Wednesday June 19, 2019
You are looking at one of the more exclusive cars to hail from Italy – one that is now less seldom encountered than a Ferrari Testarossa and rarer than Lamborghini Espada. There are believed to be just four examples of the Innocenti Regent left on Italian roads, one of which is this handsome example now for sale at Car and Classic
And if the Regent bears a remarkable similarity to the Allegro, this is because it is the Innocenti-built version of the famous Austin. On paper, it was the logical heir to their I4/I4S/I5 (aka the BLMC 1100/1300), and the Milan company included such modifications as opening front quarter lights and a new grille.
Production commenced for the 1974 model year, and Autocar noted ‘wisely, Innocenti have limited the Regent to two engine versions only: 1300 and 1500; both come fitted with twin carburettors’. The Regent was sold in only four-door guise with a choice of standard or L – “Lusso” – trim levels.
The former came with vinyl trimmed seats (less than ideal for a Rome summer), but at least the dashboard still boasted a tachometer. The latter was available only 1.5-litre form and featured a more opulent cabin and a black-painted (as opposed to vinyl) roof for additional distinction. One 1500L starred in an extremely entertaining TV/cinema advertising campaign -
By 1974 Innocenti had been making local interpretations of BMC and BL products for 14 years, including the Austin A40, the Mini, the ADO16 and the Austin-Healey Sprite. The company acquired by British Leyland in 1972 and at one time it had the best return on capital of any BL plant.
Furthermore, as Ben Wanklyn points out in his fascinating book Austin Allegro: An Enthusiast's Guide, the ADO67 was designed for European markets in mind, so an Italian version was a logical development. A Regent even appeared alongside Franco Nero in the vigilante drama Il Cittadino si Ribella.
Unfortunately, the Regent failed to lure motorists from their Alfasuds and Fiat 128s, and there were also issues with the build quality. According to the invaluable ARonline website - it was built for a mere eighteen months.
Some 11,213 examples appear to have left the Milanese plant but by 1976 Innocenti was part of the De Tomaso empire. All of which makes this 1300 one of the rarest and most fascinating aspects of the Allegro story.
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