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Anyone else own a "Practical Classic"?

The Robin thread and my recent purchase of the Maxi just got me wondering if anyone else owns a "practical classic"... ie pre 1980 and not some fancy thing like an e type, just an ordinary run-of-the mill family car form the 50s/60s or 70s?


Hamsafar    on 17 December 2008

'Practical Classic' is an oxymoron.
You either have to let them deteriorate or sink cash into them continuously to replace/recondition parts and stem corrosion and basically preserve them against the ravishes of time.

Edited by Hamsafar on 17/12/2008 at 10:38

oldnotbold    on 17 December 2008

81 Golf Convertible - does that count?

"preserve them against the ravishes of time"

I've got a few old girlfriends who are suffering from the ravishes of time, too...

Edited by oldnotbold on 17/12/2008 at 10:43

ForumNeedsModerating    on 17 December 2008

>>...preserve them against the ravishes of time

I must say that sounds alot better than the ravages of time - might even get one m'self.

ifithelps    on 17 December 2008

Can you tyell us a bit more about your Maxi, b308?

A customer of ours who was an undertaker had one as his works hack - you could fit a standard length coffin in the back with the seats folded.

Don't agree with Hamsafar about having to sink cash into this type of car.

A Maxi, Morris 1000, and particularly an old-shape Mini could make reliable transport today, provided it was maintained.

b308    on 17 December 2008

I'm just using it for shows in the summer... its more me trying to preserve something from when I started driving... I could have chosen things like the B, Midget, Spitfire, etc, but I prefered to keep something that everyday familes would have owned but are quite rare now...

People like me got a real slagging off from TG last Sunday for those of you who were watching it... I know their venom was directed towards the Marina Owners Club, but it also applied to any of us who own a "normal" old car rather than some souped up thing they regard as worth preserving... they are entitled to their opinion, but I don't agree with it... I get as much joy from looking round museums displaying everyday things from the past as I do from looking round the exotica... and looking ot "ordinary" things is far more educational than the exotica in showing how we lived in the "old" days!

Back to the car, IIH, its a 79 Mk2 Maxi (the Mk1 was 69/70, Mk2 71/79 and Mk3 (labled the Maxi2!!) 79/81), one family owner from new (I have a copy of the original receipt!) and just under 52k on the clock. Its in Russet Brown with beige interior, and has the 1750 single carb engine.

(PS Hams, I know what you mean but I just nicked the title from the Mag of the same name and it describes the cars quite well, I feel!)

Edited by b308 on 17/12/2008 at 10:56

Altea Ego    on 17 December 2008


At least the maxi has some kind of fame, or feature to distinguish it. It kind of set the hatch/folding seats/versatile design stake in the ground.

The marina, has nothing - nothing of any kind - to deserve any place anywhere in motoring history.

ForumNeedsModerating    on 17 December 2008

The marina, has nothing - nothing of any kind - to deserve any place anywhere in motoring history

Which, in a funny sort of way, might make it perversely 'desirable'? ... "Yeah, lovely mustard coachwork on this one - it's got the later BL logo wheeltrims as well - you can tell the Longbridge cars...look, there's the classic seam rust that collapses the rear sub-frame..beautiful isn't she?" ...

Alanovich    on 17 December 2008

The Maxi is the first car I can remember seeing with 5 gears. Was it the first mainstream motor with this feature?

Harleyman    on 17 December 2008

I think it was sold as such. Renault offered a 5-speed box on the 16TX, which was column change!

Pugugly    on 17 December 2008

I know - I used to drive one on L plates - a very pleasant way to learn about column gear changes. (not that I've needed it since !)

b308    on 18 December 2008

I think it was sold as such.

It was the first British 5 speed, 5 door hatchback... the R16 predated it... there were several comparison tests in 1969 which the Maxi lost to the R16, but it was closer than many think - the engine/box was the achillies heel for the Maxi, practicality-wise it beat the R16... it was partially rectified with the 1750 engine and rod change gearbox in 1970 (the Mk2)...

Its main claim to fame was that it was Issigonis's final design, and if you can look past the stupid use of the 1800 doors you can see all his hallmarks!

