Introduced in spring 1975 as a replacement for the Landcrab, Came in three
flavours: Austin with squarish headlamps, Morris with twin round lamps and
raised centre section to bonnet, and the last ever Wolseley.
After six months, the whole range lost their marque names and was
re-branded simply as the Princess. All had Austin bonnet and grille, but
with four lights on the 1800s and square ones on the 2200.
Re-worked again in 1981 an branded as an Austin once more, only this time as
an Ambassador. Looks the same, but only the doors remained un-altered. Boot
finally replaced by a hatchback.
From 1975 to 1978, the 2200cc E-series straight six engine (E-6) was
fitted alongside the four pot B series 1800, both carried over from the
Landcrab. From 11978, the four cylinder option was powered by the OHC
engine in either 1,7 or 2.0 litre form instead.
Drain and re-fill the
sump at least every six-thousand miles or six months, and be sure to change
the oil filter at the same time. As with any engine, changing the oil
filter twice as often will help to improve engine life.
B and E series engine will be perfectly happy on a diet of 20W/50 mineral
oil. but a 10W/40 oil is the "O" series tipple of choice.
The O-Series engine has a cambelt which needs regular changing. From
1979, it could take unleaded fuel, although the jury is still out on
how well it actually can cope. No such luck with the other engines, though,
because they need to be run with either an FBHVC-approved additive or have
hardened valve seats fitted.
Service items can still be obtained from motor factors, via the Owners Club,
(see page 206) or from one of the specialists such as wedge autojumbler
Terry Miller (telephone 01775 767999).
If neglected the 2200cc E6 engines cooling system can overheat,
especially in traffic after a run. A hose is more likely to blow than the
Regularly drain, flush and refill the system with a good antifreeze. If
it's not already fitted, source a second radiator cooling fan from another
wedge, or an Allegro, which should bolt onto the optional pick up points on
The fuel pump is housed inside the fuel tank on cars equipped with the "O"
series engine. If it needs attention, access to the tank is via a panel
held in place with a steel ring, which rusts. These panels rarely come out
or go back in properly, so its best to leave the defunct pump in the tank
and fit another (from a Leyland Sherpa) outside the tank.
There is no choke cable attached to the Ambassador twin carburettors.
The auto-choke can fail when the bimetal strip dies. Rather than repair it,
owners resort to a single carb manual choke.
Steering - Brakes.
The brakes are adequate and they do not present
any problems unless they have been left - in which case, the front four-pot
calliper pistons can seize, as can the rear wheel cylinders. Don't confuse
binding pistons with a collapsed rubber hose, however,
Pre 1978 cars used engine oil in the power - assisted steering (PAS)
circuits, not automatic transmission fluid (ATF). The oil seals are more
prone to rotting out which is detectable by checking the driver's side
carpets for oil contamination - brand new PAS racks cost only £9, but are
available solely to club members. Remember to use engine oil when refilling
these early systems as it's necessary for pump lubrication.
After replacing the rear brake shoes, the auto-adjusters optimal
positions can be obtained by driving the car gently and then stabbing the
The Hydrolastic suspension
needs TLC. The first check is to see that the car sits level, both
side-to-side and for-and- aft. At the correct height, the width of four
fingers should slide between the top of the wheel and the front wheel arch,
and four/five fingers between the rear wheel and wheel-arch. If not level
visit a garage and have the suspension pumped up with the correct Churchil
Hydrolastic tool. Look out for second hand unit (expect to pay around £35 /
£50 to buy a new pump. Ron Hart (01598 763572,
(plus £5 P&P) - or possibly make your own using an old brake master
cylinder. \contact the club for details (07801 445189) The left-hand
Hydrogas displacers (the diaphragm unit on top of the suspension arm are
linked front to rear, as are the right-hand ones. Therefore, if a pipe lets
go, one side of the car will sink - if this happens on the road, drive the
car at not more than 20 miles per hour.
