Save My Life–Buy This Car! $0.99 No Reserve!

I’m writing this post in an effort to save my life. If you have read any of the posts I’ve written about sad and unloved British cars, you know that I have a weird affection (some would call it an affliction) for them. And since I already race a 1975 Austin Marina for Barn Finds Racing, you have to admit this 1970 Austin America (the Marina’s predecessor in the USA and the reason dealer contracts specified that the Marina would be marketed as an Austin here and only here) would fit right in. Not only that, it runs! It’s available for an opening bid of 99 cents with no reserve. I’ve been watching it all day and it’s STILL at no bids and 99 cents. The auction listing is here on eBay and you HAVE to buy it so I don’t. My wife says so. We’ve already spent ~$550 picking up one $500 car from Michigan and we don’t need to do it again.

I have been informed by Cristina to do a good job of describing this car if I value my life. In other words, I’m not to buy it under any circumstances. Despite the fact that I have a car that needs to go to Minnesota and this is just a hop skip and jump away from there. Sigh. Moving on. The America is essentially an ADO1316, or “large Mini” with “America” badging and left hand drive. These were sold as MG, Morris, Austin, Vanden Plas, Riley and Wolsley variants (did I miss any?) and we actually owned one, a Morris 1300, when I was growing up in the UK. Most Americas have been trashed, rusted out or cannibalized for Mini use. This one is actually relatively solid apart from the floor.

Although the rocker panels have been used to incorrectly jack the car, there’s some uncorroded metal in spots holding the car together. Hey, what do you expect for a dollar?

The seller tells us the engine fired right up after what looks like a new fuel pump, lines and battery. They’ve taken it through all four gears and it does move under it’s own power in all four. We’re told it “runs great.”

Believe it or not, the interior doesn’t look too bad at all except for the driver’s seat.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an uncracked Austin America dash. Ever. Until now.

That, however, is the driveway you see where the driver’s feet should go. Oops. Still, it’s a flat panel apart from stiffening ribs, and could be replaced fairly easily. I’m pretty sure water pooled here and in the passenger side (although it is much better, not good but better) and rusted them out. I so want to take a road trip and bring this car back, despite it being relatively worthless to almost anyone else. Would we race it? Heck, yes! So–PLEASE bid on this car. Someone give it a home and remove the temptation!

Fast Finds


  1. Fred W.

    Easily the most hilarious BF writeup ever! We’ve all been there, pal, wanting a set of wheels but the wifey lays down the law . Looks like some BF readers have bid it up to $107 and put it out of your reach.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Go readers! However, it would probably have to go higher than that before I totally backed off.

      • Michael Johnston

        You mentioned Austin Marina I have a Marlin roadster that uses marina front suspension and this year I realized that I needed new rotors and no one seems to carry them anymore . Any idea where I could find a pair new or good used?

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

        Michael, Skip Harris at RPM (google MarinaMan) has them both new and used. He’s fantastic!

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

        By the way, I love the Merlin — reminds me of my Hathaway Hunter!

  2. Eric Gerren

    My aunt had one of these brand new in the 70’s. I remember riding in it in the Bay Area in Northern California

  3. Trevor O

    What a junker.

    ………I want it!

  4. Marvin Granger

    My wife buys things I don’t think she needs all the time. If I call her on it she says “I had to buy it…I had a coupon. ” . So far I have used this ploy for a Ruger hunting rifle and a Harley Davidson Softail. So…find a coupon !

  5. -Bear-

    “Happy Wife = Happy Life!” :-)
    …but I could find a lot of happiness with this little gem on those (occasional) days when the wife isn’t too pleased with me.
    …besides, it could double as an alternative place to sleep (…instead of “in the dog house”!). :-P

    That said, the driver’s side floor is cause for some worry. (…unless you are Fred Flintstone.) But the passenger’s side floor is less scary, & the trunk floor looks to be pretty solid.

