The Metro route
Shortly after the demise of ADO74, the “Mini replacement idea” was yet again brought down from the shelf for further investigation. Unlike ADO74, which was new from the wheels up, ADO88 would use the Mini’s A-series engine plus transmission-in-sump layout. The reason for this was cost – ADO74 would have cost an estimated £130million to develop; ADO88, significantly less.
The early stages
Initial thoughts on ADO88 styling (above) were somewhat different to the first full size clay models (below) produced in July 1974. This bulbous derivative certainly looks roomy, but lacks the crispness required of any mid-Seventies small car design.
November 1974, and the Metro’s character begins to emerge in one of three proposals photographed at this point: this is particularly evident in this car’s frontal styling (below). The side view shows that the proportions of the car were fundamentally good, although the execution was poor.
The design lacked any real defining features end as a reult, looked boxy and utilitarian. It is very clear that the decision to use this model as the basis of the final Metro was a sound one – and the later metamorphosis into LC8 was very effective, thanks to the efforts of David Bache’s team: Gordon Sked, Roger Tucker and Harris Mann.
The third proposal from November 1974 has a rather oriental look: Daihatsu Charade, anyone?
Early mule used for road testing components in 1974/75, as pictured in Car magazine. The speculative press were brought into a wild panic by this car’s lack of styling – how could the Mini be replaced by such a contraption?
Development of the original Harris Mann idea, dating from August 1975 (above, below) – now going with partially concealed rear wheels, like Citroën. This style was not unpleasant, but it did not translate well into a full-size model, and so was not pursued.
Late 1975 Pininfarina proposal displays a distinctly Citroën-esque persona. This proposal was quickly abandoned because the production costs of this car would have been too high.
David Bache takes over
Following David Bache’s appointment as project leader in 1975, five new styling themes made it to the full-scale model stage (below). These cars were presented to management in November of that year, forming the basis of a “shoot-out” to decide which would be developed into a production reality. After careful consideration, management unanimously went for the first model. (Note that these cars wore Innocenti Mini road wheels).
This is the design that was ‘approved for further refinement’ in November 1975.
The sketch below was then prepared to show the way forward.
Early 1976: the finalised ADO88 model, which was used to produce engineering drawings. Quite a number of changes have been made since the previous model was approved in November 1975, including a small stretch in the wheelbase.
A later version of the full size mock-up dating from early 1976.
A further development of the finalised model, now featuring a glasshouse. This version demonstrates the styling features of the basic models, with the inset headlamps making it all the way to the final Metro.
ADO88’s last gasp: by autumn 1977, the car had begun its metamorphosis into LC8, the project which would produce the definitive Metro.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics 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 unfeasible adventures all across Europe.