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Austin Maxi

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The Austin Maxi wis a medium sized 5-door hatchback caur frae Breetish Leyland for the 1970s. It wis the first Breetish five speed five-door hatchback.

The Maxi (code name ADO14) wis the last caur designed unner the Breetish Motor Corporation (BMC), an wis the last production caur designed bi Alec Issigonis. Oreeginally unner BMC's plan it wis tae hae been cried the "Austin 1500" an a saloon version o the "Morris 1500" wis tae follae in the Hairst. Houiver upon the merger o BMC an Leyland the new management ditched the 4 door saloon notchback an develop the Morris Marina instead. Lord Stokes the new chairman decidit tae an aa chynge the hatchback's name tae the Maxi in homage tae the Mini 10 years earlier.

It wis launched in Oporto Portugal on 24 Aprile 1969, tae a blaze o publicity bein ane o the first caurs tae appear on the BBC's new caur programme "Wheelbase", a forerunner tae Top Gear. It wis an aa the first caur efter the creation o Breetish Leyland. It followed the five-door hatchback pattern o the French-produced Renault 16, which wis European Caur o the Year in 1966 follaein its launch in 1965.

Underneath the Maxi's practical an spacious bodyshell lay an aw-new front wheel drive chassis which wis interlinked wi an innovative five-speed manual transmission. The latter suffered frae notorious problems wi its control linkage, especially in early models which haed a cable-operated linkage prone tae cable stretch an ither problems. Thir wur noted bi autotesters sic as Vicar in "Today´s Driver" (1969) who wrote: "This is probably a guid idea that juist needs a little bit o working on." [1] The later rod linkage wis less problematic. Aw models wur prone tae problems brocht on bi the "cogs in the sump" layoot, whaur the gearbox an ingine shared a common ile supply. The clutch ile seal wis an aa prone tae leakage.

Pouer came frae a 1485 cc, later 1748 cc (frae 1971) E-Series petrol ingine which wad later find its wey intae ither Breetish Leyland products lik the Austin Allegro. The 1750 an twin-carburettor 1750 HL models offered guid performance bi the standards o the day.

Despite the new platform, the Maxi's stylin suffered frae the decision tae save toolin costs bi carryin ower door panels frae the BMC ADO17 "Landcrab", which compromised the design. Anither styling ambition for the caur wis a 4-door saloon counterpart — a prototype wis biggit badged as a Morris, but it never made production.

The Maxi featurt a spacious interior, comfortable passenger accommodation, competitive prices an reasonable runnin costs. But it wis let doun bi a dull interior an poor big quality, awtho it wis no quite as notorious for its downfalls as the Austin Allegro an Morris Marina wur during the 1970s.

Ane unusual featur o this caur wis that the rear seat back, as well as foldin forrit as in a conventional hatchback, an aa foldit back. In combination wi fully reclinin front seats this gae satisfactory, if spartan, sleepin accommodation.

Towards the end o the Maxi's life, in 1980, a lichtly revised model wis marketit as the "Maxi 2".

At the end o 1981, the Austin Maxi's 12-year production life came tae an end. Its replacement, the Austin Maestro, which an aa replaced the smawer Allegro, wis introduced in the spring o 1983.

Despite its supremely practical design an remarkable space efficiency (it is shorter, narrower an lawer than the current model o Ford Fiesta) the Maxi never came close tae reachin its projected sales targets, it bein ane o mony 1970's Leyland models that came within a whisker o bein warld beaters. BL management decisions involvin the Maxi haed significant knock-on effects tae the rest o the caur line-up. BL marketing decreed that the Maxi shoud be the anerlie caur in the range tae featur a hatchback. This stance wis continued till the 1980s an preventit the Morris Marina, Austin Allegro an Princess models gainin hatchbacks despite those designs aw bein capable o receivin them. The anerlie ither BL caur tae hae a layoot approachin a hatchback wis the Rover SD1 which wis a lairge '4-door coupe/hatch', leavin the company wi'oot a caur tae compete wi an up-comin generation o hatchbacks frae Europe (maist noticeably the Volkswagen Golf) an squanderin the lead that BMC an BL haed gained in this field.


