Allegros : It’s a case of love… and hate. But mainly hate.
You think I’d never learn. Soon-to-be ex-Practical Classics staffer, Sam Glover, dropped me a note asking if I’d be interested in taking his delightful Allegro off him. Seems he can’t keep it once he moves down South, and as always, thought of me once he’d found himself in a must-get-rid-of-old-donkey scenario.
Allegros and I go back a long way, though, so I guess I can see his reasoning. The very foundations of this website were created on the dismal failure of this car and, ever since then, I’ve found myself inextricably linked with Harris Mann’s unloved teapot-without-a-spout.
The world has, of course, moved on a long way since I created www.austin-rover.co.uk. For one, eight years down the line, many cars that were considered old bangers then, are now more comfortably sat in the realms of classic-dom. We’ve seen the emergence of the Youngtimer scene in the UK – or, at least, the faltering beginnings – and cars that we once considered dull streetside furniture are now considered as quite collectable. That’s good really, because this evoluti0n has encouraged new people into the classic scene – and that brings in fresh ideas.
The Allegro, though, seems to have been left behind. There are many reasons for this, of course, and although time has mellowed its ugliness, there’s something about this car that now sums up all that was bad about Britain during the 1970s so, for sure, it’s an ironic choice.
However, there’s more to it than that. Superstardom continues to evade the Allegro as well because it was so damn well made. I don’t mean reliable and dependable. Oh no. What I do mean is resistant to rust. The survival rate of these cars is phenomenal as a result and, while Top Gear is rapidly doing its bit to rid the world of the Marina, thousands of Allegros survive, dulling with age, but certainly not rusting away. The law of demand and supply therefore dictates that those which survive will never be worth much.
So, they’re ironic? Yes, but they earn that reputation. I remember hating the Allegro I drove down to Naples in the Staples2Naples with a passion and yearned to set fire to it on the Pinetamare beach – Alexander and Declan, my team mates, had to talk me out of it. Looking back now, I am glad they did. I’ve had other Allegros, too, and failed to gel with any of them, angering myself every time I clapped eyes on one, seeing the missed opportunities it represented oozing from every panel gap…
Having said that, Allegros do make excellent starter classic cars. I’ve written as much myself in The Independent. Cheap to run, easy to fix and somewhat different to everything else on the road. I just wish that they weren’t so readily associated with me!