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Modern Classic - Steve Harper Interview

Modern Classic - Steve Harper Interview

Thu 24th March 2016

In late 2015 Keith Adams of Modern Classic interviewed Steve Harper in his Studio about this past...

Steve Harper, Rex Fleming & Harris Mann - Longbridge Styling Studio - Metro Story (photo: BMIHT)

During 1978, the BL Design Studios at Longbridge and Solihull were tasked with a 5 day sketch programme to produce new design themes, to resolve the criticisms collated during the secret Customer Clinics, of the Design of the Mini replacement, the ADO 88.

From this 5 week design and clay modelling investigation, the LC8, the Austin Metro was created. Larger and with more defined styling elements, the final theme, by Longbridge based designer Roger Tucker, was chosen over several other proposals.

Being one of Steve Harper’s first ‘live’ projects, he was able to contribute some early design sketches, as can be seen in the BMIHT film, the ‘Metro Story’. The picture shows Steve discussing a developing exterior design sketch with Chief Designer Harris Mann (right) and Design Manager Rex Fleming (centre).

Later as the project evolved, his contributions were also used for the design process for wheels and other detail elements, as well as for the MG& MG Metro Turbo design themes.

Furthermore, during the middle part of 1979, there were also sketches and models produced of a sedan ‘booted’ version of the Metro, some of which are shown here. The project was eventually cancelled and replaced by the Honda Ballade based Triumph Acclaim.

The images of the Metro HPD, a super sport Turbo version of the car were created during the spring of 1981. This design final evolving into the famous Group B rally car, the Metro 6R4. 

For those eagle eyed insomniacs who frequent the dusty archives of the Open University, there is one paricular Design lecture which captures the Metro first facelift programme, recorded for posterity, around 1982.

Featuring the then Interior Design Chief Geoff Perkis, as a design spokesman on the process of design and realisation, it also featured many snippets taken around the Longbridge Exterior Styling Studio.

Part of which was detailed close up of clay modellers working on the facelift, and Steve Harper shown creating a full size taped drawing of the design. .