The members of our Editorial Team have, over the years, been fortunate enough to see most of the cars featured on AROnline in the metal, but there are still some exceptions. That’s why being able to feature one of those elusive, hitherto unseen models is a particular pleasure. This time it is an Allegro – with a twist.
Words: Alexander Boucke Photography: Rainer Höltschi
There is not much information out there about the Innocenti Regent, the first new car launched by Innocenti after BL took over the car business from the family. AROnline‘s own entry is rather meagre but, only 18 months after being launched, the model was withdrawn. Rainer Höltschi from Switzerland, the owner of our featured car, sees two main reasons for the lack of success and the quick withdrawal from the market: “Alfa Romeo’s new Alfasud reached the market before the Regent and was much more in tune with Italian taste. On top of that prices for the Regent were raised by nearly 50 per cent (!) just 3 months after launch. Even considering Italian inflation at the time, this seems like a real killer.”
Rainer’s car is the most basic model of the small Regent lineup. The range consisted of 1300, 1300 L and 1500 L – with L for lusso. Most adverts show the L model featuring the characteristic black paintwork on the roof. While the more luxurious versions came with special wheels, a sports steering wheel (in quartic shape, of course) and cloth-vinyl combinations on the seats, Rainer’s car had to make do with rubber flooring and vinyl seats. Being what is basically a Mk1 Allegro, it does have a quartic wheel – and, very much unlike the British sibling, four nice instruments in a matching shape!
Allegro anoraks will surely be able to spot plenty of differences immediatly, but as they are not as obvious as on Innocenti’s take on the Morris 1100, here are a few hints:
– different grille
– opening quarter lights in front doors
– different boot lock and rear number plate positions
– seats, instruments (and even the gear lever knob) are particular to the Innocenti
– Italian electrics in the engine bay
One major difference is in the state of tune of the engines fitted: all came with twin SU carbs and had a much higher output than the comparable UK model. The 1300 was basically lifted from the ADO16 1300 GT, quoted with 66PS. The 1500 twin carb was something the UK market would not get to see until the Allegro 3 went into its last round. Here, it delivered 79PS and a top speed “above 100mph”.
This Regent is in mostly original condition, with only minor repairs to paintwork and mechanical bits over the years. Rainer is fascinated by how the changes to styling and interior change the character of the British original – add in the stronger engine and it can give a much more sporting feel. On its rare outings this seemingly humble car always attracts lots of interest.
Oh, and if this alone was not enough motivation to search for an Innocenti Regent, Rainer needed one to complement his brand-spanking-new Austin Allegro 2 1500 Special which has just reached 77km on the clock …