Friday, 27 April 2012

World Cup Rally Austin Maxi

Saviour of British Leyland. Alec Issigonis' magnum opus. International rally winner. Coveted design classic. The Austin Maxi was none of these things, although its significance to the British motor industry in the 1970s is often underestimated. It was spacious, well-appointed, competitively priced, reliable (apart from the early gearbox issues - best not to think about that) and, above all, frugal - a key selling point during a fuel crisis. And, if nothing else, it showed the world what a useful thing a hatchback was.

It was still pretty fresh out of the box for the 1970 London-Mexico World Cup rally, the model having been launched in '69. MCE 7G, the car you see here, was one of four Maxis entered into the rally, campaigned by Marshalls of Cambridge. It was significantly modified from standard in order to survive the gruelling challenge; it received fibreglass doors and bonnet, Perspex windows and a welded tailgate with saloon-style boot containing a bag fuel tank. The Hydrolastic suspension was kept (it was useful to the manufacturer to prove that this was durable and versatile!), along with auxiliary Koni shocks. Under the bonnet was a 1750cc engine with twin SU carbs.

What's most important, of course, is that the car made it to Mexico. Furthermore, it's now for sale, sensitively restored to original specs - click here and here.

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