Concepts and prototypes : Metro Ranger

During the Metro’s honeymoon period of the early 1980s, Austin Rover’s Designers toyed with the idea of a number of exciting variations on a theme.

Here’s one that perhaps you weren’t expecting to see…


Pick-and-mix Metro


(Picture: Roy Axe)

You can’t blame Austin Rover for trying – the Metro was a hot little number during the early 1980s, and the design and marketing team was constantly on the lookout for ways to develop the theme and maximise sales. We’ve already been treated to the Metro saloon and the later R6-based Scout model, so it’s time to unveil the Ranger, a pick-up aimed at the recreational market…

Very much a niche programme, the Ranger was never conceived for volume sale, just a little fun. And as can be seen from the accompanying images, the Ranger was treated with some of the visual accoutrements that marked out the Matra Rancho, but in an open-decked form. The roof-mounted spotlights and nudge bars complement all-weather tyres on chunky Minilite-style alloy wheels. Precisely what market this vehicle was aimed at is unclear, but given the similarly conceived Talbot Wind’s failure to capture volume sales, we can only assume that the project was canned on the basis that the outlay wouldn’t realise additional sales.

What do you think? Do you think the Ranger should have been launched?


Rear end view shows just how much Metro they cut away to make the Ranger…

Keith Adams

22 Comments

  1. It would probably have sold in reasonable numbers on the continent, particularly in sun drenched countries such as Portugal and Spain looking to buy affordable and fun hire cars.

    Even the graphics are quite tasteful. I rather like it.

  2. Small pickups used to be popular – the Minor and Mini were both available in pickup form, as well as the larger Marina. Maybe there could have been a market for a normal commercial vehicle pickup version, which would have generated the sales to make models like this economically possible?

  3. I think the Metro was just a bit too short for this to have been a viable option. Skoda’s attempt in the 90s at a lifestyle truck was fairly sucessful (Felicia Fun), being a semi convertable with fold out rear seats, but to make it usable, you needed to shell out for the pricey truckman top.

  4. Could have sold as a lifestyle car, but a works pickup without the bullbars may have sold as a basic load lugger.

    Add in a high roofed canope top, and it could have been competition for the Renault 5 Extra.

    • A small number with a tailboard and no bullbars were produced by a company called Corvesgate of Dibden Purlieu near Southampton.

  5. At least the open back would have been a bit useful. Suzuki did after all launch the pointless SX 90 about ten years later.
    Anyone remember that effort?

  6. It would of been interesting to see a “LWB” version of the Metro Ranger pick-up based on the Metro saloon that could of also spawned a van version to sit underneath the Maestro van.

  7. Its quite well done, but it doesn’t have any obvious market- being far too short to be a practical commercial, and not having any real use for lifestyle purposes.

    As Marty B pointed out, Skoda did market a successful lifestyle pickup in the shape of the Felicia Fun (if you could live with the rather loud paint-job)- that had useful fold-out rear seats, and a longer load bay. VW marketted a sportier GTi version of the original Mk1 Golf-based Caddy as well.

    • Even onroad use in Australia would have been questionable. Dirt roads – with hundreds of miles of corrugations – took their toll on the suspensions of the Austin 1800 and the Maxi.

  8. Ask the army, they used to run main battle tanks with hydrogas suspension.

    Judging by the popularity of Allegro estates with farmers I’d say pretty well

  9. Just a trick: the Matra RANCHO was renamed, in Italy, as RANCH (without the “O”) because the word “rancio” in Italian means: “smell of bad food cooked badly for soldiers during the war”…..

  10. I see that Talking Pictures TV (Channel 81 in some areas) has a short programme called the Austin Golden Years on Saturday 10 Oct at 2050 hrs. There have been other short programmes featuring various Austin cars, in the UK and on the Continent. With so many films from the thirties onwards (notably crime films) having a lot of street scenes in them, there is a wealth of shots showing old cars on Talking Pictures TV. Also, since train travel was the norm, a lot of films with the action taking place on trains or at stations.

  11. I remembered Austin producing a very pretty A35 pickup which failed because the tax office wouldn’t class it a commercial vehicle, and purchase tax priced it out of the market.

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