Concepts and prototypes : Austin Allegro (1968-1972)

The Austin Allegro was almost universally lambasted for being ugly, frumpy and undesirable looking.

We take another look at the design process to show how the company never set out to build a willfully ugly car, it just happened.

Austin Allegro: sow’s ear out of a silk purse

ADO67 design
Harris Mann sketch from 1968 shows, perhaps, how it was always meant to be: the car here is sleek, characterful and good looking

The ugliness of the Austin Allegro is now very much set in the national psyche. Here’s a car that epitomises the failure of its maker during the 1970s – and yet, when it was first conceived, it was designed to take over from the best-selling Austin/Morris BMC 1100/1300 in an equally stylish and appealing manner.

The design programme for the ADO67 programme kicked off in late 1968, once the more commercially-important Morris Marina (ADO28) project had advanced into its engineering phase. The former ADO22 programme (which was a rebody of the BMC 1100/1300) was dead in the water following the formation of British Leyland, which made competing the with the Ford Cortina its number one priority.

However, while it was important that the Morris needed to be introduced in double-quick time, using as many carry-over parts as possible, the ADO67 was a clean-sheet programme intended to push British Leyland to the head of the pack in the family car market.

Packaging compromises kill sleekness

Austin Allegro (ADO67) full-sized mock-up
By 1970, the Allegro style was beginning to take shape, and it looked a lot lower and sleeker than the production version before the E-Series engine and heater assembly had been squeezed in

As can be seen from the image at the top of the page, lead Designer Harris Mann was more than keen to pen a design that lived up to that ambitious brief. He said, ‘We wanted to make a far more modern version of the 1100/1300, keeping the long, sleek look.

‘Then a lot of other things affected it. A heater was developed at astronomical cost which was very deep. That had to go in. Then we had to put in the E-Series engine, which was more suitable for putting in a Leyland truck.’

This forced the bonnet line to be raised, making the glass-house shallower. The gentle curves of the initial design were also exaggerated, as it was felt by the Engineers lessons learned in packaging and panel-strength from the pre-ADO74-supermini concept known as Ant and nicknamed the Barrel-car could be incorporated.

Harry Webster on the Austin Allegro design process

The most infamous item from the Series 1 Allegro was the Quartic steering wheel: George Turnbull insisted that this David Bache creation should be added to the new small Austin (as drawn by Paul Hughes).
The most infamous item from the Series 1 Allegro was the Quartic steering wheel: George Turnbull insisted that this David Bache creation should be added to the new small Austin (as drawn by Paul Hughes)

Harry Webster added, ‘When I arrived here from Triumph in May 1968, there was no sign of an eventual successor to any of the Issigonis-designed front-drive cars. So the styling boys had a completely clean sheet of paper to start with, and I had a good deal of freedom on the engineering side. I felt the suspension was a priority as the original Moulton concept had been overtaken in certain areas by more conventional designs, and of course the package itself.’

‘His proposal for the new car was one of four or five that we presented to the Board early in 1969. They walked into the big round building where the full-size mock ups were displayed, and immediately they fell for Harris’s car. After that they just left him to get on with it. The production version is hardly altered in appearance from the original.’

Shape settled: alternative details tested

Different frontal treatments were investigated for ADO67 - the left-hand option was abandoned infavour of that on the right. Would the quad-headlight arrangement have worked better? You decide.
Different frontal treatments were investigated for ADO67 – the left-hand option was abandoned in favour of that on the right. Would the quad-headlight arrangement have worked better? You decide…
Alternative frontal treatment for the Allegro GT model. Did the 1750 version (with a single carb) deserve the "GT" badge? Austin obviously thought not. The grille on this 1970 mock-up was solid because the intention was for the Allegro to have its radiator side mounted, like the Mini and ADO16.
Alternative frontal treatment for the Allegro GT model. Did the 1750 version (with a single carb) deserve the “GT” badge? Austin obviously thought not. The grille on this 1970 mock-up was solid because the intention was for the Allegro to have its radiator side mounted, like the Mini and ADO16
Full-size clay model from 1969 shows how the two- and four-door versions would look.
Full-size clay model from 1969 shows how the two- and four-door versions would look
The finished article.
The finished article

The fact is that the Allegro could have been good looking. Even if you acknowledge that it eschewed the-then fashion for angular cars, the curvaceousness of it could have worked much better than it did.

