The cars : Austin Allegro 1300 Special

The Austin Allegro 1300 Special, a version never offered on the British market, had a great deal more showroom appeal than most UK versions. Chris Cowin takes a closer look…

Austin Allegro 1300 Special
Austin Allegro 1300 Special. Italy 1978, via Stefano Dusse

The poor old Austin Allegro has long been the butt of jokes, and few would disagree the original cars launched in May 1973 were deserving of criticism. But Leyland responded, introducing the 1975 Allegro 2 range which incorporated many improvements. The Quartic steering wheel was consigned to history and rear passengers had more legroom.

However,  progress didn’t stop there. Most Allegros for the European continent were assembled at Seneffe in Belgium and, by the late 1970s, that plant was turning out an Allegro which offered a lot of equipment for the money and, from some angles, looked rather good.

Austin Allegro 1300 Special.
Austin Allegro 1300 Special – West Germany 1978. ‘Climb in and have a test-drive… ‘ Germany went through a phase of describing all cars as Leylands. But despite that, the Allegro still carried Austin badging

A ‘song for Europe’?

The Austin Allegro was conceived as British Leyland’s ‘car for Europe’, but a combination of design stumbles, quality glitches and bad luck resulted in sales volume on the European continent falling far below forecasts drawn up in the optimistic days of the early Seventies. Nowhere was that more a concern than at Seneffe, British Leyland’s Belgian assembly plant, which had started assembling the Allegro in 1974 for the continent and by 1975 had become a two-car plant assembling only Minis and Allegros.

The recession in European car sales of 1974/75 was one reason the Allegro failed to make inroads, as better established rivals like Fiat, Renault and Volkswagen discounted heavily to retain market share and volume. It had been hoped Allegro would conquest new customers and replicate the European success of the Mini, but by 1976 that was looking a forlorn hope. Even in improved Allegro 2 form, the chubby Austin lacked the appeal needed to lift Leyland’s continental European sales to the lofty levels set as targets in the 1975 Ryder plan, intended to ‘save Leyland’.

What to do?

Little could be done in the short-term to change the core design of the Allegro. The lack of a hatchback is often cited as a failing though at the time, this was much less remarked upon.  Alfasud, Citroën GS, Peugeot 104 and even the Fiat 127 were all launched with conventional boots, so the Allegro was in good company even if an opportunity had perhaps been missed.

But Seneffe was adept at concocting special versions of the existing cars which differed from the British market specification, and the Allegro 1300 Special would become one of the best known of these, along with the continental Mini 1100 Special (which was a regular model unlike the UK version). In simple terms the Allegro 1300 Special married the economical 1275cc A-Series engine (with four-speed gearbox) to the luxury trim package which British customers could obtain only in conjunction with the larger E-Series engine (in 1500 and 1750 form).

Seduction

There’s no denying the Allegro 1300 Special was very well-equipped for a car in this segment. The driver gripped a leather wheel, instrumentation included a rev counter and passengers were cosseted by velour seats with headrests and an armrest in the rear. Tinted glass combined with sports wheels, a standard vinyl roof, twin exterior mirrors and black bootlid trim to make this a very smart Allegro. In all but a few details the specification list mirrored the expensive (and rarely seen) British-market Allegro 1750HL.

Reversing lights and heated rear window were included in a package that suggested Leyland had learned something from the success of the Japanese with their ‘everything thrown in for the price’ marketing strategies. Yet under the bonnet the 54bhp A-Series promised fuel economy and kept the car in a low tax bracket in France and Italy especially: two countries which would soon become Leyland’s biggest export markets globally and where engine capacity was taxed heavily.

Austin Allegro 1300 Special
France 1978: Allegro 7CV Special ‘Why not luxury for 25,690 Francs?’ The French ‘7CV’ segment equated to ‘the 1300 segment’

The Allegro 1300 Special, launched in 1977, was soon accounting for a good proportion of Seneffe’s Allegro production. The appeal of the package was allied to competitive pricing, helping explain how the Austin Allegro sold rather better than some might imagine on the European continent in the late 1970s. It was an also-ran in its market segment admittedly, but not a non-runner. Keen pricing helped, the estate (with few direct competitors) found friends, and the 1300 Special played a role.

