Condition: Not a lemon, but don’t squeeze too hard
We’re starting this week by inviting you quickly behind the fourth wall of our Unexceptional Classifieds series.
You should know the drill by now: Find a car that’d be right at home at the (award-winning!) Festival of the Unexceptional each year, generally in nice condition, and give you a (hopefully interesting) potted history on the model before a quick run-down of its condition, based on the ad.
But we also try to mix things up a bit. Not everyone is interested in say, French cars, and some people prefer modern classics to cars from the 70s. We also try and avoid too much repetition week to week, so you’re unlikely to see a solid run of British cars, or saloons.
Normally then, we’d avoid giving you another Austin Maxi, just a few months after the last. But you’ll hopefully appreciate that this retina-searing Citron Yellow car is just too eye-catching to miss, and different enough from that Russett Brown example to justify its coverage here.
The brown Maxi is still for sale, incidentally. It has to be a niche choice, particularly at this kind of price. Our Citron car is a grand cheaper at £5995, but also higher mileage and not as tidy. Maxi enthusiasts might be able to inform us whether these earlier cars are more sought-after, but the market willing to pay that kind of money for a generally unloved car has to be fairly small.
As a 1976 rather than the 1981 we featured previously, it does look more traditionally “classic” – Maxis built prior to 1977 get more chrome, hubcaps rather than plastic wheel trims, and a slightly less vacant expression courtesy of that Mini Clubman-like grille.
Poke inside this car and it’s distinctly a car of the 1970s too, rather than the ‘80s crossover of that 1981 model. The dashboard is much the same, but this earlier Maxi gets a spindly two-spoke wheel rather than the four-spoke Leyland affair, and black ribbed vinyl seat coverings and doorcards rather than beige, static-inducing nylon cloth.
Externally that colour does a lot of heavy lifting to make the Maxi look like quite a cheery thing, and it certainly photographs well. The only visual evidence that it’s not spotless comes under the bonnet, where the 1970s steel is doing its own impression of Russett Brown in several places.
It’s claimed to be solid underneath. While a Maxi of this age doesn’t need an MOT any longer, a patchy history suggests a potential buyer might like to address several things so it’d be capable of passing one anyway – the most recent test failure suggests the brakes and headlights need attention, and the engine needs a tune-up too judging by the emissions failures.
It fits the unexceptional billing though, and its period features will find favour with some. But unless there’s a particularly special Maxi coming up for sale in the near future, we’ll try and make this the last one for a while…