    I already have several British cars of this approx vintage (Bugeye Sprites, MG Midgets, a ’57 Austin FX3 London Taxicab, etc.), but IF bidding stays low I might just have to consider throwing my hat into the ring! :-)
    (…just don’t tell MY wife!) :-p

  6. mark

    Old friend of mine was into gun collecting big time. His wife was “less than thrilled about it” at times. He had an an emergency method that he used for similar circumstances although using this with a vehicle would be harder. His method? Always have a gun case with at least one open spot, purchase the must have gun and have a friend deliver it to the house when the wife is present (this step is critical). Place the gun in the open spot in the rack and have your friend casually mention (in your wifes presences) how much he appreciated you loaning him that :270 winchester bolt action blah, blah blah for the trip we took for hunting……”. Use this carefully though. Now you have to figure a way to purchase a new larger gun rack prior to the next purchase. LOL

    • Dickie F

      I hung out in the garage often. From radio control stuff to rally cars.
      I had a policy that worked – if I can get it into the garage = it was always there.
      So if she did one of her rare visits and asks – I would reply – I always had it …..

  7. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Ha! Jamie, you and Cristina, no, Cristina needs this car! I’ve always preferred the somewhat awkward and ungainly look of this body style, it reminds me of my own body.. So, out of curiosity and using your vast knowledge of British vehicles: what would a full nut-and-bolt restoration on this car cost? How about a nice driver-quality restoration? Just wondering.. I wonder if it would fit in the trunk of the Lincoln?

    • -Bear-

      Yes, you can fit TWO in the trunk of a Lincoln! :-)

    • Cristina

      Scotty, you’ve seen the collection. I’m not unilaterally opposed to Jamie’s acquiring more cars. A) Every additional car gets me another kitten or puppy or ratty and B) his ICD -Internal Combustion Disease – is infectious and I’ve got it pretty bad myself. No, the Austin America ban is the result of childhood trauma. My stepmom had one when she was dating my dad and it was ALWAYS broken. In 1970. So NO AUSTIN AMERICA for Jamie. (The Foot has spoken. )

      • waynard

        I have a coupon I could send him. That work for you?

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

        Thanks, Waynard!! 😁

      • Fogline

        Wow! Sounds like my wife’s plan of attack. We are keeping things in check.

  8. packrat

    @Mark: Have a friend of a friend that is a musician. His gambit is based on the premise that his wife is non-musical, and really cares nothing about it, so all of these guitars look alike to her (How many can you play at one time, anyway?) He gets all his guitars in the same shade of *blue*. He has so many, and fools around with them all the time–she really can’t tell whether this one is a *new* one over the limit or not!!

  9. Darrun

    In 1982 I bought a 1963 MG 1100, (which I believe is the same car), for the grand sum of $30. The engine was removed but included. The body was good as was the interior.
    Unfortunately, money wasn’t there to do anything with it, and it was parked on a friends farm, where it may still reside. I still have the paperwork which I stumble across occasionally, and relieve some memories of the 80’s.

  10. Bob

    Back in the late 70s, I was given a Marina to use as an airport car. Considering how poorly it was built, It actually turned out to be a good reliable car for me, and I was actually able to sell it when I replaced it with a clapped out VW Bug. I made the change to the Bug, because it was easier to find parts.

  11. John

    a friend had one that he bought new and was great fun until he tried to pass a garbage truck on the right when it swung wide to make a right turn. The friend lived but the car was pancaked.

  12. Alan

    Beware of this model if the floor pans rusted out, i owned one, rusty floor panel, but solid, but it always felt strange when changing gear, sort of–flexing, took it into a garage, basically, the front bulkhead was separating from the cabin section! The garage owner would not even let me drive it away! It looked great, but was rotten as a pear on the front bulkhead,

  13. Peter k

    Beach car!

  14. Alexander
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Agreed!! I had two of those!

  15. Ray

    Hard pressed to think of a worse car, British or otherwise, than one these and it’s badge engineered siblings, especially when equipped with an automatic. Great concept, poor execution! Buyer Beware!

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Ray, Ray, Ray…you have to look at it as a challenge and part of the fun! Although I’ll agree that the autotragic was terrible in these.

  16. John

    I had a white one, 4spd manual. My Dad owned an automatic. They were actually not bad little cars. I put a Midget head and carbs on mine. That made it burn more gas. Acceleration was marginally better. 0-60 was about 20 seconds. Once you discovered putting a plastic bleach bottle on top of the distributor to keep the water out, it was pretty reliable. It always looked like it should be fun to drive. It never was. But the mechanicals were hardyvandveasilt outlived the rust prone coachwork. It wasn’t a bad car, but there was absolutely nothing to recommend it.

