Running With Scissors [Part Four]

Hydragas was Allegro’s big innovation. But was it the right one?

Image: classiccarcatalogue

The Moulton factor

While scoping the successor to any best-selling product, there is always something of a tension between the urge to innovate and the desire to maintain continuity. The Allegro’s predecessor had been a technically advanced automobile, marking the production debut of Alex Moulton’s interconnected Hydrolastic suspension. This not only conferred a comfort advantage over (most of) its contemporaries, but taken in combination with ADO16’s impressive handling, lent the 1100 superior overall dynamic qualities.

These were not attributes to be cast aside lightly, and certainly, speaking at Allegro’s launch, BLMC Technical Director, Harry Webster suggested that the message of continuity had not been ignored. With engines and transmissions being carried-over, Webster told reporters that Allegro’s suspension had been his team’s priority, continuing along the pathway forged by ADO16, but with cost and weight saving being paramount.

The previous system had been criticised for at times, an over-firm ride – attributed to the the inherent stiffness of the rubber springs – and over-soft damping, which could induce pitching, dive and squat under certain conditions. It was also relatively bulky and expensive to produce, a problem for a mass-market car whose profitability was marginal. In fairness to ADO16 lead engineer, Charles Griffin and the former Longbridge engineering team however, a significantly revised version with new improved subframes to aid NVH suppression had been readied prior to the 1968 merger, but this promising reboot of the UK’s best-seller was ditched under new management.

Despite Webster’s warm words to the men of the press[1], he seemingly wanted nothing to do with the Issigonis era cars, rejecting the idea of a reskinned ADO16 and pushing for an all-new design. Indeed, it appears that both Stokes and Webster wanted the Moulton suspension system axed entirely to save costs, but this was resisted by its imperator, whose arguments against so doing won the day[2].

Alex Moulton had not been idle[3] in the intervening years following ADO16’s debut, Hydrolastic having undergone a process of continuous development. On earlier cars, the interconnection ports had emerged from the top of the suspension displacers. With this early layout, when the car pitched, fluid was displaced through the damper valve before then being pushed through the interconnection pipe, thus providing further resistance – resulting in over-firm damping.

Mid-decade, the displacer units were redesigned so that the interconnection pipe would emerge from the chamber below the damper valve (known as Underporting)[4], which Moulton found to be such a significant improvement, that a version was incorporated into the suspension design for Maxi. A further ADO14 innovation saw the damper valves optimised front to rear, allowing for the fact that damping requirements differ notably, fore and aft depending on payload.

The next step was more fundamental, Moulton being of the belief that to further improve ride, it was necessary to move from rubber springing to an inert gas (nitrogen). Hydragas was designed to address Hydrolastic’s known deficiencies, while maintaining those qualities that were desirable; namely, its ability to combine superior ride qualities – by compact car standards – with excellent roadholding and handling.

Image: Autocar

Reporting for Autocar’s Allegro launch coverage, John Hartley outlined Moulton’s assertion that the key to good handling lay in the limitation of roll. With Hydragas, the springs were at their stiffest in roll and softest in pitch, allowing handling characteristics to be maximised, with the least penalty in ride comfort. In addition, the bounce frequency was found to be much less than that of Hydrolastic (87 cycles/min as opposed to 99 cycles/min), allowing for a softer ride[5]. Furthermore, the Hydragas units were more compact, easier and cheaper to produce reliably, and more effective.

Allegro’s rear suspension looked akin to a rationalised version of Maxi’s, possibly taking advantage of the more compact Hydragas displacers. The trailing arms were similar in principle to ADO14, with wide pivot bases. There is no evidence of Maxi-style trim bars in Allegro’s set-up however, and the Hydragas displacers were located just inboard of the trailing arms, rather than centrally, side by side, as they were on the larger car[6]. Yet despite the advantages of Hydragas, the Maxi Hydrolastic system appears the more sophisticated of the pair.

