Drive Story : Vanden Plas Princess

AROnline takes a rather special ADO16 for test – after a quick spin, Keith Adams feels the need to espouse the virtues of the Vanden Plas Princess. Yet again…

Vanden Plas 1300: Harriman’s Concorde?

The best of British: it is an oft-used cliché, but does anyone really use it in conjunction with anything remotely good these days? Some years ago, things were different. Britain led the world in many, many fields, and could still hold its head up high in the world of manufacturing.

Look at Concorde… A world-beating aeroplane that neither the Russians nor the Americans could get close to. It showed that, with some help from the French, the British could still build a passenger airliner, which was single-mindedly conceived to transport 150 executives across oceans in the shortest time possible. The fact that it was also achingly beautiful was merely co-incident; it was a machine built for a purpose…

So what does this have to do with a stubby 12-foot long BMC car of the 1960s? Well, like Concorde, the ADO16 was created by single-minded engineers, who envisaged a car that would transport a family of four in comfort, provide sure-footed handling for the driver and take up a minimum of road space, whilst remaining relatively cheap to run. Like Concorde, the ADO16 was the result of visionaries, and the inherent “rightness” of the design is the result.

Vanden Plas Princess: with a little help from the Italians

Notice the wide tyres? Alexander Boucke's Vanden Plas Princess has paid host to a raft of changes, one of which is the addition of 13-inch Allegro wheels with wide tyres to replace the standard 12-inch items.
Notice the wide tyres? Alexander Boucke’s Vanden Plas Princess has been host to a raft of changes, one of which is the addition of 13-inch Allegro wheels with wide tyres to replace the standard 12-inch items

Longbridge had a little help from the Italians but, given that this was in the styling department, nothing but good could come from such foreign cross-pollination. So, should the old cliché, ‘Best of British’, be applied to the BMC 1100/1300 (ADO16), as it should Concorde?

Perhaps the outcome is inevitable. After all, I found that the 1100 tested in the feature, ‘floating to revolution stood up remarkably well in modern traffic conditions, and could not help but agree with Alex Moulton’s comment that it was, ‘extraordinary’. Of course, this 1963 Morris 1100 had weak points, not least its less-than-powerful engine, compromised driving position and too-short gearing. Therefore, The idea of driving a later ADO16, with a larger engine and longer gearing seemed to be the only way forward.

The car I chose to try is one that has whetted my appetite since the moment I first heard about it. Belonging to AROnline Deputy Editor, Alexander Boucke, this Vanden Plas Princess 1300 has been subjected to a raft of well-considered modifications.

Slightly uprated from standard

For one, its engine has been mildly tuned to about 80bhp, thanks to some porting of the cylinder head, and has been allied to a gearbox sporting longer ratios to best make use of the extra poke. Nestling behind 13-inch Allegro wheels, an uprated braking system (taken from a Maxi) makes sure it stops as well as it goes, whilst the suspension has been treated to the addition of supplementary dampers in order to tame some of its Hydrolastic bounce. Mechanically, then, there was very little left to criticise.

Cosmetically, it was a similarly positive story: being a Vanden Plas, the interior is extremely nicely appointed, featuring leather seats, deep pile Wilton carpeting and expanses of highly lacquered wood. Externally, this ADO16 featured the full-depth Vanden Plas radiator grille and oodles of chrome plated brightwork. Finishing off the effect, a pair of racing wing mirrors and a sport steering wheel (taken from a Triumph 2500). All in all then, this ADO16 has it all…

So, the sum of the parts looks good: take one 1100 add more power, equipment and improved damping, and the result must surely be close to perfection…

Driving the Vanden Plas Princess

Ahead of the game: BMC cottoned on early to the idea of the luxury compact, and the Vanden Plas typified the company's methods. Thick, leather seats and a slab of wood for a dashboard. Again, it could have been vulgar, but thanks to Vanden Plas, it was (and is) the epitome of good taste.
Ahead of the game: BMC cottoned on early to the idea of the luxury compact, and the Vanden Plas typified the company’s methods. Thick, leather seats and a slab of wood for a dashboard. Again, it could have been vulgar but, thanks to Vanden Plas, it was (and is) the epitome of good taste

So the car looks good and, when you open the door, it smells good. All quality British cars of a certain age seem to have a variation of this smell; it seems to be a mixture of leather, Wilton and oil. Either way, it creates a welcoming ambience, which instils a feel-good factor. However, that warm fuzzy feeling is soon shocked out of the system when you sit in that big, padded seat and adopt the classic Issigonis driving position. Comfortable, it isn’t.

