Concepts and prototypes : Triumph Acclaim

The Honda Ballade came to BL in the early months of 1980, and the company planned to create a different look for the car.

The sketches, penned by the BL Styling Department clearly show that the designers initially worked under the false assumption that they would be able to alter the car’s styling – as was the case with the next collaborative venture, the Rover 213/216.


Acclaim to fame?

With smoothed-out frontal styling, the Acclaim takes on an altogether different personality - gone is the fussy Honda Civic grille/light treatment, and in its place a Colt Tredia/Cordia-style arrangement. To effect these changess would have been a cheap and much-needed way of differentiating BL and Honda products.
With smoothed-out frontal styling, the Acclaim takes on an altogether different personality – gone is the fussy Honda Civic grille/light treatment, and in its place a Colt Tredia/Cordia-style arrangement. To effect these changess would have been a cheap and much-needed way of differentiating BL and Honda products.
Smoother bumpers and smoked rear lenses - again, cheap and effective changes. Picture was created by Gordon Sked in January 1981.
Smoother bumpers and smoked rear lenses – again, cheap and effective changes. Picture was created by Gordon Sked in January 1981.

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

17 Comments

  1. These styling tweaks look too Japanese. Surely, if styling changes had been allowed the slant should have been more European, more 1980’s Austin Rover……

  2. Yes, these changes just make it look even more like a Japanese car from the early 80s. They probably did right leaving things well alone, particularly as the Car only had a 3 year shelf life anyway.

  3. The rear lights look like the lovechild of a Nissan Laurel & a Triumph Lynx.
    The original might have looked like the badge engineered Honda Ballade that it was but at least the bits looked like they belonged to the car.

  4. It fascinates me that people bang on about the City Rover as an example of how BL went down the tube, and yet give ( perhaps slightly muted ) praise to this monstrosity, which was IMO the cheapest and very definitely nastiest product ever to be marketed by BL . Fit only for the crusher from the moment it left the works

      • Yes, seriously . Curiously , I agree with the correspondents who praise the 213 etc which were really good cars, but the Ballade/Acclaim’s bodywork rivalled that of a 1957 Vauxhall Victor for melting away in front of your eyes

    • My Uncle, who having been through WW2 was not a ‘fan’ of the Japanese, but he was a Triumph man through and through, three Heralds, two 1500’s and and a Dolomite 1850HL which saw him through the 60’s and 70’s.

      Therefore when the 80’s arrived he had a bit of a dilemma, but he did replace the 1850 with an ’82 Acclaim HLS and as an engineer he was besotted with it, finding it overwhelmingly reliable for the 8 years he had it.

      It was replaced by a 213SE in late 1989, which he also loved.

    • So you’d consider the reliability disaster and rust prone Austin Montego a good car then? I had a Montego that was the biggest heap of junk I’ve ever owned, it continued to overheat in traffic even when the water pump was replaced, it leaked oil, bits of trim fell off at random, the heater worked when it felt like it, and the final straw was when the electrics decided to die at a busy junction. I got £ 35 spares or repair value for this dreadful car.

  5. The Acclaim was a really significant car in that with it came Japanese levels of quality and reliability to BL. It was a perfect replacement to the smaller engined Dolomites. It performed well in EU export markets and in fact the Italian and aFrench governments tried to ban or restrict sales on the grounds that they limited Japanese imports. They failed in the European court.
    It had one major styling improvement over the Ballade, which is that the rear screen was larger and more rounded.
    The success of the Acclaim led to the Rover 200 and then the R8 200, without which BL would have gone down the drain a whole lot earlier.

  6. The Acclaim was a good car, it was completely reliable, was far better to drive than its Austin Morris stablemates, and the fifth gear ensured relaxed motorway cruising and low fuel consumption. Anyone I’ve known who owned an Acclaim commented on how good the car was and it also meant when people wanted to trade in their Acclaim, they would choose its successor, the Honda engined Rover 213.

  7. Maestro 517 remaining out of 605,411 built (+Ledbury) 12 year production run

    Acclaim 156 remaining out of 133,626 built 3 year production run

    Do the maths!

    The newest Acclaim (1984) will also be 10 years older than the newest Maestro, not including Ledburys..

  8. The Acclaim had a relatively short run as it was developed from the already established Ballade. ARG were more heavily involved at an earlier stage of design with its successor the Ballade2/Rover SD3, which of course stayed in production for 5+ years

  9. I never really liked the acclaim. I thought it was ugly, noisy and cramped. I get that it was reliable and had quite a nice gear change, but on the whole I’d prefer a Maestro.

  10. I’m quite familiar with arithmetic ( not, I think, mathematics, involved ) .

    The plain fact is that I remember well the Acclaims running around with visible holes in the wings even within the production run of the cars, which was, as you have noted, mercifully short , given the appalling tendency of the Acclaims to rust away before our very eyes. They were, beyond any doubt, the very worst car ever produced by BLMC, or AR, or whatever it called itself at the ime

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