza was also delivered with the six-cylinder E-engine in its last years. In addition, there are indeed people who return these cars to top condition. The car is unfortunately not that popular, but a fantastic car to drive. The so-called classic traders prefer to opt for the fast money by selling only chewed MGB's, Jaguar's and I know what else to sell. I have returned such a car to top condition myself, and I know more enthusiasts who are happy with these cars. I would like to send a photo of a beautiful Balanza.

  2. The model is very similar to the Morris Glider, that was my 2e car after the beetle. The Glider rode like a tierelier, it was also a beautiful model, especially the GT, but unfortunately it was an incredible rust bin.

  3. I worked at stockfish in 1966 when a recall and modification was carried out where just about everything was improved. It concerned 10.000 cars and took 1 week per car, after which they broke down

  4. I had an Austin Balanza, great thing to start and walk and great handling, but in the long run the engine was going to use more oil and the right drive shaft I had to weld together and drive but again I had to give up later because of a collision beyond my fault I say sorry now !!!

    • Even if you have sheet metal from 2 mm, you have to
      treat with an anti-rust agent otherwise the means of transport will rust from under your hole! Enough English and French examples, Unfortunately!

      • We once traded in a balanza on a new Lancia Fulvia and later sold this car with 3mnd. Bovag guarantee and we know that Mvg Stef Hartogs.

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