However, the driving position does not demand the driver to perform unreasonable contortions and, once you acclimatise to the undignified hunch, it seems perfectly reasonable. The Vanden Plas ergonomics are not brilliant, thanks to small and messily calibrated instruments, and a raft of auxiliary switches in a bank to the right. Alexander has taken the time to install a bank of auxiliary gauges, but sadly, in the short drive I was treated to, I never got the chance to really use any of them.

To start up, you don’t so much turn the key and churn, a flick of the key is enough to prod it into life. Once started, the driver is greeted with that unique and instantly recognisable sound of a transmission-in-sump A-Series-engined car. The Mini makes exactly the same sound, as does the Austin Metro… and the Austin Allegro. Almost immediately, and without engaging gear, I find myself warming to this car. Good job really, because first gear is initially baulky, and it takes a drop into second before it goes back into first smoothly. Mind you, once underway, the gearchange is smooth and stress-free, and never again does it struggle going in…

Excellent performance delivered by A-Series

Photogenic, isn't it? The VP lettering in its number plate is no accident...
Photogenic, isn’t it? The VP lettering in its number plate is no accident…

Power delivery is very nice indeed. Once underway, it is immediately obvious that this ADO16 is more powerful than standard: it pulls cleanly from low revs but, as soon as 2000rpm is passed, you are into the torque zone. First is merely needed to get underway, second delivers instantaneous acceleration from walking pace, and third is really effective from 15mph onwards: that torque zone really allows the Princess to be driven quickly and firmly without any real effort.

Gearing is longer than standard, too… considerably taller than the 1100, and yet because of the power characteristics of this engine, it does not feel overgeared in the slightest. My immediate seat-of-the-pants impressions were that this car was closer in performance, feel and sound to a 1982 MG Metro 1300, rather than the 1962 Morris 1100. It was also a world apart from the last A-Series Allegro I had the misfortune to drive.

The long gearing also has the side benefit of allowing relatively peaceful motorway cruising. Whilst the 1100 was limited to a comfortable 55mph, thanks to its ultra-short top gear, the Princess quite happily sat at 70mph. Yes, the engine noise was a tad intrusive by modern standards but, for a car built in the 1960s, it was very impressive indeed – as was the feeling of stability and security. It tracked arrow straight along a heavily-cambered section of motorway and remained unaffected by truck turbulence when overtaking.

Planted and happy on the motorway

In profile, it is unusual for a short car to work really well; the ADO16 does, though. The larger wheels also give it a visual lift.
In profile, it is unusual for a short car to work really well; the ADO16 does, though. The larger wheels also give it a visual lift

Given that a comparable Ford Cortina or Vauxhall Viva had the tendency to be thrown across half a lane by the bow waves of trucks being overtaken, it is a very impressive achievement indeed. Indeed, the 1100 was light years ahead of the game back then, and driving this car reminds me yet again of the scale of BMC’s achievement. Motorways are not the ADO16’s strongest suit, though, and I was more keen to take it along the local test track – I mean the A509.

Thankfully, the Princess did not disappoint here. The steering, as delightful as ever, does not seem to have been corrupted by the wider tyres fitted. In fact, once under way, there is very little difference in weight, only an additional amount of feel. Considering that the original was hardly shy in telling the driver what it was doing, this makes for a very entertaining drive. Combined with the low-roll suspension, the communicative steering and throttle response offer up a three-channel sensory overload for the driver – on a twisty road, it almost feels alive.

Consider this: on a 60mph bend, you could place the Princess to within millimetres of where you wanted it. Just turn, aim and go. At sane on-road speeds and in the dry, there was not a trace of understeer, and certainly nothing to indicate the possibility of a lively rear end. Some people may call this boring. Trust me, it isn’t.

