Austin Allegro (1973-1975)
|Sales designation:||Austin Allegro,
Vanden Plas 1500 and 1750,
|Class :||Compact class|
|Body versions :||Limousine , station wagon|
Petrol engines : 1.0–1.75 liters
|Wheelbase :||2442 mm|
|Empty weight :||859-890 kg|
|Previous model||BMC ADO16|
The Austin Allegro (development code : British Leyland ADO67 ) was a compact class passenger car produced by the British car manufacturer British Leyland . It was manufactured from May 1973 to March 1982 and offered under various sales names using badge engineering .
In addition to the standard Austin Allegro model, there was the structurally identical model with more sophisticated equipment Vanden Plas 1500/1750 . In Italy the car was also sold as the Innocenti Regent from 1974 to 1975 .
The first draft of the Allegro came from the designer Harris Mann , who had been poached by Ford of Britain at the time of the independence of British Motor Holdings . However, the production model deviated significantly from Mann's design. The model series came onto the market as a two- and four-door hatchback sedan and as a three-door station wagon. When it was launched, it was seen as a beacon of hope for the crisis-ridden BLMC group, but was far from being able to build on the successes of its predecessor. In particular, the car suffered from a bad reputation and problematic design caused by some unfavorable political decisions on the part of corporate management. In around ten years, 642,350 units were built, far fewer than its predecessor, the BMC ADO16 .
In the 1960s, the BMC was very successful in the lower middle class with its ADO16 series . The car sold in large numbers on the home market as in the (former) colonies; over two million units were built in ten years.
At around the same time as the British Leyland Motor Corporation was founded in 1968, work began on a new development in this market segment. The group management wanted the ADO16 series to be replaced by two different models. The conservatively designed and technically simple Morris Marina (development code ADO28) with rear-wheel drive was intended to serve undemanding customers and, above all, the major corporate customers in Great Britain who had previously bought the Ford Cortina and Vauxhall Viva . The technically much more sophisticated Allegro, on the other hand, should be offered in the middle and upper price range.
While the Marina was put together relatively hastily and predominantly from existing and often outdated components from Triumph and BMC models, the Allegro was completely redeveloped. Only the A-series engines still came from the ADO16 .
The choice fell on the original design by Harris Mann. This design featured a dynamic, elongated and sleek body with a low waistline and a sloping bonnet, along with a sloping, low and narrow radiator grille.
The body was slightly larger than that of the predecessor; the extra length and width benefited the trunk, the accessibility of the engine compartment and passive safety . In contrast, the wheelbase and interior dimensions remained practically the same as those of the previous model. As with some other models of the time, the trunk was not accessible via a large tailgate, despite the hatchback shape, but only via a relatively narrow cover below the rear window.
However, the shape had to be changed significantly before production, especially in the area of the front end. Because according to the will of the group management, among other things, the heating from the Marina should be installed in the Allegro in combination with the newly developed motors of the E series. This engine series was higher than the old A-engines with side camshafts because of their overhead camshaft. And the Marina's heating was also very low. The result was a noticeably higher waistline and an unconventionally curved front end, which, according to the general opinion, seriously impaired the design.
The Hydragas suspension was new on the Allegro . It was a further development of the Hydrolastic suspension from the BMC Group with nitrogen-filled pressure vessels ("spring balls") instead of rubber springs. The damping elements and pitch compensation with the water hydraulics were taken over: The wheel suspensions were connected by pressure lines, which ensured a more balanced road holding.
Inside the car there was another special feature, the quartic , a steering wheel in the shape of a square with rounded corners. It was installed according to the wishes of the corporate management and should stand as a symbol of progress. The “round instruments” were initially shaped like this.
In May 1973, the Austin Allegro sedan went into production. The timing was generally favorable; the Ford Cortina had just been reissued and had transmission problems. The sales figures of the predecessor series ADO16 just went down. BLMC hoped to be able to sell 4000 units per week in the long term and thus achieve a market share of eight to ten percent. However, the wrong or not made decisions about production locations and capacities contributed to the fact that initially, as with the marina, not enough units could be produced. So actually only around half as many cars were sold. Later, the production possibilities were created by the discontinuation of other models, but the demand no longer existed due to the now known defects. In 1975 production was a good 2000 pieces per week.
In March 1974 the Allegro was launched on the continental European market. In the same year the estate version appeared. In Italy, the production of the Allegro began under the name Innocenti Regent , which was discontinued after 18 months due to lack of demand.
In October 1975 the second series, the Austin Allegro 2 , was added to remove some errors from the first series. Modified engine mounts eliminated the jerking of the drive train, moving the bench seats increased the footwell in front of the rear seats, and the Quartic was replaced by a conventional round steering wheel.
