AROnline : Nearly there… / Updated

Keith Adams

AROnline yesterday... well, today.
AROnline yesterday... well, today.

Once again, you’ll have noticed we’ve been fiddling with the site and changing the way it works – if you have gone directly to you’ll have been directed to the WordPress homepage missing the old frameset and intro page. Don’t worry, all the original site remains in place and all you need to do to get to it is go to the ‘AROnline quick links’ on your right hand menu, then hit ‘Classic AROnline content’. That link will remain in place… well, it’ll remain there forever, as many of the old pages we have produced over the years will probably not come over to WordPress.

We’ve still a fair way to go, but currently I’m learning as we go along and, right now, the issue of replicating our old navigation menu (the one of the left with all the handy links on) is proving to be a struggle. That’s why, if you’re a WordPress expert and know something about menus, we’d love to hear from you – because we’re hoping that all the changes which we are making will happen reasonably transparently and without too much outward change.

Anyway, as we said before, we hope that these changes won’t spoil your enjoyment too much and that you continue to enjoy the site and all its content.


Over the coming weekend, we’ll be working on installing a three-column theme, which will reinstate a content menu  at the left hand side of the site. Please bear with us on this – being a hobby website we don’t have a team of developers working on this or a nice test server to do this offline; we’re doing it on the fly. It’s clear that the theme I developed for WordPress to fit within the old frameset is not designed with a working left-hand menu in mind, so it’s a case of all change.

We’ll implement the existing fonts and colours to keep the feel similar – well, at least, that’s the intention. However, if things look strange to you at any time you log-in, hopefully you’ll understand the reason why.

Oh, and as for keeping the classic site – yes it will remain up because, as stated previously, there’s probably a fair bit of legacy content that should remain online, but which won’t be transferred into the new system. Pages that are migrated to WordPress will be removed from the HTML side of things, though, with re-direct code being added. That’s the plan.

Unfortunately, in the background we’re still getting bandwidth and CPU complaints from Heart Internet and are therefore still a long way from being out of the woods in terms of being in a safe and reliable hosting position. Currently, Brian Gunn, Alexander Boucke and Street Safari’s Justin Clements (a brilliant sysadmin) are investigating the problem and it’s far from being a cut-and-dried AROnline problem. We’ll keep those vaguely interested posted about developments.

Keith Adams


  1. Hi Keith,
    Actually, with a custom menu in the sidebar which contains custom links to your old pages, it shouldn’t be too difficult. You can create a menu under Appearance – Menus and put in custom links. After that you can put your custom menu in the sidebar or maybe at the top of the site. Does your theme support a left sidebar?

    Personally, I would put all the pages in WordPress. It is a lot of work, but maintaining your pages is so much easier. You can then really benefit from the advantages of WordPress, especially with the right theme and some nice plugins!

    Good luck from the Netherlands and keep up the good work with this very nice website!

    Ronald (the proud owner of a 1979 Triumph Dolomite 1850HL)

  2. Oh… It wasn’t broken, so why fix it? Many of the great car websites are going over to this format (Autoblog, Jalopnik) and they’re all missing something in the process. The thing with this one is that, well, at least at the moment, it looks just like all the others and it’s lost its Austin Rover-ness, which is a great shame.

    The sidebar was great and I hope you can add it to this verison. However, in the meantime, I plan to stick with the classic, but Keith can you assure us that the classic will have the same content as the new one? Ta.

    Rovert (the owner of a wonderful Alfa 156 SW)

  3. Sorry, but I agree with Rovert and, in my humble opinion, this new look stinks – it’s bland, looks cheap and has lost the uniqueness which the old style had.

    Actually, if I was surfing in for the first time, I’d probably have a quick look, then leave and never to return, whereas I have been coming back here for years…

    PLEASE rethink the style!

  4. I believe that there are parallels to be drawn with introducing new British Leyland models (hidden depths and better later(!))

    However, perhaps a “big bang” implementation with more of a replication of the feeling of depth of content might have been an idea.