Seneffe assembled a total of 150,000 Austin Allegros during the car’s lifetime and, although some (from 1978 onwards) were sold in the UK, the bulk stayed on the continent. That’s a major reason why (as discussed elsewhere) export sales for the Austin Allegro exceeded 200,000 cars rather than the 25,000 figure often cited. The Seneffe-built cars, with approx. 75% British content, were ‘manufactured in the UK and exported in kit form for overseas assembly’, so they count as British car exports.

Italy 1978. The Austin Allegro 1300 Special (top) capped a range of Allegros. The Austin Allegro was launched in Italy in 1976 after the (Allegro-derived) Innocenti Regent ceased production

Lone wolf or team player

In the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and some other markets the Austin Allegro 1300 Special joined a range of Allegro models (Italian publicity shown above). In Italy especially, the bigger-engined Allegros made little sense so the Allegro 1300 Special was the poshest Allegro Italians could buy. In earlier years Innocenti had built its Regent version of the Allegro but it found few customers, in part because only 1300cc and 1500cc engines were offered. When the Austin Allegro was introduced to Italy in 1976 the 1300 was the biggest rather than smallest engine offered, pricing was more competitive and sales picked up.

However, in other countries, the 1300 Special became the only Allegro you could buy. This was the case in Germany by 1979, where the Allegro had become a very marginal car with most dealers only selling a couple annually.

Austin Allegro 1300 Special
Austin Allegro 1300 Special – West Germany 1978

 

Austin Allegro 1300 Special
Austin Allegro 1300 Special – Sweden 1978. With headlight wipers as required by Swedish law. A six-year corrosion guarantee (backed by extra rust-proofing) was included. Image via Range Rover Classic

There was more to come 

British tourists on the continent might have noticed how Allegros on the road appeared better-equipped than most of their British brethren. But the difference became more marked from the autumn of 1978. That’s because Seneffe switched to a four-headlight nose on all Allegros assembled at the plant (including the base 1100). These were still Allegro 2 cars, and would be for the following year. British market Allegro 2 cars only ever came with two headlights.

This design change brought with it a new matt black grille, combined with central Leyland roundel (picture below and at top of article). This was effectively a facelift and, on the 1300 Special, it worked rather well. This would have generated a dollop of new interest in the Allegro, with these 1979 models expected to hold the fort until the more substantially revised Allegro 3 range was launched on the continent for 1980.

The “four-lamp” Allegro 2 1300 Special is quite a head-turner, many of them coming with eye-catching metallic paint. It’s a matter of opinion, but to the author’s eye the four headlights work much better above the slender chrome bumpers of Allegro 2 than the bulkier bumpers of Allegro 3.

Austin Allegro 1300 Special
Austin Allegro 1300 Special – Italy 1978 (1979 model). This car has foglights which is unusual. Image via Stefano Dusse

 

Austin Allegro 1300 Special
Austin Allegro 1300 Special – France 1978 (1979 model). ‘Two cars for the price of one’. (a family car and a city car)
Austin Allegro 1300 Special
Austin Allegro 1300 Special – West Germany 1979 model. ‘The friend of the family’

Allegro 3: All change

With replacement still a distant prospect, Leyland revised the Allegro range again in the autumn of 1979.  A new instrument panel, chunkier bumpers and new rear lights were among the highlights of the Allegro 3 models. In the UK, the four-headlamp arrangement appeared but only on the top HL trim level (later re-christened HLS). But for the continent, all Allegros were fitted with four headlights as had been the case since mid-1978.

Another change was the British introduction of a model combining the top trim level with the 1275cc engine. The Allegro 3 1.3HL finally allowed British Allegro buyers to obtain a package comparable to the Allegro 1300 Special, while bringing an end to that example of continental exceptionalism. Seneffe continued to assemble Allegros but the 1.3HL model was substituted for the old 1300 Special.

