Austin Princess (1975 – 1982) Review

Austin Princess (1975 – 1982) At A Glance


+Roomy, great ride, cool styling

-Nasty gearchange, unsteerable without power assistance

The Princess truly is the car with no name. It was launched as as a series of three models, from Austin, Morris and Wolseley, then became the 'marqueless' Princess just six months later. And pretty much everyone just called it a 'Leyland'. It might have been a controversial car when new, but not because it it was a poor car. Far from it - the Princess was a case of the politics being more interesting than the product.

The Princess couldn’t have looked more different from the 1800/2200 series it replaced, even though it retained the same four- and six-cylinder engines and front-wheel drive. Lack of build qualityand reliability in the earliest cars let down an innovative design, although if a hatchback had been incorporated right from the start it might well have sold better better especially in export markets. More appreciated now than when current.

Ask Honest John

Old British cars of the 1970s were probably more susceptible to rust than modern cars.

"The email regarding paint problems following bonnet repairs reminded me of problems I had about thirty years ago when I was unfortunate enough to own a BL Princess. After about 12 months, pit marks appeared on the bonnet and rear of roof. The local BL dealer, presumably knowing that they would not be paid by BL, said it was chip marks and said that it would have to be inspected by a BL rep, who looked at the bonnet and repeated the diagnosis. When I showed him the similar spots on the roof, he reluctantly agreed to allow the roof to be resprayed but I had to cover the cost of the bonnet myself. When the job was done, the paintwork crazed. I left the car with another garage and they said that the whole problem had been with the undercoat, and they had had to strip the paintwork down to the bare metal on the bonnet and put a vinyl covering on the roof. As my previous three Fords had all broken down during the first week, you can appreciate why, since that time, I have never purchased another car manufactured in Britain."
Inadequate treatment of the steel, priming and seam-sealing led to the rust problem on 1997 – 2003 Mercedes-Benz models, so Brit manufacturers are not alone. That said, Cortinas contemporary to your Princess routinely rusted through their front wings within three years. Alfas and FIATs suffered rust all over their bodies. This could occur anywhere due to imperfections in the poor quality recycled Russian steel used.
Answered by Honest John
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