Portfolio The Austin Maxi that went to Germany

My father was the editor for High Road, the magazine for British Leyland. The magazine only ran for 2 years but one of the perks from being its managing editor was occasional use of the latest BL offerings.

The Maxi was one vehicle that he personally favoured, “I think they got the formula right on this one” he said.

Well that convinced me, I had been the owner of a rather tired 1964 Mini 850 and the RAF had just posted me to West Germany in 1976. I knew my Mini wasn’t up to long drives across Europe so when I spotted a brown 1969 Maxi 1500 with the original cable link gear change at Robin Hebdon’s garage in Bury St. Edmunds for £550. I thought, perfect. Plenty of room to carry all my kit and good legs with the 5th gear, (it was a bit of a novelty back then) .
So money changed hands and a week before departing the UK the timing chain link separated and fell into the sump. Luckily the Maxi engine is a simple affair and plenty of room there to work on so it was back together in time for my drive to Germany. I cringe when I think of it now but there were no SAT-NAV, no mobile phone, no breakdown cover, just me, my toolbox. and a Haynes manual.

As I approached Dover I noticed the engine temp was very hot and the car seemed to have no power. I pulled over and the car stopped very abruptly with the smell of red hot front discs and metallic pinging sounds I realised the brakes were somehow being forced on. I checked the brake pedal for free movement and found no problem. I decided to crack open one of the single circuit brake lines and found the fluid was under very high pressure. This freed the brakes so I tightened the pipe union and continued on for a mile.

Then the same fault repeated. This time I removed the whole brake servo and discovered there is a small threaded bar between the servo master cylinder and the foot pedal input rod that had become loose and was itself applying input force to the servo master cylinder due no free play. This I managed to adjust to gain some clearance and with a good squirt of Loctite on its threads (I always have some in my tool box), I crossed my fingers and made the ferry.

And that was it, I duly completed my two and a half year tour in Germany, travelled all over that part of the world and the Maxi didn’t give me any more trouble…apart from slowly rusting away!

Submitted by: Steve Burdon

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