Austin Allegro publicity shot.jpg
Austin Allegro
Austin · Morris · Riley · Vanden Plas · Wolseley
aka Vanden Plas 1500

Vanden Plas 1.5 Vanden Plas 1.7 Innocenti Regent

Production 1973-1982
Class Small family
Body Style 4 dr 4 seat Sedan
Length 3,861 mm (152 in)
Width 1,600 mm (63 in)
Height 1,397 mm (55 in)
Wheelbase 2,438 mm (96 in)
Weight 819 kg
Transmission 4 speed Manual
5 speed Manual, FWD
Engine 1.3 litre 4 cylinder A-Series
Power 1973–75: 1,098 cc (67.0 cu in) A-Series Straight-4, 49 hp (37 kW; 50 PS) at 5250 rpm and 60 lb·ft (81 N·m; 8 kg·m) at 2450 rpm

1975–80: 1,098 cc (67.0 cu in) A-Series Straight-4, 45 hp (34 kW; 46 PS) at 5250 rpm and 55 lb·ft (75 N·m; 8 kg·m) at 2900 rpm 1973–80: 1,275 cc (77.8 cu in) A-Series Straight-4, 59 hp (44 kW; 60 PS) at 5300 rpm and 69 lb·ft (94 N·m; 10 kg·m) at 3000 rpm 1980–82: 998 cc (60.9 cu in) A-Plus Straight-4, 44 hp (33 kW; 45 PS) at 5250 rpm and 52 lb·ft (71 N·m; 7 kg·m) at 3000 rpm

1980–82: 1,275 cc (77.8 cu in) A-Plus Straight-4, 62 hp (46 kW; 63 PS) at 5600 rpm and 72 lb·ft (98 N·m; 10 kg·m) at 3200 rpm 1973–82: 1,485 cc (90.6 cu in) E-Series Straight-4, 69 hp (51 kW; 70 PS) at 5600 rpm and 83 lb·ft (113 N·m; 11 kg·m) at 3200 rpm 1973–82: 1,748 cc (106.7 cu in) E-Series Straight-4, 76 hp (57 kW; 77 PS) at 5000 rpm and 104 lb·ft (141 N·m; 14 kg·m) at 3100 rpm 1974–?: 1,748 cc (106.7 cu in) E-Series twin-carburetted Straight-4, 90 hp (67 kW; 91 PS) at 5000 rpm and 104 lb·ft (141 N·m; 14 kg·m) at 3100 rpm

Similar Morris Marina
Alfa Romeo Alfasud
Designer Designer (lead designer if it was a team effort)

The Austin Allegro was a British small family car produced from 1973 until 1983.

It was built at the Longbridge plant in Birmingham, West Midlands, England. Production started in early 1973, with the first customers taking delivery in April. It replaced the British Leyland 1100/1300 range which had been sold under Austin, Morris, Riley, Vanden Plas and Wolseley badges since its launch in 1962.

The Allegro came with front-wheel drive and a choice of four petrol engines - 1.1, 1.3, 1.5 and 1.75. The two smaller engined models had a four-speed gearbox, while the 1.5 and 1.75 had five-speed gearboxes.

A facelift in late 1979 saw the 1.1 replaced with a 1.0, and since 1976 a three-door estate had been available alongside the two- and four-door saloons.

Production finished at the end of 1982 on the launch of its successor, the Maestro.

The Allegro received much criticism during its production life for doubtful build quality, indifferent reliability and proneness to rust. Despite this, it was one of the best selling cars of its era, although it is now a rare sight.

See Autopedia's comprehensive Austin Allegro Review.

Recent Changes

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Third generation (1979–1982)

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 IIIand Vauxhall Astra, both launched within a year of the Allegro's facelift. The cosmetic alterations were fairly minimal; the Allegro 3 gained a new grill with the revised Leyland badge; it carried the 'Allegro 3' name, bore a larger bumper and gained additional side indicators. The interior was modernised with new components such as a new round four spoke steering wheel.

British Leyland entered the small hatchback market – pioneered during the 1970s by the likes of the Renault 5 and Volkswagen Polo – with its Metro which was launched in October 1980. The Metro would be built at the Longbridge plant, which had just been expanded to provide adequate production capacity for the new car. But with BL hoping to sell more than 100,000 Metros a year in Britain alone, more capacity for production was needed and production of the Allegro and the Mini were pruned back as a result.

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 by the large sales figures achieved by the smaller Metro, as well as the fact that the slightly larger Triumph Acclaim was among Britain's top 10 selling cars by 1982.

