Free Limo! 1964 Austin 1800

If you’re not scared of taking on a complete oddball project, there’s a free Austin limousine listed on craigslist in Long Beach, California. The seller notes there’s no paperwork with the vehicle, and no VIN number, so it’s going to take some creativity (or potentially illegal) thinking to get this rare bird back on the road. While more common in the UK, we hardly ever see the stretched version of Austin’s 1800 sedan, and this one should be saved in some fashion. Find it here on craigslist for…well, free!

When you think about it, a free classic like this in a state like California is no surprise considering how difficult it is to register classics with good paperwork and actual VIN numbers. Emissions testing kills the chances for many project-grade classics, rendering them to classifieds sites in hopes of enticing buyers from out of state. I would love to know the story behind this Austin, and why someone felt compelled to strip it of VIN numbers.

While a total project bordering on basketcase, there’s more here to work with than you might expect. There’s a largely complete interior, although the instrument binnacle is missing. The majority of the glass appears to be in place. The full-length exhaust appears to be hiding inside the car. And while the roof is heavily dented, it doesn’t look totally rusty, although I’m sure there is rust to be found.

While getting a title service to help with the paperwork is fairly straightforward, the lack of VIN numbers is troubling. This isn’t exactly a Porsche 930 Turbo that a thief didn’t want anyone to find; it’s a weird-o Austin limousine that only British car fanatics would likely covet, so why strip the only thing that could keep it on the road? It’s a mystery for sure, but we’d love to see this one saved somehow. Thanks to Barn Finds reader EHB for the find.


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  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Well, it’s finally happened. I have seen so many vehicles on roll backs and trailers that I believe I have become immune to the sight.

    Like 7
    • Oingo

      Funny you say that opened garage to leave and saw my neighbor and his brother or friend trying to push a loaded caravan without much success that I helped out with a push and a jack and stand, chock, gloves but it wound up on flatbedded due to an axle that fell out after some sort of repair by a shop

      Like 1
  2. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    One phrase: 24 Hours of LeMons.

    A landcrab has already raced, but it was powered by another engine.

    You would be legendary!

    Like 12
    • RichS

      Came here to post this – not disappointed I had been beaten to it.

      Power it with a Chrysler /6 and win all the things.

      Like 3
  3. Little_Cars Little Cars Member

    That roof dent will polish right out, after the paintless dent removal. Then, a quick weekend tuneup and you’re ready to roll. NOT!

    Like 1
  4. Simon Powell

    Am not 100% certain but that looks more like the Austin 2200 to me, the twin headlights and much larger boot (trunk) gives that away. My father drove an 1800 for years, great car but cv joints let it down far too often.

    Like 3
  5. Pat Gill

    I think you will find that it is based on the rare Austin 3litre, six cylinder rear wheel drive land crab, and they were introduced in 1968!
    I suspect the vin will be found somewhere they just did not know where to look, after all apart from Austin they got everything else wrong!

    same basic engine as an Austin Healey 3000 or MGC,

    Like 9
    • Alec

      Definitely an Austin 3-litre. Very rare in the UK too – well engineered but not a commercial excess. At one point it was a joint project with Rolls-Royce who were going to to use the platform for a car called the Rolls-Royce Rangoon / Bentley Bengal – but the project was cancelled (just Google it and there is some interesting history and photos). :)

      Like 8
      • Bill McCoskey

        You are correct about the planned BMC/Rolls-Royce agreement. When Rolls-Royce decided they didn’t want an outside manufacturer building a Bentley, in order to get out of the agreement, R-R agreed to provide 4,000 of their 6 cylinder commercial drivetrains, and the BMC Vanden Plas Princess 4-liter “R” was created.
        I’ve owned 3 of them, 2 were RHD, the other one was sold new in New York, and was LHD with factory A/C.

        Like 2
    • Scott Tait

      Thought these where introduced in 1967? Vin numbers are on a plate in the engine bay also on the chassis in passenger compartment unless rusted away … common for the type

      Like 5
      • Gordon McGeachy

        Quite right Scott and as I posted below;
        It would be surprising if it did not have two plates, (or at least one of them), that state the engine and chassis numbers as VIN numbers as weknow them now were not in use back in the 60’s and then the factory and/or Landcrab club would provide all the build information on the specific car. I hope this helps. Gordon, Hertforshire, UK

        Like 5
      • Pat Gill

        first built in 1967 but sales to the public did not get going until mid-late 1968, withdrawn in 1971, 10,000? std cars sold, probably only 10 coach-built limo versions,

        Like 2
  6. Craig Walker

    Correct that’s a 3 litre ( land lobster) & as said rwd with the same eng/box as a big Healey & as in the uk has lost them to an owner of one of these sports cars.

    Like 3
    • Donek

      It’s a related but different engine.

  7. Al

    After viewing this beast on craigslist, I had a strong urge to get a Tenuous Shot.

    Like 3
  8. Alec

    There is a great website with lots of information about these cars - – just learnt the limo was built by a coach builder called Woodhall Nicholson.

    Like 4
  9. David Nieuwenhuis

    I have parts for it lying around, n.o.s. bumpers, lights, etc. Don’t know exactly what else.

