Prototypes : LC8 Metro

Metro style emerges

The David Bache studio quickly produced a car based on this image. The shape was not vastly different to the final ADO88, but the detailing was much better.

The David Bache studio quickly produced a car based on this image. The shape was not vastly different to the final ADO88, but the detailing was much better.

LC8 was not an entirely new supermini by any stretch of the imagination, using ADO88 as a starting point. The project was basically a restyle job – with Harold Musgrove cracking the whip over the Austin-Morris development team, ensuring that it was in production by the proposed launch date: the Birmingham Motor Show of October 1980.

This Roger Tucker drawing demonstrates that the company initially thought of the five-door variant during 1978. Its eventual launch in 1984 was so far behind the three-door version because it had never been part of the original ADO88 programme, and thus involved much previously uplanned re-engineering work.

This Roger Tucker drawing demonstrates that the company initially thought of the five-door variant during 1978. Its eventual launch in 1984 was so far behind the three-door version because it had never been part of the original ADO88 programme, and thus involved much previously uplanned re-engineering work.

By the end of 1977, the Metro's shape was set in clay (above, below).

By the end of 1977, the Metro’s shape was set in clay (above, below).

1979/80, and a pre-production model undergoes wind tunnel testing. It emerged with a drag factor of Cd0.41, better than all of its contemporary competitors. Within three years, however, this figure began to look decidedly poor when compared to those of the slightly larger Peugeot 205 (0.34) and Fiat Uno (0.33/0.34).

1979/80, and a pre-production model undergoes wind tunnel testing. It emerged with a drag factor of Cd0.41, better than all of its contemporary competitors. Within three years, however, this figure began to look decidedly poor when compared to those of the slightly larger Peugeot 205 (0.34) and Fiat Uno (0.33/0.34).

This image will be familiar to anyone who followed the pre-launch stories of the Metro's development in the motoring press. The canvas tilt makes an effective, if unsubtle, disguise for the car's new rear end styling.

This image will be familiar to anyone who followed the pre-launch stories of the Metro’s development in the motoring press. The canvas tilt makes an effective, if unsubtle, disguise for the car’s new rear end styling.

BL's top brass go for a ride and drive around Longbridge. Here they are seen emerging from the Kremlin, and are about to hop into an LC8 and an ADO88 - a Volkswagen Polo and Morris Ital (out of shot to the rear) have been brought along for comparison... (Picture: BMIHT)

BL’s top brass go for a ride and drive around Longbridge. Here they are seen emerging from the Kremlin, and are about to hop into an LC8 and an ADO88 – a Volkswagen Polo and Morris Ital (out of shot to the rear) have been brought along for comparison… (Picture: BMIHT)

Pre-production testing

Cold weather testing - an undisguised prototype hits the road.

Cold weather testing – an undisguised prototype hits the road.

Pre-production testing at Gaydon. (Picture: BMIHT)

Pre-production testing at Gaydon. (Picture: BMIHT)

What the buyers thought…

Customer clinic - more positive results than with ADO88... (Picture: BMIHT)

Customer clinic – more positive results than with ADO88… (Picture: BMIHT)

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007. Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

3 Comments on "Prototypes : LC8 Metro"

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  1. Mem says:

    Drag factor is only meaningful in scientific debate if frontal area is included

  2. Sid Stannard says:

    Any information on the Aluminum bodied Metro prototypes?

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