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The Miracle of Hydrolastic

Hydrolastic Suspension

In 1962 after years of development the world was introduced to Hydrolastic suspension on the BMC 1100. A fascinating sealed hydraulic and rubber suspension system that imparted ride and handling better than standard contemporary systems. Ultimately it was fitted to the following BMC cars: 1100, Mini, 1800, Maxi, 1500 Nomad (Australia only), X6 (Australia only), Maxi and finally on the 3 Litre (with a complex self levelling system). Hydrolastic was developed by Alex Moulton with co-operation from Sir Alec Issigonis. Interestingly it actually reappeared (in miniature form) on Alex Moulton’s NS bicycle in the late 1990′s.

It was superseded by Hydragas which replaced the rubber spring with a nitrogen bladder, a la Citroën. No Hydragas cars were marketed in Australia.

As a former Austin 1800 owner Hydrolastic minimised pitching and roll compared to any Holden or Ford of the day. Coupled with front wheel drive the Austin 1800 handled very well with Hydrolastic. In fact a tuned 1800S would comfortably out perform an MGB thanks to Hydrolastic.

I have attached an Automobile Engineer article on Hydrolastic Suspension from September 1962. I photocopied it in 1995 at Sydney University, so sorry for any poor copier quality. It is a very interesting read. If you are the copyright holder and wish me to remove the article let me know. It is a must read for any fan of Issigonis designed BMC cars.

Enjoy

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  1. Richard Mariu
    June 29th, 2010 at 08:40 | #1

    My grandfather had an Austin 3 Litre and I loved driving it. It was so long ago and I remember that it felt like a large heavy car and it didn’t roll much when I belted it through the corners (I was only 15 at the time). Thanks for the article it brought back some great memories of a great car.

  2. David Williams
    May 4th, 2013 at 02:00 | #2

    There was I think a Cooper racing car either proposed or actually fitted with Hydrolastic suspension. Is there any information about it?

  3. Paul
    August 26th, 2013 at 16:57 | #3

    It appears there was, but only one Cooper T67 had it and then they reverted to standard springs. See here:
    http://www.formulajunior.com/car%20marques/08%20cars/cooper/cooper_t67/cooper_t67.html

  1. May 28th, 2010 at 23:28 | #1