Vanden Plas Princess 1100
The Morris 1100 was launched in August 1962 with its revolutionary newly developed Hydrolastic suspension. This was followed by the MG 1100 in October 1962 and the Austin 1100 in September 1963.
Mr Fred Connolly, of the famous firm of curriers, requested Vanden Plas to produce for him a Morris 1100 with special paint, special interior and radiator grille.The car shown in the photo was the only one produced. It was painted duo-tone Sherwood Green over Dark Green with a Champagne Beige leather interior.
No doubt buoyed on by the luxury Mini's being produced at the time by Wood & Pickett and Radford, BMC asked Vanden Plas to consider a plusher version of the 1100. With its distinctive external front end a prototype was produced in October 1963 in readiness for the Earls Court Motor Show. The car with its 'DEV 1' registration plate and shown in the photos was painted and trimmed the same as the 'Connolly' 1100. Because of the extra weight of the luxury fittings the MG 1100 twin carburettor engine was fitted to the Princess. This was mated to a 4-speed manual gearbox. Hydrolastic suspension, rack and pinion steering and disc front brakes featured in the specification. The prototype was fitted with standard 1100 front and rear bumpers and overriders. A single-page hand-out leaflet was produced for the Show. This mentions just one colour scheme. At that stage there was no plan to put the car into full scale production.
However interest in the car at the show was so great that a decision was made to produce the model which started in April 1964.
As can be seen the interior of the Princess 1100 received a full width walnut veneered facia with recessed instruments, walnut door capping's and picnic tables fitted to the rear of each front seat. West of England cloth was used for the roof lining, best Wilton carpet covered the floor and Connolly leather was used for all seat wearing surfaces. Each front seat was fitted with an individual folding armrest and a central armrest was fitted to the rear bench. Reading lights were fitted to each rear quarter panel. Extra sound deadening was used to further damp external noise. A larger rear bumper was fitted extending around to each rear wheel arch and larger rear overriders were fitted directly under each rear light cluster. This was the only current BMC model to be offered with the choice of a metal sliding roof.The Princess 1100 cost £896 at launch some £195 more than the MG 1100.
A.P. 4-speed automatic transmission was offered from 1966 but these cars were fitted with a single S.U. HS4 carburettor with the manual cars retaining twin HS2 carburettors.
Total Mark I production amounted to 15,256 of which only 88 were automatics. The final Princess 1100 Mark I was built in September 1967.
Just two Vanden Plas Princess 1100 estates (Countryman) were built by Vanden Plas at Kingsbury. The first in 1964 and the second in late 1966. Both were painted Dark Green monotone with Champagne Beige interiors.
The Mark II Vanden Plas Princess 1100 was introduced in September 1967. The main differences externally to the Mark I were the cropped rear tail fins, flatter rear light clusters and the use of ventilated wheels and front wing side repeater flashers. Internally the seats were redesigned with leather now only used for the central wearing surfaces with Ambla used for the side squabs. A single central front seat armrest was fitted in place of the Mark I's armrest on each seat. The front door armrest pockets were deleted but were replaced by front seat back pockets fitted below the picnic tables. The glovebox lid and picnic table handles were redesigned and repositioned for safety reasons. There were no mechanical changes. The Mark II Princess 1100 lasted only until June 1968. Just 606 were produced of which 163 were automatics.