Austin Maxi

THE completely new 1485-c.c. 'E' series, overhead camshaft, five-bearing crankshaft engine for the Maxi is mounted transversely in unit with the clutch, transmission and final drive, the whole assembly being mounted on a sub-frame which is bolted to the body of the car. Bore and stroke are 76.2 mm. and 81.28 mm. respectively and the compression ratio 9.0 to l. Power output is 74 b.h.p. (net) at 5,500 r.p.m. and the available torque is 84lb. ft. at 3,500 r.p.m.

Power is transmitted through a 7.8 in. diameter, hydraulically - operated diaphragm spring clutch and a completely new all-synchromesh five-speed gearbox with an overall reduction of 4.2 to l. the fifth gear having a ratio of 0.8 to 1 (overall 3.34 to l) and giving quiet, effortless and economical motorway cruising at high road speeds and lowered engine revolutions.

This is the first occasion that a five-speed gearbox has been fitted to a volume production British car. Both the engine and gearbox are manufactured in a new £16m., highly automated factory at Cofton Hackett, near Longbridge specially built and equipped for this purpose.

Bed For Two

The five-door, Maxi body is of all-steel integral construction and has four side doors and one rear,'lift-up' tailgate door hinged from the roof panel. The rear or tailgate door is counterbalanced by means of hydraulic struts giving finger-light opening and closing. This door also accommodates the extractor ducts which combine with the heater and adjustable fresh-air ducts located at each end of the fascia panel to provide through ventilation in the car. The rear seating is so arranged that the seat may be tipped forward and the squab folded forward to provide considerably increased luggage accommodation.

An alternative arrangement is achieved by fully reclining the front seats and folding back the squab of the rear seats, which produces a full-length flat bed approximately 4 feet wide, suitable for two persons. When the seats are in their normal positions, the luggage space is covered by a removable upholstered shelf which slots into the back of the rear squab and fits snugly against the body sides and tailgate effectively concealing the contents from outside.

Two Firsts

Maxi achieves two notable firsts for Leyland. It is the first British volume produced car to be fitted with a five-speeds gearbox and with five doors.

Road Test

What's new about a Maxi? This is the question which all the publications on the latest model to come from British Leyland is answering. After a quick look at some of this literature I decided that the only real way to find out just what the Austin Maxi was like was to test drive it.

Apart from the obvious new styling of the bodywork, the first thing that I noticed about this compact, 13 ft.-long car was the tremendous amount of space available. Other striking features about the interior of the car are the new fascia lay-out. The black, non-reflective, padded fascia holds two four-inch diameter instruments directly in front of the driver.


Both are clearly visible through the unobstructed top half of the three-spoke steering wheel. On the left is the speedometer with total mileage recorder, and on the right a combination instrument incorporating petrol and temperature gauges, along with warning lights for oil pressure and ignition.

Above the two instruments, which are deep set and glass enclosed, are the indicator lights for direction indicators and high beam. To the right of the indicator lights is the switch for parking and headlamps (dipped position).

The headlight main beam is controlled by a stalk on the steering column which also incorporates the headlamp flasher, turn signals and horn control. Centrally placed are the switches for the heater/demister fan, windscreen washer and the two-speed wipers, all of which can be reached without having to move forward in the seat.

All switches are of the safety, rocker type, while the centre boss of the steering wheel is well padded. Safety locks are fitted to both rear side doors making it virtually impossible for a child to open the car while in motion.

Completing the interior are two fully-reclining and fully adjustable bucket seats in the front with a three-way adjustable bench seat in the rear. Apart from using the rear seat for carrying passengers, the rear squab can be folded forward to give a brake effect.

Double Bed

Alternatively the same squab can be folded backwards and, in conjunction with the reclining front seats, quickly and easily converts the interior into a four-foot wide, seven-foot long, double bed. In addition to the normal four doors, access to the car can also be obtained from the fifth door, a large rear tail-gate. This door, which is hinged from the roof, operates on two hydraulic dampers which assist in making the very large door easier to open and close.

The driving position is quite superb, and allowed my 6 ft. 6 in. frame to be perfectly at ease and still left sufficient room in the rear seat for a person of comparable size to sit in comfort.

On starting the car the new 1,485 c.c. overhead-cam engine ticked over in almost complete silence. The gear lever, which is centrally mounted on the floor, falls readily to hand and engages all five of its forward gears without the driver having to alter his position in the driving seat.

The engine, which is mounted transversely to drive the front wheels, has a bore of 76.2 mm. and a stroke of 8.'28 mm., and is fed from a single carburettor to produce 74 b.h.p. at 5,500 r.p.m. A compression ratio of 9 to 1 allows the use of three-star petrol without causing pinking.

The engine itself is exceedingly flexible and was found to pull-albeit not with tremendous acceleration-from about 20 m.p.h. in 5th gear to its maximum of 90 m.p.h.

Once the car was ready to start off it quickly became apparent that the 1.5 litre power unit had a few surprises in store, for it shot off the mark with great rapidity much faster than I had anticipated. An exceedingly smooth gear change-although a little stiff on this new car-made it possible to complete a standing quarter-mile in a mere 20 seconds. A second try over the same course managed to knock off a further l.l seconds to return a time of 18.9 seconds.

On the car used for the test, acceleration in fourth and fifth gears proved on the whole to be faster than those in the specification booklet. The test car knocked a full second off the 20-40 m.p.h. time in fourth gear, giving a time of nine seconds. The same speed in fifth returned 15 seconds dead, as opposed to 15.8 seconds. The other speed ranges of 30-50 m.p.h. and 40-60 m.p.h. were all faster than specified, knocking off 2.3 and 1.0 seconds respectively. The 50-75 m.p.h. range was a full l . l seconds slower.

