Sunday 22 April 2012

Austin Allegro

The Austin Allegro from British Leyland was designed to be the family car that would take the company back into the hearts of the British public and set the company balance sheet to rights. It failed miserably.

It was developed and produced at Longbridge in Birmingham from 1973 to 1982. Only the Morris Ital can claim to have had such a disasterous history as part of the Leyland Group.

Over 624,000 Austin Allegros were produced during the ten years of its production life. Most of these were sold in the UK although some were produced for a short time by Innocenti ( the Italian subsidiary of British Leyland ) in Italy.

My father had one of these - he referred to it as the "El-Aggro" due to the amount of trouble he had with it. Unfortunately Leyland with its industrial disputes, poor quality production and a demoralised labour force, ensured that its days were numbered.

The problem was essentially one of styling as this was not a "looker" by car standards of the time. It's strong points were its trusted A-series engine and the hydralastic suspension which gave it such a comfortable ride.

Despite its troubles, and after various improvements, it developed a strong reputation in later years as a very economical and reliable car to run. In fact the series three vehicles are generally regarded as the best Allegro units to have owned.

Several attempts were made at re-styling the model before it was phased out by its replacement - The Austin Maestro.

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