Although it was never exported to the US automotive marketplace, Aston Martin launched a subcompact car in 2011 called the Cygnet.
But this car was no young swan. It actually was a Toyota-produced iQ hatchback, sold in the US as the Scion iQ.
Aston Martin invested a reported 175 man-hours into converting the iQ into the Cygnet, the result being a car that cost about three times as much as the iQ. Even with the Aston upgrades, consumers were not eager to ante up for the car. Aston had planned to produce around 4,000 units a year, but by 2013 had found buyers for fewer than 150 of the 300 or so it actually built.
But it turns out that the Cygnet was not the famed British brand’s first foray into a compact marketplace, and one of the earlier examples will be up for auction November 17 at the H&H Classics sale at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, UK.
The car is a 1982 Frazer-Tickford Metro, of which only 26 were produced, making it even rarer than the Cygnet.
In late 1954, the David Brown Corporation purchased coachbuilder and engineering specialist Salmons and Sons at Tickford and its factory at Newport Pagnell. Brown had put Tickford coachwork on Aston Martin and Lagonda vehicles since the late 1940s and soon after the purchase, moved Aston Martin to the Tickford works.
In the early 1980s, Aston Martin and Metro worked together to create 26 examples of the Frazer-Tickford Metro, three of them exported to the US market, including the car going to auction.
The car was ordered as a 1.3 S model with left-hand drive by Wendal “Rick” McBride, official photographer for Ferrari (and reportedly involved in the naming of the De Tomaso Pantera).
McBride displayed the car at the 1982 Los Angeles Auto Show, and since then it has been driven only 15,000 kilometers. It is being consigned by only its second owner, according to H&H Classics.
The car wears a paint shade called Cairngorm Brown and has a saddle-leather interior with chocolate-color piping, a beige headliner and Wilton carpets with leather edging, H&H reports. It also has a Uher stack stereo, full body kit, a quartet of Marchal fog lamps, sunroof, electric windows and cruise control.
The 1.3-liter engine was performance-tuned by Aston Martin with a Weber twin-choke carburetor, hotter camshaft and larger valves, all of which boosted output to 80 horsepower.
H&H notes that at £11,600, the car was “significantly” more expensive than a Porsche 944 and was owned by McBridge until his death in 2013. The car was reworked and put back on the road a couple of years later and in 2018 got a new windshield, interior refreshening including Alcantara headliner, and new exhaust system.