Even better on the B-roads

Still, terrific cornering was always going to be on the cards with this car: the magic ingredients were always there. A sterner test lay ahead when venturing onto less well surfaced local unclassifieds. Turning off the A509, I chose a demon little road, which offers a combination of undulations, adverse cambers, corners and abrasive surfaces, packaged together to form a perfect test for any car’s suspension set-up. To give an idea of context, a Rover 75 is just about on the ragged edge of body control on this stretch at 75mph. Lesser Citroëns can just about run up to about 70 if you’re brave, and anything less than accomplished in the suspension department (such as a Rover Sterling) would feel decidedly uncomfortable at 60.

How did the Princess do? Well, I decided not to really tax it, but at 60 (tough in some larger cars, remember), it felt composed and in control. The 60-degree bend, which plunges down and to the left after a long stretch of mixed-frequency undulations (just to unsettle the car even more) was comfortable and agreeably flat. All good news, and very, very impressive when viewed in the context of the car’s age. However, what really blew me away was how much the supplementary dampers worked for this car. On similar roads in an unmodified 1100, the car would be reasonably composed, but the Hydrolastic bounce would begin to prove tiring. In this car, that up-down motion was massively reduced, although not quite eradicated.

I was impressed nevertheless. Even more so, when Alexander, along for the ride, stated in his amusingly dry way that these dampers really were quite old and were almost certainly due for replacement – a testament to the advantages of interconnected suspension. Such complication may not be a necessity these days but, in the 1960s when the leaf spring ruled the roost, interconnected cars really did offer the common man a taste of true sophistication. And thankfully, the common man liked what he saw (and felt) and quite rightly bought these cars in bucket loads.

Verdict: Perfection in a twelve-foot package?

Tried and tested: it would seem that most of the criticisms of the 1100 were answered with this car, although this particular 1275cc A-Series puts out around 80bhp thanks to some nifty head work.
Tried and tested: it would seem that most of the criticisms of the 1100 were answered with this car, although this particular 1275cc A-Series puts out around 80bhp thanks to some nifty head work

In a word: nearly.

In essence, the Vanden Plas Princess 1300 is a wonderful, wonderful car. There really is little to criticise it for: performance is acceptable, roadholding is excellent, ride is also good. Add in the reasonable accommodation for a family of four and its all-round daintiness, and you have yourself a very appealing package. Age does not seem to have wearied the style on bit either: still crisp and elegant, without a trace of flab or excess to its name. Imagine the effect of putting such a large grille on the front of any other car and you see what I mean.

It also possesses something that is very hard to define: charisma. It is obvious that the by-product of the genius that went into it is character in spade loads. You almost want to hug it because it makes you feel good. It even makes a sensible classic car because it is cheap to run and, although it has a reputation for voracious rust, any remaining examples with an MoT will most certainly have had these issues sorted. So a complete thumbs up, then? Yes, just about…

If this car were food – imagine it to be the finest steak cooked to perfection. Nice to look at, and better to smell and taste. Mouth after mouth of perfection until… until you come to the gristle… With this Princess, that flaw must rest with the driving position, which seemed even worse than the last 1100 I piloted. An aching knee after 30 minutes is not a good sign, but thanks to the hideously off-set pedals, it happened, and it took the shine off the drive.

Still, if that is the only criticism which one can make about a 40-year-old BMC design, then it is a very big achievement. Imagine if it had been a Vanden Plas 1500 I had driven; the story would have been very, very different. I would have chastised it for everything but the driving position. Greatest BMC ever? It’s up there…


With thanks to Alexander Boucke for the drive of his car…


Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

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.
Keith Adams

36 Comments

  1. I’ve been using this car as a way to commute to office for a few days recently – I’ve forgotten just how modern it feels! And there is the constant need to watch the speedo, otherwise the Princess would catch me out and lead to a series of tickets. It seems to me that a modernised ADO16 would really have made the Allegro a pointless exercise.

    • Would the automatic be able to take the larger diameter wheels/tyres or would it upset the automatic changes?

  2. One wonders how an Austin Apache / Victoria based Vanden Plas Princess would have looked, especially if it resembled a downsized version of the Vanden Plas Princess 1800 prototype.

