(first posted 10/7/2013) The Austin Maxi might appear to have successfully mixed the space and packaging advantages of the transverse engine layout with the then new hatchback configuration to create arguably the most contemporary car to come out of Britain in the 1960s. However, it also became one of the biggest failures, technically and commercially, of the BMC story.
Prior to the launch of the Maxi in 1969, we had the Renault 16, from 1965, and then the smaller Simca 1100 in 1967. In this context, it seemed that the Maxi would be a truly modern car, with the transverse engine configuration, hatchback, flexible interior options, modern overhead camshaft engine and 5 speed gearbox.
The origins of the Maxi lie in Ford’s domination of the UK middle market, especially the success of the Ford Cortina, from 1962, and BMC’s lack of product to directly compete with it. The Cortina came in Ford’s usual extensive range of trim levels, engines and body shapes and initially competed with Morris 1100 at the lower end and BMC’s Morris Oxford and Austin Cambridge at the upper end, with more space than the 1100 and a lot more style than the Oxford and Cambridge.
The Oxford and Cambridge twins (not quite as corny as it sounds – Oxford was an old Morris name and Austin had been using English city and county names for many years) dated from 1957. Styled by Pininfarina, hence they were unofficially known as the Farina range, they were typically conservative and frankly dull cars, with a 1.6 litre version of BMC OHV engine, and ones which BMC had planned to replace after a relatively short life.
The Farina was actually expected to be replaced in 1964 by the Austin and Morris 1800, and later its Morris 1800 twin, known as ADO17. This car was conceived by Issigonis as the next logical development of the concept of the Mini and 1100, using the transverse engine, front wheel drive layout. And then it started to go wrong. The B series had grown to 1.8 litre, for the MGB, and Alec Issigonis, taking advantage of the consequent performance increase stretched the wheelbase of ADO17 to 106 inches. This was despite the fact that 1.4-1.5 litre cars sold at something like 4 times the rate of 1.7-1.8 litre cars in the UK market. Significantly, this was over 6 inches more than the Farina saloons and consequently the ADO17 had such an immense amount interior space, in a car shorter than a 1998 Ford Focus, that it was remarkable. The fact that is also had an awful driving position seems to have got through the net, along with the weight of the thing. It was strong though.
The next disadvantage was that the proportions made the car very difficult to style elegantly, as Issigonis widened the car to reflect the extra wheelbase. The final result was something that was nowhere near as stylish as the elegant Pininfarina styled 1100 – in fact it was downright dumpy, and soon earned the nickname Landcrab, which is still recognised today.
The Landcrab’s size was sufficiently different from the Farina and sales performance were sufficiently poor for BMC to abandon any plans to replace the Farina with the Landcrab; instead BMC recognised the unfilled need for a product to replace the Farinas and take on the Cortina, whilst at the same time hoping for some means to utilise more fully the tooling and production capacity set up for the Landcrab.
Hence, the key point to the tragedy of the Maxi is to acknowledge that the configuration was arrived at by accident. BMC did not set out to create a distinctly modern car. They were after a competitor to the Ford Cortina, Vauxhall Victor and Hillman Hunter, to replace the Farina. BMC Chairman Sir George Harriman dictated that the new car (known internally as ADO14) would use the doors from the Landcrab, and by implication, be based around a development of the Landcrab central structure. This direction did not state any requirement for a hatchback. After all, Ford, Rootes and Vauxhall did not have hatchbacks, so it was not an obviously predictable choice for a Farina replacement.
The hatchback configuration was proposed by the Longbridge stylists, not by the product planners or the engineers, when they found that the combination of the doors (which effectively determined the wheelbase and dictated much of the styling) and the length and rear overhang of the Maxi, as it had to be shorter than the already stumpy Landcrab to fit into the BMC range hierarchy, led to a boot aperture that would be an impractical Mini type opening, or at best like the small aperture on the 1100.
