News : 4000-mile Allegro hits the market

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Craig Cheetham

A 1974 Austin Allegro Super with just 4111 miles on the clock has appeared for sale at an MG dealership in Northern Ireland.

Blaze with a Quartic wheel - Allegro nirvana!
Blaze with a Quartic wheel – Allegro nirvana!

Offered for sale by SS Logan and Son Limted of Newtonabbey, Co. Antrim, the 1974 Series 1 Super is finished in period Blaze Orange, with black vinyl interior and the Allegro’s celebrated ‘Quartic’ square steering wheel.

Acres of BL vinyl. What's not to love?
Acres of BL vinyl. What’s not to love?

As Allegros go, then, it’s pretty much the pinnacle of kitsch – square wheel, miserly spec and lurid colour.

According to the vendor, the car has been in storage for the past 25 years and has only recently resurfaced. It comes with a full 12-month MoT valid until June 2016.

Exterior appears to be almost blemish-free
Exterior appears to be almost blemish-free

The car is almost impossible to value, so is being offered initially on eBay without reserve and where, at the time of writing, it is up to £1,900 – though, given recent trends in valuations for low mileage ‘timewarp’ cars of this era, we’d expect it to end up higher than that.

How can you value a 41-year old classic with such low mileage, Allegro or not?
How can you value a 41-year old classic with such a low mileage, Allegro or not?

Serious bidders have until Friday – view it here, or contact the seller directly on 02890 862039.

Allegro4

 

 

Craig Cheetham

A serial impulsive car purchaser, Craig has had his name on over 200 V5s over the past 20 years. 10 per cent of those have been either 800s or Austin Allegros, with between 10 and 20 cars usually owned at any one time. Started out as a local newspaper journalist then worked for car mags including Auto Express, Classic Car Weekly and Land Rover Owner. Worked inside the car industry for a decade as an employee of General Motors, now works for a news distribution agency. Home based, which is dangerously convenient for further irrational heap purchases. Lover of all makes of car since childhood, with a particular leaning towards Austin-Rover... Father of three boys, so hoping to spread the car love. Other passions include rugby union, travelling and eating out.

37 Comments

  1. Err an epithomy of BL – horrid colour and basic trim. Good find though and hopefully someone will look after it

  2. Period colour, tiny mileage, square steering wheel… nice!

    In a market where a doom blue Ital with 77000 miles is advertised for £3500, this has to be worth £6-7k.

  3. ‘Lurid colour’. At least it is a colour compared with the boring colours of today’s cars. Personally I love then colour. My father had 2 door in the same colour and spec with a dark blue interior. Fantastic car. 72000 miles in 18 months…..and 3 engines. The 1275 was not really designed to be trashed as a company car. He would have been better off with a 1500 or 1750 with a 5 speed. However the British Road Federation, who he worked for, would not fund it. His next car was a Mk3 Cortina with a 1.3. However the 1.3 was replaced with 1.6 when it became tired after my father’s travelling.
    I find the series 1 cars the best looking internally and externally especially the 1750 SS. Shame the series 2 and 3 were progressively poorer stylistically. The series 3 in hearing aid beige with talked on spoiler and oversize rear lights was a low point.

  4. Like it or not, seeing these photos takes me back in time to when Allegro’s in similar bright colours were popular on our roads. Good to see it’s well preserved. A colleague had one (cream) with the infamous quartic wheel. The only Allegro’s I drove had round steering wheel. This example could be worth a “punt”!

  5. What a terrific find. I’ve never been able to keep a car for more than a year,let alone stash one away for a quarter of a century! I wonder what will happen to it? Would you buy it to use and add miles and wear and tear, or will it get put away somewhere else for another decade or two. Great to see poverty spec cars like this surviving though. For some reason I find them far more appealing than top of the range models.

    • I thought the same – the grill looks great. Like a small scale version of the grilles on late ’60s American cars, particularly the Mercury Cougar or Dodge Challenger.

  6. There was a purple model around at the same time, which looked even more kitschy than this one.
    Still a real nostalgia trip for those that want it, a car with absolutely no creature comforts barring a heater and demister, 88 mph flat out and a non PAS Quartic steering wheel. Hard to believe such basic cars were still around 30 years ago.

  7. Allegros were miles ahead in spec than many other period competitors. Drum brakes and cross ply tyres, rubber floor mats etc were still available on new bottom of the range Escorts at this point.

    It was also a big seller, something we can’t say about the cara behind it…

  8. Looking at such a perfect Allegro now, it’s actually quite a good looking car!

    Surprisingly, its rounded surfaces look more current (and certainly more stylish) than those odd looking, flat sided, superminis that it’s sharing garage space with.