In his technical description for Car magazine, LJK Setright contended that Allegro’s suspension was comparable in ride/ handling terms with that of the self-levelling oleopneumatic system of Citroën’s GS, despite being considerably less complex. He also stated that Allegro’s set up displayed “properties that are far beyond attainment by any other current car with which it might be easily compared”. The advent of Hydragas, Autocar’s John Hartley meanwhile argued, put Moulton and BLMC “one step ahead” of the game once more.

A key plank of ADO16’s on-road refinement was the fact that the suspensions were mounted on stout subframes, front and rear. The Maxi too, employed a front-mounted subframe, but with the rear suspension mounted to the body. For ADO67, Webster decreed that subframes be deleted on weight and cost grounds, although a lightweight tubular ‘subframe’ was subsequently fitted to Allegro’s rear, since initial prototypes tried without one were deemed unacceptable from an NVH perspective. The reason for this may be found in this observation from Autocar’s John Hartley: “Owing to their leverage ratios the Hydragas units exert very high loads on the body or sub-frame, and this makes it difficult to provide the necessary compliance to absorb road noise, especially at the rear[7].

Unfortunately, Webster’s dictates[8] ensured that no such attempt was made at the front end, despite entreaties to this end from Moulton and some members of the engineering team. It is believed that a large percentage of the enviable body rigidity of the Issigonis-era cars was derived from the use of subframes, a matter which may help explain the Allegro’s deficiencies in this area[9].

Image: Autocar

Certainly, Autocar’s findings in practice were less than encouraging, the launch cars being criticised for a severe body boom which made legal-limit cruising a tiresome activity. This, Autocar put down to the lack of a front subframe which they argued would have provided much needed isolation. Autocar also discovered that the 1750 cc Allegro’s handling was nowhere as predictable and well-balanced as that of the 1275 cc version, with a greater propensity to understeer, increased body roll under fast cornering and a tendency to lift an inside front wheel and lose traction. Even the lower powered 1.3 litre model tested suffered from wheel fight and torque reaction through the steering[10]. In addition, they found the driveline to be quite snatchy in stop-start traffic, creating an uncomfortable pitching motion.

Autocar found the Hydragas system to be superior to its predecessor in most aspects but highlighted the fact that at times the reaction from a disturbance at one interconnected wheel would cause the secondary reaction to be notably firmer at the other. Autocar also criticised the lack of any anti-dive or anti-squat geometry built into the suspension – an unusual and undesirable omission by 1973 standards. It would appear that the reason for this, as outlined by Dr. Moulton latterly is that without the provision of a front subframe, which as we know was rejected by Webster and BLMC’s accountants, an anti-dive geometry would in his words, “have generated horrendous road noise”.

There is a case to be made that Hydragas (and to some extent, Hydrolastic) was best suited to larger, more expensive cars[11] where the level of cost and complexity could better be absorbed and the system optimised to give optimum results, as borne out by the system’s suitability to the larger 1800/2200 and Princess models. As matters evolved, for Allegro, the manner in which Hydragas was applied did not offer a great deal more than a well-developed conventional set-up and certainly, one can make a cogent argument to suggest that the model gained little from it[12].


More on the Allegro

[1] “I had some pretty firm ideas about what was wanted here. I was very keen on Sir Alec Issigonis’s original theories on compactness, but I wanted to see more of the car’s overall length fully utilised instead of being taken up by air at the front and fins at the back… I’ve no fault to find with Issigonis’s ideas of interior habitability, nor with his theory that a stiff body is a safe one”. Harry Webster as told to Car’s Doug Blain in June 1973.

[2] Moulton pointed to existing contracts signed with Dunlop, who made a good deal of the Hydrolastic componentry. These would have been difficult and expensive to extricate from. 

[3] “The strides taken by Mr. Moulton are long ones, and I sometimes suspect that BLMC have difficulty in keeping up with him”. LJK Setright – Car June 1973.

[4] The ‘underported’ displacers first made an appearance in the short-lived 1968 Austin 3-Litre.

[5] According to research carried out by Moulton Developments, and quoted by Autocar, they found that Hydragas provided less pitch and bounce – especially at the rear – as opposed to that of a similar conventionally suspended car, making for a softer, more comfortable ride under most conditions.