In reality, the Allegro’s looks weren’t entirely responsible for its failure – you’d need to look at the striking workers, the lack of quality and its high list price at launch for that – but there’s no doubt that, had it been better looking, history might have ended up being kinder about it.

And finally – the Condor that never flew

This is ADO68/67, an Allegro-based coupe proposal produced for project Condor in 1970.
This is ADO68/67, an Allegro-based coupe proposal produced for Project Condor in 1970
Keith Adams


  1. Harris Mann’s starting-block design is where the Allegro should have stayed; okay, the headlights look uggerly but it’s nothing a quick quad-lamp refit couldn’t fix. But above all it was a… HATCHBACK! You know… the car that BMC invented (remember the Austin A40 Countryman?) and the world wanted!

  2. Both of the proposed frontal arrangements, the quad and the single with the revised bonnet/grille in the photo above were massively better than the end product. I cannot help but think the car would have been received entirely differently had they made the right decision here, the rest of the car was ok – sales and reputation were damaged from the word go because it looked like a collapsed yorkshire pudding. Of course they should also have added a hatch!?!?

  3. If they kept to Harris Mann’s original sketch with the Capri/Scimitar-style quad-lamps included a hatchback, made use of updated B-Series engines as a stop-gap instead of the E-Series until the alternate O-Series (in 1.4, 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0 forms) came along (while introducing the 2.0 B-Series), then the Allegro imo would of been a decent replacement for the 1100/1300 as well as worthy rival to the Golf.

    • Yeah I’ve also noticed the little Audi A1reminds me of how the Car could of been.i have seen a five door Bronze one out there with Black alloy wheels. If BL would of designed an end of engine FWD transmission. There could Of been a 1.7 Sport with the Black SS wheels in the Bronze with Black go faster stripes

  4. WHAT HAPPENED? Really, the first picture shows a very svelte car, not the blow fish it became at launch. Lack of hatchback is unforgettable, more so with the ADO 16 getting conversions already, Primula offered this option, then came Golf and R14!!! Sure that by MKII, it could have been added. Mind you, I still think that the Estate looked great, ditto Alfasud Giardinetta, kinda for the masses “shooting brake” into them, not being 4 door estates, but I must be the only one on this site. Anyway, unless we can turn back time…

  5. Its a shame that Australia was ignored with its hatchback ADO16 “Nomad” proving so popular. Even so I have had several Allegro’s and they all served me well.

  6. You know, it makes me laugh when I hear the usual Leyland bashers (there are plenty on this site too) snigger and sneer at the quartic wheel on the Allegro, but either say nothing or even praise quartic wheels on modern Audis etc… Why do we have to hate products of our own country so much?

  7. @7 – Throughout the history of the car there have been many quartic wheel moments and the success or failure of these ideas appear to be very much in the lap of the gods and not actually relevant the genuine originality or brilliance of the concept.
    The current fad of horrible and aggressive LED side and running lights could have – if all buyers thought like me – bombed completely. The original A40 Countryman was a slow seller – it did not revolutionise the industry and everyone follow – for about 20 years. So much of car history is fashion related – rather than ‘adding value’ by virtue of better design. The fact is that if the buying public had thought the quartic wheel was trendy – Ford would have fitted one to a current model and we would all have used one in our cars – until someone got brave and re-invented the round wheel again.
    If we were brilliant enough to actually know when an idea was going to ‘take off’ – rather than hope it did – we would all be very rich.

    • At the Moulton meeting in 2014, an ex-BL stylist gave his version of the Quartic steering wheel in the Allegro, the ergonomics of the Allegro “cockpit” were less than ideal, a senior manager demanded the Quartic wheel, being somewhat “large” the quartic wheel was needed so he could get into the driving seat, at his insistence, the quartic wheel became a standard feature.

      Another anecdote concerns the Allegro estate car, three styling schemes were for consideration for the production car, a deep-rooted clash of personalities made sure the least desirable version won the day.

  8. @7 What Audi has a quartic wheel? The quartic steering wheel on the Allegro wouldnt have been an issue if the rest of the car had been any good. In the end it was the only thing remotely novel or interesting on the car so became the focal point when the Allegro failed to deliver. I dont think Leyland bashing has anything to do with the nationality of the company, just its products. Ford was perceived as being very British during the 60s, 70s and 80s and their cars sold like hot cakes.