  3. How’d you manage to get different transmission ratios for this car? I’d kill to get a better 4th ratio for the Wolseley. 1-4 is almost exactly the same as the ratios on my 86hp hyundai accent and swapping the ADO17 4th out for the equivalent LCII 5th would make a massive difference.
    I got the proper parts together for a long heimholtz intake for the Wolseley so will be installing that soon.
    Just wish I could find a better 4th replacement.

    • All that is needed is to change the drop gear, which is available in quite a number of different ratios. When ” longer gear ratio” was referred to what was really meant was ” longer final drive ratio”

      • That’s it. In this car the final drive is from a Mini Cooper S. This, together with the large wheels (and a re-calibrated speedo!) make it an excellent motorway cruiser with 80-85mph a good crusing speed without car or driver breaking into sweat.
        Most of the conversion was done back in the 70s, before the very tall final drive boxes from the last injection Minis were available.

        • Question is will those fit an 18/85 or are there some available that will? I think I understand what they are, they’re the gears in the casing between engine & clutch. I’ve seen pictures of someone rebuilding an 18/85 final drive and by all accounts it’s a nightmare.
          The engine is going to have to come out soon anyway and if I can get bits to make changes..
          The reason I’d prefer a cog change to the drop gears is 1-3 the performance is OK, but a underdrive 4th would solve the high rpm at motorway speeds & improve all round economy, since I’m in top most of the time, I know it’d make 3-4 a bit more of a stretch but as long as it’s sensible the engine is flexible enough.

  4. The Vanden Plas Princess pioneered the concept of a small, affordable luxury car, offering the luxury of something like a Jaguar with the economy of an ADO16. Other manufacturers didn’t really catch on to this idea until the mid seventies, when Ford launched its wood and velour Escort Ghia, and downsizing following the energy crisis saw small, well equipped cars appear. However, none seemed to do it as well as the Vanden Plas Princess or even the much mocked 1500, awful on the outaide, but as beautiful as a Daimler Limousine on the inside.

    • Don’t forget Wolsley had made made an upmarket version of the Morris 8, with Viscount Nuffield owning one in his later years.

  5. Would buyers these days want/understand a car with wood, chrome and leather? – certainly be a change from boring charcoal grey interiors.
    Be interesting to compare the VDP with an MG 1300?
    BTW in 2012 the design was already at least 50 years old.

    • “Want/Understand” ….Some might Chris C. Gave a relative a lift in my now twenty year old Rover 620ti. She has a more modern French car ~ silver with dull grey plastic interior throughout. She was impressed with the 620ti’s genuine fake walnut trim liked it and said so…. 😉 A touch of class can make a difference in the grey sea of SUV sameness out there.

      Not all new cars are ditchwater grey. Parked alongside a woman in the local supermarket and got talking to her about her new Blue MG ZS as she loaded its huge hatch with shopping bags. Not only was she pleased with the car and the colour, she went onto say it was the best car she’s ever had. Previously bought Fords but did not do so this time. Apparently the equivalent Ford was about ten grand more.

      Always puzzled me that so many car colour choices are none vibrant colours now. Mostly various shades of grey up to and including black. White and blue BMWS popular choices locally. BMWs, mostly 3-Series, are bar far the most popular cars now I see locally on just every trip recently. There really is a lot of them.

    • In their final guise the MG1300 (October 1968 to August 1971) produced 70bhp and 2 door only, the VDP1300 produced 65bhp and just 4 door.
      Th final Riley Kestrel manufactured from October 1968 to August 1969 was also 70bhp and was probably the VDP’s closest in house rival.
      The Austin/Morris 1300GT, 4 door 70bhp was the really big seller in the range from 1969 to 1974.

      • I always liked the Riley Kestrel’s. Having said that, my brother once owned a Morris 1300GT (H reg) and it was a really nippy good looking car with the vinyl roof and sporty wheel trims. I think these were more desirable than an MG 1300

        • That depends on your taste in, um, styling. The MG was usefully lighter, as it had the 2-door shell. But as my father found to hi cost, the radiator grille hit the car in front before the bumper did.

