Why you want an Austin Allegro
The Allegro is not worth 24 million pounds nor is it a breath-taking mix of design and craftsmen ship and nor is it particularly fast, particularly agile or even classy. In fact, like the granddaddy Land Rover Defender, it’s completely and utterly classless.
Back when it was new it may have told the world everything about you; you didn’t particularly care about your car choice; you couldn’t afford anything else; you proudly bought British. Currently it tells the world nothing about your wallet, aspirations, job or lifestyle. Along with the tidal wave of cars from that era, the Allegro is simply viewed as an ‘old’, sometimes ‘Classic’, car. It holds a notorious history that is the envy of most other cars, buried in political narration and so heavily a part of historical folklore that those who have never even clapped eyes on an Allegro know all the myths about it.
While it may have been the butt of jokes for nearly every 1980’s failing comedian it is, in fact, a work of art. As utterly perplexing as a film directed by Michael Winner and a stamp in time as much as flared trousers, glam rock and the space hopper, it’s simply got to be seen and driven to be believed.
There is no debate, it is nowhere near as bad as expected. It should have represented everything that was wrong with the decade that taste forgot, however, instead we met an icon that has been bullied and subjected to treatment no other car would put up with.
Ok, let’s face it, the design is repugnant, it has that face that only a mother could love and the 0-60 time requires a sun dial to gauge the record correctly. Furthermore, you need the stopping distance of a cargo tanker in order to fully come to a halt without degrading yourself but for all its faults it’s now loaded with retro-charm and it is unbelievably good fun.
The exhaust note is a dirty noise, not like the rude grumble of a V8 or the scream of a V12, but dirty in the sense that as soon as you start up the engine, the nasal thump puts a dirty great smile on your face. No matter how short the journey, regardless of whether you show it or not due to car snobbery, the All-agro will genuinely make you happy.
Getting to know the Allegro should have been shocking, but instead it was a pleasant surprise. Of course, it’s not to everyone’s taste, but you certainly wouldn’t say no.
On any normal journey, any other car in the world would have monstered it. We could have been comfortable, relaxed and not have felt like we were staring death in the face with every roundabout or right hand bend. But for the adventure that the weekend became, we wouldn’t have changed the Allegro for anything else in the world.
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