  9. The Quartic wheel may have been novel for BL, but everything else would have been novel for Ford and Vauxhall, Ford had never produced an FWD car and they were still stuck in the world of leaf spring horse-cart suspension

  10. Yep, the quartic wheel was seen on an American car first in the 60s – same shape as Allegro.

    Ford Germany had been producing a FWD mid range saloon since the early 60s. When the Cortina and Taunus ranges where rationalised in the early 70s FWD went out and the Taunus went RWD again…

  11. The design of this car was comprimised by management insisting the leyland parts bin was utilised. This dictated the final design

    • Yes indeed, but two crucial things: firstly, it wasn’t as obviously square as the Allegro’s one and secondly, it was never mentioned in the marketing blurb. They needed a square wheel to be able to see the dash, but they’d learned from the Allegro debacle to keep quiet about it and see if anyone noticed. Which they didn’t.

  12. The styling of the Allegro and its apparent lack of success is over emphasised. The Allegro is hardly a beauty but then neither were most cars in its class, look at the Fiat Strada or Honda Civic of the time.Many of the styling cues used in the Allegro would have fared better in the ’80s when a more organic appearance became acceptable. BL were ahead of the curve and paid for it.

  13. The Allegro 1500 should have been the choice of the discerning private motorist, a family car with nifty performance and handling all wrapped up in a smart set of clothes.

    Unfortunately it was not, had it been then it might have saved the company as a volume manufacturer by building on the Mini / ADO16 legacy in the UK and Europe, just in the way the Peugeot 205 delivered for PSA.

    Given its importance and the hard act it had to follow, given the success they had had with using Italian stylists before in BMC and Leyland, given they could see what Innocenti were doing with the Mini and given they had the Alfasud to compare their work against, you would have thought they would have understood just how far they were going to miss the market and phoned Italy for help.

  14. You can never find a piano when you need one. Dropping one on the All-aggro would have improved the clay model immeasurably.

    @5: I have to agree that the estate actually looked pretty good because the longer rear balanced the car off — and of course it had the “hatch” that the saloon missed out on.

    Only problem was that there was never a 5 door estate which was a major blow, and of course the sagging hydragas rear suspension didn’t help. This was an application where hydragas should have been ditched for a decent coil spring wetup which would also have been cheaper to manufacture.

    Note that the escort 3 had both 3 and 5 door estate versions, much beloved of travelling salesmen and photocopier technicians.

    I remember quite fancying an Allego estate (in Pageant Blue IIRC) but by that time the reputation of the car was well known.

    @3: If, if , if, if my auntie was a bloke she’d have been my uncle. So many ifs that it’s not worth thinking about. If my Escort Mk4 had had a decent engine and a decent suspension and didn’t break down a lot it would have been a good car too.

  15. Am I the only person to see a resemblance to the 18 – 22 / Princess in the initial Harris Mann sketch? Maybe it’s the angle of the ‘C’ pillar?
    I think that typically the All-Aggro was a ‘nearly’ car. It could have been so much better but instead became a re-skinned version (and replacement for) the excellent Austin/Morris 1100 – 1300 range without many additional benefits.

  16. Poor Harris Mann, whatever did they do to his far reaching design, it would of been a league ahead of the competition. A Brilliant designer let down by a ridiculous management. They simply took a great design and made it blobby and frumpy. Why ever he put up with it Ill never know. Maybe, like many, he just thought it would get better.

  17. @18 – the only benefit the Allegro had over the successful and handsome 1100/1300 range was the fact that the car wouldn’t rust so easily as an 1100. More’s the pity…..

  18. Oh, and Harris Mann’s designs were severely compromised (I’d like to use another word hear, but its too rude) by the financial constraints of BLMC and the need to use the E series engine that raised the bonnet height. I believe there were other issues that affected the design due to the raiding of the BL parts bin………..which is a shame cos this car could have been as successful if not more so than the 1100/1300 range before it.

