It’s always good when an email containing information or images I’ve not seen before arrives. Here’s a great example of this from Michael Sutter, who forwarded me this picture signed by Ian Beech.
He was looking for a positive identification of the above design sketch, having found references to Beech on AROnline. Well, that was an easy one to make – I’ve vague memories of seeing a variation of this sketch before (I think on the Elephant House wall), but it was good to see it again in full technicolour.
What it shows is that the ADO74 supermini project – and its replacement the ADO88 – had the potential to be a smart, contemporary-looking supermini. There’s a pleasing industrial look about this car, which recalls the Innocenti 90/120 and one could easily imagine this playing at the front of the grid against the Fiat 127, Renault 5 and Volkswagen Polo.
The unfulfilled Maestro?
Although the sketch at the top of the page may remind you of the Innocenti, it’s fair to say that there’s also a lot of Maestro in it. You see, Ian Beech’s main design legacy will be the Austin Maestro, which he penned in 1975 under the leadership of David Bache.
And, while that hatchback isn’t generally regarded as being one of the decade’s lookers (it was a neat enough 1970s design not launched until 1983), there were undoubtedly some good elements to it.
Look at the Mini replacement above and the relationship is all-too clear. The side scallops are a starting point. But look, also, at the front indicators, the shape of the wheel arches, the front wings and the minimalism. It does make one wonder – the top sketch was turned over for further development in favour of some more weird and wacky designs for ADO74.
Imagine if they’d developed this? Imagine if it had become a production reality? I suspect more people would have heard of Ian Beech today.