  17. Ken


    You are trying to cause all sorts of trouble with this listing and the comments. First a cheap, oddball British car, then your better half chimes in about getting kittens and puppies when cars are added to the fleet. I could be in deep trouble if my small British car and kitten/puppy crazy wife reads this stuff..

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Ken, you should come up to the house sometime (with wife)! If nothing else, the fleet would have your wife extremely grateful that your herd is smaller! Cristina and I would love to have you!

  18. John

    …btw,this one looks to have lost pressure in the hydrolastic suspension. I wonder if Autozone has hydrolastic rebuild kits.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      I believe they can now be replaced with dry rubber cones, correct?

  19. Paul B

    At least it is a four speed manual instead of the dreadful automatic most of these came with. That makes it ultra-desirable. Let’s just hope the floor where the shifter is has enough good metal left that the whole shift linkage doesn’t fall down!

  20. David Mann

    # 1 rule in restoring cars. Don’t ever let the old lady run your show. You a big boy buy what you want.

    • Karl

      It’s a sad house where the rooster lays and the hen crows. :-)

      • John

        …but be sure the seats are comfortable to sleep in when you do.

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

        Karl, please understand — I have over 20 cars. Cristina is more than bought in to the hobby and has encouraged me many times to buy something just because I wanted it–she’s extremely supportive. Unfortunately, this time she’s right–it’s not a good fit right now due to the transportation home issue.

  21. CanAm

    These are great little cars.
    The hydrolastic suspension makes every bump feel smooth.
    Would ave to see the motor to see if it is the 1100 or 1100S – the later basically being Cooper S.
    Many of these cars got trashed for their motors & brakes to build Mini “Coopers” to go historic racing.

  22. Karl

    Back in the 60’s Four of us drove a 66 Austin 1100 filled with camping gear from Winnipeg MB to PEI and down to New York City and back with no issues except it started overheating on the way home so I had to turn the heat on to help the cooling and this was in summer. You could have fried an egg on the floor if you could find a piece of floor that was still there.

  23. Russell

    Was there ever an Innocenti version of these?

  24. Steve

    In the vintage audio equipment hobby we call this WAF (wife approval factor)…… while its the same thing, its a bit different with cars as they take up more space.

  25. Nevis Beeman

    For that price, a British enthusiast of the 1100/1300 range of cars could buy her, and pay to ship her home to the UK., and still have a good deal.
    Incidently did the estate car version ever make it to the USA ?

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Not officially, Nevis. We got the MG 1100 and the Austin America only.

  26. John

    Sadly, no. I’ve only ever seen one photo of one. I presumed this t to have been a one off. I did see a four-door version once on the east coast.

  27. Concinity

    In addition to those British market badge engineered versions of the ADO16, (not the ADO13), there were also the two European assembled versions in Spain and Italy
    The Spanish Authi brand, Automoviles de Turismo Hispano Ingleses, made these and minis for various left hand drive markets like Norway and Greece between 1965 and 1977. (LHD=Driving on the same side of the road as the US) Built in a brand new factory built by BLMC just for the purpose at Pamplona. The factory is now owned by VW and produces VWs and Seats.
    The Italian versions came from a joint venture,(at first,) with Innocenti in Milan, maker of scooters and auto parts and ended up being a full BLMC subsidiary. Cars were produced by Innocenti from 1959 starting with the Austin A40 and continuing through with the mini and the ADO16. This model had numerous trim differences from the UK originals, like a fuel filler under a locking flap, a repositioned more vertical steeringwheel, and in later versions headlights similar to those on W107 Mercedes Benzes.These were marketed under Austin and Morris as well as Innocenti branding and were marketed strongly as the Innocenti IM3. More history here on the great AustinRover site. BLMC went bust in 1975 and the operation was brought by Alessandro De Tomaso who had no funding for new models though the Chrysler TC by Maserati was built in the plant along with BiTurbos and Quattroportes. In ’96 the plant became part of Fiat

    It’s curious seeing the remarks on the car’s styling. The styling is 100% Pininfarina, the designer of Peugeot 404, 504, 604 and 405, and virtually all Ferraris and many Fiats like the first 124 Spider. Maybe US observers aren’t used to seeing small cars properly designed with their proportions changing to preserve space inside?
    These cars are very roomy inside for the small amount of road space they take up.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Thanks for the thorough post!