    That said, onwards and upwards and I look forward to continuing to visit this superb site during and after the reconstruction phase. Best of luck with the work.

  5. I love the changes – it means the site looks a little fresher (I particularly like the SD1 at the top!). Change is always hard, but this brings AROnline up to date, on a standard platform and, once done, should make it much easier for more enthusiasts to upload content.

    Keep buggering on!

  6. I reckon that, with some creative styling, it should be possible to make the new site look pretty much like the old one! I liked the old lay-out, but technically speaking it was outdated. Searchengines like Google don’t like that anymore… It’s nice to hear you’re going to install a theme that supports a left sidebar.

    Do you have a laptop or desktop? Simply install Wampserver, WordPress and some content and you can create or change any theme you want or shall I try it for you..?

    I really love this site and it would be a shame if regular visitors stay away because they don’t like the new layout.

  7. Ronald1850 :
    I really love this site and it would be a shame if regular visitors stay away because they don’t like the new lay-out.

    I think one of the characteristic features of some of the visitors to this site is that they don’t like any kind of change – whether it’s websites or cars. They are always happier living in the past.

  8. Well, it looks like we’re back. This time it was a real struggle. I’ll let Keith decide whether he wants to disclose more about this. Anyway, apart from the forum, most stuff seems to work now. However, if you find something out of order, then please let us know.

  9. Phew, you had me worried there – I’m lost without my daily fix of AR (whether it be Austin Rover or Alfa Romeo!). Good to have you back!

  10. Thank you…

    It has been a wonderful sunny weekend, so thanks to those that wasted it fixing a well-loved “free” site for us general public, instead of watching the GP/sitting in a beer garden/BBQ’ing. Where, though, is that bandwidth going then?

  11. Hi,

    Please can you ensure the ‘Go to a random page’ button is available on the new site if the classic link is ever removed. I think this is one of AROnline’s best features!

  12. Sorry, but this makeover is a total disaster – both visually and content-promenarding-wise. Time to get in the professionals? Come on, you know this needs to be 1000% better than the old site (which was a stalwart effort, quite happy if no changes were made…), not 1000% worse…

    Surely, as the standard-bearers of Austin Rover, you owe it to yourselves, not just to the critical public, to make it better? Is this your Allegro oval steering-wheel moment???!!!

    • I hope not – especially as the Allegro’s wheel was quartic.

      I’m about a tenth of the way through currently. A long way to go yet… and I thank everyone for bearing with it.


  13. Get yourselves online and track down the hippest Web Designers in the UK – then ask them to do it for free. I bet you’ll get someone (careful now – ask Creative Review peeps if you’re not visually-literate) who would be only too freakin’ delighted to have you on their portfolio as a pro bono client.

  14. Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve just posted this on my Twitter feed. 🙂

    ‘Are there any hip designers out there who fancy helping the AROnline makeover please? Pro-bono, sadly, but it’s great for the CV. Pls RT.’

  15. You can’t do everything. Admit defeat and bring in professional young Designers, if you are insisting on a change. Email me if you want a shortist of top-end Web Developers/Designers in your area who might very well make this problem go away for you, with pleasure – most UK Designers really love classic Austin Rover design.

  16. Ed :
    Get yourselves online and track down the hippest Web Designers in the UK – then ask them to do it for free. I bet you’ll get someone (careful now – ask Creative Review peeps if you’re not visually-literate) who would be only too freakin’ delighted to have you on their portfolio as a pro bono client.

    That’s a pretty good idea!

  17. A change is always fine. Please do change the colour in the left sidebar. Green/black: It will be not so good for reading. Thanks. (Your websites are very good and informally.) Go further so! Regards

  18. Nice work Keith! The new theme looks a lot better and is much easier to work with (I’ve downloaded it to have a quick look under the bonnet).
    Could you please put back the old favicon?
    I’m not a “hip” designer, but I know my way around WordPress and themes, so I can help you with the design. If you have any specific questions about WordPress, the theme of plugins, feel free to contact me at contact[at]

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