Out now: the Autocade Yearbook 2024
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Out now: Autocade Yearbook 2024

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Not well known as a marque, but it existed briefly in 1959–60 on a luxury version of the Austin A99 Westminster, before that model was rebadged as the Vanden Plas Princess. In the 1970s, the name was revived under British Leyland without Austin, Morris or Leyland identifiers (though in New Zealand, the car was officially the Austin Princess). The car appeared in new-car price lists as Leyland Princess in some cases, and is referred to as such by many people. In 1980, the cars were sold with the Austin Morris badge, but apart from the antipodean models, BL resisted putting either one in word form on UK models.

Conceived as a replacement for the BMC “Landcrab” 1800 and 2200 models, Project Diablo (as it was known internally) was a modern wedge-shaped four-door saloon (there was no hatchback) whose interior room shamed most of its 1970s rivals. However, negative British press hampered the car’s chances almost on its launch. It was launched in Austin, Morris and Wolseley versions, which lasted mere months before BL introduced its Princess moniker. The cars never sold well but remained in production as Austin–Morris’s flagship until 1981, when it was replaced by the Austin Ambassador.


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Out now: Autocade Yearbook 2024