Micropost: a mystery car?

It’s a mystery to me anyway. It turned up when I was researching clay models.


The associated images show lots of Austin vehicles and other prototypes. I suspect it’s a rejected design for the Maxi or Allegro. Presumably Driven to Write’s readers know more. As ever, it looks like a fabulous missed chance from Austin-Rover’s immense catalogue of missed chances.

“Brian Borchester-Brom, head of Canadian marketing rejected Project Foal because he hated the rear door handles and also did not see eye-to-eye with Len Lennington, head of advanced mid-sized vehicle planning and insisted on a 4-cylinder saloon with doors from the 1300….”

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

10 thoughts on “Micropost: a mystery car?”

  1. The front side wondows do look familiar, if only I could summon up where from.
    The front itself is just a Chevette knock-off.

    But the door handles should be the biggest clue. Acclaim?

    Looks as if the whole front end tips forward, a la Triumph Herald.

    Yet why do I keep thinking Citroën?

  2. Wiki item…in 1972 at the Earls Court Motor Show a competition was staged by The Daily Telegraph, the Institute of British Coachbuilders and Motor Manufactures (later incorporated into the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) to design a futuristic concept car based on a Maxi. The winning design was done by young talented designer Chris Field, and the prize was to have his design on paper turned into reality. The “Aquila” was constructed by Woodhall Nicolson, of Halifax with help from Lucas, Smiths (Motor Accessory Division & Radiomobile) and Triplex. The resultant car was then exhibited at the 1973 show and then given to Field. He then went on the design speed cycles with help from Lotus and his designs for high speed cycles have been used through subsequent Olympic teams. The car itself still survives at Poole in Dorset.

  3. More info and a few more photos here:


    It is a great design, especially considering the car it’s based on. The rear lights look impossibly slim, and it seems as though the door frames extend up into the drip rail – surprisingly modern for 1972/3. The front overhang is rather long to my eyes, but otherwise it’s a lovely thing.

    It’s not too dissimilar to Pininfarina’s Aerodynamica ideas, based on the mechanicals of the BMC 1100 and 1800, yet the Aquila looks a more realistic production option:



  4. I seem to remember seeing the Aquila in the showroom of a dealership in Paignton,Devon. It was not for sale but Chris Field, I believe, lived in nearby Totnes.
    Pity Austin Rover didn’t use it as the replacement for the Maxi, they probably will have sold loads on looks alone.
    Do you know if it is still owned by Chris Field.

  5. Vic, I also thought Citroën here. Hints could be the grille-less front and the rear wheelarch. But I also saw the similarities to the Aerodinamica concepts – given their influence on the GS and the CX, it makes me think of them as well.

  6. Whatever became of the Daily Telegraph car design competition?

    The only other winner I’m aware of was the Cirrus, which won the year before the Aquila. Based on the Escort RS1600, and realised by the same hearse builders as the Aquila, it was the work of one Michael Moore, who worked in Chrysler UK’s styling department. Some very evident Chrysler themes are evident, although Moore claimed Citröen influence.

    1. Hello Robertas – I think the competition cost too much for those involved, so it didn’t run for long. I wonder if it was inspired by the ‘Probe 16’ concept, which was subsequently used in the film ‘A Clockwork Orange’.


      While looking at the Probe 16, I came across this site (the usual apologies if everyone’s already aware of it). It lists and briefly describes old concept vehicles (Alfa page as an example).


  7. Today, the DailyMail (I know, I know,…) inexplicably published their own list of the ugliest cars from the 70s onward. The allegro is in there sadly. As is the Morris Marina and the Lancia Beta. The unusual thing about this list is that it says how many of the cars are left today. Apparently there are 198 Allegros and 124 Betas left. Not sure if in the UK only or worldwide.

    Beauty is subjective but we do find the usual suspects in the form of the Fiat Multipla and the SsangYong Rodius (Iam so proud that I can write SsangYong without looking up its spelling).

    A few of them surprised me as I wouldn’t consider them ‘ugly’ per se, like the Opel Frontera or the Nissan Cube.
    Anyway here’s the link to Satan’s newspaper:


    1. You know, thinking about the Rodius, I think its perceived ugliness has actually put Ssangyong on the map: its design was so talked about at the time, when many people had no idea who Ssangyong was. I would’ve never known how to spell Ssangyong if it wasn’t for the Rodius being considered ‘ugly’.

    2. I’ve just been on the French Ssangyong website and the first thing I noticed is their slogan, unknown to me until now: “Be yourself !”. Lol, isn’t that the kind of things someone who’s been branded ‘ugly’ all their life would say ?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.