The fundamental revision of the body design and the interior, which was necessary per se, was not carried out due to lack of funds. Because by that time British Leyland was already bankrupt and nationalized. And with the use of taxpayers' money, there were other priorities.
In the spring of 1979, the Allegro was finally revised a second time. The Allegro 3 received bumpers made of black plastic instead of the previous chrome bumpers and a new radiator grille, also made of black plastic. In the interior, new colors were added, a new dashboard and better equipment overall. Fuel consumption has also been reduced.
In the same year, the Allegro Equipe appeared . This model with silver paint, racing stripes, body seats and aluminum rims was intended to compete with the VW Golf GTI and the Alfa Romeo Alfasud ti . However, the team was only equipped with the regular 1750 engine and was nowhere near the performance of the competition.
But even the second revision was unable to improve sales of the Allegro. The sales figures have now dropped to around 1000 pieces per week.
Production ended in March 1982, with the successor Austin Maestro not being introduced until early 1983.
As with the previous ADO16 series, BLMC derived different models from the same design for the Allegro ( badge engineering ) in order to be able to cover different price and market segments. The models differed only in details such as the radiator grille and the standard equipment.
While the ADO16 series had served all market segments as Morris, Wolseley, Riley and Vanden Plas, the Allegro should only cover the middle and upper price segment. For the more undemanding clientele and the company car fleets that are important in Great Britain, the more simply designed Morris Marina was intended.
The Austin Allegro was built in the Austin main plant in Longbridge near Birmingham and from 1978 also in Seneffe , Belgium . It was the only model offered not only as a sedan, but also as a station wagon called the Austin Allegro Estate . The Allegro was the most important and by far the best-selling model throughout the entire construction period; the ADO67 is practically only known by this name.
For the upscale price range, British Leyland offered the Allegro from autumn 1975 to early 1980 as the Vanden Plas 1500 and 1750 .
Similar to its predecessor, the vehicle stood out with better equipment such as leather seats, wooden inlays in the dashboard, folding tables at the rear and tinted windows. There was also the characteristic large, chrome-plated radiator grille. Although the Vanden Plas was practically identical, the vehicles were built in their own factory in Kingsbury .
In 1979 production moved to Abingdon . The vehicles from this last year of construction were called Vanden Plas 1.5 and 1.7 .
As with the Mini before , the vehicle manufacturer Innocenti from Milan also built the ADO67 under license and offered it on the Italian market as Innocenti Regent . The name Allegro was not used because it can also mean “happy” in the Italian colloquial language, meaning “tipsy”.
The Allegro was offered as a two- and four-door hatchback or three-door station wagon. It had a self-supporting body made of sheet steel. Despite the hatchback typical of the compact class, the car did not have a tailgate, but only a small trunk lid below the rear window.
For the Allegro there were initially four and later five different water-cooled inline four-cylinder petrol engines with a displacement of 1.0 to 1.75 liters and 32 kW (44 hp) to 53 kW (72 hp) to choose from. According to the tradition of the previous British Motor Corporation (BMC), the engines were installed transversely at the front. The gearboxes were also located underneath and drove the front wheels. The ADO67 was also the first car in the company's history with "Hydragas" suspension, which means that instead of rubber springs ("Hydrolastic") as in its predecessors, hollow spheres were used as springs that were filled with nitrogen under high pressure.
The smaller engines with a displacement of up to 1.3 liters came from the older A series; these had overhead valves and four-speed transmissions; the larger engines came from the more modern E series , developed four years for the Austin Maxi , with overhead camshaft and five-speed gearbox. All engines from 1.3 liters were optionally available with a four-speed automatic gearbox , which enabled manual shifting as an additional option. The top speed was 127 to 152 km / h, depending on the engine and transmission.
The Allegro was an advanced car when it was launched in 1973. There was no power steering, which was not necessary due to the low weight. The car was equipped with the modern nitrogen suspension "Hydragas", in the small 1.0 and 1-3 engines with four-speed gearbox, the larger 1.5- and later 1.7-liter engines with four-speed and five-speed gearboxes depending on the equipment fitted. As with the predecessor and the Mini, the automatic versions were manual four-speed automatic transmissions from Automotive Products (AP) with levels D, 3, 2, 1. The body was also technically up-to-date and the rust protection was good.
Most of its competitors from this time were based on much older and, above all, simpler designs. This particularly affected its fiercest rivals on the British market, the Ford Escort Mark I and Mark II and the Vauxhall Viva ("Opel Kadett B / C"). Only the Alfa Romeo Alfasud was technically equal, but it had to struggle with severe rust problems and its bad reputation. Ford and Vauxhall were only able to catch up until around 1980.
In addition, the Allegro got competition from its own company with the Morris Marina offered at the same time . The car was a bit larger, designed very conservatively, but was based on much older technology and was more simply equipped. However, due to a lack of coordination, there were overlaps.
