Austin Allegro: Wikis

  
  

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Austin Allegro
Austin Allegro Brown 2.JPG
Manufacturer British Leyland Motor Corporation
Also called Innocenti Regent
Production 1973–1983
Assembly Longbridge
Seneffe
Milan
Predecessor Austin 1100
Successor Austin Maestro
Class Compact
Body style(s) 2-door saloon
3-door estate
4-door saloon
Layout FF layout
Engine(s) 1.0 L A-Series I4
1.1 L A-Series I4
1.3 L A-Series I4
1.5 L E-Series I4
1.7 L E-Series I4
Wheelbase 2442 mm (96 in)
Length 3852 mm (152 in)
Width 1613 mm (63 in)
Height 1398 mm (55 in)
Kerb weight 869 kg (1915 lb) (approx)
Fuel capacity 47.5 L (12.5 US gal; 10.4 imp gal) [1]

The Austin Allegro is a small family car that was manufactured by British Leyland under the Austin name from 1973 until 1983. The same vehicle was built in Italy by Innocenti in 1974 and 1975 and sold as the Innocenti Regent. In total, 642,350 Austin Allegros were produced during its ten year production life, with the majority being sold on the home market.

Contents

Design

The Allegro was designed as the replacement for the popular Austin 1100/1300, designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and John Grant. As with the Morris Marina, the car can be seen with hindsight as symptomatic of the enormous difficulties facing British Leyland during that period. The key factor that British Leyland appear to have missed is that a much more useful and popular form of car, the hatchback, was emerging in Europe, with designs such as the Volkswagen Golf. This configuration would go on to dominate the market for small family cars in the space of a few years. British Leyland stuck to the more traditional and less versatile booted design when they launched the Allegro. This was because of internal company politics; it had been decided that the Austin Maxi should have a hatchback as its unique selling point, and that no other car in the company's line-up was allowed one. This decision hamstrung both the Allegro and the Leyland Princess, both designs naturally suited to a hatchback yet not given one.

Rear of an exported Allegro

The Allegro used front-wheel drive, using the familiar A-Series engine with a sump-mounted transmission. The higher-specification models used the SOHC E-Series engine (from the Maxi), in 1500cc and 1750cc displacements. The two-box saloon bodyshell was suspended using the new Hydragas system (derived from the previous Hydrolastic system used on the 1100/1300).

The Allegro was assembled by Innocenti in Italy where it was badged as the Innocenti Regent.

Stylistically, it went against the sharp-edged styling cues that were becoming fashionable (largely led by Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro), and featured rounded panel work. The original styling proposal, by Harris Mann, had the same sleek, wedge-like shape of the Princess, but because British Leyland management, keen to control costs, wanted to install the existing E-Series engine and bulky heating system from the Marina, it became impossible to incorporate the low bonnet line as envisaged: the bodyshell began to look more and more bloated and tubby. This was acceptable to BL, however, which according to Jeff Daniels' book—British Leyland, The Truth About The Cars, published in 1980—wanted to follow the Citroën approach of combining advanced technology with styling that eschewed mainstream trends to create long-lasting "timeless" models. Its unfashionable shape was thus not an problem. The final car bore little resemblance to Mann's original concept that had originally been conceived as an 1100/1300 re-skin. This, as well as British Leyland's faith in it as a model that would help turn the company around, led to it earning the early nickname of the "flying pig". The car was offered in the usual range of British Leyland colours; notably beige, brown, and matt green.

Allegro buyers preferring a car with a tailgate had to opt for the estate

With the Allegro, the makers avoided the full extent of badge engineering that defined the marketing of its predecessor, but they nevertheless introduced in September 1974 [2] an upmarket Allegro branded as the Vanden Plas 1500/1750: this featured a prominent grille at the front and an interior enhanced by a range of modifications designed to attract traditionally inclined customers, including special seats upholstered in real leather with reclining backrests, 'deep' carpets, extra sound insulation, a new instrument panel in walnut, nylon headlining and, for the luggage a fully trimmed boot / trunk. In 1974, a time when the UK starting price for the Austin Allegro was given as GBP 1,159, BLMC were quoting, at launch, a list price of GBP 1,951 for its Vanden Plas sibling.[2] The Allegro name was not used on this version.