The Brits and the continentals were no longer divided on this issue although Italy would receive an Allegro 3 1100HL, and later a 1000HL/1000HLS (as they called them). Neither of those were sold in the UK – where the 998cc A+ engine replaced the 1100 for 1981, but was only available in the base model Allegro.

A strange denial

Why were British buyers denied the 1300 Special? Good question. The answer is probably something to do with a desire to keep the E-Series engine family (also used in Maxi & Princess) in production in viable volumes. Very few continentals could be persuaded to buy an Allegro 1500 (and almost none the 1750 which was rarely even offered). But in the UK customers could be found for E-Series powered Allegros, and their numbers might have dwindled if the 1300 Special had been there to tempt them away.

Oddly enough, the Morris Marina was offered as a special edition in 1978 (the 1.3 LE Coupé) combining a trim level similar to the range-topping GT with the 1275cc A-Series – but, when attention turned to a special edition Allegro, the result was the Special LE, with the 1500cc E-Series engine rather than the A-Series.

Could having lots of those (ever so slightly sexy) 1300 Specials on our roads have shifted perceptions of the Allegro in the 1970s?

Austin Allegro 1300 HL
Finally, in the Allegro 3 range of 1979 British buyers could find an Allegro which combined the top ‘HL’ trim level with the 1300 engine: the 1.3HL

With thanks to Stefano Dusse and Vidar Eriksen.

Chris Cowin

51 Comments

  1. Thanks again Chris for this story on the oddities of the Allegro and BL story. It is a shame that the four light front was not used from day 1 as it looked a lot better, and helped the car look less odd.

    I think this shows how bad BL was run. The continent got the special in 1300, while us Brits couldn’t! Madness. When you bought a Ford in the UK you could get it in every available combination. The Japanese were offering us cars loaded with equipment as standard.

    We were told that the Allegro quality issues were down to cost cutting in it’s design (the so called Barber cuts), with the front subframe and anti dive hydra gas being dropped, as well as very low equipment levels. However, at S2 models on the continent were being sold at competitive prices with high equipment levels, was this done at a loss to build volume or was the original design cost cuttings just to increase the profit margin per car?

    • Well – it’s certainly true that after the government stepped in to rescue British Leyland in 1975 the emphasis was much more on volume than short-term profitability. The Ryder plan believed productivity could be improved not through cutting jobs but through selling more cars – and pencilled in a major expansion of sales on the European continent. That implied (rather optimistically even in 1975) a “surge” in Allegro sales across the European continent – as Allegro was at the core of the range.
      And they did try – a lot of time and money was put into sales Promotion efforts for Allegro (Bert Lawrence was the executive in charge).
      That’s one of the “four marketing tools” of Product, Price, Place and Promotion.
      Price was another one that could be altered swiftly. In 1976 (especially) and 1977 the pound was very weak which gave some “cover” for aggressively competitive pricing on the continent, as did the final abolition of tariffs (tariffs on British car imports to the EEC were reduced in a five year transition during 1973-77 – although Seneffe assembled Allegros would have only benefited in a small way from that – as the tariffs on CKD kits were lower in the first place).
      Despite these being inflationary times – Leyland Cars cut list prices across the range in some markets (the Netherlands was one) in this period.
      This could be described as an attempt to “buy market share”. (And it would cause problems when the pound started appreciating from late 1978 onwards). A company with fewer problems shifting its vehicles would have maintained prices and enjoyed the extra profit that a weak pound and removal of tariffs delivered.

      “Product” they could only tinker with in the short term (and the 1300 Special is an example of that).

      “Place” means in this context distribution and the dealer network – and it’s fair to say that in the late ’70s there was a need to keep “moving the metal” on the European continent to preserve the already weak dealer network so that future products (Metro being on the horizon) would stand any chance of finding customers in Europe.
      So the focus was very much on volume.

