Great to drive and with hatchback practicality, upgrading the Metro is easy, cheap – and fun
Head to the British Motor Museum this Sunday (4 June) and you’ll find plenty of these pint-sized classics at the National Metro and Mini Show – and you’ll find that owners use all of sorts of clever tricks to make the 1980s hatchback better than ever.
It helps that the Metro shares its engine and gearbox with the Mini, so there are virtually limitless upgrades. Most are inexpensive and within the grasp of the DIY-er.
Many of the upgrades mentioned in our Mini guide ( CCW, 1 March) apply here too. Over and above that, the standard MG Metro airbox is better than the Austin alternative and has a better cold air feed tube as standard. The MG’s camshaft is also ideal if you’re building a fast road car, but why not just fit an MG engine?
This 73bhp unit is a straight swap for the standard 63bhp 1.3-litre in the Austin Metro while the 1.0-litre powerplant is rated at just 42bhp or 48bhp, depending on compression ratio. Whatever you fit, a reworked cylinder head is key to better breathing and a water-to-oil heat exchanger from a later Metro will reduce engine bay temperatures.
Getting the Hydragas suspension displacers refurbished will probably pay dividends. Also, the two rear spheres are linked via a pipe – fitting a valve to each one and removing the pipe firms up the ride.
A thicker front anti-roll bar from a 1985-on car reduces roll, as does a rear anti-roll bar from a Metro Turbo or Metro GTi MkIII. Fabricating a rear brace will also result in a noticeable difference in the corners. Camber isn’t easily achieved with the stock suspension but a popular mod is to shorten the suspension rods to lower and stiffen things up.