Vanden Plas 1750 road test

The Home of any non Mini projects & discussion.
Post Reply
User avatar
mab01uk
Posts: 6321
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:08 pm
Location: S.E. England

Vanden Plas 1750 road test

Post by mab01uk »

Turning the Allegro into a mini Rolls-Royce seemed a stretch too far even in the 70s, so how does the Vanden Plas 1750 stack up today?

"It’s unlikely that when designing their current range Toyota benchmarked it against a 40-year old car from a long-defunct manufacturer which even when new was often ridiculed. But bouncing along a cratered farm track in our Vanden Plas 1750, I was struck by the fact that BL’s upmarket small car handled the potholes far better than the current state of the art from one of the world’s biggest car makers. My company-issue Toyota hybrid estate had bounced around dramatically even at walking pace, but the Allegro – sorry, Vanden Plas – stayed pretty level with its long wheel travel throwing the occupants around far less violently.
The story of the Allegro has been well told before, so I’ll be brief: its place in the BL story is essentially that of a successor to the surprisingly successful ‘ADO16’ BMC 1100/1300 which had been a rare hit for BL, regularly occupying the top of the domestic sales charts. Initial thoughts had centred around a simple reskinning of the older car, but in one of those fits of misplaced optimism which so often feature in BL corporate history, the decision was taken to go with an all-new design.
Initial sketches showed a kind of shrunken Princess, the wedgy styling translating wonderfully to a smaller car but then the BL compromises started creeping in. The car was originally to use the A-Series engine but it was then decreed that the new E-Series engine would be used. The overhead-cam engine/gearbox assembly was significantly taller than the A-Series and so the bonnet line had to be raised, while the new heater assembly was also a bulky unit. Crash regulations were now stricter and engineers were also keen to give the Allegro class-leading torsional rigidity by inflating the curves of the side panels. The whole car was then given added height to retain the proportions but by then the damage was done and the dumpy look was there to stay. Ironically, interviewed in 1973 Harry Webster claimed the Allegro to boast class-leading torsional rigidity which was rather lost on owners who found the rear window popped out when a trolley jack was used in the wrong location."
"In what must have been a constant source of irritation to BL’s production accountants, production of the luxury Allegros was a complicated affair involving untrimmed Allegros being driven to Vanden Plas’s Kingsbury factory in West London with the drivers sitting on ‘slave’ seats. This meant that each one had already covered 100 miles before it reached its owner, but on the plus side, it did mean that any mechanical faults – and there were doubtless plenty – would become obvious before delivery."
The designed-by-committee Allegro has its flaws but in truth a contemporary Escort has an equal number and for those drivers who wanted the security of front-wheel drive and the comfort of the fluid suspension the Allegro was the better choice. And yes, there was the thorny issue of BL build quality but let’s not forget that for every ‘All Aggro’ comment back in the day there were probably an equal number of ‘Dagenham Dustbin’ jibes.
"As the world’s car industry today clutches at the premium sector for survival, the upmarket Allegro stands out as an idea ahead of its time. Ironically, the market niche of a premium-feeling small car is now one which is firmly occupied by BMW’s MINI brand but it’s heartening to know that the oft-derided Allegro played a part in its history."
Full story on AROnline:-
https://classicsworld.co.uk/cars/vanden ... road-test/
Post Reply