But on the face of it, what a great concept BMC ended up with – a practical, modern hatchback design using all the advantages of the BMC front wheel drive layout, the latest Hydrolastic suspension (comfortable, compact, interconnection front to rear to keep the car level), a new overhead cam engine, a five speed gearbox – what more could anyone want?
The hatchback idea, with a wide range on configuartions in the very flexible interior was sound, and the BMC marketing department obviously were very convinced, because they forecast sales of 6,000 per week! That would have been more than twice the UK sales of the Cortina. Given these volumes, a new factory was built for the Maxi engine, next to the Longbridge assembly factory, that represented an investment of £20m, in 1966.
But the request of Harriman that money be saved by the use of the doors from the Landcrab had a critical impact. The Maxi ended up with a wheelbase of nearly 106 inches – practically the same as a Landcrab. And looking a lot like it too. (Incidentally, using the doors of one car on another was trick BMC had used before, and would use again, on the mid 1980s Austin Maestro and Montego. Also, pre-war Rovers and Hillmans shared doors.) The Maxi could have been a British Renault 16, but was actually a slightly shorter and narrower Landcrab, with a hatchback, an obstructive gearchange and little style. The car that was supposed to replace the Farinas would be practically as big as the one that was too big to replace the Farinas 5 years earlier. It really was a “you couldn’t make it up” moment.
BMC accepted that, given the size they were originally aiming at, a new engine was required, known as the E series. This was a four cylinder engine of 1.5 litres with an overhead camshaft, rather than overhead valves, and Issigonis dictated that if larger capacities were needed, it should be through more cylinders, rather than bigger cylinders. So, it had to be compact, so that a 6 cylinder version would fit (transversely) into the available engine bay space in the future. The 6 cylinder version only ever made it into the Landcrab in the UK, at 2.2 litre capacity but was also developed to 2.6 litre and used on products built by BLMC in Australia and South Africa, including saloons derived from the Landcrab.
This engine proved to be one of the more serious problems of the initial Maxi. It was originally envisaged as a 1.3 litre and 1.5 litre four-cylinder, with a 2.0 litre six-cylinder created by adding an additional two cylinders to the 1.3 litre block. However, as development continued it appeared the 1.3 litre E-series would not have any huge benefits over the existing 1275cc A-series, so the 1.3 litre E-series was dropped. The result was a saving in development costs for BMC, but also meant the six-cylinder had to be developed from the 1.5 litre block instead, creating its unusual engine size of 2227 cc, rather than 2 litre. The production 1.5 litre was underpowered and, to make matters worse, had an awful cable gear change. It took a lot of ingenuity to stretch the 1.5 litre E series to 1.75 litre and to fit a rod operated gear change. Incidentally, the real reason the Maxi had a 5 speed gear box was that it was a necessity to help make the most of the inadequate engine, rather than any other “modernity” or “European” reason.
By 1968, BMC was part of the new BLMC led by Donald Stokes, who actually felt the Maxi was so poor that BLMC seriously considered cancelling the car before it was launched. Only the investment made in the new engine plant (to build 6,000 engines a week!) saved the Maxi.
It was introduced in 1969 and Stokes was able to say, quietly, “This isn’t the first BLMC car but the last BMC car – no wonder they were in trouble”. It is fascinating to read the contemporary accounts of the launch of the Maxi, with Donald Stokes talking confidently about building “definitely 100,000 a year and may be 150,000 in the first year”. The BLMC marketing department pushed the car hard, using Sir Alec Issigonis (with a drawing board and a cigarette!), the only celebrity car designer Britain has had, in advertisements like this. Ironically, by the time the Maxi had come out, Issigonis had been moved sideways, into long term research, by Donald Stokes and replaced by Harry Webster, from Leyland owned Triumph.
