1981 Mk1 Austin Mini Metro 1.3 Auto
(Featured on 10th August 2012)
Registration: UJF 625X
Sellers original description:
Mk1 Austin Mini Metro 1.3 Automatic.
One Lady Owner and just 20,200 miles from new supported by comprehensively stamped service history.
Presented in superb unmolested original condition with the vast majority of its factory paint finish.
32 years since they were introduced the early launch specification Mk1 mini METROS, especially the separate model Automatic, are now becoming rare and sought after.
A very worthwhile investment while prices remain relatively low before the inevitable price increases.
Plans for the replacement of the Mini, known as ADO74, had been in place at British Leyland since the early seventies. However none of the concepts ever reached production, largely due to a shortage of funds.
By the late seventies work had began on another design, ADO88, that was indented to initially complement the Mini, which was still selling well, with a view to eventually replacing it.
The new design needed to fit into the so called supermini 3 door hatchback class and be bigger than the Mini but smaller than the Allegro.
A name for the new car was chosen through a ballot of BL employees.
After 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.
The Austin mini METRO was launched in 1980 and BL’s clever marketing campaign led by a patriotic TV advert billed the mini METRO as a ‘British car to beat the world’.
The campaign worked better than BL could have ever hoped for and the mini METRO became an overnight success, the likes of which had never previously been seen with a BL product.
‘Metro mania’ swept the country. BL dealers were selling the cars faster than they could be produced. For British Leyland and its Dealers, who for years had struggled with having to give big discounts, it was a period of euphoria.
The Mini's 998 cc and 1275 cc A-Series engines with front wheel drive were carried over. The 3 door hatchback body shell was one of the most spacious of its time and this was a significant factor in its popularity. Models ranged from the 1.0 base to the 1.3HLS.
Initially, the mini METRO was only available as a four speed manual there was not an option for automatic. In an unprecedented move BL decided not to offer automatic as an option on the existing models but to introduce a new and separate model that had a 4 speed automatic gear box as standard. The mini METRO 1.3 Automatic, based on the top of the range HLS was a model in its own right launched in late 1981.
The BL publicity brochure for the new model proclaimed:-
"The Metro 1.3 Automatic - a distinctive new addition to the established Metro range - combines a high-luxury specification with the added delight of a superb 4-speed automatic transmission system, specially designed to provide good performance with outstanding fuel economy.
The Metro Automatic has a wealth of comfort features, some of which are shown below. They include the unique 'split action' rear seat, which gives a daily choice of four passenger/luggage variations, to cope with just about every family transport problem.
To complete the picture of luxurious motoring, the Metro 1.3 Automatic is equipped with an advanced 4-speed fully automatic gearbox which, at any time you choose can be operated manually to provide instant clutchless gear changes.
Big car luxury at small-car cost; the inimitable Metro 1.3 Automatic presents you with them both - automatically
The Metro Automatic is rich in safety and luxury features. Outside there are stylish halogen headlamps, a driver's door mirror, mud flaps, fog guard and reversing lamps, powerful servo-assisted brakes and a wash/wipe system for the big rear screen.
Inside there's mellow velour seat trim with colour-keyed head restraints, and instrumentation binnacle with speedometer, separate fuel and water temperature gauges, a bank of nine warning lights and a large analogue clock, a fitted radio, and such thoughtful touches as a carpeted glove box, front door armrests and bins, grab handles and illuminate switches. Both front seats fully recline, and the unique Split Action rear seat offers unequalled passenger/luggage versatility”.
The stand alone model mini METRO 1.3 Automatic was the only auto available in the range.
Automatic was not an option on any other model of the early cars and only became so with the later introduction in 1982 of the Vanden Plas version which replaced the HLS. It was at this time that the mini METRO name was dropped and it became just Metro.
32 years after the launch early Mk1 mini METROS have already entered the classic car arena. The Mk1 mini METRO featuring the early bonnet and headlight arrangement should not be confused with later 5 door or Rover versions in terms of collectability or value.
Mk1’s are rare now and are sought after by enthusiasts who see the importance of the Metro in British Motoring history. It was yet another model that pulled a teetering BL once again back from the brink.
Rarest of all of the MK1 mini METRO models is the 1.3 Automatic, a year after launch the far more common Vanden Plas was offered in place of the HLS with the option of automatic.
Prices of MK1 metros have risen of late and they are set to rise further as they get harder to find. You would be hard pushed to find a Mk1 1.3 mini METRO Automatic at all now as enthusiasts, collectors and investors have realised the investment potential.