[6] Certainly cheaper, but not disadvantageously ‘cost-engineered’ like the ADO67 front suspension. Robertas Parazitas, as outlined to this author. 

[7] “…they didn’t take account of the fundamental problem of the intercoupled type of suspension with high units of load going into the car’s structure. Allegro wasn’t a fair swop for the 1100 in my opinion”. Charles Griffin, quoted from Men and Motors of The Austin: Barney Sharratt

[8] Alex Moulton cited this as being “Triumph culture”, which seems to have permeated Longbridge following Webster’s ennoblement. Men and Motors of The Austin: Barney Sharratt

[9] “It was a mistake to put it [Hydragas] directly into the structure as happened with the Allegro…” Alex Moulton, quoted from Men and Motors of The Austin: Barney Sharratt

[10] The Quartic steering wheel was also heavily criticised, Autocar’s testers finding it difficult to feed through as the wheel self-centred. It was also disliked by BLMC engineers, if not by Webster himself. 

[11] One could perhaps have made a case for Rover’s SD-1 benefitting from Hydragas, as opposed to the somewhat simple (if well located) setup employed. But even if this had been considered (and there is no evidence it was), it would have come up against an other engineering orthodoxy – that of Spen King.

[12] “Compromising the design like that may well have been one of the reasons the car didn’t sell. It made it much less refined“. Ron Nicholls quoted from Men and Motors of The Austin: Barney Sharratt

Sources: Men and Motors of The Austin: Barney Sharratt/ Autocar 17 May 1973/Car June 1973/ Robertas Parazitas, to whom DTW extends grateful thanks for insights and reference material.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

33 thoughts on “Running With Scissors [Part Four]”

  1. Very interesting to get more background on the systems. Here’s a contemporary episode of 1970s TV show ‘Drive In’, which shows various types of suspension, including Hydragas.

  2. Thank you again for more fascinating reading Eóin! You really show how the penny pinching at the early design stage really impacted the final product. I always wondered at the Allegro’s lack of body rigidity; even when parked up, it looks flimsy and ‘wonky’.

    As usual here comes my barrage of newbie questions lol. The ride from these suspension systems was excellent for the day wasn’t it? I can’t help but wonder what they’d have been like with more powerful engines attached. As for complexity, exactly how difficult and complex were they really? They had less parts than conventional suspensions yes? Would that not have made them easier to deal with?

    There was never any chance that strong management could have gotten Rover, Jaguar, even Triumph to adopt hyrolastic/hydro gas was there? I always felt like Rover for example would have made an excellent replacement brand for Wolseley and Riley.

  3. Looking at the actual suspension (spring and shock absorber) only I’d say the Citroen system is simpler, more compact and better calculable than Hydragas. It doesn’t rely on cones pressing on membranes but has simple hydraulic cylinders that move hydraulic fluid.
    The complexity of the Citroen system comes from functions Hydragas doesn’t have like self levelling, intelligent brake integration by using the pressure in the hydraulics of the rear axle as medium to power the rear brakes, power steering or even DIRAVI.
    In the end, the Citroen system has a pump, a large fluid container and hundred metres of pipework more but I think it’s worth it.
    It’s interesting to see that both systems suffer from similar problems when they get old (pressure loss in the suspension spheres) and similar solutions are applied (fitting valves for re-pressuring the spheres). It’s only that in the Citroen world this is old hat and for Hydragas it seems to be relatively new.

    How does an MG F compare to a TF in terms of suspension? Did the TF suffer any disadvantages from losing Hydragas?

    1. Sinve there were no advantages to be had, no, the TF handled far better.

      To be honest I have driven a few MGFs and TGs, only one more than six years old and they all greeted the road surface with the elan and sound of a Quality Street tin filled with bolts left over from the workshop floor. Quite how it struggled to compete with the MX5 I’ll never know.

    2. DaveAR – “These bulky suspension units combined with wishbone front suspension systems and a transverse engine must have been a packaging nightmare.”

      Let’s not forget that the designers of the 1990 R6 Metro managed to accommodate K-series and Peugeot TUD engines, and an end-on gearbox within a 1348mm front track. The suspension used double wishbones and vertical Hydragas displacers in a subframe.

