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From the makers of…


The range of British Leyland cars was vast with many models overlapping each other from the different marques within the group sharing showroom space. The Princess story would not be complete without a look at some of the other cars in the Austin-Morris showrooms at the time the Princess was on sale.


BL Range.jpg


Awkward styling and cheap looking interiors did nothing to endear the Austin Allegro to the public, but compared to most of the opposition in the Seventies it was at least modern with its Hydragas suspension and the famous ‘Quartic’ steering wheel. Before its demise the MG-Rover group would have given anything to have the sort of sales figures this car regularly achieved per year. The Allegro is regularly forwarded as the worst car ever, but it isn’t, not by any means, though it may have had a better chance if it was produced as it was originally styled by Harris Mann.




The Morris Marina, or in this incarnation the Ital, seen here in a rather fetching shade of hearing aid beige. The brochure says, ‘…the creative flair of Italian styling with the robust practicality of British engineering,’ even if you squint you still won’t see it. And if you think that statement is stretching the limits of believability, it goes on… ’The promise of luxury and high performance is amply justified…’ (Are you still squinting?) If that were written in an SD1 brochure you’d believe it, but an Ital? Despite these blatant lies, the Ital sold by the bucket load right up to its demise in 1982, which meant it lasted some 5 years longer than it should have done. The Marina/Ital was nothing more than a basic three box saloon built as cheaply as possible with no technological advancement (it was based on the Morris Minor!) It was the last car to bear the Morris name.



The Austin Maxi, BL’s stalwart hatchback model was on sale for a staggering 13 years and the very reason the Princess was never blessed with such practicality. The Maxi was introduced in 1968 and BLMC had ambitious sales targets for the car. It was practical but it was also deadly dull to drive and its sloppy 5-speed gearbox just added to the misery. The sporty twin-carburettor 1750HL (above) model livened things up, but it was certainly no GT.




Designed with the USA market squarely (or is that wedgely?) in mind, the TR7 was launched in America in January 1975 – 18 months before its UK launch (May 1976). The wedge styling is instantly recognisable as the work of Harris Mann, which, like the Princess, was best described as controversial. It was later made available with a convertible roof but internal politics at BL meant the full potential of this Triumph was never realised, as it passed around three manufacturing facilities like a live hand-grenade. It was killed off after six years in production and the Triumph name itself died in 1984.




The Rover SD1. Launched to critical acclaim in 1976 and winning the Car of the Year award for that year the SD1 was exactly what the executive market wanted. The party was short lived however, as shockingly poor build quality eventually won through and its reputation for unreliability became legendary. Once again Rover showed it could design excellent cars – its workforce just didn’t want to build them properly, preferring to be outside sharing the warmth of a well-stoked brazier and the hot air of their union representative. V8 engined Rover 3500 Vitesse now an icon.




On sale before the Princess was even thought of and still on sale long after the Princess had been replaced. How can anything bad be said about the car that was voted the Car of the Century? Cleverly engineered but poorly built with a hopeless driving position, but all is overlooked for its charm.




Apologies to all fans of the cars above.