Thursday January 3, 2019
You’d have thought the “Allegro Joke” was utterly and totally played out circa 2002, but even today Alexandra Phillips of Gloucestershire still occasionally encounters a few remarks along the lines of ‘when I say I have classic cars “Oh, what have you got?” Austin Allegro. "Ha ha ha ha that's not a classic"’ plus ‘always you've got the “All Aggro" comments – I just block them out’.
Fortunately, the Phillips 1300 Super Mk.1 Two-Door mainly tends to turn heads when people encounter it, not least because any Allegro is now a rare sight. Back in 1974, it was as common a phenomenon as Mud records blaring from a transport café jukebox or hitherto soberly-dressed solicitors who now thought fawn coloured flared nylon slacks were the ideal off-duty attire. Now, they turn heads.
Enough has been written about Project ADO67, aka the Austin Allegro, to fill several books and Keith Adams’ essay https://www.aronline.co.uk/cars/austin/allegro/ado67-development-story/ is required reading for anyone interested in this key British Leyland product. What we can say is that when this replacement for the ADO16 range debuted in 1973, a 1300 Super cost £1,051.07 (brake servo £13.76 extra) which gained you, a cigarette lighter, reclining front seats, carpets and an internal bonnet release.
After all, it was important to display your social standing at the next rotary club meeting. In May of that year, Autocar thought “The Driving Force from Austin” was ‘bound to be a popular new model’ and that the 1300 Super ‘offers very good value for money’.
The upgraded Allegro 2 was launched in late 1975, which meant that the early versions were already becoming scarce by the late 1980s. Regarding one still-persistent automotive myth, of the rear screen popping out if the jack was incorrectly applied, Alexandra points out there is ‘no actual evidence of this anywhere’.
As a 1974 model, her Austin is, of course, fitted with the infamous “square” steering wheel but it is often forgotten that this was only fitted to the early versions.
Alexandra first encountered the Allegro when she was growing up - ‘My mum had loads as daily cars’. Four years ago, ‘I wanted a second classic car (the main Phillips classic is a very handsome Rover P6 2000), and this one came up’. The Super was a ‘one lady owner from new’ Austin, and it required ‘the bottom of wings repaired, so I had the sides of the car flashed over with fresh paint. Bonnet, roof and all internal areas are original paint. Needed new brakes and clutch. New tyres. Only this year I had the engine out for a rebuild and tidy up’. In terms of driving.
Ms. Phillips describes the Allegro as ‘Comfy. Quick. (Enough). Reliable/easy to maintain and work on’. Plus ‘Bouncy’. As befitting one who enjoys keeping old motor cars alive and well, Alexandra’s day job is an AA patrolwoman.
Today, the very sight of the 1300 Super at a show is enough to induce instant nostalgia amongst countless visitors – ‘the PVC trim!’ ‘That radiator grille!’ – and, best of all, it is automotive heritage that is maintained to be enjoyed on a regular basis. Although it is best advised not to copy the original sales campaign -
WITH THANKS TO – ALEXANDRA PHILLIPS