Eighteen months later the Maxi 1750 was introduced, with a new interior, the 1750cc version of the E series and a rod operated gearchange, plus a few visual tweaks. It didn’t sell at 6,000 per week either, or even 150,000 a year – the best the Maxi ever managed was about 62,000 in 1972 and it faded to a steady 35,000 or so per year until 1981. It is worth noting that for the Maxi to have sold 100-150,000 a year, it would have had to replace all the Farinas and the Landcrab sales and still take at least half of its target sales from competitors, such as the Cortina, Hunter and Victor. Instead, in its first year, 1969, the Maxi sold 23,294, 23% less than the Farina had sold the year before. Combined Maxi and Farina sales in 1969 were just 500 more than the Farina sold in 1968. The Farina was finally pensioned off in 1969, and effectively replaced by the Morris Marina as much as by the Maxi.
The example in these photos is a 1972 Maxi 1500, with a single owner history of around 50,000 miles. One of BLMC’s problems in the early 1970s, though not their greatest, was the colour range but this car looks very smart in navy blue with red interior. The (very friendly and cooperative) owner was clearly a member of the loyal Maxi owners’ fraternity, of whom there were many in the 1970s and early 1980s, and solidly bought the car repeatedly. Others were a tougher nut to crack, with BLMC having effectively first to sell the concept of a hatchback and then sell the Maxi.
There are few left on the roads in the UK now – I have seen 2 in the last 4 years. But how many hatchbacks with an overhead cam engine, a 5 speed gearbox and folding seats?
It could be interesting to compare the Austin Maxi with the Renault 6 who was an hatchback version of the R4 and the little brother of the R16. Built in France from 1968 to 1980 but get a longer lifespan in South America (1984 in Colombia and 1986 in Argentina). Here a vintage ad of the R6
I think the Maxi very much was in the R16’s class, and not the R6’s.
Hi Paul, yes, a direct R16 competitor
I remember the Maxi launch vividly, as it was during my summer in Austria in 1969. I read the reviews in auto, motor und sport, which (like everyone else) was pretty impressed with the package and the concept, but not the execution. Its roomy interior and good ride were the stand-outs.
But it was all-too obvious to me then that for what was supposed to be such a radical new car, it looked all-too familiar. By 1969 its styling was looking very dated already. The Maxi exuded a palpable air of compromise.
These actually sold quite well in Austria, as did many British cars at the time due to a favorable trade agreement at the time. And when I came back in 1980, there were still a fair number on the streets. It was a practical design, with a lot of appeal in principle. But it also turned out to be the turning point at BLMC, inasmuch as the Issigonis era had ended, and rather badly.
Compromise is a good summation, as is your observation bout the end of the Issigonis era.
Do you have any background or details on the UK – Austria trade agreement of the 1960s?
Austria didn’t join the EU until 1996. I’m not sure exactly what the nature of the trading relationship with the UK was during the seventies and eighties, but the result was that Brit cars were substantially more common in that period than one might have expected.
In 1980, I was really amazed at how many Rover SDs there were in Innsbruck; it was the hot “executive” car (or had been recently). They were all sixes, though. And lots of Minis.
The keyword in this case is “EFTA” (European Free Trade Association), meant to be a political counterpoint to the EEC. Details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Free_Trade_Association
I remember reading at the time that the launch was delayed because a new design chief had been recruited ( Roy Axe, from Ford ?) and he had re-styled whatever he could to make the car look less unpleasant.
Rumour on the street at the time of the launch was that every Maxi had to have its’ gearbox rebuilt by the dealer before being sold.
There were actually 2 attempts to revise the Maxi inside and out before launch. The second was by Ray Haynes, recruited to BL after doing the MK2 Cortina. He did the exterior as we know it and the interior as originally marketed, which was very Cortina mk 3 like.
But when you see things like this, you realise why.
There’s a strong FB Vauxhall Victor/PB Velox vibe with this front end methinks.
I prefered the first version released that had A U S T I N across the the bonnet edge. It looked a bit more exciting. Slightly.
and at one time it looked like this. Note the boot aperture
That reminds me of the Aussie-built Nomad.
A lost opportunity once again for BL,years ahead of most other car designs but deadly dull and poorly built.They were lots around in the 70s but it was a Dadmobile,even the colours were drab.
