What if BL had introduced the Innocenti Mini 90/120 in the UK?
"It’s a question that many people asked throughout the mid-to-late 1970s, and yet we’ve never really looked too deeply into. The story of BMC, BL and Rover is littered with frustrating and tragic what-ifs, but the question of whether BL should have introduced its own version of the Innocenti Mini 90/120 really does bear pulling off the shelf and dusting off once again."
More on AROnline:-
From the article comments section Ian Nicholls says:-
This is from the draft of my Austin Morris story….
“Then on October 22nd Leyland Innocenti announced its Bertone styled 90/120 hatchback Mini. Codenamed P53, it had been instigated by Innocenti because they were tired of waiting for British Leyland to produce a replacement Mini.
Inherited by Geoffrey Robinson when BLMC bought out Innocenti in May 1972, he nurtured the project, and did his best to keep cost information out of the prying eyes of British Leyland’s bean counters.
The main problem with the P53 was that its interior packaging was inferior to the original Mini, and was not a genuine four seater, although it was good enough to carry children in the rear. Geoffrey Robinson was of the opinion that the car needed an extra 9 inches, and that would cost an extra £1 million, around £10 million today, which Leyland Innocenti did not have.
When questioned why the P53 90/120 would not be sold in Britain, British Leyland responded with;
“When a new Mini does arrive from BL it will be a completely new package not just a shell.”
With production of the P53 having begun in September, Leyland Innocenti began to run down production of the traditional shaped Mini, which finally ended in January 1975.”
Innocenti Mini 90/120 (P53) development story
"In 1974, Leyland’s Italian subsidiary Innocenti introduced a rebodied, three-door hatchback Mini, styled by Bertone. However, within a year of its launch, BLMC went bankrupt, the company was sold to de Tomaso, and the opportunity to sell the Innocenti Mini 90/120 in the UK was lost forever."
Motor magazine Road Test, August 1979: Innocenti Mini De Tomaso
"Enginewise it’s the familiar A-series in 998cc form in the 90, and 1275cc form in the 120 and the de Tomaso, but performance-wise they’re like nothing that’s been seen in this country since the days of the Coopers. The 998, for example, is rated at 49bhp (DIN), 10bhp more than the UK version, while our own 1275GT’s 55bhp looks distinctly weedy compared to the 65bhp (DIN) of the 120, or the 71bhp (74 on 1978 models) of the de Tomaso.
In fact the latter is to all intents and purposes in Cooper ‘S’ tune, though it uses a single 1.25in SU in place of the S’s twin 1.25s, and has an ordinary 1275 camshaft, advanced by 4 degrees, rather than the old S’s wider-overlap grind. What’s more, these pokey units are not specially breathed upon by some Italian tuning wizard, but are actually produced in the UK and then shipped out to the Italian manufacturer, which makes you wonder what’s to stop BL from slotting them into the 1275GT; excuses about ‘rationalisation’ begin to sound a bit hollow….."
Edited by mab01uk, 26 December 2018 - 11:54 PM.