      Going back to the design phase – and design simplification (of suspension, deleting subframes etc.) there would have been (as you say) a desire to reduce production cost per vehicle – based on an assumption this could be done, to a degree, without impacting volume. This of course was the Ford model where a car like Cortina was impeccably costed and stories circulated of steering wheel designs being re-worked to “save a farthing” etc. etc.
      In those days BLMC were much more focused on profitability as they were a private corporation which wasn’t generating enough profit to cover investment for the future (They weren’t in the late ’70s either of course but the government was stepping in with subsidies). The preceding 1100/1300 had sold in big volumes (though not so well on the continent), the Allegro was supposed to replace it as almost the “national car”, the overall UK market was expected to expand and new markets were expected to open up in Europe – while there was faith that ADO67 overall was a strong design bound to sell well. With the benefit of hindsight one can see that a lot of that optimism was mis-placed, while cost-cutting detracted from the appeal of the Allegro to the detriment of sales – resulting in sales volumes far lower than once forecast. Which in itself makes that cost-cutting by Barber look rather counter-productive.

      • The question is was the Barber costings wrong in the first place, and did post Ryder BL have enough wiggle room to add the extras and still make money per unit, or were they losing money per car or were they trying the BMC route that small margins x larger volume = adequate profits? It is something we may never know.

    • I’ve never thought the four headlamp nose was a good look for the Allegro. it lends the car a ridiculous goggle-eyed look, like someone trying to see their own nose. A trait shared with the Ogle GT I think?

    • Oh I dont now, we never got the Cortina Coupe, unlike the German Taunus TC – which was a shame as that was a great looking car, different versions of many brands were sold compared to what was available in the UK, and to a degree it still does, some models are not here, yet are sold elsewhere.. its just a fact of sales and rules.

      • With the Mk.3 Cortina the very sloping shape of the three door was quite coupe-like anyway, the Taunus version having a more upright rear screen (largely carried over to the Mk.4), so there was no real need for a different shape. Quite beside that, the Capri was there to serve the coupe market anyway. Rather well, by all accounts.

  2. BL Italia drove the many modifications to the UK version Allegro. Knowing as they did the ability of Seneffe to build crossover versions of any group cars they assembled the Allegro and the growing desperation of BL Cars to move this uninspiring metal, they were constantly campaigning for ‘different’ versions of the Allegro.

    The big push over the years was for a 1000cc ‘bare-bones’ version at a knock-down price which (according to BL Cars amateur attempts at costing at the time) would have given a variable manufacturing loss on each car built at Seneffe on a sales volume which could not in any event be achieved even at the give-away price and would have severely undermined the retail pricing of the more expensive versions.

    Seneffe was in a state of perpetual crisis of profitability due mainly to low build volumes and the inefficiences of small batch production. The Belgian government contributed considerably to Seneffe’s problems by refusing to accept the BL Cars interpretation of ‘local content’ which greatly affected import taxes at the time and heavily penalised BL Cars and their National Sales Companies. I don’t remember the ‘local content’ threshold we were aiming for, but I do remember the constant arguments especially the Belgian definition of ‘new models’ which would have enabled fresh negotiations on ‘local content’.

    I was endlessly surprised that Seneffe was kept ‘live’ for so long but I believe this was partly due to them being governed by the semi-autonomous division of BL cars known as BLEO. Ah, interdepartmental politics!

    • Thanks for that very insightful comment…
      As mentioned, Italy did eventually get an Allegro 1000 in HL & HLS trim (for 1981/82) but it’s fascinating to hear they were pushing for one earlier – which would have had tax advantages in Italy.
      Those 1981/82 “Allegro 1000” cars were built at Longbridge I believe because Allegro assembly at Seneffe ended in 1980 – and they were only possible because (for all markets including the UK) the 1100cc A series was replaced by the 998cc A+ engine in Allegro for 1981. I get the impression this development came a bit too late to help the Allegro in Italy as in 1981 attention shifted to the Metro (which did very well in Italy at first) and Allegro was fading fast.

    • Seneffe was an assembly plant which assembled cars from kits sent over from Britain, with little local content, but kept 2000 Belgians in employment for nearly 20 years and also boasted it never lost a day to industrial action, unlike Longbridge. The ultimate irony must have come when Longbridge ended up assembling MGs from Chinese kits and met the same fate as Seneffe, although the factory only employed a handful of staff and the Longbridge assembled MGs sold in tiny numbers.

