Monday 30th April 2012


A surprising number of PHers carry a fondness for old BL cars - this rally Maxi could unite us all in that!

A cool Maxi is a contradiction in terms but this one car that could legitimately make that claim. It’s a rare survivor from the bonkers 1970 World Cup Marathon endurance rally that ran from London to Mexico City and brought such fame to the winning Ford Escort, inspiring the Mk1 Mexico edition.

It was up against an Escort ... go on, guess
It was up against an Escort ... go on, guess
This Maxi didn’t cover itself in quite as much glory and didn’t make the full distance, but then this is a piece of endurance rally history you can actually buy for reasonable money.

Owner Robin Shackleton, a fertiliser salesman and classic rally fan from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, bought it two years ago to use in historic road rallies. “I’d been looking for genuine works cars, but most of them are very expensive,” he says.

It wasn’t quite a works BMC car, but a privateer entry sponsored by Marshalls of Cambridge (a dealer group that still exists today) and kitted out with works parts. So it’s got fibreglass doors, fibreglass bonnet, Perspex side windows, auxiliary Koni shocks to help out the standard hydrolastic suspension and a welded up tailgate.

It's no Vanden Plas, that's for sure
It's no Vanden Plas, that's for sure
The engine was a 1500, and is now a twin-carb 1750 following a mid-70s replacement, so its not exactly a rocket ship but Robin reckons it’s pretty handy on the road. “It’s very useful, bowls along at 70mph no problem and handles well because it’s much stiffer and lighter than a standard car,” he says

He’s made sure it looks exactly like it did when the all-girl team left London in 1970, including all the period stickers. Trouble is, this attention to detail has got him trouble with the MSA who won’t let stickered up cars enter historic road rally series. “They did suggest covering the stickers with magnets, but I said, how I am supposed to do that? The doors are fibreglass!” he says in exasperation.

He won’t stage rally it and, what it being built for endurance rather than speed, it wouldn’t really be competitive. So it’s up for sale at £29,995. Interest so far has been slow and Robin says there’s room to manoeuvre on that.

Of four Maxis that took part it in the rally, only one other survives. That was driven by Prince Michael of Kent and now sits in the marvellous Heritage Centre Museum at Gaydon. The winning Escort driven by Finn Hannu Mikkola is still owned by Ford and is part of the firm’s heritage fleet in Dagenham.

See the original advert here.

Author: NickGibbs
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