Shed of the Week: Rover Metro

Anybody remember grab a granny? If you don't, it basically means becoming romantically entwined with an attractive lady of more advanced years than yourself, usually after you've just been dropped by your girlfriend.

This week's Shed is the motoring equivalent of that. If you're about to be dumped by your modern car (a ridiculous repair bill will normally do the trick), you may well be interested in grabbing this particular granny. Or her car, at least. Something that, in this case, could fairly be described as 'new old stock', with lots of shiny, apparently rust-free metal, an as-new interior, and a genuine 29,000 miles backed by a trouble-free MOT history.

Some backstory. The Metro popped up in 1980, initially behind an Austin badge. Overhead-valve 1.0-litre A-series engine apart, it was a fresh and appealing design, and a hell of a lot more contemporary than the Mini it found itself stood next to in British Leyland showrooms.

The mags loved the Metro's sprightly driving characteristics, well-packaged cabin and excellent ride, and customers eagerly followed, egged on by the sort of xenophobic 'send the buggers back' advertising that would never be allowed these days. The 'best' one though was surely this Batman ad, a super-cheesy example of distraction advertising.

Anyway, in 1987 - a scant three years after Ford's revamped Fiesta first started nicking sales from the Metro - BL (or the Rover Group as it was called by then) responded in typically lightning-quick fashion by dropping Austin from the name and just calling it Metro instead. That was in readiness for the really big change in 1990, when 'Rover' was officially stuck in front of the Metro badge to signal the long-overdue end of the A-Series and the arrival of a less prehistoric engine, the 1.1 and 1.4 K-Series units in single- or twin-cam flavours.

For '94-'95 it stopped being a Metro and turned into a facelifted 100. Happily, because that facelift was about as successful as the one Mrs Shed had done in her horse-racing phase, when a dodgy trainer with too much money promised to drop his jockeys and enter her at Newmarket if she'd improve her boat race, our car is one of the last Metros.

The basic three-door Metro weighed just 815kg, so even if yours only had the same carburetted 59hp engine as our Shed's, you could still steer it on the handbrake. Probably best not to though, as adjusting the cable was a major pain in the Harris.

Radiators had a habit of blocking up. The Hydragas system provides an excellent ride, but you do need to keep on top of the pressures and the greasing of moving parts. But won't you just check out the wondrous spindliness of the rear wiper arm, and the conveniently exposed wiring for easy maintenance!

Now, the last time we ran a Metro here, the forum lit up with such witticisms as "there's not enough glitter on the planet to roll that in", and "I'd rather poo on my hands and clap", and "I'd rather have ebola" (remember that?). Posters were loudly demanding the facility to input minus numbers on the PH rate-ometer.

Still, some stout defences were put forward for that Metro, usually by people who had actually owned one rather than those who had just heard bad things bout them. Yes, we know that crashing in a Metro wouldn't be good for your health, but then nor would crashing in an AX GT, 106 GTI, or indeed a Caterham.

1.4 Metro GTIs were actually brilliant little cars. This 1.1 won't combust your pants, but the shell looks plenty solid enough for an easy 1.8 VVC transplant - and that motor can go to 200hp and more.

Or you could keep it as it is, and simply use it. With such a low mileage it should see you along the road of cheap motoring (and very cheap classic insurance) for a while yet. The price of this car seems challenging verging on cheeky, but we doubt there'll be many cleaner ones out there, and who knows, it might erode a bit after a few weeks on the shelf.

Mockers will expect it to stick around forever unsold, but they might be surprised. BL/Rover types looking for museum-quality, concours-potential show cars could well take a fancy to it. After all, there are only a hundred or so Rios left, and the rate of extinction has been slowing up over recent years. This is normally a sign that extinction won't happen because the remaining owners are putting in the effort to keep the species going. Keep this Metro in totally original condition and you might even find that you've become the owner of an appreciating asset.

You young 'uns out there, don't be put off by most of what you're going to read below this story. As with grab a granny, don't knock it until you're tried it.

Here's the ad.

One owner from new, under 30,000 miles, lirterally like new, no dents, scratches or rust.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (210) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Jim the Sunderer 27 Apr 2018

    "One owner from new, under 30,000 miles, lirterally like new, no dents, scratches or rust."

    Of course there's rust on the bonnet latch area.

    American definitions of 'lirterally' [sic] do my bloody head in.

  • Toyoda 27 Apr 2018

    Pain in the Harris? Is shed talking about Chris rather than Aristotle?

    The car takes me back to my childhood. Simpler times and simpler cars. I'm sure someone would love it, but it's not exactly a PHer's car.

  • lastofthev8s 27 Apr 2018

    I learnt to drive in a ‘H’ plate 1.1 Metro so spent quite a bit of time in the drivers seat to also learn not to buy one (too cramped / tinny feel to the build).
    Instructor had a cigar habit and there was a huge ash trail down the passenger side door card! hurl

    A friend had a Gti which we drove down to the Pyrenees in 1997, which was a lot more entertaining driving

    Fond memories and not seen one for quite some time.

  • Dave Hedgehog 27 Apr 2018

    just dont crash it biggrin

  • alorotom 27 Apr 2018

    And it’s a Rio!!

    “Her name is Rio and she dances on the saaaaaand”

    I remember the adverts well. My auntie used to have Metros, all beige and bland and the hub caps kept being nicked ... still makes me smile thinking about it.

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