You must know the feeling, the sense that the familiar is not quite right, but you can’t immediately spot it. The first time you see your sports hero wearing the colours of a new team, a friend without a regular beard or with a very new haircut. Or, maybe, the first time we saw HM The Queen wearing glasses. This car is one of those.
I saw this nominally regular Austin 1300 MK3 in New Zealand, sitting innocently outside a supermarket in the shopping centre car park, soaking up sunshine. My first thoughts were that it was good to see a car that old in daily service, even in somewhere as gently paced as Rotorua. Being a Curbivore, I went to look more closely and was intrigued again.
The first intrigue was the colour. The UK market never got this colour – the ADO16 family mostly came in a more conservative palette and this colour, in the UK at least, says mid to late 1970s not early 1970s. Remember, the car was discontinued in 1973, supplanted by the Allegro.
Or was it? One of the beauties of the New Zealand vehicle registration system is that the car’s model and year of manufacture are printed on the windscreens sticker, and this car was identified as a “1975 Austin 1300”.
The ADO16 was assembled locally, by a business originally known as Dominion Motors and later as New Zealand Motor Corporation (NZMC).
The car assembly, from CKD shipped from the UK with local variations, was centred on a factory in Newmarket, part of Auckland, although the business was also active in importing built up cars, particularly from Australia. Being a contract assembler, other brands were also assembled, starting with Honda in 1976. The company now known as Honda New Zealand can be traced to NZMC.
New Zealand no longer assembles cars, the last car coming out of NZMC in 1998. The dominant brands are Japanese, and a significant source of supply is from Japan in the form of lightly used vehicles.
But, to see an unusually coloured, “wrong” year ADO16 in daily use was still a pleasant holiday surprise. One of many in New Zealand.
More ADO16: CC 1965 MG1100 – BMC’s Greatest Hit