In 2016 I made a report for Auto Motor Klassiek who will remember me for a long time. The editor-in-chief had received an email from Willem Keizer from Stadskanaal. He wanted to put the Austin Allegro 1500 Special in the limelight. I was asked to approach Willem and that was no problem at all. I have a soft spot for enthusiastic people and cars that are in the underdog position. Moreover, I knew that the Keizer family had collected wonderful material over the years. That was delicious, and the report day was also a great opportunity to prove that an Allegro could go through life without problems. The latter went a bit differently.
On a beautiful summer day in 2016, I arrived on the grounds of the Keizer family. Immediately it was fun, and Willem and I found each other in our car enthusiasm. I entered a world of war vehicles, Riley copies and (I can still hear Willem say it) brand original cars from our youth. For example, I mention a very early Golf Diesel, with the CAV pump still in it. Such cars were there, and as an enthusiast the day could not go wrong.
"No need to call"
The Austin Allegro 1500 Special was also of original stature. A fine car, delivered new in the Netherlands in November 1974. He showed that British Leyland pleased the customer when they opted for a slightly more luxurious version. I really wanted to go into the countryside with this car and judge it on its historical specifications. “If there is anything, Erik, you just call me and I will come to you. Although I don't think it is necessary ”, said Willem. That agreement had also been made.
Dancing in the countryside
I had a great time in the Allegro, which brought that light-seeing but unconcerning sound from the technology. I didn't hear a rattling chain. The 1.5 E-series power source and gearbox worked - when the oil from the joint crankcase had reached operating temperature - very nicely. I sat comfortably deep in the chairs, the sitting position was typical and offered a sense of security. The Allegro danced pleasantly. That must have been the experience of the Allegro owners. All in all, a nice classic alternative, I thought, and I thought it was pretty cool to ride with a little-seen and infamous guest on the roads and paths west of Stadskanaal. So in Drenthe.
Longer photo break, still a phone call
It was time to take pictures, and I had selected some locations in advance. Including the Markerheide between Stadskanaal and Borger, a sandy path with photo perspective. I hobbled to a spot and stopped there. Shut off the engine and captured the Austin Allegro from multiple positions inside and out. 'On to the next location', I thought. The Austin thought otherwise. I turned the key, heard the starter motor do its job but the 1.5 engine in the bow of the Englishman did not start. There I was. Since the car belonged to Willem, I decided not to claim any of my fairly basic key skills. However, all kinds of things shot through me. Was the grounding poor? Were we dealing with corroded fuses here now? It could be anything, and I called Willem for the quick fix. “Ha ha, he's calling me! Where do you stand? I'm coming!"
Had it been 1975 or 1992, a long walk to the nearest farm would have awaited me. Or use smoke signals to indicate to the world that the Allegro was unlucky. Now it was 2016, and with the Samsung (charged in advance) I reached Willem very quickly. And as soon as I connected with him, he was also at the scene of the disaster. The cause of the breakdown soon became apparent. A Chinese-made capacitor was no longer underarm fresh, so the contact points refused to work. They had indeed turned a bit black. Willem repaired the problem, and I could continue to location two.
Have a good laugh
While I was running the Allegro engine for safety's sake, I shot a few more pictures. After this I drove back to the stables of the Keizer family. We had a good laugh about the bad luck story. And relieved they concluded that the weak capacitor actually had nothing to do with the rest of the Allegro's technical state. Because Chinese, and not British. Although we thought it was quite coincidental that the report with an Austin from the seventies turned out slightly differently than expected. We played down the incident. Determined that the Austin was a fine classic. Because an Allegro that has been around for 41 years could hardly be a bad car.