Early Allegro models featured a "quartic" steering wheel, which was rectangular, with rounded sides. This was touted as allowing extra room between the driver's legs and the base of the steering wheel. The quartic wheel did not take off, and was first dropped in 1974 when the SS was replaced by the HL, the VP 1500 was never introduced with one, despite it being featured in the owners manual. Despite this feature only having appeared on certain models for a limited time, the Allegro has always been associated with the criticism that it "had a square steering wheel".

In April 1975 a 3-door estate car version was added to the range: Allegros were now coming off the production line with the same conventional steering wheel as the Morris Marina,[3] although the company waited till early June 1975 to announce, rather quietly, the demise of the Allegro's quartic steering wheel, presumably to give time for older cars to emerge from the sales and distribution network. Similar to the 2-door saloon the Allegro estates featured a rear wash wipe and coachline like the saloon models: the spare wheel was housed under the rear load floor area. They were only in production for approx 100 days before the arrival of the Series 2 model, making Series I Allegro estate rarer than most other models in the range.

Dimensions

Publicity shot, 1973
Vanden plas 1500 variant, 1977 model
  • Overall length: 3852 mm (152 in)
  • Overall width: 1613 mm (63 in)
  • Height: 1398 mm (55 in)
  • Wheelbase: 2442 mm (96 in)
  • Track: 1346 mm ( 53 inches)
  • Weight: 869 kg (1915 lb)
  • Tyre size: 145 x 13 (155 x 13 on 1750 and Sport)

Range

Types Years Body Style Engine Transmission
Allegro 1100 DL 1973–1975 2-door Saloon
4-door Saloon
1098 cc
48 bhp (36 kW)
4-speed Manual
Allegro 1300 DL 1973–1975 2-door Saloon 1973–74
4-door Saloon
1275 cc
54 bhp (40 kW)
4-speed Manual
3-speed Automatic
Allegro 1300 SDL 1973–1975

1975
2-door Saloon
4-door Saloon
3-door Estate
1275 cc
54 bhp (40 kW)
4-speed Manual
3-speed Automatic
Allegro 1500 SDL 1973–1975
1975
2-door Saloon 1973–74
4-door Saloon
3-door Estate
1485 cc
68 bhp (51 kW)
5-speed Manual
3-speed Automatic
Allegro 1500 Special 1973–1975 4-door Saloon 1485 cc
68 bhp (51 kW)
5-speed Manual
3-speed Automatic
Allegro 1750 Sport 1973–1974 2-door Saloon
4-door Saloon
1748 cc
85 bhp (63 kW)
5-speed Manual
3-speed Automatic
Allegro 1750 SS 1973–1974 4-door Saloon 1748 cc
85 bhp (63 kW)
5-speed Manual
3-speed Automatic
Allegro 1750 HL 1974–1975 4-door Saloon 1748 cc
91 bhp (68 kW)
5-speed Manual
Allegro 1750 Sport TC 1974–1975 4-door Saloon 1748 cc
91 bhp (68 kW)
5-speed Manual

Allegro 2 (1975–1979)

Launched in time for the London Motor Show in October 1975, the Allegro 2 had the same bodyshells but featured a new grille, reversing lights on most models and some interior changes to increase rear seat room. The Estate gained a new coachline running over the wing top lip and window edges. Changes were also made to the suspension, braking, engine mounts and drive shafts.

At the end of 1976 British Leyland confirmed that they were holding exploratory talks with trades union representatives concerning the possible transfer of Allegro production from Longbridge to the company's plant at Seneffe in Belgium[4]. The Belgian plant was already assembling the cars for continental European markets using CKD kits shipped from the UK[4]. The stated objective of the transfer was to free up capacity at Longbridge for the manufacture of the forthcoming ADO88 Mini replacement. In the event the ADO88 project was abandoned and the eventual Mini replacement, the less ambitiously engineered Mini Metro, did not reach the market place for another four years. Whether for reasons of politics or of customer demand or of cost at a time of rapid currency realignment, Allegros for the UK market continued to be manufactured in the UK: the Belgian plant was closed in the early 1980s by which time Allegro demand in continental Europe had faltered and BLMC's 'Austin-Morris' division clearly had more production capacity than product demand.

Some models of Allegro 2 made for non-UK markets were equipped with four round headlights, rather than the usual two rectangular items.