Edited by b308 on 18/12/2008 at 08:01

Alanovich    on 17 December 2008

I Don't own one but will likely start to waste money on such a thing once I have moved to a house with a garage and driveway.

Within a few streets of me, there are the following everday classics running around:

A reg Golf GTI (non chav modded)
Y reg Chevette
T reg Fiat Strada (yes, a surviving Fiat Strada)
M reg VW Beetle
N reg VW Beetle
Pre-A reg Morris Minor (in my street this one)
R reg Mark II Escort (gold, brown vinyl roof)

I have seen all of these used regularly in the 9 years I have lived in my current abode. Suggests to me that it isn't so expensive nor impractical to do so.

I am also of the school unexcited by exotica, I get much more of a thrill from spotting a mint run-of-the-miller.

paulvm    on 17 December 2008

Having owned both a Morris Marina and Austin Maxi in the past I can understand the feelings of b308. TG amazes and annoys in equal measures these days, which proves that it is now an entertainment programme rather than related to normal motoring. However, our Marina, in exciting 1300 estate format, saved the life of my wife 20 years ago. Another car hit her head on after overtaking on a bend on double white lines. The long bonnet of the Marina was just one third of its normal length after the accident, and she escaped with nothing more severe than heavy seat belt bruising.
People forget very quickly that cars like the Marina and Maxi were all that ordinary folk could afford as everyday family transport. Good on you b308 for preserving those memories!

Altea Ego    on 17 December 2008

Marina in exciting 1300 estate format saved the life of my wife 20 years ago.

It did nothing of the kind - how can you say that?
People forget very quickly that cars like the Marina and Maxi were all that ordinary
folk could afford as everyday family transport.

No they weren't. There were Ford Cortinas, Sierras, Vauxhall Cavaliers, Renaults etc, all of which would have "saved your wife's life"

each and everyone of those cars was far superior to any Marina, in design and build, and of similar price.

The Marina was a shameful shameful reminder of the how bad BL was.

dxp55    on 17 December 2008

Father in law worked at Longbridge for all his life so his choice of cars were limited - I can only remember his Rusty Brown Maxi 1750 and metalic Blue Ital 1750 Special - both were awful cars to drive - made my Daf 44 seem good - he ended his life with a Metro Kensington and his words when he finally gave up driving were "worst thing I did buying that" said he should have kept his only Japanese purchase -his old Nissan Bluebird - now that was funny to drive -power steering wanted to center wheel if you relaxed grip on it.

I do appreciate that people do a fine job in keeping old cars alive but I have no hankering for those basic days.

nick    on 17 December 2008

I run two as everyday cars. A 1968 Morris Minor van, rather tatty but will be restored next year, and a 1972 Opel Kadett 1.2 saloon. I've had the Morris for ten years now, it's costs pennies to run and insure and would soldier on as it is for many years to come. But it's looking rather tatty so it's booked in to get the bodywork fettled at Minor specialist. Bits are silly cheap and available next day.
The Opel I've had for 18 months, it's in lovely condition and I hope to keep it like it with regular dousing with Dinitrol underneath. A nice car to drive, very light on the controls, very tight turning circle and soft ride, ideal for the potholes round here. Bits are a little more difficult but there is a specialist parts supplier in the Netherlands for more obscure parts.
If you like or don't mind a bit of basic tinkering now and then and have somewhere undercover to keep one, a tax-exempt classic makes a lot of sense for a local runabout.

bathtub tom    on 17 December 2008

I recall coming across a group of Maxis somewhere or other, and in chatting to their owners was told they were part of an owners club. I wonder if they're still going?

I felt aggrieved with TGs treatment of the Marina. I reckon no matter how execrable the car may have been there's no excuse for destroying part of our motoring history. IIRC correctly, the 1.8TC was quicker off the mark than an MGB GT because it was lighter, and with a bit of modifying could be made to go round corners.

