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Austin Maxi

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23 hours ago, ETCHY said:

I've always thought of the Maxi as the first people carrier or multi purpose type vehicle. You can seat 5 people in it, or fold the back seats & get a garden bench or god knows what in it, or indeed flip the seats backwards & you can sleep in it. All that in what still looks like a car & not a van.

Pretty advanced for 1969 !

Yea - it was the right car at the right time - just let down for the wrong reasons - mostly image and quality control.

With the rise of the DIY generation, 'garden centres' and the first out of town 'sheds' and supermarkets, the growth of the Motorways, as well as aspirational growing families moving 'up' it should have been a winner. Instead the R16, Golf, Citroen GS, Volvo and numerous competitors took that middle-class-middle-market away from BL.

Why no Maxi GT like the 1300GT, or Vanden Plas badge or even MG to make it a bit less 'Terry and June' in image? If the Hillman Hunter - with a stripe and some Rostyles - could make the Minx cool - anything was possible

Unloved by Leyland I feel. Pity - they look good in the metal - saw one recently in the local supermarket car park - really its natural habitat.

And in the land of motoring make believe - what if Leyland had poured all the development time and money of the Marina into getting the Maxi really right to complete head on with Cortina and Golf? Sigh...

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1 hour ago, lesapandre said:

Yea - it was the right car at the right time - just let down for the wrong reasons - mostly image and quality control.

With the rise of the DIY generation, 'garden centres' and the first out of town 'sheds' and supermarkets, the growth of the Motorways, as well as aspirational growing families moving 'up' it should have been a winner. Instead the R16, Golf, Citroen GS, Volvo and numerous competitors took that middle-class-middle-market away from BL.

Why no Maxi GT like the 1300GT, or Vanden Plas badge or even MG to make it a bit less 'Terry and June' in image? If the Hillman Hunter - with a stripe and some Rostyles - could make the Minx cool - anything was possible

Unloved by Leyland I feel. Pity - they look good in the metal - saw one recently in the local supermarket car park - really its natural habitat.

And in the land of motoring make believe - what if Leyland had poured all the development time and money of the Marina into getting the Maxi really right to complete head on with Cortina and Golf? Sigh...

Ive found myself in the position of Maxi apologist before and it's not something I'm particularly suited for, when I was young I was pretty much a Ford man and those days I seem to have more Mercs than is proper for an Englishman.

But, I dispute any assertion that the Maxi was not a good car, the British market for medium size cars in the 1970's was almost entirely ruled by the company car and especially big fleets. This is the reason that the Cortina did so well, simple straightforward and very cheap to both purchase and more importantly run for 3 years or 60,000 miles. Pretty much  any contemporary magazine road test that compared a Maxi to a a Cortina found the BL car to be be superior in every way, ride, handling, performance , economy , interior space and comfort , but the big fleet managers didn't care , the bottom line was more important than any of these inconsequential factors. But it was OK BL had the Marina to fight the Cortina...

In Briain , those fine Continental cars you mention were too expensive- full stop.

The HL was the Maxi GT, twin carbs, a rev counter and different hubcaps( nobody noticed they were just standard Allegro ones) 

You also have to remember the monumental clusterfuck that BL was with strikes, internal fighting between factories and Marques, it's amazing they managed to sell or make any cars let alone any that they were trying to sell Allegros, Marinas, Maxis, Princeses, and Dolomites to the consumers that wanted a fleet of Escort 1300L, Cortina 1600 L, and Cortina 2000GL , they also wanted them today and with the paint attached to every panel. Ford had strike problems too , but they  could at least ship some in from other countries.

Vauxhall and Chrysler managed to survive the 70's by mostly selling basic old fashioned cars to fleets that didn't like Fords, Vivas, Avengers , Hunters and Victors were pale Escort and Cortina imitators but we're very chea The Cavalier and Carlton when they arrived were seen as a massive step forward, but as badge engineered Opels that was to be expected.

It could be said that the Alpine and Mk2 Cavalier were influenced by something ( OK the R16 came first but was too weird) fwd, 5 door hatch ...

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I just remembered these in period. My Uncle had a Minx which we kids considered a bit naff - but my friend William's dad had a Hillman Hunter GT in a very distinctive green with a black stripe and Rostyles - we considered it very cool even though it was basically the same car...same with the Austin 1300GT which looked quite good. 

Leyland dropped the Cooper name to save licensing fees (imagine) but as you say could have refreshed the Maxi image with some halo models.

All wishful thinking - such a pity the Maxi did not sell more. There are some interesting Australian variants where they seemed to take the car more seriously.

I remember Donald Stokes on BBC 'Nationwide' waxing lyrical about the new Marina. 

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^ That's an old pic from the previous ownership. Those hideous seat covers went straight in the bin and it now has a set of wheel embellishers. The previous owner was an eccentric old giffer who removed the embellishers and 'elephant's trunk' vent pipes from all his Maxis as he didn't like them (and probably has a huge pile of them in his garage) and believes the 1500 cable-change is the best type of Maxi even though literally no one else in the club agrees with him!

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2 hours ago, Cavcraft said:

Have you had that one yet? Christopher Jones, Treorchy. Facebook 'Classic cars for sale' £1200.

Yes, thanks.

