It’s always highly entertaining to walk around the parking lot at automotive-related events. We did just that yesterday at the 2015 edition of the Historic Monte-Carlo Rally and stumbled upon a Austin Metro Vanden Plas parked next to a Saab 96 that presumably dropped out of the race. From memory, this is the first and only Metro Vanden Plas that we’ve seen in the past decade.
The upscale Vanden Plas model was added to the Metro lineup in 1982. It stood out from the run-of-the-mill Metro thanks to additional standard features like a cassette player, power windows, wood trim on the door panels and the dashboard and a more comprehensive instrument cluster. Vanden Plas buyers with change left over could order leather upholstery, fog lights, an automatic transmission and even a trip computer. In many ways the Metro Vanden Plas previewed today’s crop of premium sub-compact hatchbacks.
The Vanden Plas was initially launched with the Metro’s 60-horsepower 1,275cc four-cylinder engine. A 72-horsepower version of the 1.3-liter sourced from the MG Metro came standard in 1984, though Vanden Plas models equipped with an automatic gearbox retained the 60-horsepower mill.
The French version of Howmanyleft doesn’t even list the Metro as a car, let alone the Vanden Plas model, so we can’t imagine that more than a handful are left. There is not a single example for sale in the national classifieds, though there is a wanted ad from a man who is – presumably – desperately looking for one.
The example we photographed yesterday is in remarkably clean shape save for minor dings and sizable dent on the passenger-side door. The interior was equally clean and it didn’t emit the slightest puff of smoke when the owner started it up. The registration number was issued in 2005 so it’s difficult to tell exactly when it was built but we can narrow it down to between 1984, when the four-door Metro was introduced, and 1990, when production ended.