Tuesday May 14, 2019
Any Series 3 version of the Austin Allegro is now quite an exclusive sight. They debuted in late 1979 and production ceased in March of 1982; some readers will almost certainly recall the wonderfully bad television advert – Sales continued for many moths after the last S3 departed the factory and Bob Weaver’s Y-registered 1750 is not just a rare surviving example of an Allegro saloon – it is also a stupendously rare London Metropolitan Police CID car.
Bob is a long-standing police vehicle enthusiast and he came across the Allegro ‘in a local garage about 15 to 20 years ago. I knew it was an ex-Met car from its number plate and so I wrote to the DVLA for more details. The overall condition was not too bad, and I was helped with sourcing its police kit by Ray Seal’ – a gentleman who has done so much for police vehicle preservation in the UK.
The Met began using Allegro Panda Cars in the early 1970s as a replacement for their ADO16s, but Bob’s car is believed to be the only surviving CID transport. Naturally it was never intended to be a “High Speed Pursuit Vehicle”, which is just as well.
As was common practice for London police cars, the Weaver Allegro sports automatic transmission which in combination with a 1,750cc engine makes, in the words of its proud owner, for ‘Acceleration that leaves a little to be desired’. Any gang of hoods making their getaway from the West End in a Jaguar XJ12 S3 would have arrived at their rendezvous in Southampton Docks when the Allegro was still on the outskirts of Shepperton.
In reality, the Austin was most likely to have been used to transport detectives to the scene of the crime or for general station duties. Bob points out that the interior is ‘standard Allegro’, as opposed to “Police Specification”’ and the special equipment includes two-note horns, a PYE radio-set with covers, a stick-on “Police” sign that adhered to the front screen or a sun visor. Best of all there is a clip-on blue beacon, that made an Allegro 1750 S3 appear (almost) as dynamic as the Ford Torino of Starsky and Hutch.
The Allegro served with the Met for three years and Bob is still learning of its history - including where it was based. NYX 356 Y is a priceless chapter in the story of one of British Leyland’s most controversial models – and it is easy to image it being used by Detective-Sergeant Chisholm and Detective-Constable Jones in yet another fruitless raid on Arthur Daley’s car lot…