‘Drab’ is the word.
If I didn’t know its background I would think this car was from Eastern Europe.
Nice article, but I am afraid I do not agree totally with the ‘raison d’etre’ for the Maxi, for what I have read the Maxi was inspired on Renault’s avantgarde 16, launched in 1965.
Like @ Paul Niedermeyer rightfully mentions, the styling was to conservative to say the least, especially if you compared it to the 16’s brilliant design (by Philippe Charbonneaux who was an industrial designer who had worked for GM in the US in the fifties)
Thing is, the R16 was all new, new model, new technology, like an alloy engine, fully closed cooling system and no grease points, the Maxi simply was not.
I remember the guy who bought one, because the R16’s steering was too heavy for him at low speeds, he’d beg my father to take it of his hands and bid crazy money for my dad’s R16 TS, as long as he would take the Maxi in part-exchange.
I am of the opinion that the R16 ate the cake, the rest of the competitors could eat the crumbles in the hatchback market.
The Renault 16 was simply the better car of the two, and people knew, the R16 was Renaults first big success in the UK.
I honestly believe the packaging was fundamentally right, the Maxi was let down by bland styling and marketing issues. There was a very interesting concept from 1972, based off the maxi, that infused the car with a little bit of style. It was a size above the not even born yet VW Golf, but about the same size as a modern Golf or Ford Focus. Another what if… story that BMC seems plagued with…
I wonder if it also suffered somewhat from being too odd in a market segment that was generally quite conservative when it came to mechanical features. My understanding is that even then, a lot of cars in the Cortina class went to fleet buyers in the U.K., who wanted something something sensible and simple that wouldn’t cost the world to fix — not really an area in which the Mini and its BMC derivatives excelled. In that respect, the medium-size Fords and Vauxhalls had a clear advantage; whatever else you might say about them, they were straightforward.
Good point. While the contemporary Cortina and Hunter were better styled British sedans, the overall design was more competent than inspiring. Certainly none of the panache of the R16,or the Simca 1301. The point about fleet buyers is key as well, especially as company cars were, and I believe still are a big part of compensation for salesmen and managers.
Her a comparison test between the Maxi and the R16TS.
it could have been it should have been
Wonderful memories of the Maxi, or at least one Maxi in particular.
Mother’s Day weekend was the Tour of the Scioto River Valley, Columbus to Portsmouth, OH and back, at the time THE massive bicycle touring in the US. About ten of us from Erie, PA went down every year back in the ’70’s; after first being met by the Bianchi Crazies from Boston.
They rolled in in an Austin Maxi equipped with Volvo front seats, the roof rack covered with celeste-colored Bianchi racing bikes, the windows covered with enough Bianchi team stickers so that you’d swear this was a team car from the Tour de France. They brought with them tapes and knowledge of a new local band called Aerosmith, and some of the best acid I’ve done in my life. Two days of partying at my place, rework the bike as needed in my attic bicycle shop, and on to Columbus! Usually still tripping from the last waves of the previous night’s acid.
I will never look at a Maxi without thinking of those guys.
Memories of my Dad’s white 1972 maxi 1500:
– feeling sick in the back
– my dad unscrewing the wing mirrors to take it through a car wash
– being sick on motorway journeys
– having the skin seared off my legs by the vinyl seats on hot days
– being sick on country road journeys
– my dad fixing rust in the doors
– my sister being sick
– dad fixing the carb
– looking longingly at mk3 cortinas
– grandad mistaking the inside door handle for an ashtray
– gearbox whine
– cleaning sick off vinyl
ROFL my Dad bought something worse from BL,an Allegro!
A mate’s dad had one of those. It was so bad he bought another one thinking the first was a fluke. It wasnt. At least they had a bit of style plus hydragas suspension though.
Happy memories then!.
My dads 73 1500 water pump failed in the middle of a German holiday. 3 days to get a replacement fitted.
Maxi… good concept. Seats folded down to make a double bed. Yes 4 of us did that over night ..
