Founder’s Blog: June 2024

I spent a very enjoyable and interesting afternoon last week with Keith Adams, erstwhile creator of AR Online and contributor to numerous publications over the last 20 years.

Keith’s latest AR Online article is his top ten of the BMC/ BL models which never made it into production.  What this fascinating article reveals, is that there was no shortage of talent or ideas within the organisation, even in the dark days, but once Michael Edwardes had gone, there was just not enough management talent and grit to identify and produce exciting new models and facelifts.

I am a huge fan of the Metro which is a classic for the generation that wants a Mini but now can’t afford one and I think Keith (not surprisingly) is spot on with his number one slot for the R6 Metro. I am lucky enough to own a number of Metros, including a late five door Rio Special Edition. This drives really well with its K series engine and five speed gear box, but alongside the equivalent Fiesta, it just looks very ordinary. The Metro had been a really good seller but it badly needed to look more contemporary in the 90s and the R6 absolutely fits the bill.

My number two would have to be the Pininfarina Aerodynamica 1800, not least because I vividly remember picking up my Matchbox model of the car from the local toy shop at the age of 12 and thinking: WOW!  It was unusual for Matchbox to make models of prototypes but to my already car mad eyes, Pininfarina’s creation made the ‘ordinary’ 1800 look – well, ordinary. My Uncle Roy had an 1800 and I was ever hopeful that it would be replaced by this outlandish new version. Sadly, despite the fact that Alec Issigonis and Battista Pininfarina got on famously, my Matchbox toy was the nearest I ever got to this wonderful creation and it was only when I saw my first Citroen CX that I realised the scale of our loss.

Issigonis could also have done with help from Pininfarina with the styling of the 9x which, like the 1800, was unbelievably clever but not the most stylish of shapes.

It’s a fascinating article as usual from Keith and bound to spark plenty of debate amongst AR afficionados.

Inevitably, Keith has now enjoyed a Drive Dad’s Car experience, choosing to drive a Mk4 Cortina, a Sierra Sapphire, an Austin 1300 GT and finally fell in love with my 1939 Austin Seven!

WARNING: Browsing the wealth of unique and expert opinion on AR Online can cause your partner to think that you are spending far too much time online!!

Richard Usher, Founder, Great British Car Journey


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