Austin Cambridge A60 (1961 - 1969)

In the BMC mass facelift session of autumn 1961, the A55 Mk II was transmuted into the A60, and although the same basic bodyshell and mechanical layout was retained, it became a much better car in all aspects. With that in mind, it is not at all surprising that it stayed in production for more than seven years. BMC's management themselves must have been surprised, and rather taken aback, by the continuing demand, for they had expected it to die when faced with in-house opposition from the new front-wheel-drive 1800. When they found orders not drying up, and Longbridge could no longer cope with the production of both types, assembly of Austin Cambridges was moved to Cowley, where the cars took shape among their Oxford, MG, Riley and Wolseley equivalents.

Compared with the A55 Mk II, the A60 had a longer wheelbase, wider tracks, better roadholding, modified styling, a bigger engine and more performance - plus, for the first time, the option of Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmission. It was quite a transformation.

Visually, the A60 was recognized by a new and rather wider-mouthed front grille, while at the rear the fins had been reduced in size and aggressiveness, with new tail-lamp clusters being specified, plus different duo-tone colour schemes to extra order. There was a new facia style, with simulated wood-grain finish, modified seating and trim, and other details.

Mechanically, the big change was a corporate switch from 1,489cc to 1,622cc B-Series engine, which boosted the power and torque, with overall gearing raised to suit. Also, the car's wheelbase had been increased by 1.1 inches by the simple expedient of moving the rear axle back on its springs. The front and rear tracks were both increased, anti-roll bars were added to front and rear suspension, and the result was much better handling response than before, but still no more than adequate by modern standards.

In the next seven years, few changes were made to the A60, which continued to be built as a saloon or an estate car. However, duo-tone paintwork was standardized from the autumn of 1962, and there were further minor development changes at the end of 1964. The A60 and its sister car, the Morris Oxford Series VI, went on until 1969, when British Leyland finally killed off the Austin, but the Morris and Wolseley lived on until 1971.

Austin A60 Cambridge specification

As for Austin A55 except for:

Produced: Longbridge, 1961-65, then Cowley, 1965-69. 175, 674 cars built at Longbridge, approximately 101,000 at Cowley. (Accurate Cowley figures are not available).

Engine and transmission: 1,622cc, 76.2 x 88.9mm, 61bhp at 4,500rpm; 90lb ft at 2,100rpm; 4-speed gearbox, no synchromesh on 1st gear; centre-floor gear-change or steering-column change; optional automatic transmission.

Chassis: Front and rear anti-roll bars.

Dimensions: Wheelbase 8ft 4.35in; front track 4ft 2.6in; rear track 4ft 3.4in; length 14ft 6.5in.

Distinguishing features from previous model: Different front and rear bumpers, changed profile to rear fins, new grille and facia, new waistline mouldings.

Typical performance: Maximum speed 81mph; 0-60mph 21.4sec; standing 1/4-mile 21.8sec; overall fuel consumption 26mpg.

Launch Price: £854

Derivatives: Estate car version also available. Close mechanical and family resemblance to all other B-Series Farina models.

Fate: Both body types discontinued in 1969 in favour of the already established and entirely different Austin 1800 model.

Trivia facts: Austin A60 Cambridge: The most ubiquitous of all the BMC 4 cylinder Farina' s; over 276 000 were produced across both Longbridge and Cowley. Distinguished by a two tone stripe rather than whole different body areas for the two tone paint. June Brown (Dot Cotton from East Enders) ran an A60 Cambridge for some years until it was stolen. The A60 was immortalised, along with other British cars, in the 'Italian Job '. A maroon example falls off the car transporter onto the Police chief's car, when the car transporter is being used by the police as a battering ram immediately after the robbery.

Source: "The Cars of BMC" - Graham Robson (Motor Racing Publications, 1987)