1981 Rover - Austin Metro 1.1 petrol from UK and Ireland
The car was reliable, but mediocre in quality
Not very much to be honest. It needed a new clutch after three years, and after the same period of time, the front valance had become rusty.
My mother bought this car way back in the spring of 1981. We were all very excited about this motor, seeing it as an all singing, all dancing, new and much overdue replacement for the Mini. With its sloping bonnet, oblong headlights, hatchback and rear window wiper, it seemed to be the bee’s knees.
It is difficult to say how good or bad the Metro then was, in that I had not sat in any comparable cars such as the Fiesta for example. Most small cars probably were somewhat austere by comparison with those of today. Nevertheless, the interior of our Metro was woeful. It had a horrid thin brown carpet, which resembled something that had been squashed down by many years of use and had a hideous hairy texture to it. Very difficult to vacuum it was as well. Typically for the time, the radio was an add-on (or bolt–on) rather. The seats had a dubious spongy texture, feeling rather like a large and long-used expanse of something that you might use to do the washing-up.
Out on the road, things were not a lot better. The wheels were too small for the profile, and the gearing too low. This made it sound as though the car were being thrashed, even though you might only be doing 55mph. Both from side view and end view, the car just did not look competent, unlike its well-poised Ford rival. The wheels were too thin and too close together for the width of the body.
Probably less than three years into its life, this Metro’s front valance was becoming well pockmarked with rust, and just about every interior panel you could possibly think of, rattled. It was like somebody shaking a box of halfpenny bits.
One serious shortcoming was the legroom. With its low roofline and low seats, the seating position was atrocious. I am not that tall, but I used to have to drive with my legs to one side slightly, even though the seat was back as far as it could go. You would have a dead leg after about 60 miles.
This soon came across as a car for people who have no interest in cars. It seemed to sell in car park loads to people who did not really know or care about how a car should look or feel. They just wanted an economical British car. Thus lots of older people, particularly women, seemed to buy them, and consequently they sold in much greater numbers than they probably deserved to. It was possibly a stroke of luck for the Metro that quite a few older people back then, seemed to be a little twitchy about opting for a Japanese car. Quite a few of the Metros replaced an aging Morris Minor, bought probably because they were born of a familiar manufacturer.
Our Metro was handed down to my sister, and then eventually sold on. Such a car made an ideal buy for a young person, in that it was cheap to buy, tended to have one retired lady owner, thus was driven slowly and was serviced on time. It appeared to lack the street-cred appeal to the boy-racer, unlike the Nova or Fiesta, and so insurance was cheaper. The engine was very reliable though. I don’t remember the car ever actually breaking down. It is such a shame that a car that promised so much in terms of being an icon of future motoring, soon became just a tatty old clunker, ours having no comfort or image, but plenty of rust.
Like the Mini, the Rover group revamped the Metro with different names and trims, but ultimately this was probably a bit like trying to spice up yesterday evening’s take-away burger and chips. Superior competition (in my experience) from Ford, Vauxhall, also from French, German and Japanese cars, I imagine, forced the Rover Group to call time once and for all, on this tired old blue-bottle, which refused to be swatted.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 20th April, 2012