Tag Archives: Allegro

Heavy Electricity – Leyland Crompton Electricar

The Leyland Crompton Electicar was a concept designed to look at the future of motoring in 1972.

Leyland Crompton Electricar, British Motor Museum, Gaydon

To keep the costs down the car was designed to make use of many standard Mini parts.

Leyland Crompton Electricar, British Motor Museum, Gaydon

Power came from 2 3.9hp electric motors that were fed by no less than 24 standard lead acid batteries.

Leyland Crompton Electricar, British Motor Museum, Gaydon

The body was by Michelotti and the interior featured a Quartic steering wheel, that, despite it’s space saving practicality, would become the butt of many jokes when introduced with the Austin Allegro production car the following year.

Leyland Crompton Electricar, British Motor Museum, Gaydon

Top speed for the Electricar was 33 mph and the range dependent on gradient and other operating conditions was 40 miles.

Leyland Crompton Electricar, British Motor Museum, Gaydon

Electricar was fitted with an on board charger that could be plugged into a house hold socket, operating costs at 1972 prices were of the order of a penny per mile.

Leyland Crompton Electricar, British Motor Museum, Gaydon

Weighing a third more than a regular powered petrol powered Mini, thanks to those lead acid batteries, the Electricar seen here at the British Motor Museum Gaydon was shown to the public for the first time at the 1972 Geneva Motor Show.

Thanks for joining me on this “Heavy Electricity” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Mercedes Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


The Gearless Green Car – Mini 9X ADO20

Today’s featured British Leyland Motor Corporation Mini 9X test car was built to trial the replacement overhead cam engine intended to replace the BMC ‘A’ series push rod that had been introduced in 1951 along with the Austin A30, and a new gearless transmission.

The single overhead cam eight valve four cylinder engine has a capacity of 1500 cc / 91.5 cui with a rubber belt driving the cam, when tested it produced 50hp at 4000 rpm.

BLMC Mini 9X ADO20, Atwell Wilson Motor Museum

Despite achieving only 20 hours running time over 4 and half weeks on a test bed in 1975 due to leaks and other faults this car was regularly driven up until 1987 with only a cam belt failure on the M5 in 1982 during high speed testing.

The transmission consists of a torque converter and a mechanical final drive sourced from an Austin Allegro, the only gear options being forwards or reverse.

BLMC Mini 9X ADO20, Atwell Wilson Motor Museum

Other novel features on the 9X test cars were a redesigned nose, vertical strut suspension, this car was also fitted with competition aluminium doors, with sliding windows and original ADO15 type exterior hinges and boot lid, the unique bonnet and wings were also in weight saving aluminium, the original doors and boot lid corroded and have been replaced by steel items.

Four ADO20 Minis were converted to house the 9X transmission three of which also had the 9X single overhead cam engine also fitted, today’s example seen at the Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, Calne, was the second to be converted and the first to be fitted with the 9X engine, known at the factory as The Green Car, originally painted Connaught Green, resprayed in 1985 to the current Tundra Green, it was purchased in 1975 by the father of the Mini Sir Alec Issigonis who used it as his preferred transport for many years until he sold it back to Austin Rover as BLMC had become.

One prototype to an all new 9X design featuring the overhead cam engine, gearless transmission, front strut suspension and hatchback tailgate was built before the project was cancelled leaving the Mini in production until 2000 having out lived it’s eventual successor the Austin miniMetro that was in production from 1980 to 1997.

Thanks for joining me on this “The Gearless Green Car” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Mercedes Monday, don’t forget to come back now !


Breakfast – Redhill Village Hall

Last Sunday I joined my friend Nick in his Mustang GT for a drive over to Redhill Village Hall, where a select gathering of petrolheads gathered for an excellent breakfast.

Vauxhall 30 90, Redhill Village Hall

When I first came across this 1922 Vauxhall 30/90 at an Avenue Drivers Club meeting a couple of years ago it had just had the wooden frame for it’s body panels rebuilt. The panels have been refitted but there is still some way to go with the upholstery before the restoration is complete.

Audi 200 Quattro, Redhill Village Hall

Fifteen years after becoming the first foreigner to win the Safari Rally, Hannu Mikkola repeated the feat in 1987 in one of his last appearances for Audi driving a 200 Turbo Quattro in what would be his final World Championship Rally win. The 220 hp 20 valve 5 cylinder motor above powers a car that is a stripped and stickered up to replicate the car that Hannu drove.

Jaguar XK150, Redhill Village Hall

Two days after celebrating its 56th Anniversary since it’s registration for use on British roads was this 1958 Jaguar XK150.

Ford Consul, Redhill Village Hall

Bristling with extra’s including sun visor, rear view mirrors and a hand operated spot light was this 1959 Ford Consul.

Austin Allegro, Redhill Village Hall

One of the design criteria for the Austin Allegro was that the styling should eschew mainstream trends and so British Leyland reinvented the steering wheel, it’s quartic wheel afforded the driver extra leg room. While many laughed at this feature at the time perversely it foresaw, by several decades, the arrival of the modern open wheel competition steering wheel.

Ford V8 Deluxe Fordor Sedan, Redhill Village Hall

Finally this Ford embossed tailpipe appeared on a 1938 Ford V8 Deluxe Fordor Sedan.

Thanks for joining me on this “Breakfast” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Maserati Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Classic Run – Chipping Sodbury

Today’s visit to Chipping Sodbury looks at a selection of the British vehicles taking part in the Classic Run.

