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The British Motor Corporation (BMC) was a UK vehicle company, formed by the merger of the Austin Motor Company and the Nuffield Organisation (parent of the Morris car company, MG, Riley and Wolseley) in 1952.


BMC was the largest British car company of its day, with (in 1952) 39 percent of British output, producing a wide range of cars under brand names including Austin, Morris, MG, Austin-Healey, Wolseley as well as commercial vehicles and agricultural tractors. The first chairman was Lord Nuffield (William Morris) but he was replaced in August 1952 by Austin's Leonard Lord who continued in that role until his 65th birthday in 1961 but handing over, in theory at least, the managing director responsibilities to his deputy George Harriman in 1956.

BMC's headquarters were at the Austin plant at Longbridge, near Birmingham and Austin was the dominant partner in the group mainly because of the chairman. The use of Morris engine designs was dropped within 3 years and all new car designs were coded ADO from "Austin Drawing Office". The Longbridge plant was up to date, having been thoroughly modernised in 1951, and compared very favourably with Nuffield's 16 different and often old fashioned factories scattered over the English Midlands. Austin's management systems however, especially cost control and marketing were not as good as Nuffield's and as the market changed from a shortage of cars to competition this was to tell. The biggest selling car, the Mini, was famously analysed by Ford Motor Company who concluded that BMC were losing £30 on every one sold. The result was that although volumes held up well throughout the BMC era, market share fell as did profitability and hence investment in new models, resulting eventually in the merger with Leyland Motor Corporation.

At the time of the mergers, there was a well established dealership network for each of the marques. Among the car-buying British public there was a tendency of loyalty to a particular marque and marques appealed to different market segments. This meant that marques competed against each other in some areas, though some marques had a larger range than others. The Riley and Wolseley models were selling in very small numbers. Styling was also getting distinctly old fashioned and this caused Leonard Lord, in an unusual move for him, to call upon the services of an external stylist.

BMC Farina

In 1958, BMC hired Pinin Farina to redesign its entire car line. This resulted in the creation of three "Farina" saloons, each of which was badge-engineered to fit the various BMC car lines.

The smallest of these, a re-bodied Austin A35, appeared in 1958 as the Austin A40 Farina. This is often mistakenly believed to be the first hatchback car produced, though that distinction probably belongs to the Citroën Traction Avant Commerciale of 1938. However, the Farina A40's distinctive 'two-box' shape was the forerunner of the modern hatchback design. A Mark II A40 Farina appeared in 1961 and was produced through 1967. These small cars used the A-Series engine.

The mid-sized Farinas were launched in 1958 with the Wolseley 15/60. Other members of the group included the Riley 4/68, Austin A55 Cambridge Mk. II, MG Magnette Mk. III, and Morris Oxford V. Later, the design was licensed in Argentina and produced as the Di Tella 1500/Traveller/Argenta. The mid-size cars used the B-Series straight-4 engine.

Most of these cars lasted only through to 1961, though the Di Tellas remained for four more years. They were replaced with a new Farina body style and most were renamed. These were the Austin A60 Cambridge, MG Magnette Mk. IV, Morris Oxford VI, Riley 4/72, and Wolseley 16/60. These mostly remained in production through 1968, with no rear wheel drive replacement produced.

Farina also designed a large car. Launched in 1959 as the Austin A99 Westminster, Vanden Plas Princess 3-Litre, and Wolseley 6/99, it used the large C-Series straight-6 engine. The large Farinas were updated in 1961 as the Austin A110 Westminster, Vanden Plas Princess 3-Litre Mk. II, and Wolseley 6/110. These remained in production through 1971.

