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The Mini may have been released in the UK in 1959, but it would take BMC's local operation until 1961
to have the then named Morris 850's rolling off the production line.
The very first cars were nearly identical to their UK counterparts, the only visual difference being the adoption of a slight bend in the gearstick to move it marginally closer to the driver.
Over the ensuing years other differences eventuated, particularly as more local content was introduced into the BMC production line.
Available in a limited number of colours (namely red, white, blue and yellow), the Australian built cars made a number of concessions to the harsh Aussie conditions.
There were stronger interior door handles, the trim used a stronger grade of vinyl, and soon after production began a switch was made to anodising the grille, rather than it just being painted.
In October 1962 BMC released the Mini Cooper, it being the first time the "Mini" name had been used in the local marketplace. The Aussie Coopers were fitted with a 997cc A series engine, which was upgraded to the 998cc version in 1963.
Subsequent cars would be referred to as a Mini, although the 1964 Mini Van used the same grille as that of the original 850's. For more information, please see the Mini
section on this site.
BMC Announce The Morris 850
A car claimed to be tough enough for the countryman and ideal as a town runabout has been announced by the British Motor Corporation of Australia. It is the revolutionary new Morris 850, a five seater with front wheel drive.
The car which took ten years to develop, is 10 ft long and 4 ft 7 in. wide and only 4 ft 5 in high. It has a top speed of 78 m.p.h. with a petrol economy of more than 50 miles per gallon. One of the unconventional features of the "850" is an engine mounted sideways. Engine, gears, and differential share a common sump and the "hump" in the centre interior of the car, usually taken up by the transmission
, is eliminated.
The Morris 850 is the first car produced by B.M.C. (Australia) for distribution through both Morris and Austin Dealers. The new car is powered by an 850 c.c. 4 cylinder engine which developed 34 brake horse power at 8,500 revolutions per minute. The engine, radiator, gears, differential, drive and suspension
can be removed as one assembly. The whole rear suspension
system can be also be lifted out in a matter of minutes.
When planning the body the design team sat four big adults between four wheels and literally built the body around them! The result of this special "tailoring" is ample head and leg room for both front and rear passengers. As all ride well within the wheelbase, there is better weight distribution, which in turn improves road holding and riding comfort.