      The K-series engine is significantly longer than either the A or E-series, yet the R6 front track is 32mm narrower than the Allegro’s, whose powertrains always had a gearbox-in-sump layout.

  4. You could pick any of the cars made after the BMC merger and they tell the same pathetic story. The future of the company rides on it’s shoulders, it HAS to be good and succeed, they ruin it through dreadful decision making at every level, at launch the car obviously disappoints and they cede yet more market share. Rinse and repeat.

    It took foreign investment to prove that even the appaling build quality was never down to the line workers; the same British workers managed to assemble Triumph Acclaims to Japanese standards, let alone the tens of millions of Hondas, Nissans, and Toyotas that have come out of British factories to the highest standards in the world.

    Appalingly bad management of every single aspect of running a motor company from market research, styling, design (in gross and detail), engineering, and marketing were 100% at fault for what happened to this company; evidence just doesn’t support what Daily Mail types say about the unionised workforce.

    I can only imagine how soul destroying having to go to work every day and turn out Allegros must have been, let alone having to sell them with a straight face.

    1. Have to say that I’ve driven UK built Acclaims,Hondas, Nissans, Toyotas. The Acclaim and the Toyota were OK….

  5. I never liked the “leverage ratios” that the rubber, hydrolastic and hydragas springs required, which of course necessitated the use of roller bearings for the suspension arms.

  6. I thought that the Allegro had good torsional stiffness – Harry Webster is quoted as saying that “The Allegro’s torsional stiffness is about 6000 lb/ft degree – one of the highest in the industry” in AROnline.

    1. Charles: Checking my source material, the Allegro’s bodyshell was stiffer than some notable contemporaries (the Fiesta, Renault 5 & Golf were mentioned), all be it, they were each hatchbacks, which would have adversely affected their stiffness somewhat. Having said that, the 6000 lb/ft figure was I believe, considerably lower than that of ADO16 and ADO17; although the latter was something of an exception in this regard.

      What a subframe would have done for Allegro’s rigidity can only be speculated upon, and one should also bear in mind that stiffness isn’t always the be all and end all, or so a chassis engineer who understands these things once told me. Having said that, it would have benefitted the NVH matter, I think we can safely conclude.

  7. I’m thoroughly enjoying reading this history, a sad one though it may be. It all seems to be confirmation of the devil being in the details, doesn’t it? Good stuff, badly implemented, being very much equivalent to stuff that’s just bad…

  8. Nothing directly to do with engineering per se, but one thing that has always bugged me about the Allegro from the first time I saw one fifty years ago. The lower DLO line appears not to be straight, but makes a very shallow ‘V’ shape either side of the B-pillar. It’s subtle, but once seen, it cannot be unseen:

    Did nobody at BL notice this when the car was in development? Even if it is actually straight and the appearance that it is otherwise is an optical illusion (like XJ Series III XJ ‘bow-tie’ rear window) it is still something that have been addressed before the car was signed off for production. For me, its another example of the ‘it’ll do’ mindset that undermined many BL products

  9. I don’t think it is an optical illusion. Here’s the above photo with a blue line drawn beneath the doors, parallel to the lower edge of the DLO on the front door:

    Notice how the lower edge of the DLO on the rear door is no longer parallel to the blue line, but slopes up slightly towards the rear. Here’s the first photo adjusted to have a properly straight lower DLO line:

    1. Why would you want to look that closely at an Allegro ? What does it matter if the DLO is crooked or straight – it is still too high.

    2. Hello Daniel

      On the third chapter of this series one pic shows the Allegro ‘when handed over to Pressed Steel’.

      As I see it, it is an american influenced all ‘curvilineous’ design.

      It’s much more cohesive and much less unpleasant a design than the Allegro we know. The front looks wider

      It’s really not, dare I say, the Allegro, since even ‘hard points’ like the windcreen upper corners are different.

      Why the car suffered a complete stylistic makeover in that point of it’s development is open to anyone’s guess, but undoubtely it did.