      • Yes there were great hopes of MG6’s being assembled at Longbridge again – and semi full production of a wider range. Even the MG TF LE500 was hand built in tiny numbers and I only ever saw one of those on the road.

        MG Motor UK is now another importer and distributor (bit like Datsun UK was?)

  3. Very interesting article.

    Under Allegro 3: All change.
    Allegro 3 1100HL and later 1000HL/1000HLS’ is mentioned.

    I assume that this is a mistake and that the smallest engine offered was the 1100 (I didn’t know whether a warmed up 1000 cc could have been offered for tax reasons in Italy).

    • As Daveh has mentioned – a 998cc Allegro was introduced in late 1980 replacing the 1100 version. (This was because they switched to the A+ engines developed for Metro which were only built as 998cc and 1275cc). In the UK this was only available in the base model Allegro (and received very little exposure). But in Italy (where the 1100HL had sold well) a 1000HL and 1000HLS (as they called them) were offered.

  4. One of my ex colleagues had an Allegro company car (Teal Blue but I don’t recall the trim or engine). I drove an Allegro hire car in the Isle of Man in 1978… it was red but again I can’t recall the engine size. Was an OK drive for 2 days. I have to say I preferred my own Viva HC at the time

  5. I know it’s stating the obvious, but the Citroen GS, Fiat 127 and Peugeot 104 all eventually acquired hatchbacks. Making the Allegro 2 a hatchback would have made such a difference to its acceptability.

  6. One other notable difference between continental and UK Allegros was the tire size. All or most UK Allegros had narrow and too small looking 80 profile tires, whilst 165/70 was the standard fitmend on German market cars…

  7. The 1300 Special is the best looking Allegro I have seen. The twin round lights give it a bold and alert look, with an upmarket flavour (a similar transformation to the Rover 200/25 and the pre- and post-facelift Nissan Almera; in both cases, thin lights and grille were replaced with bolder lights and grille). The product planning people insisted that the Allegro should have rectangular headlights to make the car look modern. But they looked like small, sunken eyes in a puffy, overweight face – not attractive at all. The grilles on the Mark 1 1100 and 1300 were not only dull, but also indecisive. Shall we have vertical grille bars or horizontal? – or none at all? Fortunately, the Mark 2 standardized the unusual and vaguely stylish hexagonal cells of the E series engine grilles.
    New topic: how ironic that the E series engine was so unpopular on the continent, in a car that was meant to sell well in Europe. Surely the Continental preference for small engines could have been foreseen?

    • But there’s nothing else that’s round on the car. The wheel arches are almost squared off and the steering wheel wasn’t even circular originally! Bold and alert? Startled I’d call it.

    • The E series was fitted to the Allegro to give it more power and using the five speed transmission from the Maxi was meant to make the car more relaxed and economical on long journeys. However, the 1300 performed adequately enough and with the 1300 Special being as well equipped as the E series Allegros, European buyers probably saw little point in buying a 1500.
      On a different note, European buyers, particularly in France, could have been won over by the advanced engineering in the Allegro such as fwd and Hydragas suspension, and the quirky styling. Certainly it was more advanced than the conservative Marina, which did little in export markets.

  8. The Allegro 1300 Special is an improvement at certain angles, yet would be interesting to see someone use it as the basis for a photoshop or few where the twin-headlights are spaced out a bit more to the corners like on the Austin Princess while featuring similar front bumpers / indicator arrangement as the Austin Maxi 2.

    • No other Austin/Morris car had frontal styling like the Allegro, with the indicators next to the headlamps, the Mini Clubman, Maxi, Marina and Princess all had their indicators underneath the bumper so it’s a bit curious why the Allegro ended like how it did!

      • Of course it is. Why would they suddenly decide to go out of step in applying a styling cue that was going out of fashion (against a Princess-like alternative front arrangement during development) over the course of the 1970s just for one car and not bother restyling it to realign with the rest of the range?