Effective gear speeds were such as to cause other motorists on the road some amazement, as the car accelerated past them with great ease. Speeds through the gears were found to be 0-50 rn.p.h., 11.0 seconds; 0-60 m.p.h., 16.5s secs; maximum speeds in each gear being 1st, 30 m.p.h.; 2nd, 50 m.p.h.: 3rd, 70 m.p.h. ; 4th, 92 m.p.h.; and 5th 87 m.p.h.

Although the car was quite happy pottering around town at 20-25 5th gear, the effective torque was not apparent until the middle revolution range. In fact, although used considerably, 5th gear was only used as a form of overdrive, and when instant acceleration was required both 3rd and 4th gears were given a good testing.

At peak revs up to and including 4th gear, noise found its way into the car, but, as soon as the highly geared 5th was engaged, the drive became almost silent and still maintained the same speed.

Suspension on the Maxi is Hydrolastic, the same as on the Mini, 1100 and 1800 range. Although the suspension settings are somewhat harder than these other cars it still gives the same smooth ride. Cornering in this machine is like driving on rails, and, unlike some of its counterparts, does not have the tendency to 'float' when put into corners at high speeds.

Servo-assisted front disc brakes with drum rears give the car ample braking power. An exceptionally economic car, the Maxi returns 45 miles per gallon at a speed of 40 m.p.h. in 5th gear. Although considerably lower at 70 m.p.h. it still does an economical 31 miles per gallon.

In conclusion the Maxi is a first-rate car which can be used for both family and business purposes and is an excellent buy at £978 16s 11d.

Maxi Body Build Cowley

This is what happens in 'A' Building at PSF, Cowley, which was reconstructed in 1967 and which will be further redeveloped for the early 1970s. This Building is the birthplace of Pressed Steel and of the modern motor car body. Our drawing show he sequences of production of the Maxi body, the biggest single component of this latest British Leyland saloon. 1. Underframe assembly; 2, Underframe storage rack; 3, Control room; 4, Side panel assembly gate-line conveyor; 5, Body assembly floor conveyor with gates on; 6, Roof loader; 7, Side panel gate 'stable'; 8, Front end panel assembly store: 9, Second leg of body build conveyor: 10, Door conveyor; 11, Hoist; 12, Body store; 13, Discing booth (body finish line): 14, Final body finish


Vehicle testers vital link between designs and sales.

It might seem tedious, but the full-time vehicle tester knows it is a job that makes him a vital link between what starts life on a car industry drawing board and what eventually becomes a gleaming car in the showroom.

It happens with every new car, and the Maxi has been no exception. In some respects the testing of certain aspects of the Austin Maxi have been so thorough and exhaustive that the everyday motorist who buys one will operate it in only a fraction of the test conditions.

Testing means 'ironing out the bugs', and putting into the purchaser's hands a car with known capabilities and a bit in reserve!


'Any new car that comes off the drawing board and is taken through the Prototype stage, and Pre-Production stage must have points of performance or design to be evaluated, and possibly modified. 'And under conditions that hammer the suspension or tax the engine, the tester expects to find faults,' said Mr. G. Jones, Austin Morris Division's Chief Experimental Engineer.

'No car manufacturer can expect to introduce a new model without this comprehensive test programme, and certainly no car manufacturer anywhere in the world could claim that his new model sailed through that tough testing period without flaws coming to light that had to be discussed back at the design stage, modified and re-tested.'

Mr. Jones's testers took cars to Finland and inside the Arctic Circle. They found that, in freezing conditions, and any car owner would agree that minus 40 deg. F. i.e. 72 degrees of frost is pretty cold, Part of the engine breathing system was adversely affected by ice and resulted in excessive crankcase pressure with a resulting oil leakage.

'We brought the cars back to the cold room at Longbridge, the power unit development engineers had a look at the problem, and this then soon became a problem of the past,'said Mr. Jones.

Engine Cooling

Maxis were taken to Portugal in the height of summer, in an ambient temperature of around 108" F. in hot, hilly, and rough territory engines, transmissions, suspensions and steering systems were tested under some of the most severe conditions possible. In the heat-soaked central and southern areas of Portugal the cars and drivers encountered ambient temperatures of 115 deg. F. and plenty of dust.

These tests enabled recommendations on engine cooling specifications to be established, as well as other items affected by heat. To itemize every point dealt with at the road proving stage would probably fill every copy of Austin Morris World, from our first edition this year, to our first next year, and that is no exaggeration.

Mr. Jones's file on the Maxi opened in June, 1967, and was a slim file that Year. But thereafter the file blossomed and contains detailed reports on every aspect of the car's performance.

Not far from that infamous East-West German border the Maxi's motorway potential was tested on the German autobahns, which take less than usual traffic because of their proximity to the border. 'We covered a quarter of a million miles on the German roads at the rate of 1,000 miles a day-at speeds that would have collected us a speeding ticket in this country,' explained Mr. Jones.

There are test facilities in the United Kingdom, the steep mountain roads of North Wales, and the sophisticated test facilities at M.I.R.A but when the Maxi wanted to stretch its legs it took a continental holiday!. 'But a car tester's life is no holiday. My chaps covered a total of one million miles during road proving, and at the end of every day the tester had to do his homework, and fill in a detailed report.'

And long before a completed Maxi prototype was on the road for testing, component test vehicles like the ADOI6 and ADO17 were being run with Maxi power-units for of necessity this has to be developed and tested well before it could be mated to its intended body.

'We have given the car a testing that will simulate every driving habit and every foreseeable condition and for good measure we submitted vehicles to the rigours of competition starts and manoeuvres.

And now the Maxi is being offered to the public, is Mr. Jones's job finished ? Not a bit of it ! 'We still carry on testing, developing and re-testing for there are always ways of making a good car even better.