Concepts and prototypes : Austin Maxi

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

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

There's no disguising the fact that it was always going to be a tough task to incorporate the BMC 1800's doors on an all-new car...
There’s no disguising the fact that it was always going to be a tough task to incorporate the BMC 1800’s doors on an all-new car…

Full-size clays

Front and rear styling was limited in appeal - with a particularly nasty 'V' kink in the front...
Front and rear styling was limited in appeal – with a particularly nasty ‘V’ kink in the front…

Full-sized prototype

Closer to the final production car, but still not resolved around the nose
Closer to the final production car, but still not resolved around the nose

The four-door Morris Maxi

Four-door Maxi was dropped because of the management's desire to avoid direct competition with the Ford Cortina. The failure of the Maxi to sell in sufficient numbers may well have nailed the coffin door shut on this derivative. (Photo: Men and Motors, Barney Sharratt)Four-door Maxi was dropped because of the management's desire to avoid direct competition with the Ford Cortina. The failure of the Maxi to sell in sufficient numbers may well have nailed the coffin door shut on this derivative. (Photo: Men and Motors, Barney Sharratt)
Four-door Maxi was dropped because of the management’s desire to avoid direct competition with the Ford Cortina. The failure of the Maxi to sell in sufficient numbers may well have nailed the coffin door shut on this derivative. (Photo: Men and Motors, Barney Sharratt)
Maxi saloon out testing in Portugal before the launch... (Photo: Maxi Marathon, BMIHT)
Maxi saloon out testing in Portugal before the launch… (Photo: Maxi Marathon, BMIHT)

Thanks to Ian Nicholls for the pictures

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

9 Comments

  1. That Maxi Saloon looks mighty like our Austin Tasman / Kimberley from 1971 which replaced the Austin 1800. Had a 6 cyl motor.

  2. This is very different to the Tasman/Kimberley: They both used the same rear screen as the ‘normal’ 1800, basically just the 3rd side window was filled in and the roof gutter was placed differently – quite a clever re-design with not too many changes to the roof structure (or panels). That Maxi saloon has its own roof construction that shares nothing with the landcrab (and only the front half with the hatchback).

    Personally I don’t think the Maxi ever was a pretty car, but that saloon is ever so ungainly…

  3. Alec Issigonis was a very flawed genius- he should never have been allowed to style his own cars unless in a class of his devising (eg Mini).

    ‘The four door was dropped because management wanted to avoid competing with the Cortina’… well if not competing adequately with Ford was BMH’s main objective, then they certainly achieved handsomely with the actual production car range (as did BL and later AR…). Although the word ‘handsomely’ is somewhat inconguous in any sentence referring to an Austin Maxi…

    The Aquila project could have rescued this long maligned car, but like so many sensible and low cost alternatives for replacing their models, it was yet another missed opportunity.

  4. Without the 1800’s doors, is it known how much shorter and lighter the Maxi would have likely been compared to the real-life Maxi as well as ADO16 and the Allegro?

    There is the suggestion such a car could have easily been a suitable alternative to the Allegro or even ADO22, though while the Maxi was originally intended to be powered by a 1.3 E-Series could this Alt-Maxi have been light enough for such an engine let alone the 1.3 A-Series?

  5. Is it known whether a Harris Mann restyle of the Maxi was looked at?

    Was thinking that a 100-inch wheelbase and no carrying over the 1800 door’s (making it light enough for 1300cc engines) as well as an early-1970s restyle by Harris Mann loosely resembling the Series 3 Allegro would have basically made any need to develop the Allegro redundant.

  6. A saloon Maxi would be more what the market wanted in the early seventies, but would have stolen sales from the Marina and ADO 17, and would have made the Maxi more ” ordinary”. I think the Citroenesque Aquila restyle would have been better, as it would make the Maxi more advanced looking and taken on the growing market for French cars.
    However, my view on the Maxi that we all knew in the seventies, it was an advanced car for the time with its hatchback and five speed transmission, 1750 models went well and were relaxed motorway cruisers, and few cars boasted as much space. Also it seemed to be the best built of the Austin Morris range and resisted rust well. The main downsides were a baulky gearchange( awful on early models), the ponderous and sluggish 1500 model that offered nothing over the 1750, and slightly heavy steering.

  7. Indeed an Aquila restyle would have been ideal within the context of BMC adopting some form of Pininfarina 1100 / 1800 styling language, a pity though the Aquila styling appeared in the mid-1970s instead of during the Maxi’s development.

    In some respects one gets the impression the wheelbase of a production Maxi would have been better utilized by a Maxi-based E6-engined analogue/replacement of the ADO17-derived X6 as a more suitably suited alternative to the Princess.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.