The Converters : Wood & Pickett Laser Metro

Another name from the Mini’s heyday returned to the mainstream in 1980, turning its attention to the Austin Metro. They were extraordinary vehicles, the Wood & Pickett Laser Metro and Metro Plus…

The Laser was styled by Ogle Design, and built very much on a bespoke basis. That meant that no two examples were the same.


Wood & Pickett Laser Metro

The Laser Metro was certainly treated as a bespoke car for discerning customers: prices ranged from £11,000 to £17,000 and extras included Recaro seats, air conditioning and leather interior. Unusually, it was actually first shown at the 1980 British Motor Show where the standard miniMetro also made its UK debut. Like the Frazer-Tickford Metro, the Laser Metro was treated to an external makeover, but Wood & Pickett handed that task to Ogle Design.

The design consultancy made a successful job of it, using Wolfrace Sonic wheels that predicted those used on the standard MG Metro and Metro Cooper/Monaco. Other changes included a full bodykit, wraparound front and rear bumpers, rear window graphics and a curious set of roof rails. Inside, it was lavishly equipped, with additional gauges, an upgraded stereo, thick Wilton carpeting, an electric sunroof and a variety of trims and designs (below).

Both Wood & Pickett models employed a Rayjay turbocharger which endowed the Plus and Laser with an impressive turn of speed on paper. Maximum speed was 105mph and 0-60mph was quoted as 9.6 seconds. However, What Car? magazine wasn’t too impressed with how it went in its 1982 road test. ‘In spite of the Rayjay turbocharger, it is sluggish by the standards of the less luxurious but racier Metros. This is not surprising considering the extra weight all the equipment adds, and the power-consuming air conditioning equipment.’

One advantage that Wood & Pickett offered over its upstart rival was that it would tailor its cars to meet exactly their customers’ needs. This wasn’t enough for What Car? to consider this an inferior choice to the Frazer-Tickford Metro. ‘When it comes down to cost, it has to be the Tickford that comes out on top. That car’s performance is almost a match for the Laser, but certainly the Aston Martin-engineered car has a better engine and inside, at least, is arguably more appealing than the Laser. But, of course, the Laser can be made into an even more individual car than the Frazer.’

Scroll down to read all about the Wood & Pickett Metro Plus

Wood & Pickett Laser Metro
Wood & Pickett Laser Metro once owned by Lynsey DePaul, and broken for spares in the early 2000s.(Picture: The Mini Forum)
The standard Wood & Pickett dashboard added pods for auxiliary gauges for a more wraparound look. Just out of view is the car's upgraded stereo.
The standard Wood & Pickett dashboard added pods for auxiliary gauges for a more wraparound look. Just out of view is the car’s upgraded stereo

Wood & Pickett Metro Plus

The Metro Plus was aimed at those who wanted some Wood & Pickett bespoke luxury and performance, but didn’t want to go to the extremes of a fully-kitted out Laser. The result of this was the more lightweight and cheaper car to complement the Laser, coming in at a starting price of £6995. In comparison with the amazing Laser, this was almost cheap enough to allow it to be considered to be an entry model – if such a term could be used when referring to Wood & Pickett.

The basic model received a Rayjay turbo (like the Laser) for a maximum power output of around 90bhp. For the record, the 0-60mph time was quoted as 9.0 seconds for a maximum speed of 105mph. To put that into perspective, that’s a similar set of figures to the Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1. What Car? magazine wasn’t overly impressed with how the Metro Plus went, though. ‘The turbocharged engine initially feels a little lazy – the turbo only comes into operation at about 3000 revs – but once it operates there is a smooth delivery of power up to the redline.’

Metro Plus add-ons were limited to a deeper front spoiler, wheelarch extensions, alloy wheels and a lot of stripes on the outside. Inside, there were a leather steering wheel and gearknob, a turbo badge as well as optional polished wood inserts and Recaro seats. The latter were excellent, but located a little on the low side making the driving position a little awkward, thanks to the ‘bus driver’ positioning of the steering wheel.

What Car? magazine liked it more than the Laser, though, concluding, ‘The Metro Plus appeals as a desirable combination of added performance and various levels of luxury at a price well within the reach of the average buyer. It also struck us as one of the most attractive modified Metros.’


Brochure gallery

Pictures: Pete Chalmers and Andrew Elphick

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk 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

8 Comments

  1. oh dear, they seem to be getting worse, another not very favourable looking Metro, but considering they designed the car near perfectly first time around it was hard to improve on it

  2. Oh dear, are those plastic lunch boxes they are using for instrument binnacles? And is that carpet in the middle of the steering wheel?

    I am sure VDP could have done a much better job and given it a grille worthy of a pretentions mini Rolls

  3. Those W&P Metros are not nice. AR got it right with the Metro Vanden Plas – still looked like a Metro inside and out but was clearly top of the range and quite subtly done.

  4. There was different standards of work to these Wood & Pickett Metros …. they even done 2/3 with the Margrave dash that made there Mini WP so good ….. over all we believe there was 2/3 were done to the highest standard …. but when you commissioned a car from Wood & Pickett you could have what ever you wanted , as long as your pockets were deep enough…… we know of only 1 Margrave metro, one Lazer metro and one MG Turbo ( the only rhd WP metro known of) … they were of there day late 70s early 80s a day that saw very few cars with all the toys we take for granted today

  5. I don’t think many of these upgrades were particularly attractive but then, I didn’t when they were new. There is that necessary old trick though of looking at cars with a 1980’s eye and not what is considered ‘attractive’ today. With extremist thinking, one can imagine the Sierra failing dismally to the Victorian eye!

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