Range

Types Years Body Style Engine Transmission
Allegro S2 1100 DL 1975–1979 2-door Saloon
4-door Saloon
1098 cc
48 bhp (36 kW)
4-speed Manual
Allegro S2 1300 DL 1975–1977
for fleet customers only
2-door Saloon
4-door Saloon
1275 cc
54 bhp (40 kW)
4-speed Manual
Allegro S2 1300 Super 1975–1979 2-door Saloon
4-door Saloon
3-door Estate
1275 cc
54 bhp (40 kW)
4-speed Manual
3-speed Automatic
Allegro S2 1500 Super 1975–1979 4-door Saloon
3-door Estate
1485 cc
68 bhp (51 kW)
5-speed Manual
3-speed Automatic
Allegro S2 1500 Special 1975–1979 4-door Saloon 1485 cc
68 bhp (51 kW)
5-speed Manual
3-speed Automatic
Allegro S2 1500 Special LE 1978 Limited Edition 4-door Saloon 1485 cc
68 bhp (51 kW)
5-speed Manual
Allegro S2 1750 HL 1975–1979 4-door Saloon 1748 cc
91 bhp (68 kW)
5-speed Manual
Allegro S2 1750 Equipe 1979 Limited Edition 2-door Saloon 1748 cc
91 bhp (68 kW)
5-speed Manual

Allegro 3 (1979–1983)

The Allegro 3, introduced at the end of 1979, used the "A-Plus" version of the 1.0 litre A-Series engine (developed for the Metro), and featured some cosmetic alterations in an attempt to keep the momentum going, but by then the Allegro was outdated, competing against the relatively high-tech Ford Escort Mark III and Vauxhall Astra, and after 1980 it failed to feature in the top 10 best selling new cars in Britain, barely a decade since its predecessor had been Britain's most popular new car.

Some models of Allegro 3 (the early HL and later HLS models) were equipped with four round headlights, rather than the usual two rectangular items.

The axe finally fell on the model in mid 1982, upon the launch of its successor, the Maestro.

Range

Types Years Body Style Engine Transmission
Allegro S3 1.1 1979–1981 2-door Saloon
4-door Saloon
1098 cc 4-speed Manual
Allegro S3 1.0 L 1981–1982 2-door Saloon
4-door Saloon
998 cc 4-speed Manual
Allegro S3 1.3 1979–1981 2-door Saloon
4-door Saloon
1275 cc 4-speed Manual
3-speed Automatic
Allegro S3 1.3 L 1979–1982 2-door Saloon
4-door Saloon
3-door Estate
1275 cc 4-speed Manual
3-speed Automatic
Allegro S3 1.3 HL 1979–1982 4-door Saloon 1275 cc 4-speed Manual
Allegro S3 1.3 HLS 1981–1982 4-door Saloon 1275 cc 4-speed Manual
3-speed Automatic
Allegro S3 1.5 1979–1981 4-door Saloon 1485 cc 5-speed Manual
Allegro S3 1.5 L 1979–1981 4-door Saloon
3-door Estate
1485 cc 5-speed Manual
Allegro S3 1.5 HL 1979–1982 4-door Saloon
3-door Estate
1485 cc 5-speed Manual
Allegro S3 1.5 HLS 1981–1982 4-door Saloon 1485 cc 5-speed Manual
Allegro S3 1.7 L 1979–1981 4-door Saloon
3-door Estate
1748 cc 3-speed Automatic
Allegro S3 1.7 HL 1979–1982 4-door Saloon
3-door Estate
1748 cc 5-speed Manual
Allegro S3 1.7 HLS 1981–1982 4-door Saloon 1748 cc 5-speed Manual

Reputation

The car was somewhat underdeveloped at the time of its launch, and a number of design flaws plagued the early models. Most of these were fixed in the Allegro 2 edition of the car, launched in 1975.

In spite of all of this bad press, the Allegro was still a very popular car. As late as 1979, six years after its launch, it was the fifth best selling new car in Britain, and sales were still reasonably strong when it was replaced by the Maestro in March 1983. In certain overseas markets it is not uncommon to see Allegros still in daily use.

Sales in its final years were disappointing, and by 1981 it had fallen out of the top 10, as more buyers were choosing two newer BL products: the similar-sized and more viable Triumph Acclaim, and the smaller Austin Metro.

