There can’t be many cars in history with lives that began so auspiciously and ended as ignominiously as the Metro. Launched to widespread acclaim and commercial success, it was ultimately left to wither on the vine too long; another BL project that showed enormous promise and wasn’t given sufficient investment (or management) to properly shine. Though the Euro NCAP results for the Rover 100 sealed the little car’s fate, the writing had been on the wall for a long time – the Metro was seriously outdated come the ’90s.
Back in the early ’80s, however, it was a supermini from the home team to compete with the very best. There must be millions of us with Metro stories to hand, such was their popularity; it seemed there everyone had a parent or cousin or grandparent (or more than one) with a Metro. They looked smart, drove well, and didn’t cost very much. That the Princess of Wales was gifted one as a birthday present will have done the Metro’s popularity with the general public no harm at all, either.
Once upon a time (and seemingly not that ago), Metros remained everywhere. No longer in the first flushes of youth, sure, though ready to embark on a gentler pace of life as a cute old classic. Then they just seemed to vanish. As with so many cars that were reasonably plentiful and not very valuable at the time, the scrappage schemes will have played a part. So too, however, must have been the country’s undying love for the original Mini. Those that maybe had to choose between saving one or the other would likely plump for the Issigonis icon rather than the ’80s supermini. Perhaps nobody wanted an old car they knew performed so badly in a crash (not that any are brilliant). Maybe the complexity Hydragas suspension put some potential suitors off.
Whatever the truth, you barely ever see Metros now, and near enough never in this sort of condition. It’s one of the fancier 1.3 HLEs, complete with Cinnabar Red paint and Savannah interior, which looks just as smart as it sounds. Somewhat amazingly, too, it’s covered just 14,000 miles since new, or just 350 a year since 1983. Less than a mile a day.
Encouragingly, it would seem that the driving has been in small and considered doses rather than being parked up for almost four decades. The ad suggests it’s been cherished by five previous owners, apparently all keen to keep it pristine: the paint, rubbers and glass are all original, and it’s been protected against rust. It surely won’t have been outside much in inclement weather.
The powertrain is said to be sweet, the brakes have been recently serviced and the Hydragas is functioning flawlessly. The asking price is £7,250, or surely a fraction of what a comparable Mini might cost – even contemporary Fiestas are thousands more. And you can bet on favourable attention wherever the Metro goes. Which might be worth the asking price all on its own.
SPECIFICATION | AUSTIN METRO 1.3 HLE
Engine: 1,275cc, four-cyl
Transmission: 4-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 63@5,300rpm
Torque (lb ft): 69@3,200rpm
Year registered: 1983
Recorded mileage: 14,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £7,250