I’ve already blogged about the 40th birthday of the Allegro, and how they really do make great classic cars – and that 2013 will be its big year – but few people will argue with the fact that it’s challengingly styled. If you read the development story of the Allegro, you’ll see that even head designer Harris Mann wasn’t happy with the results. He penned a tight, wedgy two-box, which over course of its development into a production car, was distended by the fitment of the transmission-in-sump E-Series, followed by that devilishly bulky Morris Marina heater matrix.
Whatever the reasons, it happened, and few would argue with the fact that to 1973’s average car buyer, the new driving force from Austin looked a little bit strange. Designer, Stephen Harper was a bit of a fan, though. And although he he joined BL as a technical apprentice, he really wanted to be a stylist. He taught himself how to sketch car design proposals, and got to work trying to get himself a place in the Design department.
He said, ‘…and pestered like hell ’til I was given an interview with a basket full of sketches inspired by Harris’ Allegro drawing in Motor.’
This was 1977 – and the rest, as they say, is history. Stephen earned his place in Design, and went on to have quite a career in the motor industry – and it’s one he’s still very much involved with. Here’s a list of some of the designs he worked on:
C70 (2010) Exterior & Interior Design + BPT
C30 (2010) Exterior & Interior Design Supervision + BPT
S40 (2007) Exterior & Interior Design + BPT
V50 (2007) Exterior & Interior Design + BPT
S80 (2003) Interior Design & Exterior Design Supervision
Volvo ACC2 ‘XC70R’ Concept Car (2003) Concept originator & Design Supervision.
Volvo ACC ‘XC90’ Concept Car (2002) Detroit. Exterior Design & Supervision.
Volvo PCC2 ‘V70R’ Concept Car (2001) Frankfurt. Concept originator. Exterior & Interior Design
Volvo PCC ‘S60R’ Concept Car (2001) Paris. Concept originator. Exterior & Interior Design
Ashok-Leyland Truck Cab Range Proposals (1999). Exterior Design
Ford India – Seven Seat Crossover-Estate Car (based upon ‘ICON) (1999). Exterior Design
Escort RS Cosworth Project (1989). Chief Exterior Designer
Galaxy MPV (VX62) Project (1988). Project Exterior Designer at VW/FORD Studio
Escort van (1990) Escort Van Project (1987). Project Exterior Designer
DAF Trucks 45 and 55 Series Sleeper Cab (1997). Exterior & Interior Design.
Bakrie Motors, Indonesia – Beta 97 MPV (1996). Exterior, Interior & Colour+Trim Design.
Grinnall Cars – BMW motorcycle based R1150 ‘Trike’ (2002). Exterior Design
Legacy (2003) Legacy Estate. New Vehicle Concepts (1999). Exterior Design
London Taxi International
London Taxi International (1997) TX1 Black Cab project (1992). Chief Exterior Designer
Silver Seraph/Bentley Arnage Project (1991).Chief Exterior Designer
Rolls Royce – 1994 facelift of RR and Bentley models (1990). Chief Exterior Designer
MGF 1995 MGF Sports car Project (1991). Chief Exterior Designer
DB7. Concept Design proposal (1992). Exterior Design
That’s not a bad role call. But going back to our original question, posed by the blog title – can you make an Allegro look cool? The sporting addenda, Wolfrace Slot Mags and barchetta top are certainly of their time, and imaginative. I think I’d join Steve in saying, I’d love to see someone build one!
- Concepts and prototypes : Hyundai/Rover Oden (1992) - 9 November 2023
- Opinion : So, maybe the Montego was the best they could do… - 8 November 2023
- The cars : Austin Montego (LM11) development story - 7 November 2023