News : One-off Metro ESV on sale – price now reduced

Metro ESV (nee PSC1) by TRRL

This one-off Austin Metro has gone up for sale on eBay after leading an interesting life. It’s the result of a joint venture between Austin Rover and the Transport Road Research Laboratory (TRRL) and was originally shown as the PSC1 (Pedestrian Safety Car number 1) in 1985 at the International Conference of Experimental safety vehicles in Oxford. You can read all about the PSC1 here

It’s the rare opportunity to own one of the lesser-known prototypes featured on AROnline, and this one comes with an almost unprecedented amount of technical information and documentation.

The major changes to this car compared with a standard Austin Metro are confined to the front and include:

  • The bonnet was made longer by 75mm
  • The scuttle area was also modified to conceal the wiper arms and spindles
  • The bonnet was also raised by 50mm – this gave greater clearance between the hard engine components and the bonnet underside to reduce injury on impact, the battery has also been lowered.
  • Both front wings are lower and are folded at tops and have small breakaway panels
  • The wing side sculptures are added to flow into the front panel which is from an MG Metro Turbo and the front bumper has been replaced with a taller deeper foam filled flexible covered item.
  • Front slam panel is wider and unique as is the front grille

Changes to become the ESV Metro

After its debut as the Metro PSC1, the car was further modified to become the ESV the following year. These additional changes were made in the interests of improved occupant safety and included:

  • The subframe was replaced with an energy-absorbing twin box section
  • The central bulkhead was redesigned to incorporate an energy absorbing section sitting 1-inch from the rear of the engine
  • Redesigned floor section to include strong box section running from front to rear two on each side

According to the seller, Mark Rich, ‘this was possibly the strongest Metro shell ever built and the car was repainted the colour you see today by Sikkens UK. The experimental paint was one of the first to contain flecks which changed the colour depending upon the viewing angle.’

Metro ESV (nee PSC1) by TRRL

After it was displayed at the 1987 Experimental Safety Vehicle conference in Washington USA, it was sold to the now defunct Stondon Transport Museum where it remained until 2016 when it was sold on the current owner, who has now dropped the price to £4995 (down from £6995 when we first posted this story).

Mark added: ‘When the car was sold off by Stondon, it underwent some recommissioning work including points, plugs, waterpump, and oil and filter. In addition, all the brakes were stripped and cleaned, the handbrake was freed off, the brake fluid was drained and replaced, the steering rubber coupling was replaced, some electrical contacts were cleaned, bulbs were replaced as were the wipers and pedal rubbers. The carburettor was stripped and rebuilt using a genuine SU kit, while the fuel lines were cleaned and the fuel tank was drained before being filled with clean fuel and an additive. Various gaskets were replaced including the manifold gasket, rocker cover gasket, fuel pump gasket and oil filter housing gasket.’

It had its first MoT in May 2018 with 9220 miles miles on the clock. Mark said: ‘What a result! The MoT tester could not believe his luck – the only thing he needed to do was adjust the carb to pass the gas test.’

In addition to the above, Mark says the car comes with a 15-page Technical Report on all the changes made when vehicle was PSC1, including pictures. There’s also a 14-page Technical Report on its transformation into the ESV Metro, and a short video also of the car taken in 1987 when the car was on national television with the then-Transport Minister, Peter Bottomley MP.

If you end up buying this one-off Metro, we’d love to hear from you…

Keith Adams


  1. Volvo’s safety concept vehicles, such as the VESC and SCC, are handsome cars in their own right. This Metro, and the British Leyland examples posted here recently, look like existing models with a different, weird front end bolted-on. Not very confidence-inspiring.

  2. Could be worse. I remember many years ago a chap on Anglia TV showing a safety car he had “invented” which was a Rootes pre-Arrow Hillman Minx or similar to which he had grafted a vertical point/extended nose – the theory being that cars so designed unless they ran into each other totally head on would be diverted to pass either side. Hideous.

    • The ‘pointed cars’ were the work of Mr Richard Ihm. He was a Romainian hairdresser who lived in Saffron Walden, Essex. The cars were based on Volvo Amazon and 144 saloons. He made models of the cars which were displayed in his barbers shop. His cars were regularly featured in motoring magazines, the local press and local TV in the early 1970’s. On at least one occasion he demonstrated the idea by driving at 50mph between to approaching cars that were only about 18″ apart. None of the cars suffered more than a few scratches. I can well remember the cars parked on the forecourt outside his shop, I think he built about four over the years.

  3. Clearly an improvement on the Metro of the time. It’s a shame that the changes weren’t put into proactice as they weren’t eactly extensive & therefore surely couldn’t have cost too much to implement.

  4. Wonder how the Metro ESV compares to the R6 in terms of both pedestrian and occupant safety?

    In all fairness the R6’s pedestrian safety was slightly better compared to its occupant safety, though would the R6 have benefited from carrying over features from the Metro ESV (surprised if it did not already do so) or would more have been needed to other contemporary 2 star NCAP cars from 2000 like the Fiat Seicento, Nissan Micra and Citroen Saxo if not the Vauxhall Corsa or others from the same period (that merited 3 stars for adult safety and 2 stars for pedestrian safety)?

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