The converters : Avon Acclaim

Ladbroke Avon put together an interesting upmarket version of the Acclaim.

It was initially only made available through the Henleys franchise, before being offered to a wider audience after the Turbo was launched in 1983. As a result, the Avon Acclaim sold in small numbers – a handful of which, still survive.


Avon Acclaim Turbo

During 1981, Avon was taking a steady stream of orders for its Jaguar XJ6-based estate car, but owner Graham Hudson had expansion plans, and moved into a more accessible price range with a seriously up-specced version of the newly-launched Triumph Acclaim.

The car came in for a real makeover and recieved much in the way of upgrading, including a chrome-plated radiator grille, vinyl roof, duotone paint, colour-coded road wheels and special and unique metallic finish. Inside, the seats were retrimmed in Connolly leather with colour-keyed piping, the dashboard and door cappings were treated to burr-walnut veneer and the door trims and armrests were also re-trimmed to match the rest of the interior.

The conversion was made available through selected ARG dealers for a cool £1365 – and thanks to copious soundproofing, the interior noise levels were so low as to almost justify the extra cost. Avon were confident that the car would sell, and talked of a production run of 25 per week, but it soon became apparent that they had overestimated demand.

The main visual difference between the turbocharged Avon Acclaim and the "atmo" version is the deep front air dam and non-too-subtle "TURBO" graphics down the car's flanks"

The main visual difference between the turbocharged Avon Acclaim and the “atmo” version is the deep front air dam and non-too-subtle “TURBO” graphics down the car’s flanks”

Undeterred, Avon moved on and developed a turbocharged version of the car, which would open up the posh Acclaim’s appeal to a whole new market. The company’s argument for producing such an unusual car was that their Acclaim would make sense in a market where company cars had recently become subject to taxation. Their conversion charge would not, however be levied, and so, user-chosers could buy this car in the confidence that it would match bigger bodied and bigger engined cars, whilst being subject to less tax burden.

It was certainly an interesting slant, and it has to be said that the performance of the car was pretty effective. Certainly, Autocar magazine rated the turbo conversion: “…the engine’s performance is impressive in the mid-range, giving the car 9.6 sec 0-60mph acceleration, better than the Renault 5 Gordini Turbo, which uses a similarly sized engine.” It was actually a Turbo Technics turbo conversion, and by 1983, they had become very proficient in the art of using the “blower”. Power was uprated from 70bhp to a quite impressive 105bhp (from 1335cc), but more tellingly, the magazine described the installation as being blessed with a, “lack of turbo lag… very torquey in the mid-range.”

Unfortunately, even though the ride height was lowered, the springs and dampers uprated and wider 205/60×13 tyres on Lunar alloy wheels were used, the handling was described by Autocar as “floppy” and, “during hard acceleration, you have to fight the power-steer…” Perhaps boy racers would like it, but there was no way that this could be described as a cultured gentleman’s express.

Like the normally aspirated version, the car was available through ARG dealers or direct from Ladbroke Avon, and the total cost of the conversion was £2990

Avon did not replace their Acclaim with a version based on the Rover 213/216 in 1984, and went back to concentrating on bespoke Jaguars. There probably would not have been any demand for an Avon-Rover 213, (even if ARG would have backed the car as they did the Acclaim) as Rover covered this gap in the market perfectly well with their own Vanden Plas version.

Quote from Autocar magazine: "Turbo Acclaim handles well, if a little floppily. It could use a stiffer anti-roll bar."

Quote from Autocar magazine: “Turbo Acclaim handles well, if a little floppily. It could use a stiffer anti-roll bar.”

Duotone paint and a vinyl roof are the instant recognition points of the Avon Acclaim, but look closer and the Avon Acclaim was sumptuous inside as well... it sported re-upholstoured seats in Connolly leather and burr walnut trim on the dashboard. Acclaim Vanden Plas, anyone?

Duotone paint and a vinyl roof are the instant recognition points of the Avon Acclaim, but look closer and the Avon Acclaim was sumptuous inside as well… it sported re-upholstoured seats in Connolly leather and burr walnut trim on the dashboard. Acclaim Vanden Plas, anyone?

Posted in: Acclaim, Avon Coachworks
Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

10 Comments on "The converters : Avon Acclaim"

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  1. JonBoy says:

    oh dear, the graphics and colour schemes really dont do the car any favours at all do they!!!

  2. KC says:

    I remember them. They look like a teenager was let loose in an accessory shop, bought one of everything, and stuck it on.

  3. Hilton D says:

    The Lunar alloys look okay and the modifications sound not bad but I agree the colour schemes and OTT Graphics look dated now. I suppose they were in vogue in the early ’80s though

  4. Mark Mastro Mark Mastro says:

    VWK689X on two seemingly different cars there!

  5. One R8, one ADO13 and an X350 says:

    Halfords.

  6. Hilton D says:

    Looking at the Avon Acclaim in more detail again, I still prefer the original versions. I cant see the benefit of spending £1365 on top of the price of, say, an HLS or CD. Not many punters did obviously.

  7. David Dawson1 says:

    I’m sure Avon could have made a success of a higher spec Acclaim if their alterations had made the car look less Japanese, more British. As it was, the changes looked very ‘boy racer add on’. As a lad aged 13 years, I could not believe how bad they looked!

  8. Hilton D says:

    Agree with David. I was mid 20’s when the Avon Acclaim launched and the striping & two-tone paint were in fashion then. I think the later Rover 216 VDP and Vitesse were nicer looking cars than an Avon version would have been.

  9. Giovanni says:

    Hello to everybody, i was looking for an Avon engine. Can somebody help me? Even if there is any chance to find a conversion kit for the standard Acclaim engine.

  10. David says:

    Yes, the Acclaim Avon.
    I remember it well, there was one displayed in Henleys Bristol, and I thought it was superb. Wanted, wanted !, but so expensive.
    Also it was nothing like the photos that you showed, – as KC says, teenager in an accessory shop. The one I saw was sleek, elegant and desirable.
    There was also an Acclaim CD with interior trim and upholstery in Accord style cord. Again pretty elegant. I saw one of those in Southampton.
    Recently one of those was advertised on Ebay so I travelled way down to the west country to see it.
    Disaster, it was cheap tat, cost cutting the way the british accountants pushed our motor industry down down down.
    (When was the last time you saw an Austin Ambassador or Vauxhall Viscount. I looked at both in their heyday, then thought, on closer inspection, ‘baked beans tin’.
    Eventually bought a Firebird then. Wow ! – a long time ago, that)

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