Austin Maxi

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Austin Maxi 1750 HL.JPG

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. Originally unner BMC's plan it wis tae hae been called the "Austin 1500" an a saloon version o the "Morris 1500" wis tae follow in the Hairst. However 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 decided tae also change 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 being ane o the first caurs tae appear on the BBC's new caur programme "Wheelbase", a forerunner tae Top Gear. It wis also 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 following its launch in 1965.

Underneath the Maxi's practical an spacious bodyshell lay an all-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. These wur noted bi autotesters such 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. All models wur prone tae problems brought on bi the "cogs in the sump" layoot, where the gearbox an ingine shared a common oil supply. The clutch oil seal wis also prone tae leakage.

Pouer came frae a 1485 cc, later 1748 cc (frae 1971) E-Series petrol ingine which woud later find its way intae ither Breetish Leyland products like 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 over 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 built badged as a Morris, but it never made production.

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

Ane unusual feature o this caur wis that the rear seat back, as well as foldin forward as in a conventional hatchback, also foldit back. In combination wi fully reclinin front seats this gave 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 also replaced the smaller 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 being ane o mony 1970's Leyland models that came within a whisker o being 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 feature a hatchback. This stance wis continued till the 1980s an preventit the Morris Marina, Austin Allegro an Princess models gainin hatchbacks despite those designs all being 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.

Timeline[eedit | eedit soorce]

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, wood 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 all UK Models, revised direction indicator circuit, matt finish wood dash, 1750 now haes its awn gold/yellow chequered grill badge.
  • 1972: Introduction of the Maxi 1750 HL, wi twin SU HS6 carburettor version o the 1748 cc ingine, which gave a hichter ootput of 91 bhp at 5250 rpm. Other additional features for the HL were 165 x 13 radial ply tyres, black grille wi chrome upper an lawer strips, wi red "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. Also wi the Austin/Morris 1800, there 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. All models now feature cigar lichter an heatit rear window as standard.
  • 1976: All export LHD Models now designated "Maxi HL" wi specification similar 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 now officially designated Leyland (Austin / Morris Division) Maxi. The anerlie subtle difference tae the awner wis the rear tailgate badge alang wi the handbooks, so general public an dealers unoffeecially still called it the same name. Dual circuit brakes now fittit tae UK spec caurs.
  • 1978: All models now hae hydragas suspension instead o previous hydrolastic system, an all models now feature electric windscreen washers. The HL loses its 3 spoke steering wheel an a walnut finish dash replaces its padded dash.
  • May 1979: Introduction o the Maxi 1750 HLS wi walnut dash an twin carburettor 91 bhp ingine previously restricted tae the HL (HL now wi the single carburettor an wood dash). All models hae revised switches/instrumentation an 1500/1750 now hae 'Marle' fabric seat facings as tae the previous PVC basketweave. Single rear foglicht now 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. All models feature new revisions includin new bumpers incorporatin indicators (front) an reversin lichts (rear), new side repeaters, full cover 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 glass 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 now housed at the Gaydon Motor Heritage Centre.

Appearances[eedit | eedit soorce]

References[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. "Today´s Driver" February 1969

External links[eedit | eedit soorce]