The Austin Metro turns 40 years old on 8 October and, to celebrate, we’ll be sharing your best memories of one of the most iconic cars of the 1980s.
Here, in the second set of memories, you’ll find that not everyone loved a Metro, but those who were at the launch thought it was amazing. Post your own memories below – we’re sure you’ll have plenty, good, bad and ugly…
Metro: in your words
Dougie Butcher, enthusiast
My first car was a 1989 Austin Metro 1.0 City. I bought Metro Sport wheel trims, GS bumpers and I painted the mirrors and door handles. I wish I’d never parted with it. A huge mistake, which I still regret. This picture was taken when it was eight-years old just before I sold it.
Trevor Elford, formerly of ‘the Firm’
I was lucky to have been involved in the launch of Metro on board the MS Vistafjord from Liverpool to the Isle of Man. I was part of the Dealer and Press launch team on all but one of the fantastic sailings. I loved the launch, but glad I didn’t do the very rough one though North Sea – when it’s rough it’s terrible, so many seasick casualties.
Neil Rapsey, Admin., AROnline Facebook group
I learned to drive in a BSM Metro in 1986. My instructor’s girlfriend lived near by and he would stay the night there and turn up on a Saturday morning for my lesson – on more than one occasion, he would still be drunk and he would just tell me to drive where we went the previous week. On the day of my test my instructor turned up in a brand new 1986 model Metro, it was delivered that morning to him, So I had less then an hour to get used to the tighter controls of the facelift 100-mile car, but the good news was I passed first time. Ah, those were the days!
My old college lecturer (who was a well-known Welsh rugby referee at the time in 1985) had a Y-registered blue 1.0L and he would give myself and two and maybe three others a lift into college. Now if the college and the journey was on the flat then it wouldn’t be an issue but here, down in Swansea, we have many hills, and the college was up a very steep hill – and getting there was a trip up at least another two steep hills. Needless to say the little Metro worked very hard and the sound of the whining four-speed gearbox was deafening, even drowning out the awful chat on BBC Radio Wales, and in a very short time the little Metro blew a head gasket. My lecturer had it repaired and it went at least another three times that I can remember, but he persevered with the little car and he was still using it for at least two years after I finished college.
Claire Stocker, enthusiast
A Rover Metro 1.4 GSi (I think) was my Metro, bought it at 20 weeks pregnant (had to part with my Mini Cooper RSP , now there was a car!) and we brought my son home in that car from the hospital. Happy memories, a problem-free car from memory, but lacked the character of the Mini.
Michael Turner, the BMC 1100 Club
My Metro appeared on the AR stand at BL Day in Peterborough way back in 2005... still when I had hair! For a 998cc motor it flew! Loved every second of it – fitted a few aftermarket mods (including central door locking!)
Robert Marsh, enthusiast
Learnt to drive in a 1.0 HLE in 1981-82. Hugely over-geared, realistically third was all that was ever needed in town, but great visibility. I once drove my instructor’s older Allegro 1100 and, to be honest, preferred it as it was lower geared and torquier, but the point turns weren’t quite as simple. A few years later, I drove another rental 1.0 Metro. Dreadful… Max indicated speed was 77mph on the motorway. Frankly terrifying being hounded by lorries at night on the M5. I loved the look and handling of the Metro, but the above experiences unsurprisingly never made me want to buy my own.
Nick Bilton, formerly of ‘the Firm’
I was involved in one of the London launches of the Metro. After one at a hotel in Park Lane, I was carrying an armful of brochures out to my car when I dropped the lot. Out of nowhere a well-dressed, slightly-built gentleman spent a few minutes helping me to pick them all up. I thanked him, he smiled and said that it was no problem. Noticing a chauffeur stood beside a Rolls Royce, he said, ‘Do you know who that was?’ ‘No,’ I replied. ‘Sir Charles Forte, he owns the place,’ he said. One of those chance meetings that stick with you…
Terry Shaylor, enthusiast
Still use my Mark 3 Tahiti as my daily, saved it from scrap for £75 nearly three years ago, very much part of the family now…
Ciaran O’Kelly, enthusiast
My father purchased a new Metro 1.3 L in 1983 from Dutton Forshaw, Park Wood, Maidstone. He had that car until 1993-4 when he took a notion and scrapped it, all because the clutch damper was on back order. In 1989, I pulled the head off, opened up the ports, fitted big valves, roller rockers, MG exhaust, etc., etc.. It was a hoot to drive. A little while later he had me replace the front wings, head lamp panels, valence and respray the whole car. Bloody shame he scrapped it all because of a £5 part… and maybe 180k miles since new.
My second car was a 1.3HLE in silver, A403 AWA as I recall. Bloody awful! Bought in early 1990, it had had both front wings replaced by the previous owner due to corrosion and the Hydragas suspension leaked all its fluid more than once. The damned thing was much improved by the reliability of the under-powered A-Series engine which never let me down!