  19. It was partly down to a combination of the height of the E-Series engine on top of its gearbox but also the size and position of the new airflow heater, an early project of Rob Oldaker. The Allegro could and should have been so much better, but there was also an element of ‘NIV’ to such an extent that John Barber bought or borrowed an Alfasud to show the engineers at LB what a good looking good handling well laid out car could be (even if built out of crappy steel and with southern European levels of rustproofing). Mind you, I’d like someone to Photoshop Audi badges onto an Allegro and an Allegro grill and the Austin and Allegro badges onto an Audi A1 and see what they look like! By the way, that hideous ADO67/68 was briefly considered as a Coupe variant with the potential for an E6 engined version.

    • Staggered that such a hideous coupe proposal would even get to the modelling stage! Surely the initial sketches would have been enough…

  20. @22

    Interesting I never knew they actually had an Alfasud at Longbridge to compare the Allegro against.

    The question is given they had an Alfasud to look at and drive (and I speak having driven both), why did they still make such a mess.

    I wonder if any documents exist on the feedback given ie “The British customer will not accept such unnecessarily high levels of grip and steering preciseness, it is also critical we retain the Maxi (bowl of porridge) gear change”

    • The Alfasud might nave been a fantastic car to drive and good to look at, but it had one fatal flaw the Allegro never suffered from much, terminal rust that could strike at any time. In Northern Europe, it was common to see Alfasuds that were 5 years old that were ravaged with rust and many died young as the cost of replacing rotten wings and doors became too much.

  21. @17, Tony Evans,

    The Escort estate didn’t come in 5 door guise until 1983, by which time the Allegro had been pensioned off. 5 door estates at the time were not common- the Astra mk 1 offered either 3 or 5 doors, whilst the earlier Chevette and Viva estate only came with 3. So whilst 5 doors for the Allegro estate might have been desirable, it wasn’t the market norm, so would not have been expected.

  22. The car really missed the rubber mounted subframe and maybe if it had had the more modern maxi front suspension (we still use the lower arm arrangement on cars now)it might have improved refinement.
    The car was the best looking car the company made after the ‘wedge’.

  23. @25: Fair point Chris. Now if BL had managed to produce the Mk1 Astra…

    I had a Mk1 Astra and can tell you that it was mechanically and dynamically light years ahead of anything produced by BL at the time, even my beloved Dolly (except for the interior of course).

    • Never a truer word. I launched both cars, at distributor level. Lookers Manchester, in 1973, launched the Allegro at the Manchester Motor Show at Belle Vue. We had over 1000 guests. The sense of goodwill towards BMC, as most people thought of it, was everywhere. We wondered what we would do with all those left over 11/1300s. Six weeks later we were transferring in as many as we could get hold of and the Allegro nightmare was just beginning.

      The (Opel) Astra launch was just a matter of taking orders from day one. Vauxhall’s reputation has been just stopped from going down the tubes by the 1976 (Opel) Cavalier but we were still on the verge of closing two Vauxhall outlets. The Astra changed all that.They are still there now but the great BMC distribution network no longer exists.

  24. #3

    The BL cars, requiring E-series engines had failed to sell, the Allegro had to be tweaked to take the E-series to make up the numbers, hence the bloated bonnet.

    I also believe there was a shortage of A and B engine making capacity, can anyone confirm this?

  25. IIRC by the 1970s the tooling for the B series was wearing out, with workers having to shim up parts with cigarette papers!

    I did wonder why the 1750cc E series didn’t go into the Princess, rather than the B series.

    • At least the 1750 would have fitted in the Princess better than the Allegro.

      The Princess would have benefited from the 5-speed box, for better economy and even quieter motorway cruising. But the 72bhp/97lb-ft single carb 1750 was no match for the 82bhp/102lb-ft single carb 1800, possibly too underpowered for the Princess (although could have been geared lower to compensate). Curiously, the twin carb versions of both produced 90bhp/104ft-lb.

      Like the Marina, would have given three nicely spaced power options – 72bhp, 90bhp, 110bhp (with a lower diff ratio on the “base” model).

      • Oops, had the 1500 not 1750 figures. Found a better source :-
        1750 SC 84/105 vs 1800 SC 86/101
        1750 TC 95/107 vs 1800 TC 95/106

        So a 1750 would have worked just as well as the 1800. I presume they went with the 1800 because they were intending to have the O-series ready for the new car.

  26. GT spec Austin Allegro saloons should have been fitted with a twin carb variant of the 1750cc engine as standard. It was normal for a ‘GT’ or a ‘Sport’ spec British Leyland car to use a twin carb engine.

