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 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.’
Pictures: Pete Chalmers and Andrew Elphick