Like most BL products.. bad execution . Fittings better than Ford but crap mechanical components let them down.
BL should have let die rather than an embarrassing “Ital” style face left in the early 80s..
The Ital was a facelifted Marina, not a Maxi.
The Maxi 2 facelift was very limited, mainly new bumpers, wheel trims and finish. No new sheet metal or grilles/lights.
It was crap one of my uncles bought one he had nothing but trouble with it and bailed out when the warranty expired. The car was based on the Australian Morris Nomad which had a hatchback it was stretched and widened by Issigonis but the car itself was junk, oil burners from new they sold in NZ in reasonable numbers but try finding a live one now just like the 1800 ADO 17 none are left running. Issigonis single handedly killed BMC/BL his awful FWD cars were not very well designed roomy yes but mechanicly inept.
You want a live one Bryce? Look no further than Trademe! http://www.trademe.co.nz/motors/used-cars/austin/maxi/auction-647980276.htm
I must be crazy but I actually think the landcrab is pretty attractive. I guess there truly is an ass for every seat!
Sometime in the ’90 s Honda Europe came out with a Civic that appeared to be a Maxi clone. It’s top engine was a 1.6 110hp. It was horrible. I know because I was one of the very few stupid people that bought one.
It finished me and Honda for life. It never broke, had tons of space but it was like trying hard to love the ugliest girl in high school.
My Dad was a mechanic at the local BL dealer through the 70s and early 80s, so I was aware of most of BL’s products from around 5 years of age (1979ish). I remember Dad being impressed at the space and the hatchback efficiency of the Maxi, but not enough to even remotely consider swapping our Mk3 Cortina wagon for one.
When I was 12 I remember sitting outside the local library on a lovely summer afternoon studying the looks of a bright red Maxi owned by a local elderly lady (weren’t they all?). I knew Dad serviced it at the dealer. No matter what angle I studied it from, there was absolutely zero styling evident to me. In fact, the lack of styling was so profound it was really anti-styling. 12 year old me couldn’t comprehend what would make anyone desire to own something so devoid of any personality.
Like Bryce said, they did sell reasonably well here, mostly it seems to elderly folks – although some friends of mine told me recently they bought one brand new in the late 70s. It was their first (and last) new car. The adored the practicality of it, but the rest of it was lacklustre and troublesome (I think they said it leaked), and they didn’t own it long.
As always with New Zealand, there’ll be the odd immaculate example around, and in the cc-effect this ’72 was listed on trademe this morning. One owner from 1972 until this year, 125,000 km. http://www.trademe.co.nz/motors/used-cars/austin/maxi/auction-647980276.htm
Practical it was,but it’s not a patch looks wise on a Hilman Hunter,Vauxhall Victor FD or the Mk2/3 Ford Cortina it’s main opposition.The competitors had various hot versions and bright colours,the Maxi came in dull shades,the worst being hearing aid beige.
Looks like a very stable car, in a Pacer kind of way…
…it actually makes the Pacer look quite sexy
Is this a real AMC Pacer ad from France? It is one that Sir Mix-a-Lot (Monsieur Beaucoup de Melange?) would appreciate.
Yes it was a real French ad for the Pacer. Leave it to the French to make a Pacer sexy
“Tre good!”* Baby got back!
* Pointy Williams
Agree 100% with the dated-at-launch comments, a clear product of penny pinching design and it still looks poor for 1964 let alone 1969. Worse still was using the same non-styling for the 1968 3-Litre sedan!
You have to wonder how the 6,000 per week forecast got through the system, surely there should have been a reality check applied!
Forgotten all about the 3 litre,a giant land crab.I saw a maroon one and a navy blue example at shows, a rare car even in the UK.No way would I have bought one when there was the Vauxhall Cresta & Ford Zodiac for sale at the same time.
I found one of those on Trade Me.
Not one National Lampoons European Vacation comment?
Good summary of the Maxi. Great packaging, terrible styling. Reportedly the same package dimensionally as the european Mark 1 Ford Focus.
