In the fourth of a short series, I will remind readers of what was on sale in 1984, courtesy of the much missed “World Car Guide”.
What do the De Tomaso Deauville and the Mini have in common? The answer is a relationship to the Innocenti Tre rooted in the fact De Tomaso developed the car from the Italian Mini. Bertone designed the hatchback body for the Tre (three doors), giving it a little extra over the two-door Mini. Further adding to the Tre’s mongrel status is that the engine is a
Daihatsu 3-cylinder engine with a balancer shaft and a five-speed gearbox. In place of the infernal Mini rubber suspension, Innocenti chose coil-spring struts and a transverse leaf-spring with wishbone and damper struts at the rear. It managed 93 mph hour in top. Quite who Innocenti imagined this car might appeal to is hard to say. It’s potentially quite a neat-handling car with tidy styling, possibly being a pre-cursor to the market later occupied by the Lancia Y.
From Britain, the Metro offers an interesting counter-point to the Tre, retaining the Hydrolastic suspension concept but with 3 doors and the possibility of a Brougham-version, the Vanden Plas. The engine outranks the Tre, with a 1275 cc four-cylinder but falls back with only four-speeds. If Cadillac’s Cimmaron showed how far that brand had fallen, Austin´s use of the VdP nameplate on a car based on a four-grand city car displayed a British equivalent. Just two decades earlier, VdP cars
had Rolls-Royce engines and a certain cachet. The Metro didn’t have a better engine but more features: like power windows, more instruments, cassette player and, of course, wood trim on the door caps and the dashboard. Leather, fog lights and automatic transmission. In 1981 the name could be found embellishing the boot of the Daimler Double Six which sold for £26,000. This sort of thing defines trading on a name. I expect that the VdP versions have a small but passionate following. Can you find one today? Yes, in Wiltshire.
(Ranwhenparked have some nice photos of the car which I did not feel like copying over. You can see the them here. They also provided the feature list.)