LondonBus    on 17 December 2008

My Dad was looking to buy a hatchback in 1974 with the birth of his second child (my middle brother); Choice was between a Renault 16 and a Maxi. He got the R16.Nice car, but rust is awful. I think the car was scrapped after 8 years because of the corrosion.

b308    on 17 December 2008

I recall coming across a group of Maxis somewhere or other and in chatting to
their owners was told they were part of an owners club. I wonder if they're
still going?

Yep, Austin Maxi Owners Club... have sent off my application form to join!

And its just come back from its MOT which it passed with flying colours... heaves sigh of relief!

Theres a 1300GT being done up round the corner from us, so I'm not alone on our estate!

Edited by b308 on 17/12/2008 at 12:38

Number_Cruncher    on 17 December 2008

>>Yep, Austin Maxi Owners Club...

Purely for curiosity, can you still get hold of new suspension displacers for these? I remember we used to replace lots of these on cars like Maxis and Aggros, and pumping up suspensions was a common task - the fluid itself used to be expensive.

b308    on 17 December 2008

Purely for curiosity can you still get hold of new suspension displacers for these?

I understand you can get reconditioned ones - its got the later Hydragas suspension, not the Hydralastic that was fitted to the earlier ones and the 1100s.

paulvm    on 17 December 2008

Blimey! Sorry to have stirred you up Altea Ego. I was only trying to mean that a smaller car of that era could have meant more serious injuries. I accept that other cars of a similiar size would have offered similiar protection. Yes, there were better cars on the market at that time, but we not everyone could afford them. Sorry to have upset you.

Altea Ego    on 17 December 2008

Blimey! Sorry to have stirred you up Altea Ego. I was only trying to mean
that a smaller car of that era could have meant more serious injuries. I accept
that other cars of a similiar size would have offered similiar protection. Yes there were
better cars on the market at that time but we not everyone could afford them.
Sorry to have upset you.

No offence taken or Given paulvm, just trying to save you from this horrible delusion you have. Its my duty, I owe it to you.

paulvm    on 17 December 2008

Thanks for that Altea. It would be interesting thought to test drive one of the cars from that era and compare to one today. I think that we would all be horrified that we went in them at all. Just shows how times have changed, and how some manufacturers have kept up and many fallen by the wayside.

b308    on 17 December 2008

All around vision is much better than the new cars i have driven... but the gearbox is, shall we say, different... they've come a long way since BL 'boxes of the 70s! Road holding is fine, but it is a small front wheel drive car so you'd expect that.

nick    on 17 December 2008

Has it got the cable gearshift or the later rod one? The cable sort was hilarious, you knew they were in there somewhere but where?

b308    on 17 December 2008

Has it got the cable gearshift or the later rod one?

Rod - the cable one was only in the Mk1 69/70 cars as far as I'm aware... got to sya though, I never saw Dad having any problems with it... he had one of the very early '69 1500s! The box is still "woolly" though!

davidh    on 17 December 2008

1979 Austin Allegro series 2 4 door in Pageant blue. Had it 3 years and done 10,000 miles in it. Just coming up to 50k miles.

Absolutely adore that little blue bombshell.

A maxi or princess or VDP could tempt me.

Up the BL!

davidh    on 17 December 2008

BTW the Marina top gear re-arranged on sunday looked suspiciously like a rather "rust doylied" blue Marina that has been lurking on ebay recently.

Note to self: Stop speccing up old leyland cars!!

redviper    on 17 December 2008

I would love to have my MK1 Astra back (A 1980) i loved that car in everyway. if i had the money I would have one and have it restored and painted a nice colour as apposed to the pastel blue that mine originally was

I really want as well a Vauxhall Viva, dont ask me why i just really want one lol

Altea Ego    on 17 December 2008

Hmm - ponders

I could be tempted with a princess, shocking appalling shoddy thing but it had something about it.

apm    on 17 December 2008

I recently had an MGB GT, and in the past two midgets, three minis, and a host of other old cars, both good and bad. Currently have an 04 Avensis. It's a great car and does all that we need (esp with young son). But I do hanker after an old classic again. Something about the simplicity and probably a big slice of nostalgia.

