Are there any reasonably-priced 1970s classic cars left? It’s a conversation I have with myself many, many times in recent months. Given it’s BL50 year, it’s apposite that the answer to that question in ‘yes’, and that you don’t need to look very far at all.
Anyway, given the Allegro is a cramped little beast, and Minis are too expensive for a mere mortal to afford these days, your classic Austin-fix can be served in another way. The Princess is good, the Maestro and Montego are still cheap – here are my feelings about the latter, as explained in this blog about Mike Humble’s MintEgo.
Then there’s the delicious ADO16, or BMC 1100/1300. If someone was to offer you one at the right price, at the right time, grab it in a heartbeat. The Metro is another Austin that’s now considered a pukka classic, and which would be perfect in my garage – we drove Adrian Fell’s back in 2012, and pronounced that Joy is Metro shaped.
An Austin Maxi, Sir? Yes please…
Given the pictures surrounding these words, it’s clear we’ll take a Maxi, please. The last time I personally had one of these was in 1988 – it was a 1750HL, on an R-plate in Denim Blue. And I paid £60 for it. It was the short-term replacement for my trusty Vauxhall Cavalier 1600GL, which I’d stuffed into some armco on a cold morning and was looking the worse for wear.
I’d always liked Maxis in a mumsy kind of way – and remember a number of family trips as a young kid in a neighbour’s example (when it was new!) and luxuriating in the ample room the clever interior design afforded.
However, in the late-1980s, it was about as cool as Phil Collins is today, and as such, I was always a little embarrassed by the thing. And yet, it was a brilliant hold-all that probably helped incubate my passion for BL that manifested itself in near-new Maestro ownership a couple of years later.
Time has been kind to the Austin Maxi
My memories of the Maxi are legion – it handled beautifully, was quick enough (just) to be entertaining and it was roomy enough inside to keep my lady amused. So, you can see why 25 years on, why the Maxi works so well as a classic today.
The good news is that there are still enough around today to make finding one not too arduous, and thanks to the excellent Austin Maxi Owners Club, there’s still good parts and technical support. It also helps that AROnline’s Deputy Editor, Alexander Boucke, owns one and he says it’s the second best car in the world – behind his Citroën XM.
Looking at these images, it strikes me that time has been exceptionally kind to the Austin Maxi. Considered frumpy and lacking in sex appeal when new, especially compared with Ford and Vauxhall’s sharp-looking rivals, today the Maxi has a timelessness that a Cortina or Cavalier couldn’t possibly hope to emulate.
Why we love the Austin Maxi
Plus, there’s the incredibly useful interior and boot and handling, which can be utterly grin-inducing. I’d like a classic I can actually use in the real world (would a Metro be too small?) and enjoy in the process, and the Maxi fits the bill perfectly.
I’ll leave the final word to my friend and former colleague on Practical Classics magazine, James Walshe, who recently rescued one. ‘I’ve fallen for the Maxi. I mean, completely. What a brilliant thing… Many faults, but all of them forgiven. It’s really good fun to hammer it. Like a big gormless Mini. Brilliant.’
You want one now, don’t you?
- Want to know more about Maxis? Visit the Austin Maxi development story