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PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:38 pm 
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The 1100/1300 opportunity missed…
The creator of the Mini, Sir Alec Issigonis, had been planning an expansion of his Mini concept for some time. He correctly asserted that his Mini/ADO16 package was the way to go forward with small family cars, but felt that the idea needed expanding somewhat in terms of practicality from the Mini.

No serious consideration had been given to developing the ADO16 with a view to creating a definitive ‘Super’ Mini. Logic and hindsight dictated that this was the way to develop a new small car, but as BMC was adopting wholescale range-on-range replacement of model ranges, this appealing idea was never pursued.

This is a shame because, had some weight been taken out of it, a fifth door added and more modern styling, Austin could have had a Supermini of the classic mould on the market years before Renault and FIAT got in on the act with the Renault 5 and Fiat 127.

So the idea of slimming and updating of the ADO16 into a Supermini was never looked at seriously; an idea, seemingly, no less logical than obvious, but as we can see, no one within Austin was willing or able to identify and then understand this emerging market niche.
The Austin Allegro was basically an ADO16 expanded slightly and brought up to date (with disastrous consequences), but because of this growth, it left an unfilled chasm in the Austin range between it and the Mini.....

The Austin/MG Metro development story
http://www.aronline.co.uk/cars/austin/a ... t-history/


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:16 am 
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They did create a supermini of exactly the sort you describe: Metro.

Smaller than an ADO16, larger than a Mini, modernised styling to bring the company bang up to date and released at a time when the British public had got the hang of hatchbacks so BLMC weren't taking a costly risk on something too forward thinking. You forget, the British public were very conservative in their purchases and tastes, especially when it came to cars, and the hatchback was a strange thing lumped in the same 'working man' class as the estate car. Hatchbacks were simply not desirable until well into the 70s and even then most preferred the status a saloon offered, even if that saloon were a Mini.

The Metro was released when the Mini was about 20 years old which was a good 10 years after the Mini really ought to have been retired. That the Mini continued in production until 2000 is, frankly, ludicrous. The Metro was better than the Mini in every regard. It was more practical, more spacious, more comfortable, marginally safer, more fuel economical, better equipped and had bang up to date styling. It should, by all rights, killed off the Mini. The Metro was the supermini the market wanted, the market just didn't want it enough to replace the Mini.

The weird thing about the Metro is it wasn't like Citroen's attempt to replace the 2CV with the Dyane (a car that was basically a rebody and mild mechanical overhaul), the Metro was designed and built better than the Mini and was effectively a new car (some mechanical things notwithstanding).

I'd hardly describe the Allegro as a disaster either. Vast numbers of them were sold and, as a replacement to the ADO16, it made a lot of sense. As with the Metro, the Allegro is a better car than the ADO16 in pretty much every regard. More spacious, marginally more practical boot, improved suspension which in turn improved the ride and handling... you know, the usual. The styling of the Allegro was, and continues to be, controversial but that was BLMC for you. Like many of the models before it, the Allegro was the right car at the right time and, like many of its predecessors, was in production much longer than one might expect.

The company were right to ignore Issigonis on the overhaul of the ADO16 into a supermini and wait until the release of the Metro. There's no way they could have produced a vehicle capable of taking on the European offerings, they had to do things their way and cater to their market rather than challenging foreign, more established, markets.

There was no chasm in the model range. By the mid-70s people wanted more spacious cars and the ADO16 was a bit too cramped for a modern family where the Allegro had just a bit more elbow room. Minis were generally for couples (young and old) and single folk so they could remain very small. There wasn't a place for the ADO16 or cars of its size any more and it wasn't until the late 70s that BLMC really needed the Metro to compete in the changing world stage of what kind of car people wanted.

As much as it's heresy to say it here, BLMC should have dropped the Mini by 1970 and brought in a model that was halfway between it and the Metro at that time to get the British public used to the idea of something so modern. It makes absolutely no sense that the Mini had a production run of 41 years with very little real change from the original cars and it's a testament to just how stubborn people can be about something they like.