      What you proved on the lower DLO you can also prove on the waistline from the A post to the back end drawing the same blue line (could you please please please?…)

      This ‘non-straightness’ issue doesn’t arose, IMO and contrary to most other’s comments, from error: It’s the result of a deliberate, counscious, thorough last minute order to ‘straight up’ the design as much as possible.

      It may not be proved or documented, but it’s what my eyes tell me

    3. Here you go, Gustavo:

      The waistline crease actually dips at both ends of the car, which I don’t see as a problem.

    4. I thank you endlessly for your infinite kindness, Daniel.

      I misplaced the problem: from the begining of the front door to the end of the rear door, the waistline is also not rectilinear.

      I’ll shut up my pen and pay a visit to my therapist 🙄

    1. If the back end was a hatchback and the wheel arches were semi circular, that would look ok imo…assuming it’s weird face is also fixed.

    2. And that frontal rainguter sinking among A post, door and front fender? 🤣

    1. Definitely better – but another contributor the other day called it the “cottage bun” look….

  10. I always enjoy these series on DtW, they are perhaps my favourite and can be summed up as “this car was ok/great/brilliant and mostly let down by poor conception and implementation in design, manufacture and aftermarket care”

    The suspension system was awful, it might have been class leading at one point but every car I have ever driven with it in felt like there was something seriously wrong with it.

  11. Two questions that come to mind pre-Hydragas would be if the form of Hydrolastic fitted to the Maxi would have been a significant improvement for ADO16 or ADO22 over the existing version used in ADO16, as well as if the Maxi-spec Hydrolastic would have overcome the criticisms of the earlier system used in the Mini due to the latter’s shorter wheelbase compared to ADO16?

    How plausible would it have been for an uncompromised Hydragas on the Allegro to something resembling more like the Rover Metro in terms of dynamics if not be able to challenge its C-Segment rivals of the period.

    For what is it worth the Rover P8 was originally planned to have an active hydraulic suspension system vaguely reminiscent of a Hydragas unit, so it would have not been entirely out of the question for the SD1 to feature Hydragas in spite of Spen King not being known to be advocate of the system (was it a specific issue relating to cost and complexity or was the former covering a case of NIH syndrome beneath the surface?).

  12. Apart from all the other problems at BL, I think the LJK Setright quote “The strides taken by Mr. Moulton are long ones, and I sometimes suspect that BLMC have difficulty in keeping up with him” could possibly be applied to other BL people as well, Issigonis first.

    I reckon strong and brilliant engineering minds temperamentally less suited to co-operation would need strong personalities in management with enough engineering nous (or a way to procure it) to establish boundaries. That way, you can make a convincing argument that a certain genius innovation isn’t suited for a smaller car but might well be for a larger one. On a smaller scale, I’ve seen it play out: a ‘workfloor’ that’s highly specialised (and very much aware of that, for better and worse) and a management that understands little of those specialisations: in the end they distrust each other (“they don’t know what we’re up against” vs. “they don’t understand there’s a bigger picture here”), which leads to a negative culture lacking trust and, in the end, the sort of exhaustion that breeds a “that’ll do” attitude.

    The more I read about BL, the more I see parallels with the Allegro design: you can try fixing it until the cows come home, but the problems are so deep that you’d have to re-engineer the whole thing to make it palatable. And then find that the end result is superficially very similar, but much improved underneath the surface, which then improves the whole thing. Or at least: the fundamental problems of Allegro’s execution and the more taste-related matters of its design are two different problems. Much the same goes for the notion of conglomerating all the BL marques and cultures, and the actual execution of that merger.

  13. The Triumph Culture that Alex Moulton speaks of certainly had a harmful role at BL, that it is difficult to view cars like the Allegro, Marina, ADO74 and others as actually being true Austin-Morris cars even if they carried over much former BMC mechanicals (even ADO74 apparently could have conceivably used the A-Series to start with as a low-cost desperation measure despite its inferior packaging like the Allegro before the whole project was abandoned and started anew with ADO88).