In his book, Crap Cars, writer Richard Porter says "the only bit of the Allegro they got even vaguely right was the rust-proofing". The Allegro placed second worst in his list, beaten only by the VW Beetle.[5]. Despite this, the Allegro picked up a reputation for rust problems during its life. This was probably due to association with many other cars of the period (both from BL and other manufacturers) which had poor rust proofing. An early edition of What Car? ran a feature on the then-new Allegro, including an interview with staff at a BL dealership, who were asked if any problems occurred with the car in service. They replied that the car suffered from rust problems to its rear subframe. However, the staff thought they were being asked about the 1100/1300 car, which had been out of production for five years. Nonetheless, the magazine went on to report on the 'Allegro's' non-existent rust problems, creating a serious image problem.

A commonly-given example of the Allegro's poor design is that it is more aerodynamic when travelling backwards than it is when going forwards. While this is true, the Allegro is far from unique in this respect. Most hatchbacks of the era (especially those designed before wind tunnel testing became extensive), with a sloping rear end containing the rear window and boot lid and a flat front holding a radiator grille and headlamps, have the same property.

The poor reputation of the car, and the inefficient production and management techniques in British Leyland at the time at which it was produced, have meant that the Austin Allegro has become associated with waste, inefficiency and poor quality. In 2007, Sir Digby Jones, in criticising the inefficiencies of the Learning and Skills Council, said, "It is what I call the British Leyland model - you put a lot of money in at the top, and an Austin Allegro comes out at the bottom."[6]

In February 2006, it was reported that more than 1,000 Allegros sold in Britain were still registered with the DVLA.[7] A better survival rate than the more popular Morris Marina (many of which were dismantled for parts which were interchangeable with other British Leyland cars, such as the MGB and Morris Minor).

Engines

  • 1973–75: 1098 cc A-Series Straight-4, 49 bhp (37 kW) at 5250 rpm and 60 ft·lbf (81 Nm) at 2450 rpm
  • 1975–80: 1098 cc A-Series Straight-4, 45 bhp (34 kW) at 5250 rpm and 55 ft·lbf (75 Nm) at 2900 rpm
  • 1973–80: 1275 cc A-Series Straight-4, 59 bhp (44 kW) at 5300 rpm and 69 ft·lbf (94 Nm) at 3000 rpm
  • 1980–82: 998 A+ cc A-Plus Straight-4, 44 bhp (33 kW) at 5250 rpm and 52 ft·lbf (71 Nm) at 3000 rpm
  • 1980–82: 1275 cc A-Plus Straight-4, 62 bhp (46 kW) at 5600 rpm and 72 ft·lbf (98 Nm) at 3200 rpm
  • 1973–82: 1485 cc E-Series Straight-4, 69 bhp (51 kW) at 5600 rpm and 83 ft·lbf (113 Nm) at 3200 rpm
  • 1973–82: 1748 cc E-Series Straight-4, 76 bhp (56 kW) at 5000 rpm and 104 ft·lbf (143 Nm) at 3100 rpm
  • 1974–?: 1748 cc E-Series twin-carburetted Straight-4, 90 bhp (67 kW) at 5000 rpm and 104 ft·lbf (143 Nm) at 3100 rpm

References

  1. ^ Daily Express Motor Show Review 1975 Cars: Page 7 (Austin Allegro). October 1974.  
  2. ^ a b "Vanden Plas 1500: A new luxury model from British Leyland based on the 1,485 cc Austin Allegro 1500 with special trimming and finish by Vanden Plas". Autocar 141 (nbr4065): pages 26–28. 21 September 1974.  
  3. ^ "News: Allegros - quartic wheel abandoned". Autocar 141 (nbr 4100): page 25. date 7 June 1975.  
  4. ^ a b "News: Allegro for Belgium?". Autocar 145 (nbr 4178): page 26. date 4 December 1976.  
  5. ^ BBC (2004-10-13). "The crappest car in Britain — named and shamed in Crap Cars". Press release. http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/bbcworldwide/worldwidestories/pressreleases/2004/10_october/crap_cars.shtml. Retrieved 2007-04-25.  
  6. ^ "Can we fix the skills shortage?". BBC. 2007-02-20. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/file_on_4/6366523.stm. Retrieved 2008-03-07.  
  7. ^ The Observer newspaper

External links








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