Austin Maxi
aka "Upturned Bathtub"
Production 1969-1981
Class Large family
Body Style 5 dr Hatchback
Length length - type here
Width Width - type here
Height Height - type here
Wheelbase wheelbase - type here
Weight 972 kg
Transmission 4 speed Manual, FWD
Engine E-Series 4 cylinder
Power 76 hp @ N/A rpm
N/A lb-ft of torque @ N/A rpm
Similar similar (competition)
Designer Designer (lead designer if it was a team effort)

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See Autopedia's comprehensive Austin Maxi Review.

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Engine and Transmission

The maxi featured a transversely mounted 4 cylinder overhead canshaft engine in 1500 and 1750 capacities, offering 56 bhp and 72 bhp respectively. some version has twin carburettors which offered up to 92 bhp. From launch the maxi offered as standard a 5 speed gearbox, fifth being cited as an "overdrive" top gear for relaxed cruising. maximum speed was actually achieved in fourth.


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The Austin Maxi is regarded as an unreliable and badly built car. Its engine was prone to cam chain failure, the gearbox is operated by metal rods which gave drivers awful shift action and were prone to failure. It's body is prone to rust, although no more than any '70s car. The gearbox is prone to failure through losing one of the main gearshaft retaining nuts.


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Unique attributes

The maxi was unusual in several respects for a 1969 car- its major selling points were that it had a 5 speed gearbox, something that was unheard of at the time in this market sector. It featured a hatchback bodystyle, making it a saloon cum estate, much in the same way as the Reault 16 of 1965. Unusually, as well as the rear seats folding forward to give extra luggage space, they could also be reclined rearwards. combined with reclining the fronts, this offered a rudimentary double bed. The maxi also offered similar suspension to the Austin 1100, featuring gas filled spheres rather than steel springs. Roadholding was exceptional by the standards of the day.


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Firstly, the maxi followed the erroneous thinking of BMC at the time- chiefly "nobody cares what it looks like as long as it works". This resulted in styling that was unusual to say the least and was pleasing to very few eyes. Ford by comparison made cars that looked good. Even when current the Maxi was seen as an "unfashionable" choice of car, something that came with pipe and slippers- this was used to comic effect in the 1970s "Dave allen" TV series. The E series engine in 1500 and 1750 capacities, although a new design of engine, was quite a breathless unit that offered little power in lower spec models although twin carb HL/HLS models were better in this respect. The Maxi also received criticism throughout its life for its poor gearchange quality. early models had a cable operated gearshift, these were prone to stretching, and were changed to a rod change shortly after. this helped a little but the gearchange was still prone to baulking and selection was difficult.


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Design quirks and oddities

The Austin Maxi is one of many Austin cars featured in the book The World's Worst Cars, probably quite unjustifiably- it has long been the fashion to deride 1970's Leyland products regardless of ability. The company produced many excellent designs (e.g., Rover sd1,Triumph stag, Dolomite sprint) that were simply let down in execution by poor build quality and the shortfalls caused by internal rivalries. The 5 door hatchback design was unique in a British built car at the time, as was the 5 speed gearbox and unusual versatility of the folding seating.


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See also

Automobiles made by BMC, BL and Rover Group companies
Austin | Austin-Healey | British Leyland | Jaguar | MG | Morris | Riley | Rover | MG Rover | Triumph | Vanden Plas | Wolseley
Austin models: A40 | Cambridge | Westminster | A35 | A30 | Mini | 1100/1300 | Mini Moke | 1800 | 3-Litre | Maxi | Allegro | Mini Metro | Maestro | Montego
Austin-Healey models: 100 | 3000 | Sprite
British Leyland models: Princess | P76 (Australia only)
Jaguar models: XJ6 | XJ12 | XJS
Morris models: Minor | Oxford | Cowley | Mini | 1100/1300 | 1800 | Marina/Ital
MG models: MGA | Magnette | Midget | Montego | MGB | MGC | 1100/1300 | MG RV8 | MG F/TF | MG ZT | MG ZR | MG ZS | MG SV
Riley models: Pathfinder | 2.6 | 1.5 | 4/68 | Elf | Kestrel
Rover models: P3 | P4 | P5 | P6 | SD1 | 25 | 75 (post-P4) | 45 | 400 | 200 | 100 (post-P4) | 800 | 600 | CityRover | Estoura | Streetwise
Triumph models: Herald | Spitfire | Vitesse | GT6 | Stag | TR7 | Toledo | 1300 |1500 | 2000 | 2.5 & 2500 | Dolomite | Acclaim
Vanden Plas models: Princess | 3-Litre | 1100/1300
Wolseley models: 4/44 | 6/90 | 15/50 | 1500 | 16/60 | 6/99 | 6/110 | Hornet | 1100/1300 | 18/85
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