When reading any of the histories of the Mini, or any other vehicle that used the A-series engine, or about the engine itself, it is easy to get the impression that the engines were only ever made in the UK.
Many of BMC's overseas factories had the facilities, the expertise and the incentive to at least assemble, if not completely produce from scratch the engines. Innocenti in Italy, Authi in Spain and BMC in South Africa and Australia all assembled the A-series engine.
It is not known if these engines are included in overall production numbers, or if only those supplied as Completely Built Up (CBU) were included. Either way, though, the fact they were assembled locally needs to be recognised.
South Africa went further than any other subsidiary of BMC, by actually casting and machining their own unique version of the engine, and we will have their story in the next issue.
Not a lot is known about the situation in Italy and Spain, and the complex Australian story is interesting but, due to the usual lack of records, difficult to uncover.
A great many cars made or assembled in Australia used the A-Series engine. See the table on the next page for the full list. These cars were assembled in Austin's factory in Melbourne, BMC's main assembly plant at Zetland, Sydney - in the CKD building (later CAB2) and in CAB3 - and at the Pressed Metal Corporation's plant at Enfield (later Leyland Australia), also in Sydney.
For the most part, these were supplied with engines imported CBU from the UK, but from early 1964, with car assembly mostly confined to Zetland, BMC began assembling A-series engines from CKD.
Peter Davis, former Administrative Manager for Product Engineering at Zetland, has identified over 50 model variants that used the A-series engine. Of these, only the front-wheel-drive (FWD) Mini, Moke and 1100/1300 range built at Zetland, with the exception of the Cooper models and automatics, had engines that were assembled from Completely Knock Down (CKD) packs.
While Zetland had the facilities to machine engine blocks, these were fully utilised with production of the B-series, in 4 and 6 cylinder variants, and later the E-series engines, also in 4 or 6 cylinders. The cost involved in setting up machining facilities for the A-series engines was not considered economically viable.
The decision to assemble engines from CKD was part of the overall requirement to meet the Government's Plan A for local content, which was based on input value.
If you would like to read the rest of this story, subscribe to the magazine today, or grab a copy from your local newsagent.
All back issues of The BMC Experience are now available in digital format from www.pocketmags.com.