    Given Triumph’s own FWD 1300 and ideas for a 1300-based Supermini, would they have taken the same malign approach with their own products as they did with Austin-Morris for replacing the 1300 and developing a related Supermini?

    It seems one of the few aspects about the FWD BMC cars the Triumph men possibly deemed worthy of consideration was the transverse in-sump layout relative to their own longitudinal FWD configuration if the Harry Webster directed ADO74 is any indication. Notwithstanding the updated Saab 99, NSU K70 and Toyota Tercel variations of the 1300 layout or any suggestions Webster himself and others would have preferred adopting the Primula / 128 and Simca 1100 FWD layout instead.

    1. Harry Webster was no Giacosa, but he was certainly savvy enough to realise the cost and efficiency advantages of the end-on transverse powertrain. Issigonis’ excuse for the continuance of the ‘bunk-bed’ were centred on easy clutch changes, also a benefit of the longitudinal Triumph and NSU K70 arrangement.

      I read somewhere – haven’t managed to find the source – that the plan for the Duncan Stuart narrow angle V4 was to use it longitudinally with a similar powertrain to the Triumph 1300. By that I take it that there was an idler gear train driving a gearbox behind the engine, with a jackshaft taking power to a final drive beneath the engine’s crankcase. This seems wrong and stupid, as geometry dictates that any narrow angle V4 is going to be taller than an in-line equivalent. Fessia and Mina used the Lancia V4 in a more straightforward in-line configuration – ahead of the front axle line, but the engine is short, mitigating the “lever-arm” effect, and also slanted to reduce the powertrain height and lower the centre of gravity.

      Webster’s successors went on to make a total arse of end-on for the LC10 project, devising the needlessly enormous LT80 gearbox, which simply wouldn’t fit in combination with the (very short for a 2-litre) O-series engine. There was absolutely no excuse for this, given that by the mid-70s there were loads of examples of longitudinally compact end-on gearboxes around to “reverse engineer”.

      The day was saved with bought-in VW and Honda gearboxes, and ARG/Rover/MGR continued the sound policy of bought-in gearboxes, never making an in-house end-on gearbox, but adding Peugeot, Chrysler, Getrag, ZF, Jatco, and Ford to the shopping list.

    2. Could understand Harry Webster having to develop ADO74 within certain parameters yet why was he able to dispense with Hydragas at the first opportunity on the one hand (unlike on the Allegro), while also opting to use a (supposedly improved) in-sump arrangement akin to PSA with the Peugeot 104 or as on the Nissan Cherry?

      The Duncan Stuart narrow angle V4 leaves one with mixed feelings in the sense that for all the supposed promise it had, at the end of the day the V4 seems to have been a big hefty unit that could not be mounted transversely, unlike what Volkswagen later achieved with the VR6 that seem to recall used some mechanicals or architecture from the EA827.

      Was the underdeveloped LT80 gearbox before it veered away into something unusable conceived specifically for the larger FWD cars like LC10 in mind or eventually planned for smaller models if not spawn a compact version for the likes of the Metro and Mini?

      Apparently a Maestro spec A+ with VW gearbox was tried in Minki I though considered too tight a fit (yet could have possibly worked at it been widened and lengthened a bit as on the Minki II since the K-Series 4-cylinder was longer than the A-Series), it is also not clear if a VW box was considered for the Metro and its planned successors as per Spen King’s reputed Polo-esque vision for ADO88 (in gearbox and suspension) before it went in-sump and later gained the R65 gearbox.

      Did wonder what the best pre-R65 end-on gearbox would have likely been for the Metro and Mini had the company possessed enough funds to procure a more compact end-on gearbox alongside the VW gearbox. Heard the Nissan RN4F (4-speed) and RS5F (5-speed) gearboxes were used in both the K10 and K11 Micras. The same goes with the later Daihatsu-based Innocenti Mini regarding whether its 5-speed gearboxes were 3-cylinder engines were also paired to 4-cylinder (Daihatsu H-Series) engines.

    3. I never knew triumph was considering making a super mini. Now that I do know, I think that was a real missed opportunity, especially if it was one built using the existing Ajax platform of the 1300.

