Dumpy Weekend Edition: Liking the Austin Allegro is difficult

The Austin Allegro brings to mind Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky and his review of the German Hoffman car. In the video review, he concludes that every possible decision taken while designing the vehicle has been the absolute wrong one. That might not be the case with the Allegro, but it is difficult to follow the thought process where this design has been the end result. This was the best they could agree on.
But still, there’s something about the dumpy, wilfully ugly blob that I find endearing. It’s perfectly easy to liken it to a bulldog with some deeply regrettable genetic faults, but every dog has its day.

This image and the lede shot are some of the best pictures I’ve seen of the Allegro. They emphasise the square face in the round nose, the tall-tired stance, the somewhere-in-there panel gaps, the all-encompassing roundness. The tomato red Allegro really looks like it has been fashioned from a pumpkin.
And in the rear, no hatchback. That would have been too utilitarian for the Allegro, and it took until the 1975 estate version to rectify the loading capability dwarfed by the small opening.
In this X-ray image of the Innocenti Regent version, you see the tall engine that forbid the original design’s more sloping nose to be used. Yes, there was an Italian version manufactured for two years.
[youtube width=”720″ height=”480″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxYjCHGzXGs[/youtube]
Of course, the Allegro was also available as the Vanden Plas 1500 with an even taller grille.
Not all Allegros had the square “Quartic” steering wheel, and the Vanden Plas always came with the round one.
I might not be the first person to find the merits buried deep inside the Allegro’s amazingly misguided appearance, but I would drive one for a day, two, week or a fortnight. Ownership, however, would be a completely different proposition.

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  1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    What were they smoking when they came up with that Innocenti commercial?

    1. jim Avatar

      “Inspired” by Duel. Not sure how that was supposed to convince people to buy one…

  2. cronn Avatar

    To end up with an Allegro, you first had to decide against the Mk1 Golf. According to Wikipedia, 642350 people made the wrong decision.
    Ok, so the Allegro was out for a year or so before the Golf came around, but still.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      If the Hooniverse was around back then, I see several of us making misguided attempts at defending the Allegro against the market leader.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        I, for one, am not closely following any Golf ads, but I do know this is still available:

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Exactly – it’s not uncommon for low priced British class… old cars to show up more than once in the classifieds here either.
          Any chance you can dig out a parking garage under your new home?

      2. Van_Sarockin Avatar

        Speak for yourself. I took a photo of the tail badge of the first Rabbit Diesel I encountered in the wild.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar


  3. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    There’s nothing wrong with fashioning vehicles from pumpkins.
    There is a long history of this from before self powered vehicles.
    The trick is to stop it turning back into a pumpkin at midnight.
    Image by the litigious Disney Empire even though it’s not their idea.

  4. Jaap Avatar

    I want to recommend a short movie on youtube, it’s an in-companymovie from BL and it is called “the quality thing”.
    It communicates the thinking on quality from the very same company that brought us the Allegro.
    Watch it to gain deeper understanding on extentional crises.

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      The few Equipes left are prized.
      Though the Allegro never looked quite as sleek as the Harris Mann design sketches
      and the alternative quad light frontal styling also investigated would perhaps have taken away the narrow ‘teetering’ look and given a slight Reliant Scimitar/Ford Capri 3000 look.(Production on right for contrast)

  5. Frank T. Cat Avatar
    Frank T. Cat

    I just watched the episode of James May’s Cars of The People which included the Austin Allegro, and the final product compared to the original vision is uh… very different and unfortunate.

  6. Simon BiTurbo Avatar
    Simon BiTurbo

    Hmmm, I wonder if they had canted the engine over by about 45 degrees whether they’d have got a lower bonnet line. Can’t have been much more to it than a different inlet manifold and sump.
    Could have done with being a bit more clean-cut and angular as well. That was the direction the market was going and they failed to follow it.

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