    A great find, though I’d still prefer one of the lurid metallic green LE’s!!

  9. It’s nice to see this has been stored properly. Most of my firsthand experiences of early Allegros were in the 1980s when most were worse for wear. Even the colour isn’t too off-beat for a 1970s BL shade.

    I’m guessing this was owned by on older motorist who simply put it away in a garage when they gave up driving.

    Older owners seem to buy new cars either with all the mod cons, or the basic spec.

  10. (whilst wearing false beard and staring at a half empty glass) -All those rubber bits will have to be replaced…

    • Looks like a ‘V’, but it actually says ‘Austin’ (click on the picture to see for yourself).

      The quartic steering wheel’s time has come. So many cars now have these, including Audi.

  11. Good on SS Logan, ex Rover dealer (until recently they still had burgundy signs) and have been great in Northern Ireland for pushing the MG brand (which RMG and Saltmarine failed at).

    If anyone needs help to go see it, let me know.

    It is in Whiteabbey at the end of the short M5 motorway, 5 miles from the City Centre, couple of miles from the Stena ferry (P+O ferry you can take the A8 from Larne, or the A2 coast road and approach from Carrickfergus), not too far from the International or City airports.

  12. I watched Clarkson’s particularly uninformed and bigoted video from about 15 years ago where he trashes the Allegro and the Marina. Yes they weren’t perfect, but they were nowhere near as bad as Clarkson claimed and between them clocked up nearly two million sales. Also Jezza in one of his publications waxes lyrical about how great his early eighties Alfa GTV was to drive, but then has a list of faults including water rushing into the cabin one day and the tyres constantly going flat that would make me settle for a humble Allegro any day.

    • You need to remember that Mr Clarkson knows next to nothing about cars or engineering. He is simply a sensationalist journalist. Sadly, his opinions have been given massive overexposure due to his tv appearances.

      I saw him incandescent once….having been invited to a ‘secret’ Saturday morning viewing of a concept car, he duly turned up at the gate in a Ferrari. Quite rightly, he was not allowed to bring the car into the plant (since it was a competitor vehicle). A colleague drove down to collect him and bring him to our workshop….When Mr Clarkson was delivered a few minutes later, it was a pleasure to see him erupting from what was quite possibly, the world’s rattiest Imp! A massive ego, well and truly punctured! Oh how we laughed!

  13. Clarkson can’t understand the vast majority of cars people own. He would probably intensely dislike what I have now( a Nissan Micra) and would have wanted to blow up my Proton Mpi. Yet both are reliable, cheap to own cars that make more sense on the daily commute than a 200 mph supercar that costs £ 200,000 and would probably burn out its clutch and engine in such conditions.

  14. A few car “buffs” seem to problem understanding why most car owners these days would sacrifice “character” for reliability etc.

    Even those ones who aren’t in a professional capacity are guilty of this, & don’t have the excuse of being a bit ivory towered with an income to run something mere mortals could only dream of as a daily driver.

    I’m talking of the sort of people who wouldn’t consider you an fan of cars unless you can reset some points without a Haynes manual & have spent a weekend stripping rebuilding a gearbox.

    • True, my dad used to be out every weekend tinkering at something with the bonnet up.

      Yet I rarely get the time to do this, I used to enjoy servicing it myself and doing the odd jobs, these days the week passes and the weekend is a blur. Even washing it – I leave it to one of those hand car washes now!

  15. It’s a cracker! You may loathe them, but you can’t deny that the Allegro today is a notable point in motoring history and of great interest.

  16. @ Dave Dawson, nine years in production and 750,000 sales, not exactly a flop then, and also popular when I was a teenager as a first car as they were cheap and easy to maintain. One credit Which gave the Allegro was its resistance to rust, which made owning one less of a gamble than some of its rivals.
    Not a great car, oddly styled, early versions had some nasty faults and didn’t go in 1100 form and the SS was a bit of a joke, but once sorted in 1975, when the slight restyle might them less porcine looking, a reasonable car that did the job and also 1500 and 1750 versions had five speed gearboxes, which made motorway driving more pleasurable and economical than a 1.6 Escort.

    • You’re right Glenn. It wasn’t a flop and by the time early issues were sorted it was an OK car.
      I personally don’t loathe them.
      It was the butt of many jokes, but much of the buying public
      didn’t see it that way. To them it was a perfectly sound choice.
      I can remember a neighbour who quite happily traded his ADO16 for one. My perception as a young lad was that he was happy with it as a progression from his old car.

  17. I owned an Allegro 1300 back in the day. Once you were able to look past the awful styling it was a reasonable car apart from the complete lack of high speed cruising ability especially on motorways.