Hillman Super Imp, Classic Run, Chipping Sodbury

My friend Spence, who was the navigator in this 1972 Hillman Super Imp, advised me the event was happening.

Bristol 405, Classic Run, Chipping Sodbury

The unadulterated Chipping Sodbury sunshine really set off the metallic Green paint work on this 1955 Bristol 405.

Daimler Sovereign 4.2, Classic Run, Chipping Sodbury

Motorsport in this country would come to a stand still without volunteer marshals and one of the most avid I have come across is called Mark Benstock, who most weekends can be found marshaling at a sprint or rally almost anywhere in the UK. During a rare weekend off he took his 1976 Daimler Sovereign 4.2 for a spin on a busman’s holiday as travelling marshal for the event.

Jaguar XJS Le Mans, Classic Run, Chipping Sodbury

To celebrate the Le Mans Victories in 1988 of the Tom Walkinshaw Racing Jaguars in 1988 and 1990 JaguarSport produced a limited edition of 280 ‘Celebration Le Mans’ models, like the one above, with US spec round head lights, upgraded V12 motor and suspension along with an id plate on the door tread showing the model number. Coincidentally this car is up for sale on e-bay, usual disclaimers apply.

Rolls Royce Corniche Silver Spirit II, Classic Run, Chipping Sodbury

When I arrived at Chipping Sodbury a call went out on the tanoy for a volunteer to take a ride in this 1989 Rolls Royce Corniche Silver Spirit II, unfortunately I had prior commitments but if I go again I’ll make sure I have the afternoon free.

Austin Allegro, Classic Run, Chipping Sodbury

Wrapping up the event on the road was this delightful 1982 Austin Allegro 3 HL, a design that was hampered by some early 1970’s in house dogma that dictated it should not be available as a hatchback. The Allegro 3 was replaced in 1983 with the Austin Maestro hatchback.

Thanks for joining me on this Classic Run edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Americana Thusday which will be coming from Yate. Don’t forget to come back now !


Nice Door Handles – Morris Marina ADO 28

With the merger of Jaguar with British Motor Corporation in 1966 the new merger was renamed British Motor Holdings and after a further merger with Leyland commercial vehicles the corporation became known as British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968. British Leyland as it was known decided that the Austin and Morris brands should be differentiated in the early 1970’s with Austin vehicles being based around the front wheel drive (FWD) concept pioneered by Ales Issignosis with models like the Mini, 1100 and 1800 series vehicles while Morris vehicles would be more traditional with front engines driving rear axles (RWD) as they had on the Morris Minor and Morris Oxford models.

Morris Marina, Bristol Classic Car Show, Shepton Mallet

The design of the Marina coded ADO 28 was started by Roy Haynes who’s CV included the design of the popular Mk II Ford Cortina, however a disagreement over a common floor pan to share between models as espoused by Roy led to him quitting and Triumph Designer Harry Webster finishing the job by which time the intended Macpherson strut front suspension had been abandoned in favour of Morris Minor style tortion bars and a new gearbox design was abandoned in favour of an existing item from the Triumph parts bin.

Morris Marina, Atwell Wilson Museum, Calne

All in all the development costs of the conservative RWD concept Marina ended up exceeding those of the more radical FWD Allegro which was developed to be Austin’s competitor in the small family car market. Production facilities at Cowley had to be upgraded which included some comedy as an overpass was built so that the motors could be sent from a plant on the opposite side of a municipal road to the assembly plant, no sooner had the overpass been completed than the municipality offered to sell the road which British Leyland did not think twice to accept.

Morris Marina, Qwara, Malta

On a positive note the AMC Ambassador inspired vertical hinged door handles were a huge hit with Lotus founder Colin Chapman who specified them for use on the Lotus Elite, Eclat and Esprit models, Marina door handles were also adopted by Scimitar for the GTE shooting break while British Leyland used the same handles on the Triumph TR7/TR8, Austin Allegro and they eventually even found their way, finished in matt black, onto the Land Rover Discovery Series I.

Morris Marina, Cotswolds Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

Marina cars were powered by a variety of motors most common of which for the UK market was a 57 hp 4 cylinder A series which did not do much for performance but kept the handling within safer limits than the heavier more powerful motors which promoted lane changing understeer / push which induced the odd brown trousers moment for some Marina pilots.

Morris Marina, Cotswolds Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

The Marinas seen here are in order top to bottom a ’72 Coupé at the Bristol Classic Car Show, Shepton Mallet, ’74 Twin Carburettor saloon sedan at the Atwell Wilson Museum, a Maltese 1500 saloon / sedan with after market alloy wheels and waist trim in Qwara, a ’79 Estate and ’72 Coupé both at the Cotswolds Classic Car Club meeting held at Frogsmill, Andoversford and below a saloon / sedan with an unusually straight rear bumper seen at last years Classics at the Castle, Sherborne.

Morris Marina, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne

Although much derided for almost every detail apart from the door handles the undemanding early 70’s British public lapped up Marina’s painted in tepid colours like Russet Brown, Harvest Gold, and Limeflower Green for the car to peak at second in the sales charts behind the Ford Cortina in 1973 and remain in the top 3 or 4 until 1980. Eventually over 897,000 Marina’s were sold in the UK of which 745 are thought to remain on British roads.

Thanks for joining me on this “Nice Door Handles” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !