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.