        Would contend the placement of the indicators next to the headlights does much to hamper the Allegro’s styling at the front end by pushing the headlights closer together than necessary, serving only to occupy space that otherwise could have gone to spacing out the headlights to the sides as done with the Mini Clubman, Maxi, Marina and Princess (even Michelotti’s alternative front end for his ADO74 proposal had a consistent look aligned with the above).

    • Hi Nate. I’ve done another dodgy photoshop which I have sent to Keith to put on. I have taken a Skoda Rapid front and dropped it in.

  9. The Allegro was doomed because it looked awful. Harris Mann likes to ship a sketch around of a sleeker wedge shaped Allegro and claim he was sabotaged by the engineers and management. Now I have heard this sketch was actually a reskin proposal for ADO16 but even if it was an Allegro design, it doesn’t let him off the hook.

    His jobs as a designer was to come up with a design that would work with what the company had available. The company wanted to use the relatively tall E-series engine in the Allegro and didn’t have the funds to make a more compact heater.

    Mann should have taken that into account with his designs, instead of creating a wedge shaped fantasy that was simply impossible with the parts available.

    Put it this way, if the design had been given to one of the Italian styling houses, I’m sure the Allegro would have looked a lot better and wouldn’t have had such poor sales.

    • I heard the use of the E-series engine was quite a late in the day decision because Maxi sales were lower than expected & the engines being overproduced.

    • I’m no lover/defender of the Allegro but feel l criticisms of it’s appearance are overdone and not entirely justified. It was very “seventies” and failed to improve on pretty ADO16 but it didn’t look as awful as accepted wisdom would have it. However unlike many I don’t believe the “improvements” of Allegro 3 were successful and only served to make matters worse.

    • Can understand Harris Mann was unable to come up with a design that could work with what was available and thus shares the blame with the Allegro, despite it being salvageable had he carried over styling cues from other cars like the Mini Clubman, Maxi as well as the Princess.

      Yet notwithstanding the company’s desire to use the E-Series engine, given it would eventually evolve into the more compact S-Series engine (allowing the Montego to feature a lower bonnet) what prevented the designers of the E-Series from making it a more compact from the outset (leaving only the heating system as the main impediment to a sleeker front for the Allegro)?

      Was it simply the fact the E-Series was intended to spawn a 6-cylinder unlike the S-Series and to be paired with an in-sump instead of an end-on gearbox that led to it being tall or were there other factors that prevented engineering from remedying the botches during its development despite being built at a new factory with presumably new tooling?

      • As far as I’m aware, it’s purely the transmission in sump layout of the transverse versions that makes the E series so tall.

        • If it was simply the gearbox than the related R-Series paired with end-on gearbox in the Maestro would have allowed for a lower bonnet line like the later S-Series engine in the Montego.

          • Recently found an assessment of S-series (or rather comparison with 1600s form Ford, PSA, VW, Fiat and -of course- Honda) by LJK Setgright in Car Magazine (June 1984), hoping he would enlighten us. He did (as ever), unfortunately not on the highth of S-series…

      • Another issue of relevance would be that (as reported elsewhere on this site) at one point it was planned to mount the six-cylinder E Series transversely in conjunction with a side-mounted radiator in the ADO17 cars. This was the case on the Austin 1800 and it was planned to be the same for the Austin 2200.
        Though in fact – in production – the radiator was front-mounted on both the Australian X6 cars and Austin/Morris 2200.
        But that thinking is likely to have affected the dimensions of the E Series engine – as the width of the engine bay was fixed.

        • Would the extra width created by the absence of a side-mounted radiator in ADO17 have allowed the E-Series more room to increase the bore by about 0.2-0.39-inches?

          The 0.39-inch increase in bore for example allowing the stroke to be reduced by 0.38-inches to create a square 2-litre four / 3-litre six engine, instead of an undersquare 2-litre four / 3-litre six with the 0.2-inch increase in bore. .

