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Homepage. This page: Four photos of a 1970's BL Allegro estate formerly owned by a visitor to this site.

Austin Allegro estate.

Along with some photos of earlier classic cars, Roger kindly sent over the following photos of the Austin Allegro estate he owned in the early 1980s. I think the estate version of the All-aggro (as it was occasionally referred to "back in the day") was quite a tidy looking car, and easier on the eye than the dumpy saloon, which, if the early design drawings are anything to go by, was originally destined to be quite a sharp-looking modern design (for the 1970s at any rate). However the design was watered down over time, resulting in the Allegro that we came to know in the 1970s, a car I remember as a child being called the "blob".
The estate though is a much happier looking shape I think, and looks like it was designed as an estate from the outset, rather than as a saloon on to which a boxy rear end had been grafted on. A friend of mine's mum bought a brand new "S" registration estate to replace their Fiat 127, painted in British Leyland's lurid bright orange of the time. I can still smell the brushed nylon interior now, and recall how my backside would meet a rear crossmember beneath the seat squab whenever I sat down in it quickly (I wasn't remotely portly as a nipper either).
Of the white car shown on this page, Roger remembers:
"I bought this in Gt. Yarmouth on return from Singapore in 1981, and loved the smooth ride due to the Hydragas suspension. It reminded me of a Citroen DS19 I used in Kenya for a while. For it's small size the estate did very well. I remember picking up my family from Heathrow in 1982, wife, 3 kids and a pile of luggage then driving all the way up to Scotland. As part of my early RAF engineering trade of instruments & electrical I went to town on the inside of the car, decking it out with supplementary instrument panels with several engine and electrical instruments, sort of made me feel 'at home'. I had the car for several years with only one problem with the suspension when it needed re-gassing. The photos were taken along the shoreline of the Firth-of-Forth near Edinburgh circa 1982/3."
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
Austin Allegro estate in white
The second of Roger's photos is a rear view of the Allegro. The large rear windows made parking the cars quite easy, something that designers of today's estates could do well to remember.
Rear view of the Allegro car
Next, a nearside-front view of the white Allegro.
Nearside front view
The last of Roger's colour photographs sees the car at rest, on a gravel driveway.
Parked car
The Allegro was introduced in 1973, as a replacement for the successful and innovative BMC 1100/1300 range. While the outgoing car had proved to be a huge success throughout the 1960s, the Allegro didn't continue this run of form. Whether as a car it was any worse or better than contemporaries from the BL stable such as the Marina, the Princess, or the Maxi, or cars produced by rivals such as Ford and Vauxhall is open to debate. None of them was particularly rust-resistant (if anything the Allegro was above average in this regard), and reliability woes dogged many a British car, at a time when the products of the Far East were beginning to establish a foothold in the UK market. Union strife, mass strikes, and bungled management conspired to damage the reputation of British-built cars for decades to come.
The estate version of the Allegro hit the showrooms in 1975, joining the two- and four-door saloons. The estate was initially offered with the 1275cc A-Series OHV engine, or the 1485cc E-Series OHC engine. A 1750cc E-Series version would join the range with the introduction of the Series 3 in 1979. The model continued in production until 1983.
Many of the surviving Allegros are preserved by an enthusiastic band of owners who enjoy the car's relative simplicity, its scarcity, and accept its shortcomings. Time has not been kind to the Allegro's reputation and even as recently as 2008 it was voted as the worst British car ever made by the readership of a certain newspaper. I remember seeing 1970's footage of a saloon being vigorously roadtested on the BBC's "Wheelbase" programme, the fore-runner to Top Gear, with the Allegro hopping around wildly as it negotiated a series of twisting bends. The book "Cr*p Cars" wasn't over-enthralled with it either. It certainly wasn't the best car ever made, even in the 1970s, but it probably wasn't the worst either.
Free classified ads for parts can be found on the Allegro ads page.
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