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.