          It has been mentioned the engine was tested at 1797cc and 1803cc displacements before it was reduced to 1748cc, however the reduction seems to be more motivated by not wanting to overlap with the B-Series than due to any problems with the 1797-1803cc engines themselves. .

  10. I always wondered where the factory was that built my first Allegro. It had an under bonnet sticker Made in England, assembled in Belgium. It was a far better car in every aspect than my second Uk built and assembled series 3 Allegro.

    • Several thousand Allegros, mostly the LE model, were exported from Seneffe in 1978/79. Union pressure ensured imports were very limited and I’m sure all rhd Allegros were produced at Longbridge and Seneffe was closed in 1981.

      • Well – obviously the Allegros Seneffe exported back to the UK were right hand drive (like the LE models you mention) : ) Seneffe closed in 1981 but 1981 production was solely Mini according to production records – Allegro assembly in Seneffe ended during 1980 – with 10,082 being assembled there that year (one suspects mostly at the start of the year). That compares to 28,000 Allegros assembled at Seneffe in 1977.
        There were months where Seneffe exported (or “sent back”) 1,500 cars to Britain. That was the case in June 1979 (Allegros and Minis combined) – indicating stock-building before the August registration peak.

        • i don’t think any Allegro 3s were exported from Seneffe to the UK, and by 1980, Leyland was pinning all its hopes on the Metro in export markets, with the Allegro becoming a peripheral product( production was being wound down at Longbridge when Seneffe assembly ended). Also it was probably cheaper to concentrate all Allegro production at Longbridge.

  11. I’ve heard about someone having an Allegro that was RHD but had a carpet with the under pedal rubber mat in the left hand footwell.

    I wondered if it was a Seneffe made one or a Friday afternoon one from Longbridge.

  12. My first new car was a Russett Brown Allegro 1500 HL, which was built in Seneffe according to the dealer. The build quality was appalling only surpassed by the pdi. Amongst the issues missed on delivery was a front fog lamp housing that looked as if it was melted and rear seat cushion which appeared to have a blue background for a car with brown trim.
    The week after I collected the car I had a letter from the dealer introducing their new franchise and suggesting I bought a Renault.
    Swopped it for a second hand TR7 which was better built and more reliable.

  13. Thanks Daveh look forward to seeing it, is it the earlier or later Skoda Rapid Coupe front being carried over?

  14. The widely put about story of the Allegro dumpiness is the Use of tall E series engine and Marina heater that had been developed at great cost. E series engine i can agree with but Marina Heater is another matter the Marina does not share the same dumpiness that’s with a larger transmission tunnel for Rear Wheel Drive. Belgium built Allegro has a sticker on N/S inner wing by Warning Rotating Pulley one

    • If I had a time machine I might use it to go back to 1973 and ask Bertone to “scale up” the front end of the (forthcoming) Innocenti 90/120 hatchback to give Allegro a new nose. : ) The “aero” forward slope (as shown in that picture) hadn’t really arrived in 1973 – (and could add unwanted length??)

      • I was doing this more of an allegro 3, to fit in with the Ambassador and Ital. To think of how much was spent on updating them the Allegro never got the makeover it really needed. If we had a time machine the allegro would have been a scaled up Innocenti…..

      • It is possible the earlier alternate Allegro would have featured a similar front as the pre-facelift 105/120 or Garde in Skoda terms. The later facelift 130 or Rapid would have probably paired well with a shrunken Ambassador-like rebody of the Allegro.

        With the above in mind – one in-house alternative would likely owe much to the Clubman, Maxi, Marina and Princess as mentioned in elsewhere on this site, whereas a Michelotti Allegro (that would have probably been cheaper than upscaling the Bertone styled Innocenti Mini) is a rather surprising omission considering it was conceived as the company’s “Car for Europe”.

        Though the likes of the Austin Apache (reputedly a Michelotti proposal for ADO22) and an alternative fronted Michelotti ADO74 proposal (as seen below at the front with Austin badge) give some idea how a Michelotti clothed Allegro could have looked.

        https://www.facebook.com/Leyland.Chronicles/photos/ado74-concepts-c1974/2181568368634887/

Add to the debate: leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.