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Austin Maxi 2, photographed on the road in 2007
Rear end o the Austin Maxi 2
  • 1969: Introduction of the Maxi 1500 5-door hatchback wi transversely-mounted 1485 cc E Series ingine an 5-speed manual gearbox drivin the front wheels, independent suspension wi hydrolastic shock absorbers (aften referred tae as "The Cable-Change" models).
  • 1970: Revisions: redesigned front grille wi centre badge, bodyside strips, gearchange rods (instead o previous gear cables), better soond insulation, new seat facings, wid effect dash an smawer steerin wheel. Introduction o the Maxi 1750 wi lairger 1748 cc ingine an revisions as for Maxi 1500.
  • 1971: Alternator fittit tae aw UK Models, revised direction indicator circuit, matt finish wid dash, 1750 nou haes its awn gowd/yellow chequered grill badge.
  • 1972: Introduction of the Maxi 1750 HL, wi twin SU HS6 carburettor version o the 1748 cc ingine, which gae a hichter ootput of 91 bhp at 5250 rpm. Ither additional features for the HL war 165 x 13 radial ply tyres, black grille wi chrome upper an lawer strips, wi reid "HL" motif fitted, red chequered front badge, front bumper unner-riders, chrome exhaust trim, black rimmed hub caps, body coloured mouldings alang the sides an rear, electric windscreen washers, 3 spoke-alloy steerin wheel wi leather-bound rim, padded vinyl dashboard, vanity mirror on passenger sun visor, front door pockets, simulatit widden gear knob an brushed nylon upholstery.
  • 1973: Hazard flashers introduced on UK models. An aa wi the Austin/Morris 1800, thare ar body changes tae the Maxi tae simplify production an reduce costs (the A posts ar nae langer lead loadit).
  • 1974: Optional 4-speed automatic transmission available on 1750 & (frae Mey 1979) 1750 HL.
  • 1975: Fuel tank enlairged, revisions tae the rear squab bed adaption facility. Aw models nou featur cigar lichter an heatit rear windae as standard.
  • 1976: Aw export LHD Models nou designated "Maxi HL" wi specification seemilar tae UK 1750 HL wi'oot twin carburettor or 3 spoke-alloy steerin wheel.
  • 1977: Austin name offeecially dropped bi BL unner recommendation bi the Ryder Report. Model nou offeecially designated Leyland (Austin / Morris Division) Maxi. The anerlie subtle difference tae the awner wis the rear tailgate badge alang wi the handbooks, sae general public an dealers unoffeecially still cried it the same name. Dual circuit brakes nou fittit tae UK spec caurs.
  • 1978: Aw models nou hae hydragas suspension instead o previous hydrolastic seestem, an aw models nou featur electric windscreen washers. The HL loses its 3 spoke steering wheel an a walnut finish dash replaces its padded dash.
  • Mey 1979: Introduction o the Maxi 1750 HLS wi walnut dash an twin carburettor 91 bhp ingine previously restricted tae the HL (HL nou wi the single carburettor an wid dash). Aw models hae revised switches/instrumentation an 1500/1750 nou hae 'Marle' fabric seat facings as tae the previous PVC basketweave. Single rear foglicht nou fittit across range.
  • Dec 1979: Maxi 1500 discontinued.
  • Aug 1980: Introduction o the Maxi 2 range in 1750 L, 1750 HL an 1750 HLS variations. Aw models featur new revisions includin new bumpers incorporatin indicators (front) an reversin lichts (rear), new side repeaters, full civer plastic wheel trims an broader side mouldin inserts. The L replaced the previous Base model an addit LM/MW push button radio, nylon trim, door bins, laminated windscreen an walnut veneer dashboard. The HL gained intermittent screen wipe, velour seats, tinted gless an extra soond insulation. The HLS gained a burr walnut veneer dashboard.
  • 1981: Chrome bumpers replaced bi Matt Black.
  • Aug 1981: Last Maxi 2 rolls off production line ousted bi the new Triumph Acclaim. The very last Maxi, a champagne L model, is nou housed at the Gaydon Motor Heritage Centre.


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  1. "Today´s Driver" February 1969
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