Friday, October 4, 2013

5k: Metro Import: 1981 MG Metro Turbo RHD

The Austin Metro was produced by British Leyland and the Rover Group from 1980-1990 as a replacement for the ancient Mini.   Not surprisingly the original Mini outlasted the Metro by a few years, probably because the Metro was poorly built penalty box, but in the 10 years of production over 1,000,000 were sold in the UK market.  Luckily for American buyers the car was never available in US showrooms, but at least one has somehow found its way over on a boat.  Find this 1981 MG Metro Turbo for sale in Beltsville, MD for $3,500 via craigslist.  As seen on Jalopnik opposite lock forum from Reverberocket.

The MG Metro is powered by a 1.3 liter A-series inline-4 that puts out 93 horsepower and 88 ft-lbs of torque with the assistance of a single small turbocharger.  At least the engine only has 1800 lbs to pull around, but this thing will still be unquestionably slow.

You can't legally drive a car in the USA without functioning blinkers, a rear-view mirror, but you can drive a right hand drive car?  Seems odd, and shifting on the left does take some getting used to, but it's the only way to get into a MG Metro on either side of the pond.

This Metro looks a little bit sad and unloved, shoved in a yard amidst all manner of rusting American hulks but hopefully it will find a new owner that gets geeked out by rare yet terrible econoboxes. Do you have the guts to save this little puke?

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  1. There are about 500 mini owners stateside here who want that thing only for one reason - to spend an hour with a 9/16 wrench and engine lift, yank out the turbo lump and then use the body for a planter or landfill.

    1. Too many people have done this in Europe. From the 29,900 Metro turbos they made there are roughly 900 left across Europe.

  2. I would love to see what it feels like to drive this.

    1. It feels pretty good 0-60 in 9.4 seconds top speed 111mph. There is no turbo lag at all as the engine is high compression. but it does need 97octane gas to run. The front brake discs are vented 4 pot calipers and there is no power steering as the car is so light. They are really good fun.

  3. It would take more then an hour if your going to use a 9/16 wrench Damn Metric get met-wrench !

  4. I have replied to the other posters here: this is another British car article that is badly written, they made 2,000,000 metros/R100. The metro turbo from sold 1983 to 1990. 0-60 9.4sec 111mph 36mpg. Since when has that been bad by 1980's US vehicle standards? Also this particular car is a 1987/88 model year but is displaying a 1972 UK plate which is probably how it got stateside. Are the DMV over in the USa really that daft?

    1. Perhaps the 1 million number refers to the MG version only, because he does qualify it with "10 years of production". The website says 2 million from 1980-97, but that includes the Austin, MG and Rover versions over 18 years.

      Decent performance is never bad. "Poorly built" is another thing. The two traits are not exclusive.

      A guess on the UK plate is that some people like to obtain a retired plate from the car's country of origin and attach it on the front instead of or under the US state plate. I have a friend with an old Saab who's got a same-vintage Swedish plate under the California plate.

      Plausible answers, I hope. On behalf of the DT crowd, I welcome you to the site. You seem to be knowledgeable, so I hope you will stick around and pick an identity so we can get to know you. May I add, ad hominem comments like "badly written" are almost always unnecessary; no one here thinks they are perfect, we do try hard to get things right, and, if there's an error, would be perfectly happy to get into a debate or stand corrected. Cheers!

    2. Anon - if you read the article you would see it says "over 1,000,000 were sold in the UK market" and I didn't even talk about the LHD cars. The 1 million figure is big deal for a country of 55 million people in 1980, basically saying that one in 50 people purchased a Metro. The additional million sold in LHD for use on the European continent and ROW is impressive but not on the same scale when you consider the LHD market is at least 20X as large.
      Welcome to the club!

  5. I have fond memories of things that happened inside the car, but it was thoroughly dreadful otherwise. The handling was so shoddy and the interior plastics shameful. Reliability was also a joke.


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