The marque: Defunct British car-maker once dominant, ultimately dead of shame

The marque: Defunct British car-maker once dominant, ultimately dead of shame

The history: British Leyland, Red Robbo, nationalisation, the Allegro ... Austin, which once fought with Ford on equal terms, came to symbolise all that went wrong with Britain's indigenous motor industry. Complacency, a lack of inward investment and an inability to modernise the workforce's outlook away from confrontation to co-operation were the nails in its coffin. And what an ignominious end it was.

So ignominious, in fact, that in the late 1980s British Leyland deleted the Austin name from the Metro, Maestro and Montego that made up the final range, causing quite a crisis of identity.

Yet 20 years earlier the Austin 1100, designed at Austin's Longbridge plant, vied with Ford's Cortina for the accolade of Britain's best seller, usually winning.

The greatest Austin Drawing Office design was the Mini, but so strong has its identity become that people don't think of it as an Austin.

At the opposite end of inspiration came the Allegro, which replaced the 1100 range and did everything less well.

Defining model: Allegro, the car with the square steering wheel. At least there wasn't a Morris version.

They say: Now we're motoring (actually, British Leyland said that).

We say: Austin lost its powers.

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