The smallest limousine on earth

The smallest limousine on earth

Throughout history, there has always been a good relationship between Greece and the United Kingdom. Perhaps that explains the relatively large amount of British classic cars that we find on the website Car.gr. One of them is this remarkable little limousine: a Vanden Plas 1100.

In the early 1960’s, British Motor Corporation was working on a successor for the Austin A40. Sir Alec Issigonis (of Greek descent) had in 1959 delivered the revolutionary Mini, a car that was designed with the wheels on the four outer corners, as to create as much interior space as possible.
Now he could use that same concept again, but on a bigger car, a four-door.

The ADO16, as the codename for this project was, would provide ample space for a family of four, even as much space as the larger Ford Cortina, and boasted hydrolastic suspension. Although Issigonis made the basic design for the car, it was Pininfarina who eventually took care of the crisp styling.

Foto: Car.gr

Just like the larger Austin A60 before, the Austin 1100 was produced under several different brand names. The reason for this was that BMC was formed during the 1950’s as a conglomerate of different British car manufacturers. In the 1960’s, all those brands were still alive and kicking and they all had their own distribution networks.

In most European countries, the Austin-distributor would be another company then the Morris-distributor, and the distributors for Wolseley and Riley would also be different companies. Dealers would often combine some BMC-brands, but not always, and not all of them. The only way to get all brand-networks a full line-up of cars, was to build all cars under all the different brands. That is why BMC put their money on badge engineering. So as you can see, there is a method in the madness.

Foto: Car.gr

This is why, after the introduction of the Austin 1100 and Morris 1100 in 1962, there were later also versions of the same car by Wolseley, MG and Riley. The difference between all of them would not only be in the significant nose jobs, but also in upholstery and in the configuration of the engines, which would be either 1.100 cc or 1.275 cc, combined with one or two SU carburetors.

Top of the line was this Vanden Plas, which actually had the name Princess added. The Vanden Plas Princess 1100 first appeared in 1963. This top of the line version of the ADO16 was almost twice the price of the Austin 1100. It looks like a shrunken version of the big Princess R.

The concept of the car is, of course, outrageous; the bulky grille makes the little car look top-heavy and the interior looks cramped with the big leather seats. The walnut dashboard looks as if someone has squeezed a large antique desk into a broom cupboard. And yet, this little limousine is charming. It is a British car as only the Brits could conceive.

Foto: Car.gr

This also means that a Vanden Plas Princess 1100 is quite rare outside the UK. In Europe, people would be sensible and spend their money on a proper car, like a BMW 1800, a Ford Zephyr 6 or a Volvo 144… Yes, those were cars that you could buy for the price of a Vanden Plas Princess 1100. Only an Englishman would spend that amount of money on a luxury, tiny jewelry box like this little Vanden Plas.

There may not be many of them outside the UK, but this one is. We found it in Greece. It’s from 1973 and what makes this car so remarkable, apart from the simple fact that it still exists, is that it has only 55.000 kilometers on the odometer and it has left-hand drive.

Another great feature is, of course, the airconditioning. This makes it likely that the car has always (the car dates from 1973) been in Greece. The seller has not put a price on the car, you will have to contact him for negotiations. But the car looks to be in good nick, so it certainly is worth the effort.

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