By Maz Woolley
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.
Here I look at the long awaited British Leyland Maxi 1750 from Oxford Diecast. The firs issue is painted Tara Green and is badged as an HLS version.
The Maxi fitted in the Austin and then British Leyland range between the 1300 and the 1800 saloon cars and was one of the first volume production hatchbacks made in the UK. It was the last car designed when Alex Issigonis was in charge of the design studio, and like other Issigonis cars little attempt was made to give it fashionable styling. Indeed the design had to be compromised to use the doors from the 1800 to save on tooling costs which dictated the side profile of the car. Early production of the 1500 gave the car a name for a poor gear change and some reliability issues so it never sold in the volumes it deserved as it was a comfortable and practical car. In twelve years of production, 1969 to 1981, only just under half a million were made. My wife’s first car was a 1750 HL and experience showed that it was a much better car then many said, though the wiring was of poor quality and we always carried a crimping kit to re-join failed connections, and needed it on at least two occasions. The five speed gearbox was a rarity at the time and made for very economical cruising on A Roads and Motorways.
There have been few models of the Maxi. When it was being produced Airfix made a nice 1:32 scale kit of the earlier version of the car which is now rare and expensive. A white metal model was made a number of years ago but that is virtually never seen now, and I did not buy one as it was costly and I did not think that it was a very good model. More recently Silas made excellent 1500 and 1750 models to 1:43 scale which was a model that did the car justice.
So now to Oxford‘s new 1750 model to 1:76 scale which will undoubtedly be popular with railway modellers with layouts featuring the last decades of British Railways operation, as well as with general 1:76 scale model collectors.
I will get my criticisms out of the way first. The paint has metallic flakes which are much too large, though fortunately this is only very obvious when the model is lit for photography. The tyres/wheels are too big and hub caps do not quite match the 1750 HLS ones. The side windows are not deep enough, these are doors from the Austin 1800 after all! The number plates are too shallow for their width, and the light units under the front bumper should be spilt into amber and clear units not all amber. Whilst we are at the front the black printing on the grille just looks like two square blobs as they do not reach properly round the light fittings, in fact the model differs from the sample used to sell the model on the Oxford Diecast website shown above. Inside, the black tub unit includes a dashboard which resembles the earlier 1500‘s black plastic padded dash not the later 1750 wood trimmed full width flat dashboard, and it has a three spoke steering wheel which was again typical of the earlier 1500 whereas the later 1750 had a bar across the middle instead. Editor’s note: I have since discovered that a three spoke steering wheel is correct for a 1750 HLS which is how Oxford have badged this model, though not for lower trim levels in the 1750 range. So Oxford are correct and I am not on this point.
So in summary, about the level of inaccuracy and compromise that we have come to expect from Oxford Diecast 1:76 scale models in recent years, except for their Rolls-Royces and coaches.
Whilst I feel that Oxford could do better the model does capture the shape of the real car pretty well and looked at from a distance I guess that it is reasonably acceptable. For all my criticisms as it has never been made to this scale before, as far as I know, it is a welcome addition to the collection.
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