The Austin Maxi was an odd car. It had some remarkable technical and design qualities, but at the same time, it looked quite oldfashioned. In a way that sums up the tragedy of the British Leyland-brands of the period.
Initially, the new large five-door saloon that British Motor Company that Alec Issigonis designed, was to be called Austin 1500. Later there was to be a notchback sedan version of the same car, that would be the Morris 1500.
But all that changed when in 1968 BMC merged with Leyland Motors and British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC) was formed. The new company directors decided to design a brand new Morris sedan model, namely the Marina.
And the big hatchback was to be named Austin Maxi, as a tribute to the Mini that was launched exactly 10 years before.
The Austin Maxi was launched in 1969. It was one of the first European five-door familycars, the Renault 16 takes credit for being the very first one.
Even more special than the large hatch in the back was the fivespeed gearbox, which was unheard of in 1969.
Designer Alex Issigonis had used the same ideas for the Maxi as he did for the Mini: the wheels were placed on the corners of the car, the engine was mounted transversally in the front and drove the front wheels. The gearbox was under the engine and in fact shared the same sump oil as the engine.
Because of the long wheelbase, the car offered enormous space for passengers, five people were seated comfortably and the hydrolastic suspension made it as comfortable as can be.
To save costs, the Maxi used the same doors as the Austin 1800 that was nicknamed ‘the landcrab’. Those doors were responsible for the length of the Maxi and its odd, stretched looks.
The Austin Maxi turned out to be quite a big hit. At least in the United Kingdom itself, but also in exportmarkets in Europe. It was a utilitarian car, people bought it not for its great looks or its sporty drive, they bought it to transport their family and stuff in a safe and comfortable way.
Due to this success, the car remained in production until 1981.
The Austin Maxi started in 1969 with a 1,485 cc fourcylinder engine, a year later the 1,748 cc engine was also available. This fine example is currently being offered in the Netherlands. It’s a 1750 HL from 1976, from the second owner. Seller is asking EUR 3,950.