On the E series engine, it’s not true to say that the 6 cylinder version only ever made it into the Landcrab in the UK. The engine also made it into the top versions of the Landcrab’s successor, the 18/22 Series that was later rebadged as a Princess.
You’re correct that the 6 cylinder E series went into the Princess.
However, the Princess or 18/22 series was essentially a rebodied Landcrab
A nice Austin 1800, lazing in the October sunshine in Vancouver this afternoon. These are rare here too, even though British cars sold fairly well through the 1960′s and into the 70′s.
I always thought the ‘land crab’ moniker was a little unfair. These cars struck me as well-designed, particularly the front end, and the rear/side view gives some sense of the very spacious interior. But maybe they do look more like a ‘well-designed home appliance’ than a desirable automobile.
A great find, and a better Landcrab than I’ve seen in the UK for ages!
I’d like to use these photos as part of a CC on the car – have they been uploaded to the Cohort?
Based on a quick Google survey, my guess is that this is probably a 1966 model. Pretty advanced for its time?
Why is the steering wheel at such a bus-like angle? Surely that made driving these things very odd.
Partly because the steering rack was just in front of your feet, and partly because there was no power steering and you needed the bus-like angle to be able to turn the wheel. It was fine if you didn’t live in a city. Back in the day you could buy aftermarket lengthened steering arms for the hubs, to lower the gearing.
Interesting about the Landcrab in Vacouver. Does any one remember the Austin Cambridge?.Had some old place mats with Vancouver scenes of the early 70s. Every other car was a Cambridge!. You just find the odd Austin 1300 And Marina now.
Dad got a fridge white Maxi 1500 in August 73. We took it over to France,the water pump failed in Germany. Took 3 days get get a replacement and then on to ..Austria. Dont remember seeing many there.
Did they really forecast 6,000 sales per week, or was that just chat at a boozy sales conference? And what were they smoking when they decided to build a factory to produce twice as many of these very novel things than the highly conventional, well established etc market leader?
Sometimes, with BL, you just couldn’t make it up.
I have just noticed that the A60 in the advert at the top of Roger’s well-researched piece is painted in Cambridge Blue. The featured Maxi, by contrast, is in Oxford blue. Possibly a race in which both boats sank.
The Oxcart and Cambridge badges are quite a lot older than Roger says the Oxford began on the Bullnose Morris cars in the 20s, and the Cambridge on Austin tens in the 30s, almost traditional badges before the BMC models came out in the 50s.
I’ll always have a soft spot for any car whose seats convert into a bed….
If you think the Maxi looks bad here is a picture of a short nosed Maxi that had to be facelifted before it was launched, so just be glad for small mercies !!!!
There was also a saloon version of the Maxi which was cancelled just before production started.Saloon version would have been a better replacement for the Farina cars but suffered from the hatchback problems.
Nearly everything BMC came up with in the 60s was to replace the Oxbridge Farina saloons, they kept building and selling the A60 Farinas until 1971 they were fairly bullet proof mechanically though unexciting to drive with average handling but the kept going and were reliable and unlike the FWD cars easy and cheap to fix when they did go wrong.
I always love Roger’s pieces, and this one was great. The tragic aspects of various miscalculations in this car’s development make it so much more interesting to me than if it had been a safe, boring, moderate success. A sales forecast of 150,000 – wow.
I actually don’t find the Landcrab that offensive-looking. That it is often perceived that way only adds to its mystique for me.
I love the big smile on the front of the original Austin 1800. Its rounded style in some ways look newer (perhaps in an early 1990s fashion) than the oh-so-Mk.II Cortina front of the Maxi (and Mini 1275GT).
That neither the 1800 or Maxi were suitable replacements for what should have been their ‘bread-and-butter’ saloon is a bit tragic/short-sighted/foolish (delete as applicable). Even struggling Rootes managed to create a popular and profitable mid-range car with their Arrow after a near disasterous flirtation with rear engines (the Swallow) but BMC managed to fluff it twice in a row. The Marina was almost the right car (for the times) but something like seven years too late and it’s rushed development showed.
