Maxi Mini: 1981 Austin Morris Maxi 2 HL

040916 Barn Finds - 1981 Austin Morris Maxi - 1

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Ok, I know that this isn’t a “Mini”, I just used a little poetic license there. But, what a gorgeous car! Some of you may not care for the profile of this car, or care for some other aspect of this 1981 Austin Morris Maxi, but it’s almost impossible to find fault with the perfectly-preserved, original condition of this car. It’s located in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, United Kingdom, just a half-hour southeast of Glasgow. The seller says that there are “no scratches, dents or bruises to the exterior.” This is truly a time capsule.

040916 Barn Finds - 1981 Austin Morris Maxi - 3

The Maxi was made from 1969 to 1981 and it was the last car made by the British Motor Corporation (BMC). It also has the distinction of being the last car designed by Sir Alec Issigonis, the father of the Austin Mini, the best selling British car of all time with over 5.3 million units sold over four decades. Incredible. The equally-incredible Maxi shown here has the “original paintwork is in excellent shiny condition as is the bright work and glass.” 

040916 Barn Finds - 1981 Austin Morris Maxi - 2

I like this profile, a lot. The naysayers may find fault with the proportions or the fact that they used the doors from the Austin 1800 and that took away a bit of creativity with the final result. I think it’s an unusual and unusually-good looking car; but I like things a bit different than most people do. The Maxi was famous for its 5+5 configuration: 5 doors and a 5-speed transmission. You won’t believe the room in the backseat!

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That’s a lot of legroom! I would even be comfortable back there. The seller mentions that the carpet in the front isn’t in excellent condition but everything else inside is “in remarkable condition. The upholstery, door cards and parcel tray etc are in extremely good original condition. The dash board and head lining can only be described as excellent.”

040916 Barn Finds - 1981 Austin Morris Maxi - 4

The carpet doesn’t look horrible to me, but that shows how particular this owner is about the condition of this fine car. This car was on the cover of the Austin Maxi Club magazine and is said to have been in the same family since new. 486,273 Austin Maxis were built, most of them at BL’s plant at Cowley. This was Britain’s first hatchback and that is another reason to like this big little ground-breaker.

040916 Barn Finds - 1981 Austin Morris Maxi - 6

This is a 1,748cc transverse-mounted 4-cylinder, as you might expect to see here. As I mentioned, this car has a new 5-speed transmission and the combination of this bigger engine with about 90 hp, and that 5-speed manual made for acceptable power delivery to move this 1,005 kg (2,216 lb) car along. This fantastic Austin Maxi is listed on eBay with a price of £3,295 ($4,654). I think it would be incredibly fun to own one of these. This car has it all for me: it’s small, it’s unusual, it’s inexpensive, and it has a manual transmission. What’s not to like?! Are you fan of the Maxi or are you a staunch Mini-or-nothing person?

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  1. Corners

    “Land Crab”

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    • Rob K

      Nope. The Land Crab was the name given to the Austin 1800 – a kind of sister car/forerunner to the Maxi and a smaller version of the Austin 3 Litre.

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  2. JW454

    Very nice looking little car. A bit too far for me to be a serious buyer but nice none the less.

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  3. ClassicCarFan

    not the “land crab”….but a close relative. The car that got the nick-name of the “land crab” was the ADO17 1800/2200 series which predates the maxi having launched in 1964. We had a Morris 1800 as a family car for a while when I was growing up in the UK and we loved it.

    The Maxi really was a pretty good attempt and as the description above says – had a lot going for it, Issigonis-style wheel-at-each-corner transverse FWD layout, 5-door hatch-back design, 5-speed gearbox, OHC motor. but like many BMC/Leyland cars of that era it was let down by a few specific design flaws like imprecise cable-operated gearshift, and typical Leyland 1970s poor build quality.

    They were still a pretty popular family car I remember in the 1970s, loads of interior space for the size of car, good family hauler and decent towing car.

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  4. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    At least it isn’t an Austin Marina, an almost universally disliked car in the UK.
    A joke says it all:

    A little girl is walking home from school when a man pulls alongside and offers her a ride. She declines & keeps walking.
    He pulls up once again and offers her a doll if she will get in the car, and again she refuses.
    He tries once more, offering candy too. She stops walking & turns to face him before saying “Daddy – I told you if you bought a Marina I wouldn’t ride in it!”

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    • Jamie Palmer JamieStaff

      Bill, you realize Barn Finds sponsors an Austin Marina in LeMons racing, right?

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      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

        Jamie – I’m only stating what I’ve heard from British gear heads over the last 20 or so years!
        I’m sure by now any surviving Marinas have been well sorted out & are fine road cars, but I’ve heard when new they were not that popular.

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      • Jamie Palmer JamieStaff

        Bill, don’t worry, they aren’t the greatest to drive in stock form; I know, I drove this one on the street before getting crazy with it… :-) I was just pulling your chain! I’ll tell you, though, the Marina Club in the UK has been extremely helpful to us, though, and they are passionate about the cars! I’ve really enjoyed getting help from them and getting to know them; it shows that there are enthusiasts for EVERY car! :-)

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  5. Steve K.

    I enjoyed my “Landcrab” when I owned it. Basically, it was the father to this model being a 1970 Series II with a “B” series engine mounted east west like this one has. Mine was LHD exported to Canada but ended up in the states when I owned it. Unfortunately, the next owner cobbled it up for a V6 conversation that didn’t work out and it ended up as a Lemons race car.

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  6. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    About 1989, in north London, I found a long wheelbase 6 passenger (3 row seating) Maxi with body sill plates bearing the name of the coach builder Vanden Plas of London.

    Should have bought it (only £500), ’cause a couple of years later I was doing research at the library in the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, and discovered it was a prototype, only 1 made.

    Vanden Plas decided to continue making the Daimler 420G limousines instead of the smaller Maxi limo.

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  7. Jamie Palmer JamieStaff

    Love this car! I wish I could drive one like this at some point…

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  8. RickyM

    When I was at senior school from 1980-85, my woodwork teacher had 2 of these, as he played a harp and it was the only car that he could fit his harp in easily ! Good memories.

    Like 0

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