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Luxury Austin Allegro: 1979 Vanden Plas 1500

051316 Barn Finds - 1979 Vanden Plas 1500 - 1

In a feat of badge engineering, the fine folks at Vanden Plas outfitted the Austin Allegro with a truckload of niceties and it became the Vanden Plas 1500. The 1979 Vanden Plas 1500 seen here is on eBay in Leeds, United Kingdom for £3,995 ($5,736).

051316 Barn Finds - 1979 Vanden Plas 1500 - 2

This car looks brand new to me. Even though most of it is original, the seller mentions that the wheels have been powder coated and it wears new Hankooks all around, as well as a gaggle of new mechanical updates. I love the look of this car, it’s so small and yet elegant at the same time.

051316 Barn Finds - 1979 Vanden Plas 1500 - 3

Some (most) of you probably won’t care for this view, but this is the one that’s the most interesting to me. I like this car as a Vanden Plas 1500 as compared to the Austin Allegro, just for the fact that it’s even more unusual. This car only has 39,000 miles on it and it looks great.

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There’s a lot going on in here for such a small car. The materials are top notch and the rear seat passengers aren’t exactly suffering back there! The seller mentions a new headliner and the car has a new water pump, a new brake slave cylinder and a full engine service. There are no engine photos, unfortunately, but this would be a 1.5L (1,485cc) BMC E-Series four-cylinder with about 70 hp. This is really an unusual car, at least it is for us on the other side of the pond here in the US. Are there any fans of the Vanden Plas 1500 out there?


  1. jim s

    it does look good. this dealer has some other interesting cars also. i too think there should be some photos of the engine. great find.

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  2. Tony

    Never seen one before. The first thought was someone took a Chevette rear and a Jaguar XJ6 nose and made it work, like the Rolls-Royce Beetle conversion..

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  3. Don Dimble

    I’d never seen this before either – a quick search led to a Tlelgraph article about the designer, who also did the Triumph TR7. They called it the “worst car ever” and a symbol of all that was wrong with the British car industry in the 70’s. If this is the “worst car ever” from England, I think the US has them beat. This is like a much prettier AMC gremlin. I think it’s pretty great looking, actually. By the way, is “Vanden Plas” French for “tray table”?

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  4. wynkin

    Fine example of you cannot polish a turd…

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    Keep the weirdos coming!

    I’ve never seen one and that makes it cool

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  6. Saabist

    An example of how British Leyland made a bad car even worse , instead of making the Allegro design work they sidetracked into this nasty piece of British snobbishness. Vanden Plas were a company of coach builders responsible for limousine’s such as the Sheerline and part of the Austin group. Incidentally the Police, who used the base Allegro as very slow patrol cars, called them All-Agro’s because of the cars unreliability . Indeed you can’t polish a turd , and they were available in a fetching brown colour.

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  7. Andrew

    I remember them being off loaded brand new off a truck and the lower end models had a square steering wheel, or not round what I remember. Most of them ended up driving rusty after 2 years with a coat hanger for an antenna.

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  8. Mark-A

    Remember that my Dad had a 1850 Twin Carb 5 speed Purple Allegro not a Vanden Plas but at the time I remember thinking it was really fast, I’d probably have been 10yr old or so!!

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