Austin Metro 1.3 LE 1987 image - Vital Statistics, Heritage Classic Car Insurance

Austin Metro (1980 – 1990)

Home grown talent shows patriotism and practicality
The famous Austin Metro. A classic car beloved by a nation. Even Princess Diana herself owned one, with a Savannah beige ribbed velour interior. BL’s saviour came in the nick of time. Launched at the British Motor Show, the Metro was billed as the British car to beat the world. Championed by Lady Diana Spencer, big things were expected for BL’s small car.

A huge success, over a million little Austin Metro’s sold in Britain in its ten year production run. In fact, the Metro out sold every other car in the UK throughout the 1980s. Well, except for one the Ford Escort mark III.

The Metro was described as the ‘all new mass production car’. Although, many of the internal parts of the Metro were carried across from BL’s other models. These included the 998 cc and 1275 cc A-Series engines, much of the front-wheel drive train, the four-speed gearbox and suspension sub-frames. The Metro also used the Hydragas suspension system found on the Austin Allegro without front to rear interconnection.

The Austin Metro progressed through the eighties. Further options became available like the more refined Van den Plas luxury model and the sporty MG Metro, adding to this hatchback’s success story. By the late eighties the Austin name was removed and the car was known as simply Metro. Badges were still longboat shaped, as all Rover badges were, depicting a potential re-launch. This came to pass in 1990, with the Rover Metro with revisions to the body as well as the all new K-Series engine.

Years Produced1980 - 1990
Performance0 - 60mph 18.0sec / Top Speed - 88mph
Power & Torque 44bhp / 52Ib ft
Engine998cc / four cylinder / 8 valves
Drive-train Front engine FWD
TransmissionFour speed manual

It’s time for the Austin Metro to be recognised as an authentic classic car instead of being referred to as one of those cars you just don’t see any more. After all, prices are slowly beginning to rise.


British Leyland’s reputation for reliability sadly wasn’t always the best, however the Austin Metro did improve throughout its production history and so early models tend to be less refined than the later ones.


When it comes to corrosion the Metro suffered badly like many other cars in the eighties so check in all the usual places such as wings, arches, sills and door bottoms. Fortunately body panels are still widely available.

Under the bonnet

The Metro’s A-Series engine is a reliable, well built and above all tried and tested having been used in the Mini for many years. These 998cc and 1275cc units are capable of high mileage providing they have been properly maintained so check the vehicles history for evidence of this. Similar to the Mini, Metros can suffer in damp weather, however this is usually down to spark plugs and poor maintenance, again a car that has been looked after well should have the relevant history to prove this.

Transmission problems are quite common as again this came from the Mini and was never the best design anyway. The Metro can jump out of second gear due to worn synchromesh rings and suffer with clutch judder. Make sure transmission lubricant levels are good and stay that way.

The Metro delivers a very respectable ride and handling thanks to its Hydragas suspension as used on the Austin Allegro. This system has proved very reliable with only minor fluid leaks from the pipe connections being a potential problem. The condition inside the car is generally down to the previous owners, although replacement parts are still readily available.

INSURING an Austin Metro (1980 – 1990)

Small classic car, small classic car insurance premiums. It won’t break the bank to insure the UK’s favourite fastback. At Heritage Insurance with 50 years experience behind us, we offer a tailor made package for one or more cars. We include both our in-house agreed value service and salvage retention should the worst happen at no extra cost, and with limited mileage and club members discounts our annual fully Comprehensive policy proves excellent value for money. Here are some typical examples of how little your insurance could be.

  • This quotation has been based on fully comprehensive cover, insured only to drive age 60.

Annual premium – £85.23 with a £100 accidental damage excess.

  • This quotation has been based on fully comprehensive cover, insured only to drive age 45.

Annual premium – £89.61 with a £100 accidental damage excess.

  • This quotation has been based on fully comprehensive cover, insured only to drive age 30.

Annual premium – £127.62 with a £100 accidental damage excess.

*NB: All insurance quotes are based on the same criteria: The vehicle being garaged overnight. Accident, claim and conviction free and a limited mileage of 3000 per annum with full use of a main car daily. All quotations are based on an Agreed Value of £3,000. Prices may alter depending on individual criteria. Quote carried out February 2016.


The name Metro was chosen through a ballot of BL employees. They were offered a choice of three names, Match, Maestro or Metro. Once the result was announced, the manufacturer of trains and buses, Metro Cammell, objected to the use of the Metro name by BL. The issue was resolved by BL promising to advertise the car only as the “Mini Metro”.

Mark Wilkinson (Managing Partner of Heritage Classic Car Insurance) says

“The 1980s saw the concept of the hatchback impact the car market massively from its birth in the 1970s. These practical run a rounds are now classic gems, prized for their simplicity and are still bargains today having gone unrecognised by the enthusiast for some time.”

INSURING an Austin Metro (1980 – 1990)


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