      Imagine the possible range; a 1-1.3l super mini, 1.1-1.5c FWD class car (both hatchback and saloon) and then the RWD Dolomite as a range topper, all made from one platform.

      Actually, in that case would making the Dolomite RWD drive be worth it?

      In such a case, Austin (or MG?) could be made to making just the mini and derivatives with the vans…a sort of English version of the modern day Fiat? Or the MINI company 30 years early.

    4. JCC

      An Ajax-based family analogue of the Fiat’s and PSA’s FWD small cars might have been something worth considering had BL not happened and post-war UK automotive consolidation unfolded differently.

      Unlike both Fiat and Peugeot however, Triumph via Leyland would have likely not been in a position to develop an all-new model for a lower-end expansion effort and logically would have used a modified Ajax platform as a starting point, basically the Triumph equivalent of oft-repeated ADO16-based mini/supermini successor idea and/or Ajax-based/carry-over Allegro.

      Worth bearing in mind that Triumph were developing a new RWD platform intended to replace the Dolomite (Bobcat), 2000/2500 (Puma) as well as the TR6/GT6 (Bullet/Lynx) that more or less foreshadows SD2, SD1 and the TR7/Lynx family under BL. Which in theory would have created a void from which an Ajax-derived B/C-Segment pair of FWD cars could have occupied beneath Bobcat.

      Just a question of whether they would have adopted a Giacosa end-on or Peugeot 104/Nissan Cherry (plus Renault 14)-inspired in-sump gearbox arrangement.

      Maybe Triumph in that scenario would have expediently utilized a recycled Michelotti proposal for the Innocenti 750 prototype for the FWD duo as well as the Ajax-based supermini proposal as opposed to adopting the Bertone proposal that became the Innocenti Mini (given Triumph’s pre-existing ties to Michelotti)? Other likely Michelotti styling templates for the FWD duo could range from ADO74 to Michelotti’s ideas for what became the Volvo 300 Series (if the sketches can be found for the latter that is).

      The larger Slant-Four would have likely required extensive modification to be mounted transversely in the small FWD duo if the Saab version is any indication, leaving just the SC units or a PE166-inspired small block successor to roughly sit below the Slant-Four.

  14. Bob

    What a pity it never played out like this. I can see it all now. Triumph could have been Leyland’s mainstream brand, with full range of nice up market cars going from a supermini to an executive, with the proper corporate sports car to take on the Capri.

    Most of this range could have been happy in both Europe and America. With Austin or MG carrying on the most salvageable parts of BMC (i.e the mini), Rover/Land Rover providing the off roaders, and Jaguar covering the premium spot.

    Although my instinct too would have been to eventually get Triumph, Rover/Land Rover and the commercial aspects of Austin Morris all under one name and dealer network asap. No idea how exactly…call everything a Triumph…create a Leyland marque to unite them all…just serious rationalisation.

    1. JCC

      A Leyland acquisition of Jaguar (instead of how events unfolded) would have placed a glass ceiling on Triumph’s ambitions at the higher end of the range, albeit with significantly less overlap compared to Rover (plus the prospect of a V12-based V6 to sit between the Slant-Four and alternate V8).

      It also depends on how Leyland is able to go about expanding at the lower end of the range with an Ajax-derived duo, is it independently or through acquiring another company then under threat of foreign takeover (both scenarios either way likely entailing involvement of government)?

      Given how Leyland was thriving with cars as well as commercial vehicles and the reputation they established with the government of the time, could they have avoided the trap Rootes and Alfa Romeo faced with the Imp and Alfasud respectively in being forced to build the new models at a factory within a strike-prone enterprise area at or in addition to Speke depending on whether they would have been allowed to expand production at their existing factories?

      There are other possible albeit imperfect ways to further improve the prospects of Triumph/Leyland without having to takeover BMC in an ill-conceived government backed merger. That is not to say they could not still gain BMC’s commercial division or benefit from Joe Edward’s planned rationalisation at BMC.

      Just imagine a combine composed of Triumph, Jaguar and Leyland with the latter possibly even having their own Dakar moment of madness based on the link between them and DAF.

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