Project Retirement Rocket PART 2.

If you’ve only just tuned into this project then it’ll make more sense to read the previous installment first (see below). To those in PH land who are aware of my aim to create a 2.7-litre two-door Austin Allegro street sleeper then I have two things to say. Firstly THANKS. Thank you for all of the encouraging forum posts and thanks for appreciating this slightly leftfield idea. Secondly, it fits! Yep, at first it was merely a guess but now we can confirm that the V6 does go under the bonnet with no horrid bonnet bulges or stupid vents.

840kg + 177bhp

Let’s start with the fun bit. Facts and stats. According to my manuals the Allegro 2-door 1300 Super weighs 840kg. A generously optioned Rover 827 Sterling is 1470kg. A stock 827 has 177bhp @ 6000 rpm, does 0-60 in 8 sec and has a top speed of 131 mph. The Allegro shouldn’t be a slouch, then. And that’s before any talk of supercharging…


A couple of days ago I got back from a visit to MB Motorsport in Hebburn, nr Newcastle (0191 4894239) to see Project Retirement Rocket. Mike and the MB Motorsport lads have become quite attached to my slice of ‘70s retro tat, which sits timidly in the corner of the workshop. Customers who turn up on their premises to have autocross Lotus Elises and track day Golfs built are taking an unusual interest, too.

On the quiet I’m really excited. So excited in fact that I awarded the RR with a premature Christmas gift. Thanks to the Allegro Club International ( I’ve tracked down a quartic (square) steering wheel for her. It’s not even secondhand – it’s New Old Stock. Initially I was afraid the club would tie me up and poke my eyes out with BL indicator stalks, but they all seem to respect the project.


My Agro is a 2-door 1300 Super, which means it boasted a 1275cc engine. One with 48,000 miles I hasten to add. I didn’t need it, so we craned it out and (in the name of recycling and small profit) sold it to a Mini Clubman racer for £150. That’s £27 more than I paid for the whole Allegro. Obviously I didn’t feel smug at this point.


The base for Project Retirement Rocket is the 1993 Rover 827 which I found (with mot, tax and service history) for £150. She ran beautifully and had the desirable 5-spd transmission, so was the perfect donor. Out came the 177bhp V6 and immediately MB Motorsport whipped off the flywheel and lightened it from 10.5 kilos to 8kg.

They also fitted a new clutch, timing belt and sump gasket for good measure. After all, access to these items once the motor is in Project Retirement Rocket is going to be tight. Talking of which, I fear that space for cooling may be an issue in the Allegro. We may opt for a twin radiator set up like the 5-pot Audis or one very slim custom rad that fits right inside the front grille aperture.


Ok, so as you can see from the pics the engine isn’t bolted in yet. MB Motorsport offered it up to the Allegro’s empty engine bay on the crane and lowered it. Where the engine fowled bodywork they marked with pens and then reached for the grinder.

In order for the transverse V6 to fit, the front slam panel was shaved, as was the driver’s side Hydralastic shock tower and battery tray. As I write this Mike Boak is cutting and reshaping the chassis legs so the engine can be mounted lower. They need reinforcing for the V6 anyway. The Rover V6 oil filter sticks out like a sore thumb so we’re going to fabricate a blanking plate, which will let oil flow to a remotely mounted filter unit on the front bulkhead via braided Goodridge hoses.

As for the battery, it will live in the boot a la BMWs for weight distribution. The hope is to make the engine bay should like a factory conversion. Mike has mentioned something about mounting the master cylinder inside the car for neatness and not using a servo. I think he’s been looking at his Rallycross Audi TT for too long.


There’s a strengthening brace where the All Agro’s steering rack bolts to, and this fowls the 2.7 Rover’s diff housing on 5-speed manual gearbox. The plan is for MB to keep the stock manual steering system as opposed to using the Rover 827’s power assisted set-up. This will keep the conversion simple and make it feel more, well, analogue. I’d hate for the car to drive too normally.


The story goes that the Rover 827’s suspension is too big and beefy for Retirement Rocket, so we want to use parts from a smaller Rover. A 216 GTI or similar. Having bid and won on a 216 convertible on Fleabay we’re still waiting to hear from the vendor, who has vanished. In the meantime if anyone knows of one being broken in the Tyne area please get in touch. We will be wanting the struts, hubs and brakes from it asap.

The BL Hydralastic suspension system has been bled and is going to be binned. MB intends to source adjustable coilovers for the Rover struts and then remodel the front shock towers suitably. The Allegro’s rear trailing arms will probably stay, but fitted with coilovers. Ride height will be low, in the name of decent cornering, track days or when we’re running late for the coffee morning.