 

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I'm sure I remember reading somewhere that the Maxi was released earlier than the engineers etc wanted due to Lord Stokes insisting it being ready for a certain date. That's why the early ones had issues as basically they weren't ready to go out yet !

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On 1/1/2020 at 3:03 PM, ETCHY said:

I've always thought of the Maxi as the first people carrier or multi purpose type vehicle. You can seat 5 people in it, or fold the back seats & get a garden bench or god knows what in it, or indeed flip the seats backwards & you can sleep in it. All that in what still looks like a car & not a van.

Pretty advanced for 1969 !

Maxis are indeed a clever design, but not the first.  Renault beat Austin to market by four years with the 1965 R16 (and Simca by two with the smaller 1100 in 1967).

Have some gratuitous Renault 16 pics demonstrating its use (by me) as a mobile Travelodge:


E48AB6CC-85BF-4C7E-8AC8-2B782CC53EEF.thumb.jpeg.15ea95179948d60d8f20349f287a2f3a.jpegAEFA2471-5095-4D86-ADA6-C0BB4BB798D5.thumb.jpeg.9aab5dafab81556b57e3fff3e59c7b81.jpeg

Surprisingly comfy.

The Maxi does benefit from a lower, more estate-like loading sill than the R16 and an easier rear seat folding arrangement, however.

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After 1975 the Maxi had  competition from the 4-door Golf, larger Passat and 20200104_093549.jpg.cbe1353476008ef47fcf3f486aa8ea6e.jpgalso from the Chrysler Alpine 4-door hatch.  A very neatly styled  car the latter designed by Roy Axe. Must be one of the first uses of integrated bumpers. I recall they sold pretty well at first. Our next door neighbour had one new in a very fetching light metallic blue. Seemed a very fresh bit of design at the time.

 

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4 hours ago, ETCHY said:

I'm sure I remember reading somewhere that the Maxi was released earlier than the engineers etc wanted due to Lord Stokes insisting it being ready for a certain date. That's why the early ones had issues as basically they weren't ready to go out yet !

https://www.aronline.co.uk/cars/austin/maxi/

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We bought a written off 1972 Maxi 1500 in 1976, KBJ420K iirc. Two new wings and front panel, used bonnet and bumper and painted it from the doors forward plus a shit ton of hammerite, underseal and waxoyl when it was actually any good. It was that baking hot summer and the vinyl seats wewre murder. It as that very dark purple with red trim. Fantasticlly useful car, great for camping holidays in France. It bwas drioven all the way from Le Havre to near Nice on less than two tanks of fuel and in one go. Ran it until the bitter end in 1990 by which time it had done 120'000 miles and was shagged out - using oil, 2nd syncro gone, hydro leaking on one side and major rot underneath. The carefully rebuilt front end remained mint however.

 

Great old car.  Weighed in and replaced with a 3 year old Renault 21, another excellent car.

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I bought a maroon 1750 for Mrs Jetter back in the late 80's - VPK 2S. She found the steering to heavy so it didn't last long with us. Nice car but not as good as the R16TL I had some years earlier, but then I had to replace the gearbox on that as it started making some terminal noises on the way back from Castle Donnington to the south coast after going to the Mini 25 celebrations.

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Ford type dash designed by Roy Haynes who was tasked with cleaning up the BMC car for market. The A U S T I N script along the bonnet edge can't have lasted long either - do many of these very early cars survive? Shades of R O V E R on the last of the Rovers.

Much made of the converts-to-double bed angle - it's funny the newsreel does not seem to know what a hatchback car is for - most people want to know if you can get a wardrobe or lawnmower in there - not take a kip. But perhaps shows a changing society - earlier publicity for cars most always showed cases and bags in car boots - not DIY material or plants etc.

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18 minutes ago, lesapandre said:

Ford type dash designed by Roy Haynes who was tasked with cleaning up the BMC car for market. The A U S T I N script along the bonnet edge can't have lasted long either - do many of these very early cars survive? Shades of R O V E R on the last of the Rovers.

Much made of the converts-to-double bed angle - it's funny the newsreel does not seem to know what a hatchback car is for - most people want to know if you can get a wardrobe or lawnmower in there - not take a kip. But perhaps shows a changing society - earlier publicity for cars most always showed cases and bags in car boots - not DIY material or plants etc.

The very pale green Maxi my neighbours had in about 1980 was an early one with the original Ford type dash & Austin script. I've always been surprised at how different somehow the frontal aspect is on those early cars without the central vertical grille badge the later ones had. I'd be keen to know myself how many of those are still around, i don't recall seeing many since.

The conversion to being able to sleep in a car does seem very popular in the 1960's. If you look at contemporary road tests they always mention reclining seats & being able to lie down as a feature - maybe something to do with the "swinging "sixties 😁

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Some history from Aronine of the quagmire that Maxi was launched into. Sad but fascinating window on multiple corporate governance mistakes, self-inflicted problems and external factors contributing - as well as just some sheer bad luck. Hubris.

https://www.aronline.co.uk/history/british-motor-holdings/british-motor-holdings-whole-story-part-3/

A very full well written account of what went so so wrong at the time.

And we still kind of live with this today. From 1968 on a series of dominoes fell that led to BIMI and Tatra.

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