Tony Baker, enthusiast
Learnt to drive in my instructor’s Mini Clubman, but the morning of my test he rang in a panic ‘the Mini’s clutch had gone, you’ll have to take your test in my wife’s Metro.’ Despite it being my first time driving one, I passed. That was August 1982 and this summer, thanks to Matt Lynch, I drove a Metro for my second time in 38 years. Suddenly, I was 17 again!
Martin McFeely, enthusiast
The first car I ever drove age 12 on private land on the left was this 1983 Cinnabar red Mk1 MG Metro 1300. I loved driving it and I was addicted to the Metro! So much so, a couple of year later in 2000 I bought this Mk1 MG and I still own it today!
Tim Pearson, enthusiast
My first major purchase after graduating, in 1985. A 1982 ultra-base Champagne Beige City was intended to serve me well in my first job with much urban driving with an estate agent. The job lasted all of six weeks after I was sacked for refusing to tell Melton Mowbrays to clients, and 44bhp then proved feeble in my next job, involving more long motorway runs. In the meantime, I’d up-specced the City with rear wash wipe, working reversing lights, passenger door mirror etc..
Did you realise that the reversing lights were fitted with bulbs, but on the City no switch at the gearbox? A surprisingly rewarding car to drive, but durability was poor, needing rusty front wings and front panel replacing at less than five-years old. After a spell with non-ARG metal, in early 1990 I bought a heavy offside front damaged 1988 1.3L in light Metallic Blue, followed by a trip to the local dealer to order a new bodyshell. A few other bits were needed, such as a used front subframe, and miscellaneous bolt-on front end bits.
You could change the bodyshell without needing to de-pressurise the Hydragas system on the Mk1s, due to front and back systems not being linked. An interesting ‘adult Meccano’ project, which I used as my own transport for six months, selling it partially to pay for an engagement ring which was a worthwhile purchase to this day. A year or two later I bought one of the last A-Series models, in the form of a stolen recovered MG in BRG metallic In many ways a fun car, but by then it felt too crude for the market in which it was competing.
My Mum was going to buy a Primrose Yellow one in 1983, it would have been our first new car, but she bought a gold Ford Fiesta instead. I remember going to look at the miniMetro at our local garage. I really wanted her to buy it as I loved the colour. In 1991, shortly after my 18th birthday, my Dad’s friend was selling a 1984 model, basic no radio etc.. Red with a brown interior. It became my first car. It’s registration was A874 YHR. I named it Mfanwy. I had it two years changing it for a Mini Mayfair.
James Godwin, PR guru
- 1984: teacher was late due to new Metro breaking down
- 1993: failed first driving test in a 1992 Rover Metro 1.1L five-speed.
- 1993: passed in a 1991 Rover Metro 1.1c four-speed.
- 1994: parents inherited a 1991 Maestro 1.6LX Auto. Swapped it for a three-door Metro 1.1S
- 1995: blew my mother’s 1991 Rover Metro 1.1S up. Should we have kept my late grandfather’s 1991 Maestro Automatic?
- 1997: helped replace girlfriend’s father’s 1986 Metro with a 1996 Nissan Micra. British-built, but without the drawbacks/rust/driving position/not a Fiesta
- Moral of the story? Anything but a Nova!
Matt Lynch, enthusiast
I love Metros. My Auntie had an F-reg, three-door in red with a grey interior when I was a kid. Then my friend Martin let me drive his MG Metro when I was an impressionable 17-year old. From then on I’ve always wanted a Mk1 Metro. And luckily last year the perfect car came up. It’s currently being restored and should be done by late spring.
Matthew Rea, enthusiast
I remember my mate’s dad buying one of the very first MG Metros on the employee’s scheme. I was 17 and at Bournville Art College at the time and my mate borrowed it for four of us students to go on a trip to Weston-super-Mare. We thought we were the absolute business in it; black paint, pepper pot alloys and those red seat belts and carpet. ‘Pelican West‘ tape by Haircut One Hundred on the stereo…
Baz Farmer, enthusiast
Bloody fantastic little cars – I’ve had five over that past 18 years and have just restored a Mk1 1.0 L (above). Always been Metro mad from a very young age.
Johnny Parkerrek, enthusiast
I learned to drive in an old Commer van then took lessons (to unlearn the bad habits picked up in the Commer) in two Metros. One at BSM in Manchester and one with the local instructor near Hexham, where I took the test. Having some lessons in Manchester paid off, some people here are violently averse to driving in ‘big cities’. I thought they were good cars, but only ever owned one. The one I owned was a diesel, nice car, but let down by the awful Peugeot engine which was slow and thirsty. I gave it to someone to learn to drive in when it showed signs of an impending second head gasket failure – I think she gave it to the pizza delivery bloke once she’d finished learning. If I’d bought a petrol one I might have kept it longer.
Claire Smith, serial car buyer
I had a Metro City X D78 RVH I think. I paid £275 for it in 1998 or 1999 and part-exchanged it for a 1998 Fiesta for £290. I had it Crypton tuned as it wasn’t running sweetly enough and the guy let me off a few pounds as I think he felt sorry for my car choice! Also had a Rover 100 from Redditch car auctions. There was a problem with the disc calipers on the M5 and it pulled over in plumes of smoke and boiled brake fluid.
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