The trade press praised the great technical progress of the Allegro compared to the previous model. The somewhat high price and the weak engines were criticized. The 1300 from the A-series is a little overwhelmed with the higher weight of the car, and the sports version 1750 Sports Special with the 1750 engine does not achieve the performance of the competition.
The majority of the negative reviews, however, were directed against the Allegro's design. The design was felt to be idiosyncratic. The strong curvature of the front part of the car upwards and to the side makes the car appear "inflated" when viewed from the front, especially in connection with the closely arranged headlights. In general, the car is more of a "caricature" of the original design by Mann. The interior is “tasteless” and the whole car is simply “stylish”, especially when compared to a Citroën GS or a VW Golf . According to general opinion, the ADO67 completely contradicted the zeitgeist and customer taste. In 2008 the Allegro was voted the worst British car ever.
In addition, the too narrow footwell in front of the rear seats was criticized, the quartic steering wheel was perceived as strange and impractical. These two points of criticism were resolved with the introduction of the second series in 1975.
With a total of 642,350 units built in 9 years, the Allegro was a major failure for British Leyland, especially when compared to the previous ADO16 range, which had produced more than 2 million vehicles. This was accompanied by a significant loss of market share in the lower middle class. Much of this was paradoxically absorbed by the antiquated Morris Marina, which was offered at the same time, which even surpassed him in number and was built two years longer.
The main reasons for the failure of the Allegro are seen as the quality problems and bad reputation of British Leyland and the bad reviews about the design of the body and interior. The latter are mainly based on the fact that production in Italy was stopped after just 18 months. The missing tailgate also cost customers. Overall, it is said that the Allegro was the opposite of what the market wanted.
In addition, the lengthy construction period of the Allegro turned out to be a problem. Because the financial difficulties of British Leyland in the second half of the 1970s made the early development of a successor or extensive revisions of the Allegro itself unnecessary. By 1980, however, the competition had opened up technically and offered more attractive models. When the Vauxhall Astra Mark I (“Opel Kadett D”) and the Ford Escort '81 appeared in Great Britain in the autumn of 1979 , the Allegro was no longer competitive.
The wheel suspensions were among the technical problems. Initially, the workshops could not cope with the design and installed the wheel bearings incorrectly. As a result, the wheels in question could come loose while driving.
In addition, the body was not torsionally rigid enough. If the jack was set incorrectly, the rear window could fall out. Even during testing, the body had warped when driving hard in rough terrain. This story was of little relevance in everyday life, but it was spread in the gossip press .
Symptomatic of dealing with the problems is an internal bulletin dated October 1974 instructing dealers to drill three holes at the three lowest points of the trunk in order to resolve the water ingress problem.
Because of its design and the quality problems, the Allegro was nicknamed "All-aggro" , in German: "All-annoyance" .
|Engine:||4-cylinder in-line engine (four-stroke)|
|Displacement:||1098 cc||1275 cc||1485 cc||1748 cc|
|Bore × stroke:||64.6 x 83.7 mm||70.6 x 81.3 mm||76.2 x 81.3 mm||76.2 x 95.8 mm|
|Performance at 1 / min:||32 kW
|Max. Torque at 1 / min:||81 Nm at 2500||93 Nm at 3500||105 Nm at 3100||131 Nm at 2300|
|Compression:||8.5: 1||8.8: 1||9.0: 1||8.7: 1|
|Mixture preparation:||1 × SU HS2||1 × SU HS4||1 × SU HS6|
|Transmission:||4- or 5-speed gearbox
aW (except 1100) automatic
|Front suspension:||Wishbones, hydragas suspension|
|Rear suspension:||Trailing arm, hydragas suspension|
|Brakes:||Front disc brakes, rear drums, aW (1500/1750 series) servo|
|Steering:||Rack and pinion steering|
|Body:||Sheet steel, self-supporting|
|Track width front / rear:||1362/1364 mm|
|Dimensions:||3853 × 1613 × 1400 mm|
|Empty weight:||859 kg||870 kg||880 kg||890 kg|
|Maximum speed (factory):||127 km / h||140 km / h||145 km / h||152 km / h|
|0-100 km / h (factory):||25 s||19 s||13 s||12 s|
(liters / 100 kilometers, factory):
|9.5 S.||10.5 S.||11.0 S.||11.5 S.|
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- Daniels, Jeff: British Leyland: The Truth About the Cars . Osprey Publishing, London 1980, ISBN 978-0-85045-392-8 (English).
- car models , catalog number 1974 (data)
- Austin Allegro. Adams, Keith, accessed September 16, 2009 .
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- Concepts & prototypes. Adams, Keith, accessed July 26, 2015 .
- Tech: Hydragas suspension explained. Adams, Keith, accessed September 16, 2009 .
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