To echo a previous post, my grandfather in 1972 wanted to buy a hatch. He also chose the R16 over a maxi (horror stories about paint that melted in the sun I seem to remember he told me later along with a complementary Which? report), and loved it. He had it until 1980 (replaced by an R18 estate), when it was sold to an Aussie couple who toured Europe in it. I loved it, and would dearly like to find a nice one now, were it not for previously mentioned young son...

Maybe one day!!



Altea Ego    on 17 December 2008

Nope driven the princess idea out of my mind, I would love a 1973 Ford Consul 3.0 GT in copper brown.

Cliff Pope    on 17 December 2008

I used a 1964 Triumph 2000 as a daily driver for 10 years until recently, when advancing rust finally became uneconomic to repair.
The car was extremely reliable, comfortable and manoeuvrable, and had a nice turn of speed and acceleration. I'm looking out for another one.

Westpig    on 17 December 2008

I have a 1968 Triumph 2000 mk1 automatic on a 'G' plate one of the last of the mk 1's. In maroon with a beige leather interior. It is absoluteley immaculate having had a re-spray and engine re-build 5 or 6 years ago. It is currently without an MOT having been lurking in my garage for 4 years on SORN...but in reality a new battery is all it needs... (although a recent tyre thread on here has had me realise that new boots all round will be wise when I dig her out, as will a decent service).

two family cars, a motorcycle and a new baby have meant the old girl has been languishing without attention, but that won't be for ever. I keep my eye open for cheap spares and my garage is gradually accumulating all sorts.

1400ted    on 17 December 2008

Past cars include a Bond, Wolseley 15/60, Herald Convertable, 2 Hillman Super Minx convertables, a 1965 Mini Cooper 970S which I should have kept if I had known this was a homologation special and only about 970 were made. Usual rubbish after them but bought a 1952 Jowett Javelin in 1972 which I still own and run regularly. Also have a 1971 Renault F4C Fourgonnette which must be one of the rarest vans on the road. I think another category ought to be introduced to cover all the 70s carp, incuding my van...'survivors'...would be apt. In my recovery days I must have moved just about every make known to man...from Allard and Alvis to Waldrons Wayfarer and Le Zebre.

b308    on 17 December 2008

Quite a few of you, then!

Edited by b308 on 17/12/2008 at 16:17

stunorthants26    on 17 December 2008

Ive ran many 1980's models. 1980 Talbot Avenger 1.6 GLS Auto, 1986 Mazda 323 1.3, 1986 Reliant Rialto GLS, Ford Sierra 1.8 LX auto, Ford Sierra 2.0 Ghia estate auto, 1988 VW Polo 1.3 Ranger, 1986 Renault 21 TXE 2.0 and a 1989 Austin Metro 1.3. There are prob a couple more but memory fails me, so many cars have passed through my hands over the last ten years.

Im hankering after something old as ever and when ive made my house purchase, I will look for something old and interesting to tinker with on the weekends. I fancy an early 80's Saab 900 auto at the moment.

MGspannerman    on 17 December 2008

For many years I kept a classic MG in the barn which only came out on high days and holidays, and if the weather wasn't terribly good it didn't come out at all. In the end I came to realise that I wasn't using the car as much as I ought to so decided to rearrange the automotive assets and sold it. I bought an "everyday classic" instead hoping to get the best of both worlds, a W124 diesel E Class Mercedes with auto, leather and a number of other enjoyable toys. It was relatively low mileage and in excellent condition and I put over 30,000 miles on it. I eventually sold it as it was not so much unreliable as suffering from a continual stream of minor but annoying faults, all of which took time and money to fix and caused inconvenience. Having spent a more than reasonable amount, I can't quite remember how much, in six months my local garage then advised me that a further £300 needed to be spent on the suspension. It was then that I decided that the words " everyday" and "classic" were not necessarily comfortable bedfellows. My current Skoda Octavia diesel grinds out the miles with no fuss and considerable economy and I hope it will continue to do so some time to come.


bbroomlea{P}    on 17 December 2008

I dont have one yet but on the lookout for a good MG Metro Mk1 so somewhere between 1981 and 1984. A turbo would be nice but unlikely as I havent seen one for ages - not in my £1K budget anyway!