  27. A five-door Allegro estate would have stolen sales from only one notable model at the time, the Morris Marina estate, which was more profitable than the Allegro. So a five-door Allegro would probably have done the company more harm than good.
    The Viva, Chevette, Escort estates didn’t have five doors.
    The Mk 1 Golf never had an estate variant.

  28. I love Mann’s original sketch. It’s sexy, very contemporary for the 70s; the finished product’s better looking, more athletic, go-getting brother. You expect some elements of a design proposal to get lost along the way to production, but in the Allegro’s case, it’s like BL were desperate to remove all traces of anything remotely attractive and churn out an ugly dumpling of a car. We know all about the budget constraints, being forced to shoehorn ill-fitting and outdated components from its BL brethren. But still. It’s fascinating to ponder how the Allegro could have been so, so sexy. The very antithesis of what actually happened. They would have done better to throw on a conservative three box body (think Fiat 128), than persist with the pudding-shaped oddity that emerged. All that being said, the irony is that the Allegro has found itself with nostalgic charm and kitsch in the 21st century that has not been bestowed on its more successful competitors.

    • ” All that being said, the irony is that the Allegro has found itself with nostalgic charm and kitsch in the 21st century ”

      I find the Allegro more and more appealing as time goes by. The final production car had diverted massively from those early sketches and I can still find myself looking at basic 3 door in the wrong colour and thinking they look awful. However, a higher spec five door, with vinyl roof is a different matter – like the one that goes to virtually every show. I looked at this car very positively on Saturday (at POL). The interior, complete with Quartic wheel also looked good, I thought.

  29. hmm a 5 door allegro i wonder why they didnt make one?
    …oh wait a minute they did (my mates dad came home in it),a white one complete with jack knife rear seats and a prototype 3 cylinder engine if my buddy was telling truth

  30. Of two minds regarding the Allegro. One that it was not necessary given that an improved ADO16 or ADO22 would have done a better job, yet at the same time the Allegro could have looked a lot better then it did as well (along with featuring a hatchback) as been significantly competitive higher up the range via Downton tuned 89-106+ hp 1600-1750cc+ E-Series.

    Also even though Harris Mann was responsible for styling the Allegro with the sketches looking much better then what was signed off for production. Perhaps he missed a trick by not adopting the styling of what became the ADO71 Princess to fit around an ADO16 / Allegro sized car, after all he did later downscale the Princess’s styling to fit the even smaller ADO74 project as one of many styling proposals.

  31. I have recently seen a picture of an Allegro with a Rover 200 front end grafted on. It actually looked quite smart, though the back end with Nissan GTR lights was a different story. Number plates suggested it was in Thailand.

  32. The Harris Mann sketch has a look of the (? Giugiaro designed) original VW Scirocco . That was another lovely looking car which was completely ruined when a facelift tinkered with the original concept

  33. The Allegro was a clean-sheet replacement for the hugely successful ADO16 Morris 1100 and all it’s derivatives. Each was successful in it’s own right, whether MG or Wolesley or Vanden Plas etc. The later GT 1300’s were an additional boost to the range to counter the Cortina GT image and were outstanding for a car that was getting on.
    So, how come the Allegro had totally nothing to boast about or set a new benchmark over the UK’s most successful range. The Farina inspired 1100 was pretty and likeable. The Allegro looked ugly and delivered no benefit. It was and looked a lightweight body shell that the new suspension crashed and thumped within, due to removal of isolating subframes. The rear seating was less room than the 1100 although the boot was a fraction bigger. Performance may have been better with the 1500 or 1750 E series engines but these were harsh within the body shell and all engine models had the same Leyland gear change which was rubbery and imprecise compared to the original Mk1 and Mk 2 1100’s which had a cast alloy housing for the remote mechanism. The dash looked cheap and plasticky. We had previously owned two 1100’s and were waiting with excitement for the new replacement. We expected attractive (Italian) styling, even greater space utilisation, more luxury fittings, new advanced suspension providing even better ride and handling, and ideally a hatchback. The resulting Allegro was a huge disappointment and a sales flop. Amazingly, Leyland never attempted to address the ugly frontal look until the very last Mk 3 version with twin headlights that was a vast improvement. Sadly we never purchased an Allegro and only gasped at the even uglier wagon and Vanden Plas versions.

