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Market Share

Four Cylinder Cars in Australia

The Morris 1100 was very much a car of the sixties - released at a time when the four cylinder segment was a relatively small proportion of the overall Australianmarket, and the variety of makes and models was limited.

Each year during its production run the popularity of four cylinder cars increased, but so too did the number and variety available.

Inevitably this led to fewer sales of each individual model to the point when the Holden Torana was released it only managed 75% of the first year volume that the Morris 1100 did four years earlier.

This was despite Holden's huge brand loyalty and the massive market penetration of its established large six cylinder cars.



By the 1970s, numerous car makers selling in Australia had adopted the approach of fitting a wide variety of engines to their various models.

The Ford Cortina and Holden Torana could both be had with a selection of four and six cylinder engines, and eventually the Torana was offered with a V8 as well.

For simplicity and consistency, the graphs below count only the four-cylinder versions where a model was also sold with six cylinders.

l963 To gauge the impact of the Morris 1100 it is necessary to check the state of the market in the year before the 1100 was introduced.

Interestingly, BMC's Morris 850 was the top seller in the 4 cylinder class but the Holden 6 cylinder sold nearly four times more to become the overall top seller for 1963.

The Volkswagen beetle was a very close second to the Mini and the Morris Major a long way behind, although it sold a similar number the previous year.

A new entry to the market was the Renault R8. It was awarded the inaugural "WHEELS Car Of The Year Award" for 1963.

l964 BMC released the 1100 six weeks into the year but it still managed to outsell all its rivals except one - though even if the 1100 had been on sale for the full year, the Volkswagen would still have been king in what was its best year ever.

The 1100's success helped push BMC into second place overall behind the mighty Holden which slipped about 3,000 units.

Sales of the Mini also slipped, but by a significant 20%, and more than likely due to the 1100. Other new entries were the Vauxhall Viva and the Hillman Imp but neither managed to achieve much more than 25% of the Morris 1100's impressive total and even the discontinued Morris Major managed to outsell the new Isuzu Bellett by nearly 2:1.

l965 The top selling 4 cylinder car in 1965 was the Morris 1100 by a significant margin, perhaps helped by BMC winning the "WHEELS Car of the Year Award" for the 1100 in February.

The Ford Cortina nearly doubled its sales and the Vauxhall Viva increased by 50%.

But the Mini and Volkswagen both lost ground, as did the Hillman Imp with less than half the number of sales in its second year. New Japanese arrivals included Corona, Colt and Datsun, late in the year.

Outdated Anglia and Minx continued to decline while locally assembled Renault R8 was hampered by low output from the factory.

l966 Something cut back demand for new cars in 1966... perhaps it was the uncertainty surrounding the introduction of decimal currency.

"In with the dollar, in with the cents. Out go the pounds,and the shillings and the pence!" sang the television campaign advertisement.

The Morris 1100 held tenuously on to the number one spot despite dropping 25% sales volume. Infact, all of the top four dropped volume but the Cortina less than the Volkswagen and the two swapped places. Even top selling Holden dropped but not by nearly as much.

Could the introduction of the Austin 1800 at the end of 1965 have had an effect too, just like the 1100 dented Mini sales in 1964?.. Those 10,000 sales had to come from somewhere.

l967 Ford Cortina continued its climb and the Morris 1100 was pushed back into second place - but only by 700 odd sales - despite the release of the bigger engined 1100 S.

The Mini and the Volkswagen were almost tied for third place well behind, and the Corona and Datsun gained ground.

New comer Holden Torana scords well for a mid-year introduction replacing the Vauxhall Viva.

Also new, the Toyota Corolla just managed to outsell the Renault R8's replacement the Renault 10 which sold more in this year than the R8 did in the previous four!

Capacity problems at Renault's Melbourne assembly plant were often cited as the reason for the low sales figures (and the waiting lists would seem to back this up) but the Corolla was also locally assembled.

l968 In its first full year of sales the Torana only managed second place, edging the Morris 1100 back to third but only by around 700 sales.

Impressive though they might appear, the Torana's first year sales figures were well down on the Morris 1100's first full year sales of more than 20,000 in 1965.

Stiff competition from Ford's new Mk2 Cortina was the most likley cause and less than 1,000 sales separate the top two.

Mini and Volkswagen continue to decline, while Corolla and Mazda surge dangerously close to them. Renault 10 continues to increase as capacity is added to the assembly works, but it is no threat to the new Japanese competition.

Hillman Hunter is a surprisingly successful new model, easily outdoing its Minx predecessor and matching the established Corona - arguably its most direct rival.

l969 Replaced mid-year with the Morris 1300/1500 range, the figures for both old and new models are amalgamated in this graph (as they were in the official data) to show that the gap between the top two and third place 1100/1300/1500 has grown.

Torana firmly in the lead with Cortina comfortably second and Hillman Hunter has jumped ahead of all the Japanese models into fourth place.

The three rear-engined cars and the aging Bellett all lost ground to the Corolla and Datsun. Mini sales increased slightly probably due to it gaining the larger 1100cc engine mid-year.

With the obvious and growing popularity of the medium sized rear-wheel drive sedans it is understandable that BMC/Leyland made the decision around this time to introduce the Marina (in 1972) to replace the 1300/1500 FWD range.