BMC Cars

"Inherited" Models


  • Austin A125 Sheerline 1947-1954
  • Austin A135 Princess 1947-1956
  • Austin A40 Sports 1950-1953
  • Austin A70 Hereford 1950-1954
  • Austin A30 1951-1956
  • Austin A40 Devon 1947-1952


  • MG TD 1949-1953
  • MG Y 1947-1953



  • Riley RM series 1945-1955


  • Wolseley 4/50 1948-1953
  • Wolseley 6/80 1948-1954
  • Wolseley Oxford Taxi 1947-1955

BMC Designs






Vanden Plas


BMC Project Numbers

Most BMC projects followed the earlier Austin practice of describing vehicles with an 'ADO' number (which stands for 'Austin Design Office'). Hence cars that had more than one marque name (e.g. Austin Se7en and Morris Mini Minor) would have the same ADO number:

BMC Commercial Vehicles

Most BMC era commercial vehicles were sold as Morris but there were sometimes Austin equivalents. Radiator badges on the larger vehicles were often BMC.

Car based light vans

  • Morris Z-series ¼-ton (Morris Eight Series E) 1940-1953
  • Morris ¼-ton O-Type (Morris Minor van) 1953-1971
  • Morris Cowley MCV (Morris Oxford van) 1950-1956
  • Austin A30 van 1954-1956
  • Austin A35 van 1956-1968
  • Austin A35 pick-up 1956-1957
  • Morris ½-ton (Morris Oxford Series III van) 1956-1962
  • Austin A55/A60 van 1958-1972
  • Austin A55/A60 pick-up (Australian built) 1958-1972
  • Mini van 1960-1982
  • Mini pick-up 1961-1982
  • Austin A40 Farina van (export only) 1961-1967

Light Vans

  • Austin K8 1948-1954
  • Morris J-type 1949-1960
  • Morris LD 1952-1968
  • Morris J2 1956-1967
  • Austin/Morris J4 1960-1974

Light Trucks

  • Morris LC4 1952-1954
  • Morris LC5 1954-1960
  • Morris FV-series (Series I) 1948-1954
  • Morris FV-series (Series II) 1954-1955
  • Morris FE-series (Series III) 1955-1959
  • Morris FG 1960-1968
  • Morris FM 1961-1968
  • Morris WE 1955-1964
  • Morris WF 1964-1981
  • Morris FF 1958-1961
  • Morris FH 1961-1964
  • Morris FJ 1964-1968

The end of BMC

In 1966 BMC and Pressed Steel merged with Jaguar Cars to form British Motor Holdings (BMH). In 1968 there was a further wave of mergers in the British car industry, and BMH merged with the Leyland Motor Corporation (LMC) to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC), the original BMC mass-production, and MG sports car products being brought together into the Austin Morris division of the new organisation. In 1975 BLMC was nationalised and became British Leyland Limited.

External links

Automobiles made by BMC, BL and Rover Group companies
Austin | Austin-Healey | British Leyland | Jaguar | MG | Morris | Riley | Rover | MG Rover | Triumph | Vanden Plas | Wolseley
Austin models: A40 | Cambridge | Westminster | A35 | A30 | Mini | 1100/1300 | Mini Moke | 1800 | 3-Litre | Maxi | Allegro | Mini Metro | Maestro | Montego
Austin-Healey models: 100 | 3000 | Sprite
British Leyland models: Princess | P76 (Australia only)
Jaguar models: XJ6 | XJ12 | XJS
Morris models: Minor | Oxford | Cowley | Mini | 1100/1300 | 1800 | Marina/Ital
MG models: MGA | Magnette | Midget | Montego | MGB | MGC | 1100/1300 | MG RV8 | MG F/TF | MG ZT | MG ZR | MG ZS | MG SV
Riley models: Pathfinder | 2.6 | 1.5 | 4/68 | Elf | Kestrel
Rover models: P3 | P4 | P5 | P6 | SD1 | 25 | 75 (post-P4) | 45 | 400 | 200 | 100 (post-P4) | 800 | 600 | CityRover | Estoura | Streetwise
Triumph models: Herald | Spitfire | Vitesse | GT6 | Stag | TR7 | Toledo | 1300 |1500 | 2000 | 2.5 & 2500 | Dolomite | Acclaim
Vanden Plas models: Princess | 3-Litre | 1100/1300
Wolseley models: 4/44 | 6/90 | 15/50 | 1500 | 16/60 | 6/99 | 6/110 | Hornet | 1100/1300 | 18/85
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