Richard Dredge
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Richard Dredge

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Richard Dredge
Author

Richard Dredge

Austin Metrosport convertible by Rapport

Austin Metros were everywhere in 1981. For those who wanted something different there was this…

When the Austin Metro was launched in 1980, it proved a big hit with buyers who liked the hatchback practicality, the Mini-like driving experience and the keen pricing. The model range was reasonably wide too in terms of trim levels, although at first there were no MG or Vanden Plas editions, and all Metros came with three doors as the five-door edition was a later arrival.

For those who wanted a truly luxurious Austin Metro there were various options including those from Frazer Tickford, Wood & Pickett, and in 1981 these were joined by Rapport's Austin Metrosport convertible which made its international debut at the March 1981 Geneva motor show.

Based specifically on the 1.3-litre Metro (as opposed to the 1.0-litre edition), the Austin Metrosport was designed by Rapport's designer Chris Humberstone. He opted to keep the roof rails in place along with the B- and C-pillars to provide structural rigidity, reduce buffeting at speed, and also to make the car feel less claustrophobic with the roof in place.

Priced at £1796.88 on top of the cost of an Austin Metro (then listed at £3448-£4749), Rapport didn't mess with the mechanicals; the conversion was restricted to removing the roof and fitting a double duck soft top, although customers could have whatever wheels and tyres they wanted, at extra cost.

Having been unveiled in Switzerland in the spring, Rapport followed up with a British debut at the Earls Court motor show in October 1981 – which was the same show at which Crayford also revealed its Metro Politan Metro convertible. As with the Metrosport, Metro Politan buyers could pick from a range of aftermarket alloy wheels but the Crayford conversion was slightly more costly with a price of £2012.50 on top of the Metro's list price.

Unfortunately for both companies, the Rapport Metrosport and the Crayford Metro Politan were virtually indistinguishable from each other (aside from the Crayford's roof sitting more neatly when stowed), even though they were designed and built by two different companies. The result was a threat of legal action served on Crayford by Rapport, resulting in the former backing down rather than risk huge legal costs.

As a result just two prototype Crayford Metro Politans were made and instead of selling them on the open market they were used by Crayford's two directors' secretaries as company cars. Whether or not the Metro Politan would have succeeded anyway is a moot point, as Rapport went bust seemingly before it sold any Metrosports…

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