Austin Kimberley

By John Quilter

Leyland Australia built many cars that were based on UK BMC or British Leyland designs but they often modified them for specific market conditions in the Australian market which was quite different than the UK where they were competing with locally built versions of “compact” American cars such as the Ford Falcon,  Chrysler Valiant or scaled down GM cars in the form of Holdens.     One of these Leyland Australia cars was the Austin Kimberley and Tasman made from about 1970 to 1973.   This car was a redesign of the British market Austin 1800 and later 2200 six cylinder car.   The Australians used the E series single overhead cam engine as did the BL 2200 made in Morris, Austin and Wolseley marques.

The Australians redesigned the C pillar, filled in the quarter window and extended and enlarged the boot.  Front styling differed as well accommodating rectangular headlamps and a horizontal thin barred grill.  The Kimberley was the more upscale version and the entry level Tasman used two round 7 inch headlamps and smaller hub caps versus the full wheel covers on the Kimberley.   Interiors were plusher on the Kimberley and there were some power differences since the Kimberley used twin SU HS6 carburettors while the Tasman made do with a single SU all on the same basic 2200cc engine.   Standard gearbox was a four speed manual with an optional automatic.   One interesting feature included in the model is a center high mount stop light, well ahead of its time in the early 1970s.  For design and tooling economy the BL empire made maximum use of the doors of this car, they first appearing on the 1800, then the Maxi, then the Austin 3 liter and even overseas on the Kimberley.

The model of this car is by Trax based in Australia but made in China and sold by their agents, Top Gear.  It is a resin casting with all the usual details such as photo etched wipers, window frames and chrome features.  There is some detail on the undercarriage as well although the engine sump seems to me more applicable to a rear wheel drive car.   The color, harvest gold, was a common color of this era and often seen on BL cars such as the MGB.   Trax offers a number of Australian cars in their range including he British redesigns but they are of relatively limited production and sell out rapidly in many cases.   Sometimes they are reintroduced in new colours to extend the production time.

The photo shows a comparison of the BMC 1800/2200 car as produced in the UK and clearly shows the enlarged boot and windowless rear pillars.


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