Blog: Back to the future

One welcome item of news to land in my inbox whilst I was out of the country was that Hydragas guru Dr. Alex Moulton is working with Toyota on future projects. Not that the press release specified what these projects are, but one can reasonably confidently predict that it could well be tied in with the suspension system of one of the company’s upcoming small cars.

Think about that for a moment. Hydragas may make a return.

It deserves to. The system did seem to be tarred with the “BL” brush during the 1970s, and it was a reputation that was in no way deserved. Many people out there may not be able to recall the Princess or Allegro without raising a smirk, but what they forget is that both cars possessed a ride quality that far exceeded the expectation of the class that they competed in. Don’t believe me? Take a drive in an Allegro up any average (that is to say, broken and pock-marked) British A-road, and try to remain unimpressed with the ride quality of the thing. Push moderately, and you’ll find that it is also blessed with precise steering and relatively low-roll cornering.

…what people forget is that
the Allegro and Princess both
possessed a ride quality that
far exceeded the expectation
of the class that they
competed in.

OK, a Focus or Rover 45 would murder it overall, but you cannot take it away from the Allegro: for such a small, light car, it rides impressively.

And that’s the thing with interconnection: correctly set-up, it can give a supermini the ride quality of a medium sized car. Rover found this when developing the R6 Metro/100, and it now seems that Toyota have woken up to the fact too. And given Moulton’s messianic belief in interconnection, and his abilities to prove the system, one cannot see the venture failing.

Ironically, the system’s benefits seem to be negated, the larger the car it is applied to. Take a Citroen C5 down a challenging road – and it is difficult to find any obvious advantages over its steel sprung rivals. In fact, if you were then to take a Rover 75 down the same piece of road (as I recently did), you will find that the Rover absolutely destroys the Citroen. Who would have thought that a few years ago: a Rover out-riding a Citroen?

So let’s hope that Toyota gain some of that Moulton Magic in its next small car… what it doesn’t need is a Hydragas Avensis.

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created in 2001 and built it up 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 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.
Keith Adams

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