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Austin Maxi

884 of 1157 nominations


Austin Maxi

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Austin Maxi

In 1964, the British Motor Corporation (BMC) decided they needed to add an up-to-date model to their ageing car fleet. The result was a new hatchback, the Austin Maxi. Designed by Alec Issigonis, the man behind the Morris Minor and the Mini, the Maxi had a revolutionary engine, as well as innovative gearbox, body and five-door layout with fold-down seats. Production was delayed by financial problems, which culminated in the merger with Leyland in 1968, but the car was finally launched in 1969, amidst much fanfare.

"Let down the rear seats and you're looking at a comfy upholstered double bed," boasted the unfeasibly optimistic launch campaign. Curiously, it also claimed the back seats had more than enough room "for the tallest Guardsman", leaving us to speculate on the identity of the company's target audience. The engine, they claimed, was tested "on German autobahns, in the heat of Portugal and the blizzards of Lapland". However, car pundits were generally unimpressed, calling it noisy and lethargic, and suggesting it suffered from poor gear change. It was also prone to breakdowns and rusting.

In all, nearly half a million cars were built, mostly at BL's Cowley plant, until the Maxi went to the great junkyard in the sky in 1981.


Your comments

The Maxi is as English as a toast rack! If ever there was a car to sum up our nations spirit of practicality and "make do" then this is it. Conceived originally as a rival to Uncle Henry's Cortina, requirements to raid the parts bin of BMC ment that it quickly became a 5 door, and a whole new over stretched engine ment that 5 gears where needed, a typical engineering flaw meant that all the innovative stuff was discovered by accident and they didn't even notice!! Even today when it comes to External to internal volume the Maxi outclasses everything.. except a TARDIS..

Ian Pennick

An orange V registered Maxi 1750 was my first car. My father bought it me having refused to help me buy a Mini on the grounds of "Bigger is safer". As I had just started my apprenticeship at TVR I was made a laughing stock, as all the other lads my age were driving MK2 Escorts, Astras etc. I hated it at the time, the suspension leaked, the rear seat fell back into the boot when carrying passengers, it used more oil than petrol. The then chairman of TVR once bump started me one night towing me with his Land Rover after taking pity on me on the car park. On the other hand i loved it; the folding seat arrangement gave me a great advantage over my friends when it came to entertaining the opposite sex. It was also faster than a lot of standard teenage learners' cars. I look back fondly these days to my old Maxi. I'm glad I owned one, and miss it in a strange way.
Nick Houghton

Often maligned by those who have never owned one and much loved by those who have. Some will admit to owning more than one in the 70s. The first car to bring together a number of innovative ideas that can be seen in all modern hatchbacks: five doors, five seats, wheels at the corners, five speed box, OHC, front wheel drive, five bearing crank. It?s doubtful if any vehicle can boast a greater internal to external dimension ratio than the Maxi. If you like your modern hatch's features then it owes it all to the Maxi. Bet you can't get a good night's sleep in yours though! I have, many times in a Maxi.
Pip Taylor

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I nominate the English weather.