          • Don’t get me wrong, I liked the MG1100/1300 styling and the octagon badge, but think the A & M 1300 GT looked sporty and the performance was good for the time… and at reasonable cost

    • I did this in 1978 while learning to drive! My dad’s VDP was comfy but not over-wieldy, with the very large Bakelite wheel (2 spokes at half past eight and half past three – Alexander’s helm is not original). My brother’s MG was noticeably quicker and more wieldy, with a chunky thick leather rimmed steering wheel. But it was certainly noisier.

  6. I agree that a modernised ADO16 would have rendered the Allegro a pointless exercise. I am also the owner of a similarly modified ADO16 for the last 24 years, many of them used as an everyday car. A more powerful engine and a higher final drive transform these cars. In LHD form even the driving position does not feel too bad, and you can rest your right foot on the side of the floor tunnel. I wonder though if Alexander could give us some more details on the brake system modifications using parts from the Maxi. Since the demise of the asbestos front pads, i was never totally happy with the brakes.

    • Indeed, driving LHD 1300s is much better from the seating position. RHD automatics are fine, but with the strong engine I tend to get cramps in the right foot from having to lift the foot always to a strange angle.
      The front brake calipers are actually from an Allegro, not a Maxi. But the difference is minor: The Allegro calipers are a like a slight improvement on the Maxi units, featuring metric brake pipe fittings… There is also a brake servo fitted. The rear drum brakes of Maxi and ADO 16 are actually the same diameter, so no use to change anything here.

      • Alexander : very interesting what you say about RHD automatics being alright, because that was precisely our experience which I related yesterday in a posting much lower down in this thread. I had not realsied that the manual’s position was that much different . Incidentally, I loved the AP automatic !

  7. What an absolutely wonderful account of the virtues of this version of the AD016. Whilst BMC mat have been previously slated for “badge engineering” they actually deserve far more credit. Sure, the Austin and Morris versions were pure badge engineered; and maybe there was little space or need for a Riley version. But starting from the top of the range the VDP was a beautifully executed design. Quality oozed from its crafted fitout. It looked very special and desirable as an affordable prestige small/med car.
    Next down the list came Wolesley, also associated with a quality interior, although a lesser measure and more of a deluxe ADO16.
    The MG represented a sporty performance version and while the early ones were disappointing performance, the later 1300’s with high performance engines and rev counters were what was expected of an MG.
    Finally, the Austin/Morris 1300GT represented a BMC product to counter the GT mania sweeping all manufacturers at that time. They were great!
    So, a fine family of distinct ADO16-derived models, each with their own unique formula. Was this a bad thing?? After all, they were the top-selling range in the UK for many years. No wonder the excellent Austin Maxi was a sales disaster with only one nameplate to distribute and a single trim level on identical 1500 or 1750 models. The later 1750HL was only a marginal improvement and certainly couldn’t qualify as a GT!
    Today’s comment on looking back at the VDP ADO16 brings back a warm affection for the complete package it represented, and praise for the BMC strategists who followed through without cost-cutting measures and delivered a car that truly met its target market.
    Thoroughly enjoyed this great piece of nostalgic journalism! Thanks.

  8. Give me a break! The Americans could not get close to a government subsidized modified fighter jet that carries 150 people? A money loser at best. What a bogus statement! The US space agency built stuff that landed astronauts on the moon! If we wanted to build a fuel wasting jet plane like the Concord we could have but it wouldn’t be economical then, would it? So far neither the UK or France have not conquered space. Eh?

    Look at Concorde… A world-beating aeroplane that neither the Russians nor the Americans could get close to. It showed that, with some help from the French, the British could still build a passenger airliner, which was single-mindedly conceived to transport 150 executives across oceans in the shortest time possible. The fact that it was also achingly beautiful was merely co-incident; it was a machine built for a purpose…

    • Some fighter …. some modifications ! I am struggling to identify the fighter that was modified . Of course , the Concorde was not a patch on the Boeing 2707 . Can anyone remind me what happened to that ???

      • The Boeing 2707 suffered a lot from being designed to be larger & fly faster than Concorde.

        This meant a much larger design effort, especially the use of advanced alloys to deal with the amount of air friction, which would melt the standard aluminium alloys Concorde was built with.

        This & many other issues meant that any significant design chance meant an almost complete redesign each time. Also being before the days of fly by wire it would have been hard to control if it was built.

