The newest member of the AROnline family, John Slavin, has put his money where his mouth is, and bought an Austin Allegro. And the bonding process is already taking place…
All he needs now is a Quartic wheel, and to stop worrying about its impending MoT, and John’ll be as happy as an Allegro owner can possibly be.
58,000 miles young
When my ‘new’ car was built I was minus 13 years old. I wouldn’t even be conceived until 1986, after the Series 2 and 3 Allegros had come and gone and the Maestro had taken their place. It’d be a further 25 years until I got my hands on this car, too – so that makes it 38 years-old and yet it’s still wearing its original ‘3D’ number plates. Until I traipsed it up the A1 to its new home in Yorkshire it had spent its whole life in the South and the ODO reading of 58,000 miles is probably right.
It’s a Series 1 1973 Austin Allegro SDL Automatic. The engine, a 1300 A-Series, is going as strong as ever, but pretty much everything else is showing its age. The paint, which probably once gleamed, is now speckled with abrasions and spots, and much of the clip that holds on the roof vinyl has dropped off, as have all of the wheel trims. Worse is the interior, which is lined with the carpet from someone’s living room and not the BL stuff it should be. The dash isn’t brown but black, and so doesn’t match the vinyl seats and door cards, and the quartic wheel is gone, probably adorning someone’s shed. I have to make do with the boring circular wheel from a Vanden Plas.
Other problems include non-functional hazard lights, a rear electric aerial that clicks and whirs before catching fire, all the while ignoring its role as an aerial, a front aerial that’s stuck and some blown bulbs, inside and out. But what it lacks in superficial polish it makes up for with solidity and charm. It starts first time, as you’d expect, and once it’s warmed up it runs well and sounds healthy. The four-speed automatic gearbox is generally pretty smooth and seamless, but sometimes it throws a fit and decides not to engage after idling in ‘N’ at traffic lights.
Obviously the brakes are terrible by modern standards, but that’s encouraged me to learn left-foot braking, and the steering, heavy and unassisted, means effort is required when cornering. The suspension, technologically advanced in its heyday, has absolutely no time for speed bumps, but otherwise provides a comfortable ride – although many of the bigger bumps are absorbed by the incredibly bouncy seats.
This ‘classic car’ lark is fairly new to me, so many of the experiences, smells and sounds associated with this old Allegro are either very new or extremely nostalgic. They’re all enjoyable, too.
The MoT is due fairly soon, and so I’ll sit and feel a sense of dread ever-growing until that day, but meanwhile there are various jobs on the to-do list. Some have already been done, including changing a duff brake light bulb, new spark plugs and a new air filter. Next on the agenda is a carpet – if I can find one – and rooting out the cause of the non-functional hazard lights, because there is a switch and so it’d better be made to work.
Expect more updates in the coming weeks!
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.