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Atlas 1:43 1976 Leyland Princess: Staffordshire Police Force

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Atlas 1:43 1976 Leyland Princess: Staffordshire Police Force

Atlas 1:43 1976 Leyland Princess: Staffordshire Police Force

The Princess is a family car which was produced in the United Kingdom by the Austin-Morris division of British Leyland from 1975 until 1981 (1982 in New Zealand). The car inherited a front-wheel drive / transverse engine configuration from its predecessor, the BMC ADO17 range. This was still unusual in Europe for family cars of this type and gave the Princess a cabin space advantage when compared with similarly sized cars from competing manufacturers.

The car, which had the design code ADO71, was originally marketed as the Austin / Morris / Wolseley 18–22 series. In 1975 the range was renamed "Princess". This was effectively a new marque created by British Leyland, although it had previously been used as a model name on the Austin Princess limousine from 1947 to 1956, and the Vanden Plas Princess. The Princess is often referred to, incorrectly, as the Austin Princess. Although this name was not used in the UK market, it was used in New Zealand. The car was later revamped as the Austin Ambassador, a hatchback, which was produced from 1981 until 1984 and only available in Britain and Ireland.

Princess sales, although initially strong, were tailing off by the end of the 1970s. Some of its competitors had gained a fifth-door as a hatchback which the Princess lacked (though Harris Mann originally designed the car with a hatch) and the medium large-car sector fell victim to a poor economic climate further compounded by the OPEC oil crisis of the day. It was somewhere between the Ford Cortina and Ford Granada in terms of size, being designed to compete with more expensive versions of the Cortina as well as entry-level versions of the Granada. British Leyland restyled the Princess with a boot so that it would not compete with their existing SD1 and Maxi designs.

The limousine version was devised in late 1975 and produced on a small scale by Woodall Nicholson. Based on the top of the range Princess 2200 HLS, stretched at the B-pillar to allow more room for the rear compartment, the front door remained unchanged, making the car look oddly proportioned from the side. The Leyland Princess 2200 HLS Limousine was produced between 1975 and 1979, and was mostly sold to local borough councils (as a mayoral car) and to the funeral sector. Princess limousine seemed to be an alternative to a Daimler DS420 that local government used in the mid 70s as Daimlers were much more expensive.

Total production amounted to 224,942 units.

The car was launched on 26 March 1975 as the 18–22 series, "the car that has got it all together". The number designation 18–22 referred to the engine sizes available carried forward from the 1800 cc and 2200 cc BMC B-series-engined BMC ADO 17 "Landcrab". For the first six months of production three badge-engineered versions were produced: Austin, Morris and Wolseley. The Austin model bore the original "design intent", featuring trapezoidal headlights and a simple horizontally-vaned grille. The Morris and Wolseley cars had a raised "hump" permitting a larger, styled grille for each model; the Morris one was a simple chrome rectangle with Morris in the lower right-hand corner, while Wolseleys had a chrome grille with the traditional illuminated company logo, with narrower vertical bars either side set back within the chromed surround. Both of these versions had four round headlights, and the Wolseley model was only available with the six-cylinder engine and luxury velour trim. Apart from their bonnet and headlamp designs, and of course their badging, the Austin and Morris models were virtually identical.

The exterior styling was distinctive, innovative, and somewhat divisive. "The Wedge", as it was often nicknamed, was indeed very wedge-shaped; the styling was all angles and slanting panels. This was very much a 1970s design as created by Italian stylists (see Lamborghini Countach for example). Within BL the car was often referred to as "The Anteater". The designer, Harris Mann, was also responsible for the Triumph TR7, another wedge-shaped car, as was his original design for the Austin Allegro, although by the time that design had been readied for production nearly all the angular styling features had been lost.

The base engine fitted was the 1798 cc B-series pushrod straight-4. The lay-out closely followed that of the predecessor model, but access to the alternator/water pump was greatly improved by exploiting the car's longer nose to fit a front-mounted radiator. The basic design of the engine dated back to 1947 and the unit with a claimed output of 84 bhp was notably lacking in power, although torque was reasonable. The larger engine, fitted to upper models in the range, was a 2227 cc E-series SOHC straight-6. This was very smooth and a much more modern engine, with a published output figure of 110 bhp, but was still not hugely powerful. The Princess was a big car, and the engine choice gave lacklustre performance, not helped by the provision of only a 4-speed manual gearbox (a Borg-Warner automatic transmission was an option). Suspension used BL's Hydragas system.

Staffordshire Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent in the West Midlands of England. It is made up of eleven Local Policing Teams, whose boundaries are matched to the nine local authorities within Staffordshire.

A combined force covering Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, called Staffordshire County and Stoke-on-Trent Constabulary, was established on 1 January 1968, as a merger of the Staffordshire County Police and Stoke-on-Trent City Police. This force lost areas to the new West Midlands Police in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972 and adopted a shorter name.

Under proposals made by the Home Secretary on 6 February 2006, it would have merged with Warwickshire Constabulary, West Mercia Constabulary and West Midlands Police to form a single strategic force for the West Midlands region. However these plans have not been taken forward largely due to public opposition.

For 2005/06 Staffordshire police topped the Home Office chart as being the best performing police force in England and Wales.

Staffordshire Police is one of two forces involved in the Central Motorway Police Group along with West Midlands Police. This unit provides roads policing for the motorway network in the West Midlands (mainly M5, M6 and M42). Staffordshire Police has no other roads policing capacity; this was disbanded in 1999 during the major force reorganisation that also saw the mounted branch disbanded.

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