  18. Always thought it a nice looking car and it was ‘modern’ when compared to the car it replaced. Initial faults and strikes and media hype gave it a reputation it never shook off – to this day – and one it did not, in the end, deserve. Allegro 3 was a really good car. If ‘3’ had been the launch car BL might have made it! Quadratic wheel was lauded by at least one of the national driving instruction firms of the time. Again, a victim of the times.

    • I agree in that the 3 should and could have been the Allegro when it was launched, ie properly developed and built well enough.

      I agree the looks were never offensive, but I think these pictures flatter it a little, its curvy shape suits the wide angle distortion in the pictures.

      But looking at its styling objectively, the front is a mess of different lines, I guess much resulting from the need get the height for the E series. But some other things look a bit half-done like the point in the line of the nose and grill.

      The rear roof line is also clumsy looking, I think rear door line is falling away from the roof line making it look rear heavy.

      What you don’t see in the pictures is the “chubby” side panels, which is supposedly a result of a compromise to avoid redoing the tooling for the door skins, not entirely sure if this true, but BL were certainly running out of cash at the time.

      You only need look at an Alfasud, a car that’s styling predated the Allegro by 3 years, to see how lighter and crisper an Allegro could have looked.

      If the Allegro had been about defending market share in the UK then a properly sorted Allegro would have been enough.

      But the Allegro was BL last chance to remain a major European manufacturer, it needed to win sales in the growing European market, just as the Golf Mk1 needed to do for VW and the 205 for PSA.

      The Allegro even when developed and built properly simply did not look good enough to do that, as a result its market failure sealed the fate of its European dealer network and without that BL could never hope to sell its successor M cars in quantity to compete with other European manufacturers on price and profitability.

      • Certainly the Allegro got better as time went on, but seemed to be a case of too little too late.

        In some ways it seemed to fall into the same category as the Leyland National bus in a few areas, in particular not selling well enough to be consider a success, but too much to be a failure.

        • The British Leyland story!

          Of course the National had the advantage of having a guaranteed Customer in National Bus.

          But like the Allegro, Princess and SD1 it had all those essential BL qualities at launch.

          Clever forward looking design that was underdeveloped and hindered at launch with production, quality and reliability issues.

      • No, I still think it looked good. There were three in my family – from the launch variant to a Belgian made one and, finally, a very nice ‘3’. I worked with a guy who had the estate – now that was ugly. But then, looks are subjective and I stick to my opinion. The wheel hubs and thin chrome bumpers on the photo are disappointing and I think the grille could be very much better, but basically, at the time, the shape was modern and attractive.
        A later Astra didn’t look so terribly different, as I recall. And, lots of much later cars took on that “chubby” look. So, in that sense it might even have been ahead of its day (think of the pitiful sales -compared to expectation – of the Ford Sierra/Jelly Mould on launch). I’m not saying it was the epitome of design, nor am I suggesting there weren’t better lookers on the road. But the faults and bashing it got (and being from strike-ridden BL) meant that, unlike the Sierra, it was never allowed to recover and achieve it’s sales potential. The might of Ford’s publicity machine combined with a sound product from day one won-over a conservative public in a way Allegro was never going to.
        Nothing to do with looks, but a friend’s brother (I was a school kid at the time) had a sport version (can’t recall it’s proper designation right now) which turned out to be the worst rust-bucket I think I’ve ever seen.

  19. It seems that having the right car for the market is always a crucial factor, & sometimes advanced technology & styling isn’t enough of a selling point.

  20. The ADO16, which the Allegro replaced, was no paragon of quality either. While the Allegro had decent rustproofing, the ADO16 was notorious for its subframe rotting away after a few years. Also by the end of its life, the car was completely outdated and was starting to look and feel ancient.
    However, rotten subframe apart, the Vanden Plas version was a lot nicer looking than the Allegro based car, which had a silly looking Daimler grille.

  21. Was talking to someone who owned both an Allegro and a Marina in the early 80s and said the reliability issue was a bit of a myth. Both cars weren’t particularly well made and were plasticky, but the engines and transmissions were trouble free and certainly no worse than Fords, which tended not to like to start in cold weather. In those days people could live with a bit of trim coming adrift and some rust, as it was par for the course, but Allegros certainly weren’t the reliability and quality disaster the press made them out to be.

  22. Blaze Orange? Could have sworn that looks more like Vermillion, but that
    thought is probably an unholy mix of iffy photo quality and my even iffier
    memory recall. Maybe Vermillion was resevered for MG and Triumph back then?

    Notice the authentic 1970’s panel gaps/shutlines which the Allegro seemingly shared with most other cars of the period.
    Getting them tight and right was a skill only Mercedes and Reliant could manage before the Japs showed everyone else how that bit should be done…

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