British Leyland Princess
1. Princess Picture Slideshow
2. 1978 TV Advert
3. British Leyland Challenge from BBC Top Gear
4. 1980 2000ST and a 1978 2200HLS. The groovy music is called Stilleto by Chico Rey and the Jet Band.
5. "Don't be a sheep" British TV advert
Princess cars were built by British Leyland (Austin, Morris and Wolseley) between 1975 and 1981. It was then replaced by the Austin Ambassador which lasted until 1984. They are often referred to as the Austin Princess, but this name was only ever used in New Zealand. The Austin Princess was actually a limousine car built from 1947 to 1956.
Like its predecessor (BMC AD017), the Princess was front wheel drive with a Transverse engine. This gave extra room in the cabin for a family, giving the car over many of its European competitors.
The car was designed by Harris Mann who had also designed the Triumph TR7, and the wedge shape was pretty trendy during the 1970s. Personally, I always thought the Princess looked somewhat like a family version of the TR7.
The Princess launched with a retail price of £2,424. Tests conducted by British Autocar Magazine revealed the following figures;
Fuel Consumption: 20.7 MPG
Maximum Speed: 104 MPH
0-60: 13.5 seconds
Indeed, it became well-known that the Princess suffered from reliability issues and sales suffered as a consequence, despite a promising start in the mid 70's. Constant strikes and poor quality control were partly to blame. Many of its competitors also gained a fifth door (tailgate) rather than a boot, and the oil crisis also added to a slump in sales. A total of 224,942 units were sold before the end of production in November 1981.
This picture features a British Leyland Princess 2 HL from 1979. The Princess 2 was built between 1977 and 1981.
Rear view of a 1700 HL (1979) model
This is, sadly, what many Princesses will look like now