      I think the styling is a love or hate kind of thing. I know folks are surprised when they sit in either an original Mini or ADO16 as to the amount of room inside.

  28. Brian M Member

    Jamie + America is only an n short of Jamaican.
    Just had to tease you.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Brian knows I want a Jamaican, too–the Fiberfab kit car!

  29. Karl

    What does that even mean?

  30. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Thank you, Barn Finds readers (I guess)! It’s now safely up to $515.00. 😀😔

  31. Bellingham Fred

    Lots of cool comments/stories about bringing new stuff home and getting it by the wife. One of my favorite lines comes from the reverse. Getting rid of something. A guy was trying to sell a bunch of merchandise that he had bought wholesale on the hopes of selling retail. His business venture had failed and now he was trying to sell the lot to a friend of mine. My friend told him that the quality wasn’t up to his standards, etc, etc. Bottom line: I don’t want this junk. The guy finally said he’d take next to nothing. “I can always lie about the money, but my wife will know if I bring this stuff back home.”

  32. gaspumpchas

    Budget priced diamond in the rough. I worked at a BMC dealership in the 60’s and they had these.Orphan stepchild to the REAL Austin Mini.These got into the US but alas,they wouldn’t let the Mini In for safety or emissions reason. fix the rust,doll it up with some Mini Goodies. Do your best to make the Lucas (prince of Darkness) electrical system more reliable then drive the piss out of it!!!

  33. Brian M Member

    I went through the spousal edict about eight years ago after finishing my 27 year TR3A resto: “Nothing with wheels better follow you home until I get a new kitchen!” About that time I got a piece of the tobacco class action settlement and spent just about all of it on, guess what?, the new kitchen. Since then the following wheeled goods, all projects, have shown up: 64 sprite, 65 Herald, 60 TR3A parts car, 69 Morris Minor Traveller and Jamie’s Jamaican, which is still here in Florida pining away for North Carolina based ownership.
    My alphabetical equation should properly also have shown that Jamie + America + n – meri = Jamaican for the grammatical and spelling purists.
    By the way, as a 44 year owner of things British and Lucas-Lit (on not) the other equation is: SL = (n-1)Et (success with Lucas = having one less than the total electrical items in functioning order.) Ya can’t have everything at once.

  34. Larry Grinnell

    Back in 1972, I was looking for a replacement for my first car, a 1952 Willys Aero Ace (don’t ask). Among the cars I looked at and fortunately passed on included a 1967 Pontiac Tempest Sprint with the OHC-6 (my mechanic told me to run away from it), and a 1970 or 71 Austin America (automatic). Just driving it around the dealer’s lot told me plenty, starting with an exhaust system with multiple broken welds. I then looked at a brand new 1972 AMC Gremlin (the most basic 232 “6” with 3 on the floor, no back seat, but with air conditioning–it was Florida after all) which I could have had for right around $2,000. For a struggling radio station transmitter/automation “babysitter” making minimum wage ($2.00/hour), the price was too dear. I finally settled on a ’68 Plymouth Valiant Signet 4-door with manual steering, brakes, Torqueflite, Sears underdash air conditioner (see note about Florida above), and factory bucket seats (!). I got that one for $1,000 (my stepdad, bless him, signed the note and gave me the payment book), and it served me well for several years, until I traded it for a supposedly more economical ’72 VW Superbeetle (the less I talk about that one, the better for my blood pressure). The Austin America was really attractive to me for the weird factor, but I had read Dick O’Kane’s hysterically funny book on maintaining foreign cars, and that scared me away.

  35. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Well, it ended up at $840!!! I really hope it was one of you readers (it wasn’t me)…

  36. Mark-A

    Personally I really like the MG1300, remember my Dad had a Dark Purple coloured one with a Red Vinyl interior, always liked the Twin Carburettor MG with the 1275cc A-Series engine (exactly the same as the Mini Cooper S!) Found this exceptionally well looked after example online,

  37. -Bear-

    Looks like someone has decided that this car is now worth MUCH MORE than the original “No Reserve” auction’s winning bid of $840.00.
    (Relisted on eBay with a $2K starting point!) :-O

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