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

Some models of Allegro 3 (the early HL and later HLS models) were equipped with four round headlights, rather than the more usual two rectangular ones.

Allegro production, which had lasted for nearly a decade, finally finished in March 1982. Its successor, the Austin Maestro, went into production in December 1982 and was officially launched on 1 March 1983. The backlog of unsold Allegro 3 models remained sufficient to stock dealerships into 1983 until after the Maestro had launched.

Second generation (1975–1979)

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.

Since the original Allegro had been launched more than two years earlier, several of BL's key rivals in Europe had launched new competitors - these included the MK2 Ford Escort, as well as the ground breaking and highly acclaimed Volkswagen Golf. A popular Japanese rival, the 120Y generation of the Datsun Sunny, had also been launched in Europe soon after the Allegro. General Motors had also introduced a slightly smaller car, the Vauxhall Chevette, which majored on practicality to rival larger vehicles due to its hatchback body.

At the end of 1976 British Leyland confirmed that they were holding exploratory talks with trades union representatives concerning the possible transfer of Allegro production from Longbridge to the company's plant at Seneffe in Belgium. The Belgian plant was already assembling the cars for continental European markets using CKD kits shipped from the UK. The stated objective of the transfer was to free up capacity at Longbridge for the manufacture of the forthcoming ADO88 Minireplacement. In the event, the ADO88 project was abandoned and the eventual Mini replacement, the less ambitiously engineered Austin Metro, did not reach the market place for another four years. Whether for reasons of politics or of customer demand or of cost, at a time of rapid currency realignment, Allegros for the UK market continued to be manufactured in the UK; the Belgian plant was closed in the early 1980s, by which time Allegro demand in continental Europe had faltered and BLMC's Austin-Morris division clearly had more production capacity than product demand.

Some models of Allegro 2 made for non-UK markets were equipped with four round headlights, rather than the usual two rectangular units.

Only weeks before the launch of the Allegro 3, 1979 saw the release of the 1.7l Allegro Equipe; a two-door sport style model in silver with red and orange hockey stick-shaped cheatlines and alloy wheels manufactured by GKN. The car was unveiled to the press at Sherburn-in-Elmet in North Yorkshire without the distinctive trim. The Equipe was intended to compete with the Golf GT and the Escort RS; by now though the aging Allegro with its lack of hatchback and dated styling struggled to compete against these offerings and sales were poor.

First Generation/Origins (YYYY–YYYY)


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Design quirks and oddities

  • Common misconceptions such as the rear window would fall out if jacked up and that they rusted badly. As it happens, neither were true and came about due to some misquotes from a Longbridge engineer for a car magazine a few months after the car was launched. The Allegro was probably one of the best rust proofed car of the era.
  • Another popular misconception is that the Austin Allegro is more aerodynamic in reverse than driving forwards. While having some truth to it, most cars that have a grille are less aerodynamic at the front than at the back. This theory was tested on Top Gear
  • An Austin Allegro Police Car was used in the filming of the TV series Life On Mars.


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See also

Automobiles made by BMC, BL and Rover Group companies
Austin | Austin-Healey | British Leyland | Jaguar | MG | Morris | Riley | Rover | MG Rover | Triumph | Vanden Plas | Wolseley
Austin models: A40 | Cambridge | Westminster | A35 | A30 | Mini | 1100/1300 | Mini Moke | 1800 | 3-Litre | Maxi | Allegro | Mini Metro | Maestro | Montego
Austin-Healey models: 100 | 3000 | Sprite
British Leyland models: Princess | P76 (Australia only)
Jaguar models: XJ6 | XJ12 | XJS
Morris models: Minor | Oxford | Cowley | Mini | 1100/1300 | 1800 | Marina/Ital
MG models: MGA | Magnette | Midget | Montego | MGB | MGC | 1100/1300 | MG RV8 | MG F/TF | MG ZT | MG ZR | MG ZS | MG SV
Riley models: Pathfinder | 2.6 | 1.5 | 4/68 | Elf | Kestrel
Rover models: P3 | P4 | P5 | P6 | SD1 | 25 | 75 (post-P4) | 45 | 400 | 200 | 100 (post-P4) | 800 | 600 | CityRover | Estoura | Streetwise
Triumph models: Herald | Spitfire | Vitesse | GT6 | Stag | TR7 | Toledo | 1300 |1500 | 2000 | 2.5 & 2500 | Dolomite | Acclaim
Vanden Plas models: Princess | 3-Litre | 1100/1300
Wolseley models: 4/44 | 6/90 | 15/50 | 1500 | 16/60 | 6/99 | 6/110 | Hornet | 1100/1300 | 18/85
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