Austin Maxi (ADO14)
BMC became British Leyland in 1968, and one of its first products was the Austin Maxi. Of course, it was really the final new BMC, and Leyland management was keen to tell everyone that at launch – so, the Maxi ended up being unloved by those who built it. Which is a shame, because it was a great concept, and with those who ‘get’ it, the Maxi makes for the perfect classic car.
It was essentially a good car with some innovative ideas, but the finer details, lack of quality, and poor execution let the Maxi down – traits that would later go on to characterise BL. It was Britain’s first genuinely family-sized hatchback had plenty of space and seats that folded down into a lumpy double bed, yet taking the passenger doors from the 1800/2200 meant looks were strange and disjointed.
Hydrolastic (and later Hydragas) suspension and five gears were its good points, but the gearchange itself was memorably bad, even after it was improved in 1972.
Reviews, blogs and news stories
‘All the fives’ was the Maxi’s high technology tag line when launched – with a five-door hatchback body and five-speed gearbox, Austin’s new mid-range fighter really did seem to have it all. Sadly, the technology might have been there, but the execution was a little less than marvellous, and this avant-garde car failed to sell […]
Phil Rixon takes a rare opportunity to compare the Morris Nomad with an Austin Countryman and an Austin Maxi to see how closely BMC’s tailgated trio are related.
Designed and specially built to become the Corporation’s new mid-sized engine, the E-Series had a troubled early life, but eventually matured into something very worthwhile indeed.
Words and photography: Alexander Boucke At times it happens to all of us: something bulky needs to be carried, typically after a visit to your local Swedish furniture store. In our case, a friend of the family had a surplus musical instrument – a small organ, a harmonium to be precise – which he wanted to get […]
The main problem with Hydragas is that, over time, the sealed units would lose gas and become less effective. Alexander Boucke describes the steps involved in getting your Hydragas suspended car back into rude health Update: More than 11 years after the initial work, the first units that were fitted to a Maxi in autumn […]
The biggest criticism normally aimed at the Maxi – other than the early model’s obstructive gearchange – is usually reserved for its plain Jane styling. The Aquila showed how it could have been made into a far more stylish beast. Alas, it was only ever to be a one-off styling exercise. What might have been […]
Keith Adams Here’s proof, if it were ever needed, that one of the finest musical talents the world has ever seen had a great taste in cars – or, at least, he ended up driving one for a family outing in Liverpool on 26 June 1969. The Liverpool Echo has revealed some fascinating new images […]
The Maxi received a couple of facelifts before it reached production in 1969. Here are a number of prototype images of the ADO14 project before it received its final Roy Haynes penned front and rear ends. Pictures supplied by Ian Nicholls. Styling sketch Full-size clays Full-sized prototype The four-door Morris Maxi Thanks to Ian Nicholls […]
Historics of Brooklands is offering one of the more unlikely competitors in the 1970 World Cup Rally, an Austin Maxi. The car, which goes on sale on 9 March in Surrey was one of the first 500 built and ended up taking an all-female team on a 16,000 mile epic. The Maxi was professionally-prepared for […]
Hydragas suspension was one of the quiet achievements pioneered and refined by British Leyland – and yet, it never received the praise it deserved. KEITH ADAMS briefly explains how the system works. Pioneer that led nowhere… SINCE the introduction of the Mini in 1959, BL’s predecessor, the British Motor Corporation (BMC), had been right at […]
When the ADO17 was launched as the Austin 1800 in 1964, few people can have imagined that one of its defining features – its doors – would later appear on a series of cars ranging from a 1.5-litre family hatchback to a 3-litre executive saloon. But the story doesn’t end there. As well as being […]
Taken from the first-ever issue of What Car? magazine This 1973 test makes fascinating reading, and is a great insight into how road tests used to be. The repmobiles compared Comparison between the Maxi, Marina and rivals Ten years ago the average man in the street would have been happy with a Mini, Imp or […]
Two family cars which changed the face of motoring… forever. First published in Classic Car Weekly in September 2005, KEITH ADAMS pitted the Austin Maxi against the car that arguably sparked off the family hatchback revolution, the Renault 16… Family feud… Introduction WHAT decade gave us the best cars? It’s a long-running debate in the […]
Alexander Boucke The waiting is over – my blue Maxi is now officially classed as an historic vehicle! When the special registration for historic vehicles was introduced here in Germany in 1997, it still seemed a very long way to go for my Maxi to be able to apply for this – the car needs […]
What better car to transport a Moulton bicycle than one that’s Moulton-suspended? Richard Plaxton explains… “What an earth possessed me to buy this car?” is a thought that crosses my mind, soon after taking possession of any vehicle. Well firstly, with regards to my latest acquisition, a Leyland Maxi, it must be the Hydragas suspension. […]
The Austin-Rover website has been live for sometime now, and yet the Maxi has never featured as Car the Month… May 2004 finally sees this oversight put right… Regassed and revived… The Maxi is seen by many as the final flowering of the Issigonis concept, and it has to be said that it is one […]
By Julian Mounter Motoring Correspondent A completely revised and greatly improved Austin Maxi is announced by British Leyland today. Quieter, with a smoother and more positive gear change and modernized interior layout it is offered with a choice of 1500c.c. or 1750c.c. engines. The Maxi was heavily criticized after its launch in April last year. […]
A massive rescue operation carried out on British Leyland’s Austin Maxi car is paying off. Sales of the car dropped to less than 700 in December but are now approaching 3,500 a month,the highest since it was launched a year ago. When home market penetration figures for last month are published within the next few […]
DAILY EXPRESS By Basil Cardew There are two Maxis in our lives, the ankle length fashion and the 5-seat, 5-door, and 5-gear car. Both slow starters. Whatever view you take of the clothes, the best that can be said for the car is that it has been doggedly defended by Lord Stokes, head of the […]