I'm So Glad BL Didn't Make The Metro Saloon!
From right back in the 50's, and right up to the 90's, saloon cars (cars with a boot/ trunk) were always a popular option and when hatchbacks became the more popular option to have as the main body style for a new car, manufacturers started to offer saloon variants of those models too. This would in turn appeal to the more traditional car buyer and thus making a little bit more money.
British Leyland's Austin Morris division, started development on the ADO88 programme back in 1975. Originally this would have been a replacement for the Mini which by the late 70's, was starting to look dated. Eventually though, it was decided that the Mini would be ran alongside the Mini as a family supermini. The project was then re-named LC8 (Leyland Cars 8) and eventually, the car was called, Metro.
Even in the early stages of development, there was a 3 and 5 door planned (which both made it through to production), but also a saloon. This was on the table because the Metro's, basic design was able to be morphed into all sorts of body variations. The saloon design, codenamed (AM1) was not the biggest priority on BL's list with the Metro.
It filled a niche in the marketplace and not the biggest niche in the world either. Saloon demand had slowly been dwindling since the release of the Escort mk3 and Golf mk1. The hatchback revolution was taking over and practicality was becoming more and more important and niches, like saloons were becoming less and less of a priority, especially for struggling companies like BL.
Dropped like a stone in water.
After an assessment of the market, it was dropped fairly quickly. Too many cars in this sector were failing miserably such as the VW Polo Saloon/ Derby. It would be too costly to launch a car that just wasn't going to work, especially with the development and launch of the Maestro and Montego, just around the corner.
Eventually the Metro saloon was left behind and now resides in the British Motor Museum in Gaydon. It's well worth a visit just for this car. The Metro saloon is odd. To me, the proportions are all wrong and it looks like the front and the back are both the same size, which looks even weirder, when you take into consideration the fact of how small the thing is.
I love the Metro, seriously, I do. This on the other hand. Not so much. For me its just wrong. Maybe I would like it if it wasn't hearing-aid beige or if it had a different rear window but I just feel like it's a bit of an ugly duckling which for once I don't like.
So I am glad BL didn't make the Metro saloon. Even though this would have added to the range, I think it would have made their fortunes worse than what they were.
What do you think to the Metro saloon? Let me know in the comments!
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