Comment Classic: Why Volvo Still Exists And Why Austin Doesn’t

BMC ADO 1800 landcrab snip-vert

(Every so often, someone really spells something out in the comments that really drives home a point through personal experience which trumps all. Last night Bill Malcom left the following comment at our Austin 1800 “Landcrab” CC that I just had to share, as it encapsulates the huge difference between these two cars, on so many levels)

In 1965 in Nova Scotia, Canada, my father bought a (Austin 1800) Landcrab and my mother bought a Volvo PV544, actually assembled in Dartmouth Nova Scotia.

Do I really need to tell you which dissolved into rust in five years, while the other looked and ran like new?

Which one needed the front trailing radius arms replaced after a year (at least it was free) because under braking, the wheels toed in and quickly ruined the tires?

Which one never started when the temperature went down to 8F (-12C), and which one just needed a whiff of choke?

Which one at 3 years old with a flat rear tire, when the jack was placed in its point and operated, the car did not lift, but the jack went right through the rusty rocker (sill) much to the amazement of onlookers including myself?

Which one had the vinyl spontaneously roll off the doorcards and hang forlornly? Memo to Brits – Bostik contact cement does not work long term outside the UK.

Which one had the sewing unravel from the seats?

Which one developed 2 inches of ground clearance and the lowrider look as the Hydrolastic units expressed their displeasure at being pressed into duty in the colonies?

Which one had a near horizontal steering wheel for that city bus look? And a gearshift that required the dexterity of a chiropractor to operate?

Which had the better ride? Which was better in snow?

I was studying mechanical engineering at the time, and these two cars were utter contrasts. The Volvo was old fashioned, built like a tank, had an amazing shifter and clutch, went as well as an MGB, got great mileage. The Austin was bleeding edge technology except for the engine, and weighed 2550 lbs versus 2250. Its build quality was very low, and it gave every impression of not having been thoroughly developed, right from the drawing board to production.

Dad got rid of the damn thing when he couldn’t bear adding up the repair bills in his head any longer, and when every seam in the white paint was bubbling iron oxide. Just five years.

You buy on specs and anticipation, but you remember longevity and reliability with a touch of dash much more fondly than the engineering nightmare that fell apart. But yes, it sure did claw through deep snow, that Landcrab, and rode as if it were on a cloud.


Related reading:

CC 1965 Austin 1800 Mk1 (ADO18) “Landcrab”- Best In Class or Just Plain Ugly?

CC Volvo 444 and 544 – I Roll, Starting Here