1974 Leyland Mini
In the early 1970s, Australian Design Rule restrictions meant the base model Mini was slowly brought up to the standard of the deluxe models, rendering the cheap fleet Minis obsolete.
In line with ADRs, in 1972 and 1973 all Minis received head restraints on the seats, steering-lock ignition switches, self-park windscreen wipers and electric washers. Earlier, heaters with windscreen demisting had become mandatory, as had rear seat belts, and from January 1973 the central speedo of the Morris period Minis, still in use in the Mini 1100 and Mini Van (Issues 19 and 21) no longer met ADRs.
With the slowing down of sales and drying up of the supply of Cooper S engines from the UK, and the seemingly unnecessary costs of the "rationalised" 1275cc engine at a time when all available finances were being poured into the P76, the Clubman GT was discontinued from January 1973.
These combined factors would have meant only a single model Mini saloon, the Clubman, being available.
The sales people at BLMCA felt an up-market model was still desirable and introduced the Super Mini - identified with a single red letter S on the front grille and the boot lid. Retaining the wheel arch flares and the three-dial instruments (albeit with 5,500 red-line tacho), blacked-out grille, and front bumper under-riders from the Clubman GT, the Mini Clubman S also received Rostyle wheels and a radio as standard (Issue 12).
However, no sooner was the Mini Clubman S released than the decision was taken, in March 1973, that all Australian Minis would be marketed as Leyland Minis, with the Clubman name dropped completely. The Mini Clubman simply became the Leyland Mini, with the up-market model retaining the S badge and associated enhancements.
Like their predecessors, the Mini S retained the red Mini grille badge, while the Leyland Mini wore the blue badge of the Mini 1100 and Mini van.
It was also at this time that Australia became metric, and speedos had to read in kmh. Early speedos, from at least 1972, were marked with both kmh and mph, but from 1974 read in kmh only.
As an aside, the Mini Clubman and 1275GT continued in the UK until the release of the Mini Metro in 1980. This helps explain in part why today all square-fronted Minis are referred to in Australia as Clubman models - despite the name not being officially used here for 36 years.
Prior to this change Minis were still marketed under the Austin/Morris Division of BLMCA and were still referred to in many official documents, like the CAMS homologation papers for the Clubman GT, under the Morris brand.
Indeed, when the sales brochure for the Leyland Mini and Mini S came out, in early-1973, it declared; "1973 sees the first Leyland Minis on the road."
Both cars received improved, locally-designed, seats which were deeper and a little more comfortable than previously, but more importantly incorporated a tilt-back for easier access to the rear seat.
Mid-1973 also saw the introduction of the rod-change gearbox, which had been introduced in the UK in December 1972. This utilised a new, and cheaper to produce, remote gear selector, which did away with the costly aluminium housing of the Cooper-style unit.
Although carpet was only standard on the Mini S at the time, it was available as an option on the base model. By 1974, carpet was standard on both models.
When the Zetland factory closed at the end of 1974, and Mini production transferred to Enfield, the 1098cc engine was no longer assembled in Australia. By mid-1975 the remaining stocks of 1100 engines had been depleted and all Minis and Mokes were fitted with the fully-imported 998cc engine.
The two-model Mini saloon policy, as well as the van and Moke, continued until the introduction of the limited edition models of 1976 to 1978 (see previous issues). While the Mini S was very popular, with its many visual improvements over the base model, the standard Leyland Mini was by far the bigger seller and continued on until the end of production in October 1978.
If you would like to read the rest of this story, order your copy of Issue 20 of The Mini Experience. <plumshop>28</plumshop> <plumshop>27</plumshop>