To find one that is totally original with unmolested factory specification, that has had just one lady owner and covered just 20,000 miles supported by a fully stamped service history – well that’s a big ask indeed but one does exist.
On the 1st of December 1981 the first and only owner of UJF 625X, a retired professional lady, travelled the 2 miles from her home to BL dealers Latham’s (Leicester) ltd, to collect her new mini METRO 1.3 Automatic.
She had ordered the car in the most attractive colour, Zircon blue metallic with contrasting Savannah beige ribbed velour trim. The only dealer extra, a very wise move indeed, was the addition of a Ziebart rustproofing treatment.
She had wanted a mini METRO for her retirement since their launch the previous year but with no Automatic option available she had had to wait until the end of 1981 for the launch of 1.3 Automatic model.
The owner knew that she would rarely use UJF 625X to go far from home now that she was retired – in fact most of its time would be spent in her garage.
By the time UJF 625X was 1 year old it had covered just 3,812 miles. That was the last time that the car would ever travel that sort of mileage in one year though, from then on the mileage was limited to just a few hundred per annum.
The lady owner had carefully read all of the literature supplied with the car. Page 32 of the handbook told her that Metros should be checked and serviced every 12,000 miles or 12 months which ever was the sooner. However she noted that the Automatic models should have the checks every 6,000 miles or 6 months – so that was exactly what was done. The service book has 18 stamps (until the book was full in 1997) with just a few hundred miles but about 6 months between services.
After the book was full servicing continued up until the present day at the same intervals. This has been confirmed to us by the automotive specialist who carried the work out. It was he who disposed of the car on behalf of the owner who is now 93 and given up driving.
A couple of the automotive specialist’s stamps are in the back of the original service book and he says there was an additional book although the owner who is now of ill health has been unable to find it.
VOSA M.O.T. records back to 2006 show that the car has travelled 2,000 miles in the last 6 years.
Today UJF 625X has covered 20,200 miles and is presented in beautiful condition.
The car is factory standard no extras have been added apart from the Ziebart when it was new. The supplying dealers number plates, rear window sticker and tax disc holder remain.
The majority of the paint finish would seem original.
Mk1 Metros did suffer with rust. This one though would not seem to have fallen victim, no doubt owing to the Ziebart treatment
The automotive specialist who handled the sale on behalf of the owner tells us that both front wings were replaced some years ago, the paint match is very good.
Overall the paint work is excellent. There have been some stone chips and blemishes touched in with a touch up brush over the years.
A couple of the bumper end caps have been scraped in the past and one of these incidents has distorted the end of the front bumper slightly.
Door boot and bonnet shuts are excellent.
4 newish tyres.
The original interior is very good.
Carpets are not worn or torn
The Savannah beige ribbed velour seats are not misshapen, ripped, torn, and have no staining.
Door cards are intact and have never been cut.
Original BL radio.
Under the bonnet:
Under the bonnet the engine bay is spotless.
No sign of rust to the body or inner wings.
Original stickers remain.
In the boot:
Spare wheel with original factory fitted Dunlop tyre.
Jack, wheel cover removal tool wheel brace, Jack handle all in their correct bag.
Undamaged parcel shelf.
On the road:
The car starts on the button with manual choke.
The engine is quite with no untoward smoke or noises.
The great thing about the Metro Automatic, as the brochure says, you can drive it like a clutchless manual or just put it in D and away you go – we love it!
Everything seems just as it should be.
It will be given a short safety test drive by our mechanic as part of our pre sales checks before auction end.
1. Original V5 (logbook) showing 0 former owners.
2. MOT end of November 2012
3. VOSA MOT history for every year back to 2006
4. Old MOT
5. Supercover wallet with relevant literature hand book printed for the mini METRO rather then just metro and fully stamped service book.
UJF 625X is an honest, proper example of a very rare model of the, already rare, MK1 mini METRO.
There are only a handful of mini METRO Automatics left and consequently his one will be of interest to collector’s, enthusiasts and investors alike.
It has covered only 20,200 miles in the hands of just 1 lady owner and has been correctly maintained regardless of cost in exact accordance with the manufacturer’s instruction. Proof of this is present with the car and it provides irrefutable evidence that its mileage is genuine.
Although ultra low mileage it is a car that has been used – just not very often and not for journeys of any distance so although it is not concours condition it is hard to believe its 31 years old.
We are always being asked what we think will be a classic of the future. Actually MK1 Metros already are now classic but we thank that they are set to become more so as, like all classics, the older they get and the fewer that are left the more desirable they become.