    • The Allegro seemed to be a victim of the lack of joined up thinking at BL, with different departments wanting to add their touches without the others having any say.

  34. Had the Allegro been a hatchback and the styling stayed similar to the 1968 original, it could have really cleared up. Mechanically there was nothing bad about the car, it was fwd, like the Golf, and had a proven range of engines, particularly the A series, and if the styling was right, the Allegro could have been a big success. Obviously there could have been the usual stories about the car’s reliability, but the Allegro was probably no worse than many of its rivals and seemed to resist rust well.

    • Add 1600-1750cc E-Series with standard Downton tuning or a more thoroughly-developed EA827-like E-Series (with 88.5mm bore centres and sans siamesed bores) allowing for a full 2-litre 4-cylinder (putting out roughly 103-120 hp via 91-106 hp 1748cc) and would be inclined to agree.

  35. I have to say, Mum had an alfasud and on the numerous occasions it was in the garage for repair, she got got a loaner Allegro. Not as pretty or as sporty, but she found she liked it quite a lot. It was roomy, comfortable, relaxed and quirky. It was far better than what she had expected. Did she replace the crumbing Alfasud with an Allegro. No way, Dad who had never driving it or been in it, decreed it did have enough street cred. Replaced with a Renault 5 which was most definately a Meh car in it’s origional form. But more reliable and robust than the Alfasud.

  36. I got the impression that the lack of reliability in it’s early years scared many potential customers off, even after things started to improve.

    As for long term rust a lot seem to last at least the expected 10 years most 1970s cars, but I’ve heard of horror stories of floors rusting out after just 6, which was probably a Friday afternoon special.

  37. @ Richard 16378, the Allegro was praised for its resistance to rust, one leap forward from the ADO16, and Allegro 3s were still seen well into the nineties. I think the main reliability issues with the Allegro seemed to centre around the transmission, which could be fragile on early cars, and poor build quality, again improved on later cars. However, compared with the equally controversially styled Fiat Strada from the same era, the Allegro didn’t fall apart after a couple of years or develop serious rust by its first birthday.

  38. By the Allegro 3 most of the issues that affected the earlier cars had been sorted out, but it was a bit late to turn things around.

    The Strada seemed to be poor quality even by Fiat’s standards.

    By the next time they introduced an all new car with the Uno they had learnt a few lessons.

  39. I am not letting Mann off the hook. Of course BL raided the parts bin, it would be daft to have a factory with spare capacity for E-series engines and simply ignore it. Likewise, Mann knew about the gearbox in sump arrangement.

    His job as a stylist was to come up with a design which would work with the parts available. Not some fantasy wedge design that could never be built. If BL had hired one of the Italian design houses, I have no doubt they would have come up with a design which worked with the taller engine.

    Alas we will never know.

    • I think the ADO68/14 prototype proces Harris Mann could produce a modern, wedgy shape incorproating an E-series engine. What if this would have been the postponed 1970 Maxi, to go with a 1969 ADO22 and a 1973 Mann-Maxi related successor??

  40. One annoying aspect of the Allegro’s styling which is present even in Harris Mann’s original sketch would have to be how the front indicators seem to be tacked on and more of an afterthought.

    The twin-headlight frontal treatment in the second picture suggests putting the indicators at the front bumper instead was actually considered (like on the Princess and even the Mini Clubman) yet discarded despite looking more appealing than what entered production, which even the later twin-headlights could not remedy.

    Another better alternative for the indicators would simply be to properly integrate them into the front as was done on most Alfasud models as well as the facelifted Kadett C.

    • Nate, I think the headlights in their sort of front wing corner location was a design feature on many American cars during the late 60s, and was similar to the design on the Mk3 Cortina which came out at the same time.

      The problem is that on an American motor with width it can work, the Cortina has a bigger grill area so don’t look too bad, but the allegro is just too narrow. The only time it looks OK is when the twin headlight of the the S2 continental and S3 models were launched.

      • Its one of those elements that does not work on a smaller car like the Allegro and does much to detract from the styling let alone limit the options available in terms of improvements, even in twin-headlight form.