We already have an MGTF 160 for summer weekends so the Metro would be more a hobby than a car to be used too often! I am also tempted by a Fiesta XR2 but they appear even more rare and seem even more prone to rot?

madf    on 17 December 2008

I drove and remember Marinas, Maxis, Allegros,Midgets, Princesses,Cortinas, Granadas,Vivas Triumph 2000s, MGBs/GTs, Dolomites etc.

Apart from the Dolomite Sprint I once borrowed, I would have NONE of them.

Slow, noisy, badly built,uncomfortable, unreliable rubbish.

The Japanese cars of the period or the German ones were better designed and built and nicer to drive.

Nostalgia is OK IF you place it in context. The context of those cars was being totally outclassed by foreign built cars.

Bargepole jobs.

now a BMW Tii coupe was different - and they still rusted and rusted.

TG were 100% correct. Marinas are good for recycling and nothing else.

Quentin Wilson said Metro Turbos were horrible cars.. he was right.. I still have the article.

I'll get my coat.

Edited by madf on 17/12/2008 at 18:16

Pugugly    on 17 December 2008

A Maxi eh - a nice Harvest Gold version springs to mind, as driven by my personal Mrs Robinson in the late 70s. Very happy memories.

ifithelps    on 17 December 2008

Wonder which has worn the best?

Pugugly    on 17 December 2008

I know.

ifithelps    on 17 December 2008

Think you've mentioned this before, so those of us with good memories will know as well.

Bagpuss    on 17 December 2008

I learned to drive in my Dad's 1980 Maxi 1750HL. I remember struggling with the driving school Fiesta afterwards because the sharp steering, defined biting clutch biting point, accurate gear change and lack of terminal understeer were all so different from what I had got used to.

The synchromesh failed on 2nd gear on the Maxi at 14 months old. BL obviously wouldn't fix it so at the tender age of 17 I was able to amaze my driving instructor my being able to double declutch. The list of bits that I can remember falling off the Maxi include the carburretor air intake, 2 window winders, the fixing assembly for the folding rear seat and the paint on the passenger side doors. Additionally, the hydragas suspension collapsed twice and the car just used to refuse to start in the wet.

My Dad bought it because it was british and because he genuinely expected it to be better than the 1750 (non HL) Maxi it replaced that at 5 years old had terminal rust and a failed clutch. It wasn't. The 1975 Mk2 Ford Escort 1.3 I eventually acquired as my first car was miles nicer to drive than the Maxi and rusted at a marginally slower rate.

Those 70s/80s BL products were absolutely horrible. I've no idea why anyone would want to preserve one, but hey we're all different and I'm sure people wonder why I bother with my 1994 Merc W124 E320 Coupe;-)

Pugugly    on 17 December 2008

My mother had a brand new Morris Marina ( P reg) - I often wondered why my dad chose this in the face of half decent competition at the time. Although reasonably (for its time) nicely equipped (Big comfy seats, full door trims) it was a horrible car. I cut y teeth on a later "R" reg 1800 version, certainly a good learner car for my future rear wheel drive motors - I still wince at one particular "moment" in this - the engine was dead gruff and pulled like a train.

stunorthants26    on 17 December 2008

I used to go to school in a Maxi, belonged to a neighbour. Also went to school in a metallic green Escort MK2 that we had to bouncing on teh back bumper in the mornings to get it going, the reason for which escapes me - I was 6 at the time.

When I was born, my dad had an Audi 80 and shortly after that, Cavalier MK1 2.0 which he used to drive me around at night as a baby to get me to drop off - is it any wonder my first word was car?

The first car I actually remember was my dads early 80's Datsun Cherry in metallic pinky red with beige interior. As a small boy I used to go out with him when he went to visit customers. I dont have any desire to own one though.

