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What is it like to drive?

A little crude but by no means a basket case. About par with other cheap cars from the period then. It’s certainly no worse than a lot of what was coming out from British Leyland at the time.

What we have here is an ordinary hatchback, the kind of car that keeps the world turning but never sets it alight. It uses coil springs up front and leaf springs and a solid axle at the back. It’s not a cossetting set-up, but the front end is positive through the unassisted steering. Just watch that though: plenty of turns from lock to lock.

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Does it handle?

Technically yes, rewardingly no. It can go round corners, but push even an ounce too hard and you sense the loaded front wheel start to tuck under. At this point you remind yourself how spindly the suspension looked when you had a root around and that you’re driving a museum piece.

The rear axle is less well damped and skitters about. It’s a bit lumpen. Go faster and it never really settles. But there are no squeaks and nor is there much suspension noise. The ride isn’t sophisticated, but back then precious little was.

How’s the engine?

It manages to move the car. Actually, that’s a bit unkind. Once warmed through (the carburettor doesn’t need much choke) the Mitsubishi-sourced four cylinder actually runs pretty smoothly. There’s not too many vibrations and the noise isn’t too invasive. Nor is the gearchange particularly awkward. It functions well, but by any modern standards the performance is extremely leisurely. Even keeping up with city centre buses is a challenge – the engine likes to be kept in a fairly narrow sweetspot.

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