        There is some distant possibility it could have worked were it not for a misjudged spring in the panel pressings that led to the panels for the Allegro coming out too curved, even so the placement of the front indicators was something that was both unique to the Allegro at BL and one which was quickly being superseded by carmakers either integrating them with the front headlights or into the front bumpers.

  41. I found this picture on the Net, linked from the thecarfactoids on Twitter.
    It shows a sleeker Allegro mock-up with a lot less of that “podginess” that blights the production car. Look how sleek the valence under the front bumper is. The doors have a flatter curve without the much-mentioned outward curves that were added when the production car was tooled up. The wheels also seem to fit the arches better. It’s still not exactly a good looking car in mockup form but you can see how small changes made the production car look a lot worse overall.

  42. Quite a difference indeed, giving some credence to Mann’s claims that productionising was responsible for much of the porkiness. The sleek valence doubtlessly helped no small deal by the fact that this is an engine-less mockup, with gearbox and sump conspicuously absent.

  43. Definitely an improvement, the question which comes to mind is if this is indeed an engine-less mockup with the gearbox/sump and heating system what could have been salvaged if not significantly mitigated?

  44. Why was the E series so bulky, and what changes were made to get to the S series which enabled the Montego to have a lower bonnet?

  45. @maestrowoff the E series had the gearbox under the block in the sump. The S series had a separate bolt on gearbox (from VW) which reduced the height.

  46. @daveh Let’s not forget the stop-gap R series which was an E with a VW-sourced end-on gearbox, the S being a design that allowed the Montego to have a lower bonnet as maestrowoff mentioned.

    A few of the changes from the E/R and S series engines were said to be switching the inlet manifold from the front to the rear face of the engine and the adoption of a single belt-driven camshaft in place of the previous timing chain system.

    Then there is the fact that unlike the E series a six no longer needed to be developed from the S series, though no sure how much of a different it made in terms of height/baulk and weight over the E/R series (was it a similar 20kg reduction like when the B series became the O?).

  47. I often ponder if the tall E-series engines could have been canted over to reduce height but still allow the use of the gearbox in sump approach.

    Push the transmission forwards and push the front wheel line forward too, make the car a bit longer and use the space behind the engine to give more driver and passenger legroom. Sell the increase in wheelbase and overall vehicle length as giving the customer ‘more metal for their money’ when compared to an Escort or Chevette or Golf.

    A quad headlamp front end, using large outer units and smaller inner ones, with the indicators relocated to cutouts in the bumpers, would have given a better frontal aspect too.

    • The Peugeot X engine or suitcase was canted over with the gearbox underneath, using the same oil as the engine and having a similar transmission wine. Casting over the e series would probably have helped, but as they were a bit lethargic extra metal might not be a good idea. However as the S series showed the engine had potential, just BL had no cash. If the K series hadn’t been over grown with its over heating issues, we would have had a 16v series.

    • Hmm, why would you want to retain the in sump gears though? They made awful racket and the gear change quality ranged from indifferent to appalling.

  48. At least the one in the top picture looks better than the dumpy one that was sold. Tragically, even the pictured model doesn’t look better than the 1100/1300 that it replaced. A mate had an Allegro, said it handled well though.

  49. That’s a double-sided clay.

    The three-door side has the headlight contiguous with the indicator and a distinct bone line from the bonnet, above the indicator and presumably along the side.

    They chose the wrong side and then messed it up.

  50. I’m probably going to get shot here, but…. I do sometimes the no that Harris Mann gets too much credit. His designs were too radical. TR7, 18/22, and this.
    Look at it in 1970 model form, before he claims it was ‘corrupted by this that or the other’. It’s hideous and so far from the mark as far as fashion and car design were at that time.
    He designed an ugly car, maybe the engineers made it uglier, that’s open to debate and something we will never really know the truth of.
    It’s a shame, it shouldn’t have been green lighted, right from the start.

    • Couldn’t agree more. While I have of late developed a slightly soft spot for the poor wee Allegro, I utterly detest the TR7, 18-22, and just for good measure the SD1. I know the last wasn’t a Mann design, before anyone jumps on me.The BL endeavour richly deserved to fail for inflicting these horrors on the car buying public.

  51. Yes, that pig-snout and fat rear could never work on the car’s dimensions.

    Something like a swb four light Maxi with a raked screen would have been more evolutionary of the pretty and neat ADO 16

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