That said, I do quite like the Maxi for looking dull and sensible. It didn’t look much more old fashioned in 1980 than it did in 1970 and it did have proper door handles rather than those silly flap things (at least on the outside).
I wouldn’t call the Maxi styling bland. Now polarizing… there’s a word.
Previously thought notions of a properly developed Austin Maxi butterflying away the Austin Allegro to be ridiculous, yet have recently come round to the idea provided it featured an end-on gearbox, 100-inch wheelbase (aka similar to the later Austin Maestro via different doors) and different styling.
In terms of styling, it is a choice between a shrunken Austin Princess as shown on the Maxi-based Project Condor ADO68/14 prototype or the Maxi-based Austin Aquila with a more practical significantly restyled rear where the rear lights appear on the side of the boot rather than below the boot.
Not sure where that would have left ADO16, Allegro or ADO22 project however, though some suggest all could have formed the basis for larger albeit sportingly styled superminis.
The Landcrab should have been a 2-litre car with Maxi-like hatchback from the outset like in the following picture (called an “estate” including the Crayford estate version yet for all intents and purposes a hatchback) instead of appearing as a 4-door fastback saloon, followed by X6-based saloon and estate bodystyles.
Having the Landcrab as a larger engined hatchback would have in turn allowed the alternate Austin Maxi to feature a 4-door saloon variant without the latter overlapping and threatening to steal sales from the former.
I don’t mind the styling of the Maxi, and the 1800 for that matter. As long as it was in a decent colour with no strip speedos etc. Delius another matter of course.
Ok they don’t look ground breaking like say the NSU R080 but they were interesting, and to me more more attractive than any Escort, any Hillman Hunter (absolute garbage on wheels, ditto the Marina). The Cortinas of the period were boring unless they were a Lotus or 1600E version. The Renault 16 had more flair and was better executed no doubt but it was no oil painting either.
I don’t know why Leyland Australia modified the Max, or was it the 1300/1500 to create the Nomad. Would it have just been easier to assemble the Maxi as it was?
You have it backwards the Nomad was butchered to become the Maxi the O series engine the five speed trans the entire show was Australian developed from the 1100/1300 model.
Yes, in the strange parallel universe of BMC they managed to develop two FWD 5 door hatchbacks, using the same engine but different bodyshells, at the same time.
Are the rear lights on the Nomad the units off the Wolseley 18/85 Landcrab?
All Maxi’s had round dial speedos, but the 1800 varied according to model, trim and age.
There were some 1100/1300 parts in the Maxi, but it were not crucial to the story of its fate. The car had a lot more Landcrab genes in it – essentially the whole centre body structure with a strip taken out of it. The Nomad was developed separately by Leyland Australia from the 1100/1300 and never came to Europe.
The E series engine and gearbox were UK developments. The 1500 E series was used in Australia for the Morris 1500 and Nomad from 1969, but there is no evidence I have ever seen that the Nomad led to the Maxi
The Honda Fit-Jazz is the only modern car who bring something fresh in the cargo departement , just like those old BMC . I’m always amaze to see there always no imagination in the rear seat posibilities of modern hatchback with most of them having difficulties to only get a real rear flat floor when chair back is fold down .
As always, thanks for another great tale of the downfall of the British car industry. Well, the British-owned industry at any rate. I’ll be curious to see what Brexit does to the motor industry in the UK. Probably not good things.
I must admit to liking the utilitarian styling of the Maxi, as well as the concept. But I also fancy the Landcrab. In any case, I don’t think the styling is any worse than the Renault R4, which was incredibly successful. Hard to say exactly what the failure was, but a botched launch, questionable build quality, and an all-too-conservative UK buying public certainly didn’t help. And, at the time of launch, the UK wasn’t in the EEC, so the buyers who may have been more receptive to the concept had to pay a tariff.
Hell, BL would’ve found a way to screw up the Golf.