        Even Boeing’s design team struggled to come up with a viable design, & with the American government not bankrolling the project they eventually threw in the towel.

  9. I have a soft spot for the VDP 1100/1300, my father owned a succession of them through the late 1960’s early 70’s. My job was to thoroughly valet them on a weekly basis.
    The fit and finish was in a class of their, Wilton carpet, Connolly leather, West Of England cloth roof lining and acres of burr walnut. The exta sound proofing was impressive. The downside, poor rust proofing and body design with subframes just like others in the ADO 16 range. So you could argue the quality was only a veneer.
    I can recall low mileage well maintained examples will collapsed sills and rotten inner wings at 4 years old.

  10. @ Neil B, most cars rusted 50 years ago and the VDP was no worse than its contemporaries, and most car owners expected to spend a fair sum on rust repairs come MOT time. However, you could forgive the VDP this for its beautiful interior, cossetting ride, absence of engine noise, 95 mph performance and styling.

    • Glenn, I know what you mean about rust on cars 50 years ago but the ADO16 was a real serious rot box. I spent my youth trying to keep on top of their rust. Sill’s front wings, inner front wings especially and f/r subframes being particularly vulnerable. The fact it was a VDP version made no difference to their corrosion resistance. By comparison the contemporary 1800/2200 and Maxi had little in the way of corrosion problems. Even my early 70’s Minis were more corrosion resistant than the 70’s ADO 16’s
      A VDP 1300 max 65bhp for a manual version would never reach 95mph. The most I managed was an indicated 90mph out of my old mans and believe me I was trying! That was one up, me weighing 9 stone and a year old car at 10k miles. A late MG1300 2 door 70 bhp would just do 95mph. The VDP was a really heavy car with all the sound proofing and quality fixtures effectively blunting the performance.
      Lovely cars though. Thornfalcon Classics in Somerset have a genuine 1970 VDP 1300 18k genuine miles at £12950, tempting.

      • The big issue with ADO16s was the subframe, the sills and the wings. Interestingly, the Allegro was a lot better rustproofed and seemingly most Vanden Plas 1500s have survived. However, the VDP Princess was a much better looking car.

        • The ADO16 VDP was definitely a lovely looking car and still looks good today, whereas the VDP 1500 will always be ugly. I recall at it’s launch in 1974 the press christening it “the pigs ear” as in you can’t make a silk purse out of one. The name stuck.
          Keeping up the tradition my old man purchased a new VDP 1500 in1976, it didn’t rust, it leaked. It took 3 attempts and 3 sets of Wilton carpets before it was fixed. He sold it after 3 years, yet it was still around in the late 80’s and looking in good condition too.

      • The difference in corrosion resistance between ADO16 and Maxi/Landcrab is true. The last Austin/Morris Mk3 were particularly bad. My father’s last new 1300 already had quite some visible rust when new in 1974 (obviously being stored for nearly a year at the time). This Mk3 just managed to live on until 1986 with quite a lot of effort on the body work.

    • So that just leaves ADO16’s off-set pedals and the lack of aftermarket air-con by clooraire / etc. https://www.mgexp.com/forum/1100-and-1300-forum.56/period-aftermarket-air-conditioning-advert.3485733/

      While the A-Series used in this Vaden Plas Princess 1300 was a very good engine for its time, one can only imagine how viable production versions of the 1390-1596cc A-Series would have transformed ADO16 in general (and other A-Series cars) had engine development drifted in a different direction during its conception.

      A 70 hp MG 1300 GT / Austin 1300 GT would have become an 88 hp model in 1600 form, while a 1600 version of the 80 hp tuned engine in the Vanden Plas Princess mentioned in this article would have had 100 hp (with a 1600 version of the planned MG-badged Austin Victoria featuring a 83 hp twin-carb 1275cc engine putting out around 104 hp). Well within the standard 1275cc A-Series’s reputed 120-130 hp power limit and basically making the much heavier 1.6 B-Series redundant.

  11. It’s now nearly 50 years since we had an 1100, but strangely enough neither my wife nor I found it uncomfortable or strange to drive. We are both moderately tall i.e 6 feet and 5 feet 11 and had no problems. What perhaps takes some getting used to is the push pull steering action rather than rotation of the wheel

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