I’m gonna need custom made radiators, can anyone help? Also on the list is decent tyres, brake discs/pads/coilovers and does anyone know if you can chip the ECU of a Rover 827 brain?

The Retirement Rocket seems to have caused quite a positive stir among PH members. Many questions surround the project since the debut installment, so here’s a few answered:

Why are you bothering?

Does there have to be a reason? I like Agros and I’ve always fancied building a sleeper. The two ideas simply merged. Besides, this could become a priceless Smith family heirloom. Sort of. 

Will it be RWD?

No. It would prove too expensive to do full ‘pro street’ V8 (which is the way I wanted) so we’ve decided to keep things on a budget and keep them British, hence the Rover 827 donor car.

Will it look the same?

Hell yeah. The Agro should not look any different than what it did when I pulled it out of the Somerset front garden earlier in the year. This is going to be a faithful street sleeper. Even the exhaust will look the same.

Why use a Rover 827?

Because I want to keep the project British Leyland / Rover. And it was cheap. And it will sound good. And parts are easy to find.

Why not twin engine it?

Two reasons. A) because it’s too expensive and complicated and B) because the interior would no longer look OAP spec. The interior must remain unmolested!

Will it be at Goodwood or Le Mans?

Mmm, we’ll see. I think Lord March would spit on it, but let’s see. I reckon the hill would be fun in a V6 piece of nastiness.

What colour is it?

Not Harvest Gold as I originally thought. Oh no. I stand corrected by a nameless BL pervert who says this is Antique Gold. To be honest, I am colour blind but it looks more like Duck’s back door mess than anything gold. Rest assured it won’t be getting painted or polished.

Will the original wheels stay?

Good question. Well, it won’t get alloys that’s for sure. It all depends if the new disc brakes fit behind 13-inch steelies. If not, we will use 14s or 15-inch steels and disguise them with original hubcaps. I want it to look rock stock.

Why not use a Vanden Plas?

Nah. I think the grille is a bit too crap, even by my standards. Besides, they never made a two-door VP. I will be fitting a quartic (square) steering wheel and front grille from a Series 1 Agro, but that’s only because I love these items better.

180bhp won’t be enough. Turbo it.

The standard 177bhp will be a good place to start. Especially when you consider the Allegro is 840kg. The torque will be awesome, plus it’ll have enough torque steer without a turbo. Saying that, there is talk of a Mercedes Kompressor being bolted on at some point. The jury is still out on that one.

Why not a Rover 220 Turbo engine?

Indeed they are great lumps but I wanted more than four cylinders. Turbos are ok but I prefer normal aspiration or a blower. Plus, the Honda/Rover V6s can do many more miles reliably than a stressed 2.0-litre turbo.

Are we likely to see this on Fifth Gear TV?

I hope so! I will do all I can to give excuses why the show must feature ugly 1970s working class motors. Not sure how it’ll pan out. People seem to like the idea, but at the end of the day I’m building the Retirement Rocket for me.

It’s going to crumble into rust and dust.

Surprisingly enough I have managed to find a super solid British car. Despite living on a lawn for the last 4 years the Allegro is very rust free. It has only done 48K miles and was garaged until the elderly lady owner was shoved in a care home. If she’s still alive when it’s finished I will track her down for a ride… in the car.

Huge respect to the gents behind

These brave men have been modifying Allegros for some time now. According to the blog, it looks like a V8 4.6 Allegro is on their agenda. All the best. I can’t wait.

Part One of the story can be foundhere

Retirement Rocket stop press can be found here

By the way, if anyone wants some Rover 827 spares we're giving them away free to collectors! If anyone wants bits of my car before it is scrapped then they need to call Mike at MB Motorsports and go visit them with spanners.

Pics: Jonny Smith and MB Motorsport

Comments (86) Join the discussion on the forum

  • oagent 13 Nov 2007

    Good work so far. Your bravery is outstanding. The gents at AllegroMotorsport really have gone totally fruity with the RV8 idea but I cant wait to see how their one lines up against yours at Monaco

  • mechsympathy 13 Nov 2007

    thumbupBilliant! I can't wait to see this running.

  • Side Kick 13 Nov 2007

    Utterly bonkers, but brilliant al the same!!!

  • sprinter885 13 Nov 2007

    Ditch the wench Jonny-she looks about as useful as a cardboard cut-out...

    mind you ..could maybe be made into an interesting head-lining.

  • Pissed On Head 13 Nov 2007

    177 bhp from a 2.7 V6...that's 15 BHP more than the 2.7 V6 in the current Hyundai Coupe... laugh

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