I like the Mini, I like what it started within the company, but I like the products that came after it more.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:10 am 
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the best of the metros where the later rover 100's - they where a good looking car and the rust problems had just about been sorted

I had a 1100s and it was a cracking car - it was killed only by heat seizing it so bad that the liners rammed themselves into the head. I had it for about 6 years and really liked it.

I always wanted a 16v GTi but by the time my 1100s died the GTI's where a bit long in the tooth and I couldn't find a really nice one (so bought my saxo vts and we all know how that ended...)

I think some of those 'sleeper' metros that people are building with VVC engines etc are fantastic

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:12 pm 
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As someone who bought an MG Metro a few weeks ago I must admit that it drives a whole lot better than I had expected. It is certainly a lot quieter and refined than a Mini but I suspect a standard 1275 Cooper S would be the quicker car despite the performance claims made by Austin Rover at the time.
My wife got a Metro GTI in 1991 shortly after they came out. That car was in the family for years & years despite many mishaps and disasters. It was stolen twice by joyriders and even half a tree fell on it but it kept going and going. It was passed on to my stepson who set about it's destruction with enthusiasm and even he couldn't kill it. He sold it to a "friend" who never paid for it and then disappeared. It was a brilliant car. If any of the Northern Ireland members of this forum know the whereabouts of GBZ4046 or if it still exists I would love to know.
Nearly all of my family were buyers of BMC/BL/Austin Rover products over many, many years from Austin Westminsters via 16/60's, 1800's, 1300's, Maxis ,Marinas, Allegros, Montegos, Rover 3500, 2600, 800, 216 and I do not recall any one of them being anything other than totally satisfactory vehicles. They were certainly no worse than any of their contemporaries.
I for one am sick and tired of the nonsense that has grown up around BL vehicles, aided no doubt by the puerile, idiotic drivel purveyed by certain "motoring journalists" in the past.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:52 pm 
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Vulgalour wrote:
They did create a supermini of exactly the sort you describe: Metro.


Not as I describe, the article is from AustinRoverOnline and is about the Metro....... but I do agree with AROnline that the Metro could have evolved as a supermini hatch from the 1100 much earlier than 1980 and led the home and export market, as BMC did with the Mini, rather than follow others like Fiat/Renault much later......


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:15 pm 
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Do you know, I thought that was your signature and hadn't twigged it was a link? :oops:


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 5:44 pm 
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The Mini should have been dropped in 1980, but don't forget that sentiment aside, BL were still losing millions and the Mini was both profitable and a good seller. Really, 1990 should have been 'it'.

Metros were very good when they worked and weren't rusty - a pity they didn't put more thought into rust prevention such as Princess style arch liners. The 1275 was a bit harsh but the 998 was a superb little motor, smooth, quiet and exceptionally economical. The Fiesta was a horrid little tin can in comparison. Apart from the rust, that stupid plastic caged gearbox main bearing was a spectacular own goal - used to get these in with the typical rattle in top gear. Engine out, diff and end cover off and you could get the old bearing out. The plastic cage would be long gone with the balls resting at the base of the bearing cage and we made a puller to withdraw the bearing. Fit an old style brass cage bearing and away you go although prolonged driving with a bad bearing would damage the crown wheel teeth.
Shagged radius arm were common as well as rusty Hydragas pipes. Same old BL nonsense!

I bought and sold a few of these in the 80's. 1.0L or Citys were the best sellers - I bought two at one auction on a Tuesday - a Vermillion 1.0L and a black 1.0 City BJO308Y. Both were super clean and had already been fitted with new wings. Think I paid about 800 quid a pop. Advertised one for £1250, sold it on the Saturday and sold the other one off the same advert! I could get a pair of wings bought, painted and undersealed for £100 cash, tart the rest up and away they go. The 1.3's I bought (including a rare 1.3S) were generally trouble and more prone to gearbox issues and oil consumption. Never did any MG's but my Dad had a 1984 B plate Turbo in 1987 and it was dreadful, never ending problems and a wing starting to rust at three years old.

The K Series one was okay but the world had moved on to much better cars like the 106, Polo Coupe, Corsa etc.


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