Cavalier MK1 maybe though, that was, for the day, a well screwed together car - my dad loved his and reckoned it was very reliable.

bazza    on 17 December 2008

Aside from the rather obvious Mk 1 Gti that I constantly hanker after, I fancy an early Datsun 120Y, or Bluebird, for some strange reason. And also the very first Celica, mid 70s job, to rival the Capri.

ole cruiser    on 17 December 2008

An elderly lady drives a Triumph Herald estate up and down our road most days. Looks original apart from the Kwikfit-type exhaust. I doubt if she regards it as a "classic", though, just the car she's always had and no reason to change. I don't desire it, but I had driving lessons on a Herald (wonderful visibility and turning circle) so I remember it with some respect.
I had 2 Rover P4's as utter bangers in my early driving years (Rome, Gibraltar, south of France several times), and saw a fine specimen yesterday at the traffic lights. I wouldn't mind taking one of those in if I thought I would ever use it.

Harleyman    on 17 December 2008

I count my 1963 GMC pickup as a practical classic. It's virtually unrestored (although currently having the bits replaced where the rust holds the rust together) and I use it for shifting loads of firewood, motorbikes, building materials and rubbish. Does 15 mpg on a good day but I maintain that it's "carbon neutral" since it hauls logs for my two woodburners and furthermore it has not, in 45 years, been recycled.

I have no desire to fully restore it for several reasons; firstly it would lose its patina of age, which IMO tells a story, secondly a restoration would deter me from using it for dirty jobs which after all it was built for; I just love parking it next to immaculately restored (but rarely driven) Triumph Stags etc at shows and observing the horrified looks from the "rivet counters" who think that all classic cars should look as though they've just left the showroom. :-)

Finally, I can't well afford to restore it! :-(

As a footnote; 2001 Hyundai Coupe refused to start this morning, 1942 Harley-Davidson pressed into service at short notice for 30 mile round trip to dentist's; started first kick after being stood for a month, now THAT'S a practical classic! ;-)

Edited by Dynamic Dave on 18/12/2008 at 00:31

frazerjp    on 18 December 2008

I have recently acquired an E-reg Volvo 480ES, is that classed as a practical future classic?

Peter S    on 18 December 2008

I think so, yes. That might be because I bought a 1988 E30 BMW 325i Touring a couple of years ago for a bit of (practical) fun :-)

Unfortunately I'm not sure mine is a 'practical classic', or even future classic; apart from regular servicing and some tyres nothing's needed doing to it and it always starts first time ;-)


L'escargot    on 18 December 2008

........... an ordinary run-of-the mill family car form the 50s/60s or 70s?

I wouldn't want one if you gave it to me. It makes me shudder just to even think about it. Eugh!

RichardP    on 18 December 2008

I have a 1977 mk1 3.0 Granada Ghia saloon and a 1982 Mk2 2.8 Ghia saloon, which although I don't use for work (sometimes if the weather's nice), thay are used regularly and occasionally go over to Europe. Although there are occasional niggles, neither in 5 years have ever let me down or failed to start!

Both are very original and very sound, with only some minor cosmetic corrosion which I'm presently getting sorted out. My Mk2 is currently having new wings and rear arches fitted - not bad when the originals are 26 years old! My mk1 has a bit of minor rust bubbling to the door bottom corners and front valance, but is easily repairable and I will be sorting out sometime later next year.

I wouldn't hesitate for a second in jumping in either and driving across the country! At least they are a bit different than modern boring and characterless euroboxes - I love all the real chrome and proper bumpers and the angular styling.

Mapmaker    on 18 December 2008

My W123 Mercs were practical classics except people nicked them. Stunning motors to look at, easy to work on and reliable.

Alby Back    on 18 December 2008

Interested to know at what point it is held that a car ceases to be a banger and becomes a classic. Is it purely age related or could it be mileage also?

AshT    on 18 December 2008

I've owned a few Minis, and an Allegro and Marina. While I've no wish to go back to either the Aggro or Marina I can understand people who enjoy them for their individuality. Another Mini as a second car really appeals to me though - cheap tax and insurance, no problem with spares, and easy to fix. Sadly budget and family dictate otherwise, but I might just have another look on ebay....
Incidentally, no one seems to have mentioned the ultimate Practical Classic - a Series Land-Rover. I still miss the SIII 109 I had a few years ago.

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