Nostalgia Years: Daniel Southgate’s // Allegro Motorsport – The very beginning

I’ve long had a fascination with Allegro Motorsport since coming across their set of Allegros, so it’s only right I let you lot find out why they’re so ace. Over to you Dan….

As budding gentleman adventurers, my friend and I knew we needed to be at the Monaco Grand Prix.  For some reason we decided to drive there, and for reasons now lost in the mists of time, we decided the perfect car to do this in was an Austin Allegro.

On a whim, probably that day and possibly after a beer or two, we searched a popular internet auction site and found the perfect vehicle; a brown series 1 Allegro, with the mighty 49bhp (when new!) A series engine, residing in the fantastically named Ashby De-La-Zouche, and owned by none other than the (then) editor of ‘Allegro Club International’ magazine.

We’d arranged to meet the owners at the railway station,  I remember watching the snow covered fields pass by the train window as we headed towards to the midlands.  Not sure where exactly we were to meet the owners, we stood outside the station, stamping our feet to stay warm and hoping we’d got the time about right.  Just about the time serious doubts started to set in, we saw a brown allegro round the corner and flash it’s lights at us.  Instinctively, Dave and I looked at each other and grinned.

‘Chubby Brown’ as the car became affectionately known, was an instant hit, and we knew on the drive back through the snow to sunny Suffolk that this was the beginning of something special.

Despite being over 25 years old, Chubby still started on the button, drove well and took us home in surprising comfort, thanks mainly to the hydro gas suspension and the big springy armchairs British Leyland had fitted instead of car seats.  After a 4 hour drive home we emerged from the car with huge grins and no backache whatsoever – impressive for a car that was almost as old as I was.

Chubby had obviously been well loved by his previous owner, so with nothing better to do, we changed the oil, fitted a radio and decided the best thing we could do prior to a long, international road trip would be to put some racing stripes and stickers on.

For those who’ve never been fortunate enough to go, the Monaco Grand Prix is raced on normal roads around Monaco, (not a purpose built race track) so as soon as the race is over, the roads – complete with formula 1 signage, banners and stands full of spectators – open up again.  We spent about an hour driving the re-opened parts of the track, getting huge amounts of cheers and applause as we went.  Team Allegro Motorsport had been born.

It pains me to say this now, but the plan back then was to sell  or abandon chubby when (if!) we got to Monaco and fly back, but the response we had to chubby on the way down there, the smoothness and comfort of the drive, and the fact that he didn’t miss a beat all the way there convinced us that we HAD to keep him.

Getting back from Monaco was a critical time for us.  We had to get back out on the road as soon as possible, so new missions were planned, with a joint visit to Le Mans and the world cup in Germany planned for 2006, as well as a trip round the Nurburgring, where a silver Porsche Carrera seemed most surprised to find a brown allegro hogging the racing line…..

The Allegro takes on Le Mans

Again, the only issues with the car involved interesting starting  and electrical issues that were usually fixed by some head scratching and wire wiggling, and Chubbys preference for oil, (rather than petrol) to run on.  The nice thing about an extremely simple engine, is that extremely simple people can usually work out where the problem is….!

I’ve mentioned how comfortable these are to drive, but it should also be noted that the boot is truly cavernous, and the front seats, when pulled forward and reclined back so they line up flush with the rear seats make a perfectly sprung bed, great for a few hours kip en route somewhere exotic….

Unfortunately for us, Chubbys life came to a sad close a year or so later, with something the MoT man called ‘excessive and dangerous corrosion’, and, as he handed us three bright red MoT pages he advised us to never drive Chubby again.

Gone, but not forgotten….

However, the Allegro Motorsport dream, and Chubby, lives on in our current stable of Allegros, all of which exhibit the same comfortable ride, the same ability to turn heads, and bring out the same enthusiasm of passersby and onlookers whenever we’re out.  If I had a pound for every stranger that had approached me and said, whilst smiling wistfully ‘my dad used to have one of those’, I’d probably have enough to rustproof the arches on Martini.  Or the wings.  Or the front subframe……

Allegro Motorsport can be found at Allegro Motorsport where you’ll find details of all our cars, plus some nonsense

You can follow Daniel here.

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