Austin 3 Liter. A huge variety

Austin 3 Liter
ER Classics Desktop 2022

The production ran from 1968-1971. It has been made exactly 9992. The approach was to make 10.000 a year. The Austin 3 Liter was not a success.

Austin 3 Liter: the successor to the Westminster

The 3 liter was very much in the spirit of its predecessor, the Austin Westminster, a large car with a low-load, large engine that emphasized luxury and driving comfort over handling and economy, although the latter two factors became increasingly important in the sector.

BL rules

The Austin 3 Liter also came on the market, just when BMC had taken over Jaguar and had merged with Leyland Motors to form British Leyland (BL). Within the new conglomerate, the Austin 3 Liter had to compete against rivals of similar sizes from Jaguar, Rover and Triumph. And those were all real high-quality / luxury brands compared to Austin, which was seen as a 'down-market mainstream' brand. For this reason, the Austin 3 Liter was not replaced, and eventually Rover and Jaguar models filled the role of the 3 liter in BL's portfolio.

The Austin 3 Liter was the last luxury car under Austin's flag

It was also the last rear-wheel drive Austin. All 9992 units were built at the Austin Cowley factory between 1967 and 1971. Quite a few Austin 3 Liter's were converted into Ambulances, hearse and limousines. But all that work was done by specialist bodybuilders. In-house there was a prototype V8 Wolseley version as well as a model VDP version. The police had a fleet of them for use on the highway. Downton tuning did a special tuning kit that improved performance. In terms of performance, these great Austins certainly did not do badly. And they were highly constructed. That was the reason that they were later successfully used in 'banger races', the English interpretation of driving bumper cars at the fair. And partly for that reason there are now so few left.

The 3 Liter looked like an Austin 1800 XXL

He had a Hydrolastic wheel suspension, but the engine was in the front and the drive went through the rear wheels. Alec Issigonis could not emphasize enough that he had nothing to do with this large, luxury Austin.

DeAustin 3 Liter was positioned as 'cheap top classer'. Strangely enough, leather upholstery was not an option, but there was plenty of woodwork on board. After some initial problems with the coordination of the suspension system, the car was extremely comfortable. That promised a lot for the extra luxurious Wolseley and Vanden Plas versions, but they never passed the prototype stage. Crayford entertained a couple of station wagons.

And the new flagship made its mark from the launch

An image thing played a part in this: The new Austin had too much of the Austin Maxi and the Austin 1800 for the intended buyers, which had been given the nickname 'land crab' by their idiosyncratic design. The 3 Liter, with its cabin part and doors identical to the 1800, became the 'land lobster'.

In short: the Austin 3 liter was born under a very bad star

He was the result of bad decisions and pure bad luck. There was even an unsuccessful link with Rolls-Royce and Bentley. From a sales point of view, the car was a disaster. The idea was to sell 10.000 3 Liters per year. It became fewer than 10.000 over the entire production period

Austin 3 Liter


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  1. Strange actually, this car and also Balanza, Maxi, and Glider really drove better and calmer as a beetle from the same period. Space was also in abundance.
    Only the beetle was much more successful. Perhaps in the United Kingdom they should also have put people in front of the name of the car. That would probably have left many cars and brands!

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