MG 1100 Sports Sedan 1964

Restoration Project

and Concours Winner

by Marty Ray

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The MG 1100 was one of several marque versions collectively known as ADO 16 and produced by BMC using the same basic components. As an outgrowth of the Mini concept, it has the same basic design but is larger. This design was revolutionary, providing advantages in handling, performance, economy, and interior space in a relatively small package for a relatively low price. This is achieved by using a transversely mounted engine, with gearbox and final drive below the engine, front wheel drive, wheels close to the corners, relatively light body shell with front and rear subframes on which the mechanical components are mounted. ADO 16 cars also came with a revolutionary new type of suspension known as "Hydrolastic" which uses high pressure fluid instead of springs or shock absorbers. This system was also installed on some Minis. The marque name versions of ADO 16 include Austin, Morris, Riley, MG, Wolseley, and Vanden Plas. Someone once informed me that this car "was what was happening in economy cars in the early 60s".

The MG 1100 (like other versions of ADO 16) was introduced in 1962 and represented the forward thinking and creative design and engineering that was prevalent in Britain at that time. Literally millions of ADO 16 cars were sold by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and later BL through the 60s and 70s, and today these cars are very popular classics in England, with about 1000 or more members of the "1100 Club" which caters to these models. In the USA they are less well known and underappreciated. Whereas MGs were usually manufactured at the MG factory in Abingdon-on-Thames, the MG 1100s, like all other versions of the 1100, were made in the big BMC plant at Longbridge, Birmingham. This was actually the former home of Austin Motors, which had undergone a merger with William Morris's Nuffield Group in 1952 to form BMC.

This beautiful restored example is owned by Lora Lerner and was restored by Marty Ray. The restoration consumed over 700 hours of labor, not including searching for parts and time related to outside services. The car was stripped down to a nearly bare body shell, but the hydrolastic system was not disconnected or removed, so the front subframe was dropped down somewhat but not removed. The rear subframe was left in place. Rust repairs were made to a few small but critical areas, notably the areas near where the rear rubber mounts for the front subframe are attached. The body was cleaned inside and out, prepared carefully, and painted on the inside and outside. The front subframe was painted black whilst lowered down. The suspension and brakes were rebuilt as needed, a new engine and rebuilt gearbox were installed, and many other components were renewed. The bodywork was reassembled with new window seals, NOS vent window assemblies, new rubber seals throughout, various parts carefully restored and renewed. Many original trim parts were rechromed or polished, others were replaced. Certain tasteful modifications desired by the owner were created and installed, such as headrests on the seats, a third brake lamp, custom dash modifications to accept a stereo unit, reverse lamps and a custom recreated fiberglass underdash panel (the original was made of pressed fiber and was disintegrating). The dash was also reveneered in a custom wood, olive ash burl.

The above cutaway style illustration shows the power unit of this car, from the rear. This picture is from the first pages of the factory service manual. This 1964 model MG 1100 came with a BMC A series 1098cc 4 cylinder overhead valve 3 main bearing engine, a 4 speed gearbox with synchromesh on the top 3 gears, disc brakes in front and drums in the rear, rack and pinion steering, and 4 wheel independent suspension. The restored car has been tastefully upgraded to an A+ series 1275cc engine mated to an all synchromesh gearbox. This type of engine was used in the MG Metro and MG Metro Turbo, both of which were made in the 80s in England but were never imported to the USA. This car too was a further development of the design concepts of the Mini and ADO 16.

This gorgeous grille was one of the great triumphs of the restoration project, as it was found NOS at a swap meet.

This and the following are various exterior views of the car.

Many many small repairs and improvements were incorporated into the restoration, some of which are shown below in a section of details. This was a very rewarding project and the quality of the work was recognized when the car became a show winner. Of the many shows where the car has been exhibited, the most prestigious was the Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance, an invitation only show, where the car won an award in it's class.

This shows the engine compartment with the transverse engine and radiator on the side-- the fan blows air through and out louvers in the inner fender. This car came with a radiator overflow tank, which was an advanced feature in 1962 (almost all cars now have some form of this feature).

A hydrolastic suspension unit with its flexible pipe leading to the piping connecting this unit to its partner on the rear wheel on the same side of the car. We did not disconnect this system, but we found someone with the correct equipment to pump up the system. This system contains a fluid which is similar to a mixture of antifreeze and alcohol, at a pressure of about 300 psi. After pumping the car returned to its proper ride height. The car is said to "float on fluid" with this system, and you can see a picture of a decal advertizing that notion in the MG lifestyle section of this website. The hydrolastic suspension, as well as the compressed rubber cone suspension employed on most Minis, was designed by Alex Moulton, an engineer who worked in rubber technology. Moulton also designed a revolutionary type of bicycle which was one of the first bicycles to have a suspension.

This photo shows the overall engine compartment and front portion of the car.

The underhood area was carefully painted and detailed.

Various custom brackets had to be fabricated in order to install the 1275 A + type engine, such as this one to locate the radiator. An engine restraining rod was installed, also an oil pressure gauge in the engine bay area.

All the jam and lip areas around the entire car were detailed and painted, and new rubber was installed.

The car number plate. This makes it appear that the car was manufactured at Abingdon, but all 1100s were made at Longbridge.

The interior was completely redone, using a color for seat piping that was close to the exterior color. The new seats were pattered as close to the originals as possible.

In this view can be seen the overall layout of the dashboard, and the bus-like steering wheel. The long willowy gearshift lever, dubbed the "magic wand" shifter, is also visible.

A fairly large boot (trunck) is present, we installed new wood in this area and somewhat improved carpeting.

Carpeting was renewed. This view also shows some of the newly reproduced fiberglas parcel shelf, as well as the underdash controls for the heater.


The new glove compartment. This area appears stock but has been customised, in order to eliminate the large ashtray formerly present in the dash center, and to make space to install the stereo unit.

This is the left hand end of the dash where most of the controls are located, the olive ash burl grain can easily be seen in this view. The speedometer is a strip style with a gauged at each end. The vinyl of the surrounding padded area was renewed.

This shows the famous "light on the end of the stalk" turn signal switch handle. This light flashes when the switch is moved to operate the turn signals on either side. The photo had to be carefully timed to capture the flash. Presumably at the time the car was new, this was a somewhat "hi-tech" feature.




Text, layout and photography (unless noted) by Marty Ray (