The corrosion inhibitor in the Hydrolastic fluid loses it's potency over
time.: Change no later than every five years. A garage should charge between
£12 -15 a side for this service. DIY- a gallon of fluid will cost about £15
from motor factors, and is pumped up to a pressure of about 400 psi to reach
the correct ride height. If the pressure is greater than this (around 550
for instance), the displacers are probably worn. Displacers are getting hard
to find, so keep eyes peeled in scrap-yards and auto-jumbles.
Keep an Eye on the suspension bushes at the front, especially on heavier
cars such as the Ambassador and auto models. It's essential they're in top
condition. Failed ones will needlessly stress the Hydrogas displacers,
which are under great pressure and could burst. This problem can be
compounded if the rubber rebound straps on the rear suspension have failed,
allowing the car to dive forward as the weight transfers from the rear.
Broken fatigued straps will fail the MOT, but check them regularly to
prevent the whole suspension system being damaged in the meantime. A set of
replacement bushes cost around £140 from the club.
While under the rear, look at the cross-tube mountings. If they fail you'll
hear a clonking noise from underneath. Around £8 each from Terry Miller.
The Tyres were designed to be part of the suspension, offering an added 'squidge
factor', so make sure they're wider than the rim (185-195 for instance), and
pumped up to 27 PSI at the front and 24 PSI at the rear.
Alloy wheels and steel wheels can be interchanged. Swap the fixings too as
the alloy wheel nuts have shoulders. not taper,
If you want more Hydrolastic info, Achilles Heel in November issue will show
how to drain and refill the Hydrolastic suspension on a Maxi
The Princess and Ambassador is rather good at
resisting corrosion, unless it's completely neglected. Rainwater washes leaf
debris and general detritus into the heater intake and (hopefully) out under
the front wings. Occasionally remove this muck: remove the wheel-arch
liners under the wings, wash everything down and anti-rust wax. If left to
it's own devices, rot can take hold of the top of the bonnet, bulkhead, the
wings, and the front of the sill.
Similarly clean the rear underside and inside the wheel-arches, removing
debris from around the rear sills. and anti-rust waxing afterwards. The
mounting areas are MOT-sensitive. so pay particular attention.
Clean around the fuel tank and spray plenty of Dinitrol around it,
especially on top.
The rear doors can rust at the seams; remove the interior trim panel, clean
aand use anti-rust wax.
The paint system wasn't fool proof, the metallic being particularly prone to
scabbing. All you can do is re-spray.
The Wedge was built for
comfort, not for speed. That said, there was an optional twin carb kit for
the 1800cc B series engine (although you'd have to look hard to find one in
service) and the 97hp 1800/188SS Landcrab is a direct swap.
The B series engine can be as any MGB engine would. There are plenty of
bits and pieces out there to do the job as well as experts to advise,
Likewise, the E-series and O-series should respond to basic modifications to
breathing. Roger Parker of the MGOC (01954 231125).
www.mgownersclub.co.uk) is happy to advise.
The O series also came turbocharged, as fitted to the Montego and Maestro,
so it's possible to fit a suitably-blown Montego unit to the Princess.
Similarly, a Rover M16/T16 unit can be fitted
The handling needs to be addressed if a sportier engine is fitted, so
consult an expert before doing anything scary.
The Princess/Ambassador is like
your sitting-room couch, big and squashy. Just remember that and you'll get
on fine together. It'll go well enough in a straight line, but the
wallowing in corners will make your buttocks clench, it's simple enough to
overcome however - and that is by not driving to fast around corners.
Don't aim the wedge at sleeping policemen at any great velocity either,
especially while breaking - the Hydrolastic suspension is starting to become
fragile now and you'll run the risk of rupturing a pipe or giving a
displacer a hernia.
The Mk11's seat fabric isn't as robust as the MK1's so be gentle with it.
Protect the rear seat backs from harmful UV rays by draping your picnic
blanket over the top of them in sunshine.
While the carpets are hard-wearing, if you use a rubber mat in the drivers
foot-well, you'll halt unnecessary wear.