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Homepage. This page: An Austin photographed in 1975, after being pushed down a hill into a river.

A 3 Litre Austin seen dumped in a river.

Thanks to David who emailed these photos over. His family used to run Tippen's Garage in Kent. The Austin 3 Litre (landcrab) shown here had been in and out of the workshop on a regular basis, with more work still required, much to the chagrin of the owner. The car was stolen from outside the garage one night, probably in 1975, and discovered dumped in the river as shown here. David adds: "The car, as I remember, was a nightmare and required a load of money spent on it. It was a horrid car, and still gives me a cold chill ... I think that the Austin was scrapped after its bath".
The photos show the car as-found, with work beginning on hauling the unlovely Austin (then still a fairly new car) out from its watery destination - also in view, a pair of Coppers and the lucky mechanic (Geoff Harden) who was tasked with bringing the 3 Litre back to the garage. Just visible in the background is the ex-Ministry Morris truck that the garage used for breakdown recoveries.
A 3 Litre Austin 'landcrab'
The 3 Litre, designed during the 1960s as a large-engined replacement for the outmoded Farina-based Wolseleys and Austin Westminsters, used the Issigonis-designed Austin/Morris 1800 as a basis, although the 1800's designer was not involved in the design of this car. Despite being based on an existing model, the car's switch from front to rear wheel drive, and the re-worked Hydrolastic suspension incorporating a complex self-levelling system, plus its modified C-Series engine to name just three key areas of design, resulted in few parts being directly interchangeable with the smaller-engined, fwd, landcrabs. The centre section of the car was obviously 1800-based though, something that did little to endear the 'new' car to prospective purchasers.
The 3 Litre Austin was launched at the '67 Motor Show, to a lukewarm reception from the motoring scribes, who at best seemed underwhelmed at BMC's latest offering. Despite extensive differences under the skin, there was no getting away from the fact that the 3 Litre was based on the 1800 saloon. So from the outside the big Austin caused few people to have sleepless nights (apart from BMC/Leyland's beancounters that is). The ride however was the car's trump card, thanks in part to collaboration work with Rolls-Royce, with whom BMC had had talks some years earlier when there had been talk of a 'budget' R-R for the masses, resulting, eventually, in BMC building the 4 Litre R. The engine was no ball of fire, and was a thirsty old lump to boot. The car's interior was awash with wood and vinyl, and this at least did live up to buyer's expectations in this sector of the market, although leather would have been nice.
The cars were not great sellers, and stayed on the market for just three years until British Leyland brought the axe down on this ugly duckling. Sharp-looking and well-handling cars from other arms of the Leyland empire, such as the six cylinder Triumph saloons and the advanced P6 Rovers, meant things were always going to be difficult for the dubious-looking 3 Litre. Middle managers, to whom the 3 Litre should really have appealed, either decided to go down the Triumph or Rover route, or from 1968, save up a few more pennies and buy the all-new XJ Jaguar in 2.8 form.
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