Austin Tasman and Kimberley



These two cars were another attempt to succeed in the six cylinder saloon market, the biggest single segment of the Australian market place, at that time dominated by Holden, Ford and Chrysler.

The cars used a combination of old and new components: a restyled Austin 1800 bodyshell with identical interior dimensions, and a new six cylinder, transversely mounted engine, based on the four cylinder overhead camshaft engine of the Morris 1500. The intention was to produce a car with better performance than the Austin 1800 but keeping the 1800's comfortable interior and excellent road holding. The cars were slightly longer than the 1800: the overall length had gone up six inches to 14ft 6in and wheelbase three inches to just over nine feet. Front and rear tracks were also increased slightly and a larger petrol tank (10.25 gallons) was used. In spite of the increase in size and the larger engine, the cars were lighter than the 1800, with the overall weight being 2,516 lb, which was 34 lb less.

At the time they were introduced, the Austin Tasman manual cost $2,598, the Tasman automatic $2,888, the Kimberley manual also $2,888 and the Kimberley automatic was $3,148.

The cars underwent a considerable amount of testing in the Australian Outback, to ensure they could cope with the worst local conditions could offer.

The Austin Tasman manual was the base version and had a bench seat and austere interior. The Kimberley was the luxury version and had reclining bucket seats and full equipment, although both cars shared the same instrumentation. A heater/demister, flow-through ventilation and hazard warning indicators were standard. Automatic transmission was optional. The two cars were distinguishable externally by the headlamp treatment (the Tasman had two round headlamps where the Kimberley had four rectangular ones) and the Tasman also lacked chromed side rubbing strips and hand plainer wheel trims.

The Tasman’s engine was equipped with a single SU H55 carburettor and developed 100bhp at 5500rpm. The Kimberley had twin SU H55 carburettors and developed 115bhp at 5500rpm. Engine capacity was 2227cc (135.54 cubic inches). Bore and stroke were the same as the 1500 at 3 inches and 3.2 inches respectively and the compression ratio was 8.6:1. The cars had a thermostatically coupled fan, with the radiator mounted conventionally across the front of the engine bay rather than being side-mounted, as was the case with the 1800. The front brakes were larger than those used on the 1800, being 10.5 inch discs rather than the 1800's 9.3 inch discs. Features carried over from the 1800 were the Hydrolastic suspension, the servo-assisted braking and rack and pinion steering.

The cars were phased out in 1974 to make way for the Leyland P76.