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                 The Cars.


In the early part of 1975, the British Leyland Motor Corporation introduced the new 1800-2200 range of cars. At the time, they looked very different from the Maxi, Marina, and Mark 2 Cortina cars which were around, and the 1800-2200 Landcrab range which they replaced.  My earliest recollection was having to drive  twenty-seven miles in my Morris Minor to collect a colleague who's two day old 1800 had broken down and had been taken by trailer to the Austin dealership in Wolverhampton. During the following twelve months, there were frequent reports about these new cars which at best were unreliable, and at worst - dangerous.  Poor build quality:  Not a good start for such an advanced motor car.  However, things must have improved, as over the next nine years, 186,000 Princesses, and 43,500 Ambassadors were manufactured  and sold into many countries worldwide.  We have no idea how many cars are still in existence -  it seems that there are still a couple in most towns.  Most of the cars owned by club members are still in daily use. 

All models are of steel - welded construction, with front and rear sections of the body designed as energy absorbing zones to reduce the likely-hood of injury to driver and passengers upon impact. All 1800, 2200, Princess, and Princess2 cars have four doors, and a large rear luggage boot.  Ambassadors are slightly longer than Princesses, they have extra side windows behind the rear doors, and have folding rear seats with a tailgate, which gives masses of space to carry goods.  (Great for shifting furniture). All models are just under fifteen feet long, five feet nine inches wide, and weigh a little under one and a quarter tons.    The use of transversely mounted engines reduces the length of the engine compartment,  leading to a very spacious interior which will seat five adults in comfort, with ample leg space for front and rear passengers.  All this space and comfort in a medium size car: To add to the comfort, the drivers and passenger front seats are fully adjustable to suite the shape of any driver or passenger. Trim levels vary with the model, from basic nice cars, to very plush. Some top of the range cars have central locking, electric front windows, sun roofs, alloy wheels, and good quality (for those days) radio/cassette players.

Another important feature of the cars is the suspension system, which is generally similar to that used on earlier 1100, Maxi, and Landcrabs, but with a number of improvements.  All four wheels are independently sprung, and the front and rear suspension units are inter-connected  on each side of the car. The front upper and   lower suspension arms, and the rear radius arms, pivot on rubber bushes, and therefore, the suspension systems require no routine maintenance. Springing is achieved by compression of either nitrogen, or hydrogen  gas which is housed in the upper chamber of the suspension units.  Damping is achieved by flow restricting valves between the upper and lower chambers of the displacer units.  The excellent smooth ride qualities afforded by Princess and Ambassador suspension systems are a great asset on twenty-first century poorly maintained roads, and, when combined with comfortable seating, plenty of leg space, and power assisted steering, makes driving long distances less tiring.

It always happens! When a new range of cars are launched, the manufactures decide to use an engine that has been used in earlier model.  The 1800's use a four cylinder 1,798cc "B" series overhead valve engine with five crankshaft main bearings, a single SU carburettor, and a compression ratio of 9/1. This engine had seen earlier use in Landcrabs, MGBs, and a number of other cars. The 2200's use a 2227cc six cylinder "E" series engine with seven crankshaft main bearings, chain driven overhead camshaft, twin SU carburettors, and a compression ratio of 9/1. Again, earlier used in Landcrabs and others, and is very similar to the Maxi engine. Most Princess 2 models and all Ambassadors use a four cylinder "0" series engine, with five main bearing crankshaft, and belt driven overhead camshaft.  Engine capacities are 1700cc or 1994cc, with a compression ratio of 9/1. All 1.7 and some 2.0 litre  cars have a single SU carburettor.  Some Ambassador HLS and VDP cars have twin SU carburettors, with an automatic starter unit to replace the choke.  In all cases, engines are mounted transversely over either a four speed synchro-mesh gearbox, or automatic transmission. All three engines perform very well, and with proper maintenance, will exceed 100,000 miles without the need for major overhaul.  Fuel consumption - about 24 mpg around town,  to 30+ mpg on long journeys if driven with care.

Brakes and Wheels:
All cars have more than adequate hydraulic brakes. Front discs, with four piston callipers, and nine inch rear drum brakes, with servo assistance.  Tyres are 185 70 14 steel braced radials which are common to many other cars, so no difficulty getting them anywhere. The electricals are powered by a large 12volt battery with alternator, and are well up to the job.

Harry Parker.
January 2005.

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