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BMC Farina

Published: 22nd Apr 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

BMC Farina
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The sensible BMC family saloon that has a touch of Italian flair about it

If you’re looking for something fast, sleek and ultra-stylish, the four-cylinder BMC Farinas won’t appeal too much. But when it comes to space, practicality, dependability and comfort, you’ll be doing well to come up with any classic that offers so much usability in exchange for so little cash. Now seen as rather dull, in period the Farina was admired for its stylish Pininfarina lines. Buyers also loved the array of derivatives even if the multitude of badges was confusing. Now it’s a question of buying whatever you can find in good condition; whatever you end up with, it’ll cost you buttons.


Rust is the biggest issue, so to check everywhere for corrosion, filler and bodged welding. Focus on the sills, floorpans, door bottoms, wheelarches and valances along with the A, B and C-posts, rear spring hangers and outriggers. There’s a decent array of replacement panels and repair sections available, but some are costly. All Farina variants use the same panels aside from the bonnet and rear wings, so interchangeability is good.

All Farinas have a B-Series engine (1489cc or 1622cc) which will sail past the 100,000-mile mark if looked after; Austin, Morris and Wolseley editions got a single SU carb while MG and Riley variants got two. Hesitation when you apply the throttle is probably down to a split diaphragm inside the distributor’s advance unit; it’s a £20 fix. Worn twin carbs lead to poor running and an uneven tickover.

The first sign of wear is worn valve guides plus timing chain rattles given away by poor oil pressure; there should be at least 25psi at tickover, and 50psi when cruising. Overhauling a B-Series is simple; exchange rebuilt unleaded-ready units cost £1300.

Second-gear synchro wears out at 60,000 miles; there was no synchro on first. A rebuilt gearbox costs £350, while decent used units are a quarter of this. Rear axles whine as standard, while worn propshaft joints are common; engine and gearbox mountings perish too, all of which leads to clonks. Repairs are all cheap and easy though.

Vague steering is usual; boxes wear and so do the front suspension kingpins. The lever arm dampers leak and the rear leaf springs sag – but again, everything is available, and repairs are straightforward. The same goes for the brakes and electrics – it’s all conventional, available and easy to sort. Not so on the trim front though; it’s all hard to find, and with each derivative getting its own design and colours, it’s doubly hard replacing damaged or missing parts.


Values are according to condition rather than model, with some free projects still around. However, banger racers will pay up to £1000 for rotten cars, so getting a project for free isn’t easy. Something that’s usable but unpretty is £1000-£1500 while the best cars only fetch up to £3500.


The four-cylinder Farinas were built for comfort rather than speed, but if maintained properly even the lowest-spec cars can keep up with modern traffic off the motorway. There’s masses of space, DIY maintenance is easy and club support is excellent.

The B-series powerplant is eminently tunable, and thanks to a larger capacity version of this engine being fitted to the MGB, it’s still easy to get breathed-on units through the MGB specialists that proliferate. Fitting a five bearing MGB engine isn’t straightforward though; the front and back plates need to be changed along with the flywheel, clutch and spigot bearing. The early three-bearing one fits more easily, but the front plate and spigot bearing still need to be changed. Or you can have your ‘1622’ bored out – see our MGA tuning guide elsewhere in this issue for general tweaking advice.



The Wolseley 15/60 arrives;the fi rst ADO9 derivative.


The Austin A55 Mk2 Cambridge appears.


The MG Magnette MkIII debuts.


The Morris Oxford series V arrives.


The Riley 4/68 goes on sale.


The Austin Countryman and Morris Oxford estate go on sale.


The four-cylinder Farina is relaunched with a longer wheelbase and wider track, plus a 1622cc engine as the Wolseley 16/60, Austin A60 Cambridge, Morris Oxford Series VI, MG Magnette MkIV and Riley 4/72. Now known internally as ADO38, an auto gearbox joins the options list on all models.


There’s now a 1489cc diesel option for the Oxford and Cambridge.


The last MG Magnette is made.


The last Cambridge and 4/72 are built.


Morris Oxford and Wolseley 16/60 production ends.

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