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For Sale: 23,000-mile ’82 Austin Ambassador looks factory fresh

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The 1982-1984 Austin Ambassador was the last iteration of what was once the Austin Princess, or just the Princess, or the 18-22 series, or the Raymond Luxury-Yacht. Or something like that. In any case, by 1982 the Ambassador was woefully dated despite finally featuring the one thing it should have had from new – a hatchback.

This 1.7-litre car is from the Ambassador’s launch year, and the nameplate survived only til March of 1984, succeeded by the Montego. It’s only done a piffling 23,000 miles from new, and it will be offered up to be auctioned on October 22nd by Roxby Garage in North Yorkshire.

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The fascinating thing about this car in this very colour combination is that with the photos mirrored, to have the steering wheel sit on the left, it would perfectly pass for a Soviet-built 1980s/1990s car. The now-hatchback shape is vaguely Moskvich Aleko -like, and when you peer inside, the feeling isn’t exactly lessened.

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Two-spoke steering wheel, beige plastic, questionable ergonomics, gauges that almost look like they belong: the car has Снова в СССР written all over it.

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Just look at the gauge cluster and tell me it’s from a British-built car. Yeah, despite the MPH markings.

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The 1.7-litre O-series engine produced 84 horsepower here, only about ten less than the 2.0-litre version.

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The spare tire cover looks like a repurposed raincoat.

But in all fairness, the example shown here is probably as nice as they come, and would make a lovely addition to a Malaise Era British car collection – together with a beige Triumph Acclaim and a rubber bumper MGB finished in a Saab brown.

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  • SlowJoeCrow

    I haven’t experienced CCCP cars up close and personal but this Ambassador seems clearly akin to an 86 Metro I did drive for a few days. By all accounts the Hydragas suspension makes these surprisingly good to drive although the engines are so-so.

  • roguetoaster

    There are some really funky engineering choices going on here, and I’m surprised no one else brought them up. From the center-mount distributor, the matching coolant caps (one for PS?) [one actually on the long block!], some sort of two-part intake tract (maybe a pre-heater/emissions cheat), siamesed intake/exhaust ports, single circuit brake system, (fender intake when there is so much engine bay space), gigantic exposed brake master, to the incredibly poorly placed washer fluid reservoir.

    • Sjalabais

      How can you tell it’s got a single circuit brake system? Isn’t that very strange for a car from the 80s?

      I also did see the Aleko initially. Not afraid to admit that I appreciate the childlike simplicity and utilitarianism of this design…

      • roguetoaster

        Admittedly, the image isn’t great, but it does look like there’s only one line off of the master, which would mean that the entire brake system is single circuit.

        Also wrote brake master above, and meant to have written clutch master. Anyhoo, it’s a very simple design, but it certainly could be far more simple (and probably inexpensive).

  • I’m still trying to figure out whether to do something about the Allegro that’s for sale locally, so I’ll hold off on this one.

    • Rover 1

      Also, sterling might fall a little further and make it effectively cheaper still?

  • Manic_King

    I also get Soviet vibe out of this. And owner wanted more Daimler -like luxury feel, took heater outlets away and replaced these with a plank of wood + some brass gauges in mid-dash? Hmmm.

  • boonie_the_loonie
  • The pensioner force is strong with this one.

    It smacks of being owned by a kindly, elderly gent, perhaps an ex-engineer, with an unnacountable level of pride for his entry-level medium British Leyland product. He likes the car, but wishes the design team had done things a little differently.

    Only that can explain his choosing to remove the dashboard centre air-vents and replace them with auxiliary gauges set into a piece of varnished plywood. Pensioner engineering at its finest.