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Austin Allegro Photo Gallery
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Austin Allegro Description
Manufacturer : British Leyland Motor Corporation       Year : 1973

The Austin Allegro is a small family car manufactured by British Leyland under the Austin name from 1973 until 1983. The same vehicle was built in Italy by Innocenti between 1974 and 1975 and sold as the Innocenti Regent. In total, 642,350 Austin Allegros were produced during its ten-year production life, most of which were sold on the home market.

The Allegro was designed as the replacement for the popular Austin 1100 and 1300 models, designed by Sir Alec Issigonis. As with the Morris Marina, the car can be seen with hindsight as symptomatic of the enormous difficulties facing British Leyland during that period. The key factor that British Leyland can now be seen to have missed is that a much more useful and popular form of car, the hatchback, was emerging in Europe, with designs such as the Autobianchi A112, Renault 16, and Volkswagen Golf. This configuration would go on to dominate the market for small family cars in the space of a few years. British Leyland stuck to the more traditional and less versatile booted design when they launched the Allegro. This was because of internal company politics; it had been decided that the Austin Maxi should have a hatchback as its unique selling point, and that no other car in the company's line-up was allowed one. This decision hamstrung both the Allegro and the Leyland Princess, both designs naturally suited to a hatchback yet not given one.

The Allegro used front-wheel drive, using the familiar A-Series engine with a sump-mounted transmission. The higher-specification models used the SOHC E-Series engine (from the Maxi), in 1500 cc and 1750 cc displacements. The two-box saloon bodyshell was suspended using the new Hydragas system (derived from the previous Hydrolastic system used on the 1100/1300).
The Allegro was assembled by Innocenti in Italy where it was badged as the Innocenti Regent.

Stylistically, it went against the sharp-edged styling cues that were becoming fashionable (largely led by Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro), and featured rounded panel work. The original styling proposal, by Harris Mann, had the same sleek, wedge-like shape of the Princess, but because British Leyland management, keen to control costs, wanted to install the existing E-Series engine and bulky heating system from the Marina, it became impossible to incorporate the low bonnet line as envisaged: the bodyshell began to look more and more bloated and tubby.

Launched in time for the London Motor Show in October 1975, the Allegro 2 had the same bodyshells but featured a new grille, reversing lights on most models and some interior changes to increase rear seat room. The Estate gained a new coachline running over the wing top lip and window edges. Changes were also made to the suspension, braking, engine mounts and drive shafts.

The Allegro 3, introduced at the end of 1979, used the "A-Plus" version of the 1.0 litre A-Series engine (developed for the forthcoming new Metro), and featured some cosmetic alterations in an attempt to keep the momentum going, but by then the Allegro was outdated, competing against the relatively high-tech Ford Escort Mark III and Vauxhall Astra, and after 1980 it failed to feature in the top 10 best selling new cars in Britain, barely a decade since its predecessor had been Britain's most popular new car, though this fall in sales was compensated for by the large sales figures achieved by the smaller Metro.

The Vanden Plas models were rebranded as the 1.5 and the 1.7. The 1.5 having a twin carburettor 1500cc engine and a manual gear box while the 1.7 had a single carburettor 1750cc engine and an automatic gear box.

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