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DNO 880X

A change of job in September 2004 meant I needed a more practical car. Whilst my Morris 1300 was more than up for the daily commute through the Derbyshire Dales, I did not relish the idea of parking it on a large patch of waste land where I was working at the time. I decided that I wanted something with a similar set up to the ADO16. My list of requirements were as follows:- front wheel drive (ideal for the snow!), room for the taller driver, good fuel economy, and finally it had to be British. Having spent some time looking on-line I'd narrowed my search down to something from the eighties, in the form of a Maestro or Metro. After further research I was swayed towards finding a 1.0l Metro as it would be cheaper to insure.

My search took me to eBay, and I spent many a night looking at different cars weighing up the pro's and con's of each vehicle. One vehicle stood out from all of the others I'd seen. It seemed a sound car from the pictures, and was a base model, so there was no fancy trimming, or gadgets. The recent work suggested that the car had been owned by someone who had always spent money on it. After exchanging emails with the seller it turned out that he was selling it on behalf of the owner as he was loosing his sight. With everything that was happening in his life at that stage, he decided that he would give up driving and the Metro had to go.

As described on eBay. All would become clearer once I'd been in contact with the seller.

After being the only bidder on the item it was time to go and pick Dino up. I wasn't sure what to expect, after all, buying a car over a few pints in your local is risky enough, but on eBay and with a 200+ mile trip everything would be as described, and be worth the trip?

Working in an office, Monday - Friday 9.00 until 5.00, the last thing you want to do on a Saturday is to be up and on the road by 7.15. After a three hour journey we ended up in Tollesbury. For those of you, like us, who aren't sure where Tollesbury is the seller told us that if we went to the other end of his yard, and down the field behind we'd see the sea!

After getting close up to the car I did begin to wonder what I'd bought! The paintwork was very dull, and the car was dirty. The Hounds tooth interior was complete with dog hair, and that dog smell, however bodily the car was sound, and the engine started and ran with no problems. I backed it out from where it stood so we could take a better look.

For a car covering a genuine 97000 miles from new, the only "serious" bit of rust was around the drivers windscreen wiper. Cash changed hands the log book was filled in, and I was now the proud owner of my first "modern" car.

The journey home would not only prove challenging for me but also Dino. After all it was his first long run in some 5 years. After surviving the country lanes with tight S bends, I felt confident in Dino's capability, so the first straight piece of A road I came too, I opened up the throttle and we were soon cruising up to 70 mph with no problems. Not bad considering it's only a 998cc power unit under the bonnet.

After doing at least 100 miles Dino needed some fuel. Luckily we were on the A1, a perfect time for some fuel and something to eat. I had forgotten the fuel tank was smaller than the 1100/1300 and was stood there quite merrily filling when I noticed that I was up at the top of the filler neck, and some fuel had gone on my shoe! Despite me smelling of Petrol for a time while it evaporated from my shoe, there was no danger of fuel spillage as it wasn't the warmest day on record!

After a steady journey, and three hours, we were back in Derbyshire, after taking the quieter A roads just in case there were any problems. We arrived home at just gone 4 o'clock, and work began pretty much as soon as we got out of the car. Something which always lets a car down is the condition of the engine bay. So we set about washing it off, and getting it looking half tidy. During the power wash we decided to clean the front valance off, as the underseal was very thick in some places. This proved to remove a lot of the older flaky stuff that was on there, resulting in a pebble dash effect on the valance.

Sunday morning soon came round, and the sleeves were rolled up for some serious work to begin. I started cleaning the copious amounts of dog hair out of the car! Out came the febreze to make the car smell sweeter! The paintwork was polished, and the coil was fastened back on. It wasn't actually fastened to anything, so we'd driven 200 miles, thankfully with the coil in place!

Already Dino was looking like he was worth more than the 125 paid. It's surprising what a little bit of elbow grease will do to a car.

Washed, polished and looking like a new pin! Dino actually shines! Shame about the wheels, and front panel! - The headlamps spoil a tidy looking front.

The miniMetro badge sits proudly on Dino's boot lid. A very solid little Mk1 Metro. Some minor changes will be made here, including the addition of a rear wash wipe, and possibly a second dummy fog light, as fitted on later models.

The seats in Dino were just terrible! From what I've seen of Mini Clubman's they'd look more at home there! These were soon replaced with some from a later Metro that had more padding in the base and were finished in a more modern fabric.

I've got to admit I've never been a fan of the recessed headlamps, they make the front of the car look very evil! That's a strong word to use, but they look dated. My next job was to get them replaced with something from a later car. I felt certain that I'd read something that said it was a relatively easy conversion, but couldn't find where or what it was. The scrap yard Metro had just what I wanted in the way of headlights, so these were also purchased and fitted. After they were fitted I noticed that they aren't the correct ones for the Mk1 Metro. These lamps are from the later body style, where the bonnet curves down past the headlamps.

The passenger headlight is pointing skywards, this will be replaced in due course with a unit similar to that fitted on the drivers side. The bumper has had the holes filled in with blanking plates taken from a Mk2 Metro.

2004 costs:




Purchase of Austin miniMetro DNO 880X


Seats, headlamps, rear wash wipe and other small parts


Oil, oil filter, thinners, paint


New set of number plates


Glove box, fuse/switch box, instrument pod, steering wheel





Dino certainly saw everything in winter 2004; Snow, rain, gales and not forgetting icy roads. I was impressed, Dino never let me down even when snow caused other drivers to abandon their cars on Slack Hill, Derbyshire which is a 1 in 7 incline. As with most BL products, rust had started to appear around the fuel filler neck (definitely not unusual for a Metro!). I wanted to ensure I caught it early to avoid it spreading, and stop it rotting through the panel. As Halfords had not updated their paint catalogue for some time I was able to obtain some paint off the shelf, and soon had the rust knocked back.

A few weeks later saw me tidying up the front valance, rear wheel arches, and rear valance with the same Halfords spray paint. Other modifications took place, such as the installation of a period central locking door system, MG instrument cluster, improving sound deadening in the front, installing a Vanden Plas grille, fitting new bumpers, and end caps. By end of it the Dino looked like a new car.

Dino seen here at the 2005 BMC/BL day at Peterborough - in the days just before the Metro truly gained classic status!

Dino was replaced as my daily drive in 2006 (when I was 21), and stayed in the family until 2008 when a few fleet changes took place as a result of me relocating. Perhaps the biggest regret I have with Dino are the lack of photographs I took of the car.

Despite what everyone had to say about the Metro, I personally feel it's one of those cars that if you've never owned you can't knock. I carried everything in the back with the seats folded down, even though sometimes taking the overall weight of the car far over what the 1.0l A series could handle comfortably.


By Michael Turner



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This page was last modified on Sunday, 01st January, 2017 @ 22:55:56 CET