The Austin Allegro has been much-maligned over the years, but would its opulent cousin, the Vanden Plas, fare any better? Time to get one in the workshop.
Many a British Classic has been through the Wheeler Dealers workshop, but never one featuring this famous Austin Allegro badge. An unfinished project, Mike felt it was unloved but Elvis was somewhat sceptical. Would he change his mind?
Before going any further Elvis needed to fit hubs and wheels before it could be rolled out of the garage where it had stood for seven years. It looked in sound condition, with a luxurious interior and smart-looking engine bay, but amongst the jobs to do it was obvious some repainting would be needed. But the price? Just £1500.
First, though, could the master mechanic even get it started? Not wanting to take any risks he applied penetrating oil to the cylinder bores, drained the old petrol and replaced it with fresh stuff, and changed the oil and filter and fitted new spark plugs. There was still a fault with the electronic ignition system, but that was easily fixed and the Vanden Plas was running.
Next job was the suspension, Elvis discovering a front ball joint with excessive play. Rather than replace it he was able to make adjustments by removing one of the shims and the problem was soon fixed. But the car was also sitting too low, measurement showing the gap between the wheel-arch and the centre of the wheel to be 308mm instead of the correct 373mm. Using specialist equipment, he was able to pump-up the clever Hydragas system.
In the meantime, Mike had gone to see the experts at Wicked Coatings. There, he hoped to revive the damaged veneer dashboard with a clever process that involved applying a transfer. You might remember it from the Mazda RX-7 that appeared in Series 11. After choosing a finish that replicated the original appearance, the result looked brilliant and would really improve the opulent interior.
There was just one more major task ahead, and that was addressing the unfinished paintwork. The front of the car looked great, but there was re-painting to be done at the back so the first job was getting the perfect colour match. Specialist, Nick, used a spectrometer to analyse a good area of paint – in this case, the front wing – which his colleague, Kelly, was able to match to perfection.
The Austin Allegro Vanden Plas was back from the paint shop, and looked terrific, and all that was left for Elvis to do was to refit the dashboard and apply a few finishing touches. The latest project was complete, and the boys had done a cracking job. And all for a total cost of just £2811. But what would other car enthusiasts think?
The test drive took them to the Cotswolds where they could meet the owners of other cars that divided opinion, but there was plenty of praise for this much-maligned classic. And buyer, Paul, loved it and was happy to pay the asking price of £3000.
It had been a successful restoration that got a rare model back on the road, and while not everyone is a fan of the Austin Allegro Vanden Plas we love it here at Mike Brewer Motoring. Why don’t you tell us what you think?
Mike says: “Honestly, theres no other car show on the planet that would feature an Allegro, shame as they aren’t all that bad and we prove that the other end of the classic car market is thriving with these often overlooked urban heroes.
This allegro was a bit more of a challenge from the off, that meant that I had to take Elvis with me on the buy. I knew to have a chance of buying it we would have to get it rolling first.
It’s never easy taking on someone else’s project as often you have to undo some of the work, but Gwynn’s husband had been a trooper before his illness and gave us a really good base to start with.
We enjoyed this build and the fact that we saved a car from the scrapper and put it in the hands of a real fan who will enjoy it for years to come.”
Find more info:
discovery UK Wheeler Dealers
Join the club:
Vanden Plas Owners Club