Fabulous Farina
Classics Monthly|March 2018

BMC went from staid to stylish in one fell swoop when it introduced the smart looking Farina designed Cambridge and its badge engineered compatriots. We look at a MkII A55 that only required a little bit of fettling to bring it up to concours condition.

Martyn Morgan Jones

Back in the late 1960s my dad, Morgan Jones senior, owned a Morris Oxford Series V. It had been bought to replace his previous car, which was an Austin Devon and I have fond memories of sliding about on the Farina’s red leather rear seat as my dad manhandled the Oxford around tight corners. I also remember going with him to the only tyre outlet in our area to have radial ply tyres fitted in place of the standard fit crossplies.

A set of Pirelli Cinturatos was fitted no less and apparently the new tyres transformed the car’s handling immensely. However, I have less fond memories of the time the car was sideswiped by a coal lorry. We were unharmed but the side of the car was somewhat rippled – and I ended up in the rear footwell, as rear seatbelts were a thing of the future!

The Morris Oxford is of course, one of the Austin Cambridge’s badge-engineered siblings although the Series V was assembled at Cowley, whereas the Austin A55 MkII was a Longbridge product. Both variants (often referred to as Farina models, as were their MG, Riley and Wolseley counterparts) proved to be a huge commercial success.

Apart from the badging and some minor trim differences, seating arrangements and different body colours (but only if it was a duo-tone car) the Series V Oxford was almost identical to the Austin Cambridge A55 MkII. However, the Cambridge arrived in January 1959 around two months earlier than the Oxford and it was £14 cheaper.

Our glorious feature car, 7963 LJ, is a 1961 Austin Cambridge MkII. Not any old MkII mind you. This particular duo-tone beauty, which belongs to Roy Presdee and has been in his ownership for the past eight years, is a Cambridge-Oxford Owners’ Club national concours winner. Roy, who’s overseen this car’s refurbishment to the sublime standard seen here, told us he‘s had a soft spot for the A55 MkII ever since he was a youngster.

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