On this day in auto history – May 16th

Sun 16th May 2021

It was on this day in 1973 that British Leyland first unveiled its much-maligned Austin Allegro.

Designed by Mini architect Sir Alec Issigonis, the Allegro was a small family car which was produced as a replacement for the Austin 1100 and 1300 models.

Despite selling well throughout its nine year production run, the car became an emblem of the turmoil facing British Leyland during that period.

In particular, the Allegro was badly criticised for a number of design flaws, including its awkward gear change. In fact, its reputation for unreliability was such that it earned the nickname of the ‘All Aggro’ for much of the 1970’s with a couple of facelifts doing little to improve its credibility with the motoring press.

In spite of all the bad publicity, the Allegro continued to sell well. As late as 1979, six years after its launch, it was still the fifth best-selling car in Britain, though it failed to make any real impact in export markets.

The decision to pull the plug on the Allegro and replace it with the Austrin Maestro was taken in 1982 but the backlog of unsold models remained sufficient to stock dealerships into 1983 with the vehicle selling almost 650,000 models in all.

In July 1998 a poll conducted by The Sun named the Austin Allegro as the worst British car ever made.