    Like 3
  10. Calvin S

    I’d get this if it had a VIN and if I had a place to put it and time to work on it.

    Like 1
    • Gordon McGeachy

      It would be surprising if it did not have two plates, (or at least one of them), that state the engine and chassis numbers as VIN numbers as weknow them now were not in use back in the 60’s and then the factory and/or Landcrab club would provide all the build information on the specific car. I hope this helps. Gordon, Hertforshire, UK

      Like 1
  11. Coventrycat

    Polar opposite of the 63 Imperial from yesterday. It’s interesting to see the different ideas of luxury.

    Like 2
  12. Bob Member

    Does anyone know where the vin should be? Perhaps on the frame?

  13. Chebby Staff

    Kudos to the seller (giver?). If only more people were like, “Hey look at this piece of crap! Ya want it?” vs. “Oooh it’s totally rare” and listing for $15,000 on eBay. Maybe VW buses would still be cheap fun, instead of investments.

    Like 4
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      I agree Chebby. How nice. Take care, Mike.

      Like 2
  14. Jim in FL

    Some LB auto shop teacher should grab this and use it. Many years ago, my Dad was on the board of directors of a tech school and also was GM at a dealership. Several flood damaged new Pontiacs came in for destruction and he was able to get the vins removed and the cars donated to the tech school. Imagine being a teenager and working on them. I’m sure they were disassembled and reassembled dozens of times. Corvette summer? Austin winter! Thanks to the seller for not trying to profit on some random find.

    Like 5
  15. ClassicCarFan

    As others have pointed out, it’s based on the Austin 3-litre, which was loosely based on the “1800” platform. I’m impressed by the knowledge on hand here in the comments !

    Slight correction to Craig Walker’s comment…..the Austin 3-litre did indeed have a “C-series” BMC motor, but it isn’t really the same as the earlier one in the Big Healey. The post-1967 3 litre C-series was a different beast, re-developed as a 7-bearing version. It was shared with the MGC….and not rated as much of a success…

    Like 3
    • John Vevers

      Very smooth 7 main bearing engine. Very strong. Power restricted by manifolding. Easily increased by then Downton Engineering conversion to triple SU carbs and extractor free flow twin pipe exhaust gave 175hp.

      Like 1
  16. ClassicCarFan

    …and obviously not a 1964 car…. the “3-litre” did not appear until 1967

    Like 2
  17. John Vevers

    One of two left in the world Austin 3 Litre limos straight six driving the rear wheels. The other is in similar condition but am advised it is going to be restored . Less 80 of the standard production model on the road world wide. Deserves to be saved. Strong club support UK based as described above.

    Like 3
  18. John Vevers

    As described a rare rear wheel drive luxury Austin 3 Litre limo with only one other car known to survive in the UK and in similar condition. Only about 60 or 70 normal 4 door production cars on the road still. Strong club support from the UK as mentioned above. Engine transmission same as MGC. Needs saving.

    Like 3
  19. Mountainwoodie

    Hey! At least its free! And rare

    Like 1
  20. Del

    The first mistake was wasting time and money by putting this on a flat bed.

    This is not worth saving.

    Looks like already heavily parted out inside.

    Take it straight to crusher. Please….

    Like 1
    • M.C.S.

      Del, with all due respect, do you even like cars?

      Furthermore, do you have any idea how rare this particular version of this particular model is?

      Regardless, literally anything can be saved with enough effort and time put into it. Look up the history of the only Studebaker “woody” wagon in existence for more on this topic.

      The person who posted the ad for this car (and loaded it onto the flatbed) is noble for going through the trouble to try and give said automobile a good home, rather than simply trying to make a quick dollar by crushing and scrapping it.

      • donek

        Excellent response, M.C.S..

  21. Pat Gill

    get it, rip out the engine and box for an MGC, fit a yank V8, race it, not worth restoring as parts supply would be impossible over the pond and the steering wheel is on the right side, provided it still has some body integrity, no frame it is a unibody,

  22. Jasper

    Wow. Hope someone is sympathetic, determined and has some money in their pockets. It’d be a labor of love, but what an unexpected car to find here in the states. Have read good things about the Austin 3 Litre.

    Like 3
  23. luke arnott Member

    The Austin 3 Litre was a monumental flop here – last saw one 30 plus years ago.

    • donek

      Yet they’re actually really likeable cars.

  24. MRDavis

    Do like Lot: Run, and don’t look back.

  25. Mitch Ross Member

    So this one of 2 in existence? Some millionaire should take this on just for the hell of it. Jay, you paying attention?

    Like 1
  26. Bobinott

    I was not aware of these until I read the comments here. Thanks to all the knowledgeable folks who posted. Personally, I like it a lot. CL Listing has been deleted, so I hope it found a home. Someone with vision would wind up with a unique and significant British luxury car. From the photos, the rust does not even seem to have destroyed this thing.

  27. John F Quilter

    One of the few cars that the basic body shell went from front wheel drive to rear wheel drive. It also sported the Hydrolastic suspension used on the Austin 1800 and Austin America/MG1100 sold in the USA. Not a great marketing success as it competed with the Triumph 2.5 saloons and the Rover P6 3500 and possibly the Daimler 2.5 which was a Daimler hemi V8 powered Jaguar Mark II.

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