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.
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.
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.