When introduced in 1969, the Austin Maxi would hardly have been dubbed the last word in adventure, and yet of the 450,000 manufactured, a 1970 model, which comes to auction by Historics at Brooklands in Surrey, on Saturday, March 9, is a real tribute to three lady thrill-seekers who took it on a 16,000 mile epic.
‘MCE 7G’ – one of the first 500 Maxis built – contested the gruelling 1970 Daily Mirror London to Mexico World Cup Rally, which was flagged away from the hallowed turf of Wembley on 19th April by Sir Alf Ramsay, en route to Mexico, the host of the international football competition.
The Maxi was professionally-prepared for the event in 1970 by BLMC dealer, Marshalls of Cambridge, with the assistance and full co-operation of the BLMC works motorsport department.
Wedged amidst jumbles of spares, equipment, tools, food, drink and clothing – and doubtless a phrase book or two – were the British trio of Tish Ozanne, Bronwyn Burrell and Tina Kerridge. Their mission was simple; the task formidable. In fact, of 106 starters, just 26 finished and Tish’s team were sadly to succumb to glutinous mud in Argentina, which forced their retirement through being out of time at a control point, a sad finale after being placed 35th after the European rally stages.
Commenting recently on the end of their rally, Tina Kerridge remarked: “It all comes flooding back to me – ‘flooding’ being the operative word. Something like 4” of rain fell in one hour and we simply got bogged down in the most desolate area, in the middle of the night, surrounded by pampas grass, and nothing else. It was so disappointing as we had been going so well. We just sat there and cried.”
Meticulously-restored by the present owner to the original specification in which it left for its adventure from Wembley Stadium – plus appropriate upgrades such as contemporary tyres – the Maxi is a perfect example of the international rally car genre of its day.
The original 1,500cc 4-cylinder engine was uprated to a factory 1,750cc unit – as installed in later production Maxis – by Tish Ozanne after the World Cup Rally, to contest European events following its return from South America.
The interior of the car is festooned with the original rally equipment that bears testament to its London to Mexico journey and later competition life, and has recently benefitted from extensive work by its original builder, Peter Baldwin.
Presented in its original 1970 Daily Mirror London-Mexico World Cup Rally livery, the car is in excellent condition throughout, fully road legal and drives well on the road – and ready for the historic rally stage – with 38,000 recorded miles on the odometer. Adding to the atmosphere, it comes to sale at Historics with a large historical file of documents, photographs and press cuttings from the period.
With only one other rallying Maxi from the event existing in a Museum, ‘MCE 7G’ represents a rare opportunity to acquire a very unusual and well-presented model. With its unique history, great interest is anticipated at the guide price of £19,000 – £24,000.F
From Motorin News