PRACTICAL CLASSICs - NovemBER 2019

In the latest issue of Practical Classics...

…we celebrate two big birthdays! The Mini is 60 this year but while the diminutive motor might have attained legendary status, we showcase the talents of its underrated bigger sister, the Maxi, which celebrates 50 years in 2019. We hop into a pair of stunning examples on the King’s Road for the full story.

Elsewhere in the mag this month, you’ll find a superb Astra GTE restoration, an interview with a hero of the wondrous world of Lucas electrics and an Austin A40 buying guide. We find a Ford Capri that’s used as a daily commuter and present all the news from the Practical Classics workshop where many of our projects are beginning to take shape – from Tomkins’ Austin Seven to Danny’s Renault 14 and loads more besides!

 

 


From Mini to maxi

The impact of the Mini cannot be underestimated, shaking as it did the foundations of car makers worldwide, while energising the entire market with a product that delighted the public from the outset. Yet, it’s easy to forget that it happened again ten years later when Issigonis conjured up another well-proportioned and perfectly packaged family vehicle crammed with an even greater host of innovations. Unfortunately, with the Mini’s shadow still looming large and storm clouds gathering over the British car industry and an unhealthy dose of political turmoil, the ground-breaking Austin Maxi never got the recognition it so rightly deserved - until now.  We decided to mark fifty years of the Maxi and six decades of the Mini by taking two of them on a birthday road trip that would also honour the genius of not only Sir Alec – but his colleague, the late Alexander Eric Moulton whose work initiated a revolution in chassis design – from Mini to Maxi and beyond – with ideas that still influence automotive engineers today. Our journey took us from the King’s Road in London to Moulton’s lab in Wiltshire and to Cowley – from where the Mini found its mojo, to the places where it all became possible. Read about this amazing story in the new issue of Practical Classics.

The impact of the Mini cannot be underestimated, shaking as it did the foundations of car makers worldwide, while energising the entire market with a product that delighted the public from the outset. Yet, it’s easy to forget that it happened again ten years later when Issigonis conjured up another well-proportioned and perfectly packaged family vehicle crammed with an even greater host of innovations. Unfortunately, with the Mini’s shadow still looming large and storm clouds gathering over the British car industry and an unhealthy dose of political turmoil, the ground-breaking Austin Maxi never got the recognition it so rightly deserved - until now.

We decided to mark fifty years of the Maxi and six decades of the Mini by taking two of them on a birthday road trip that would also honour the genius of not only Sir Alec – but his colleague, the late Alexander Eric Moulton whose work initiated a revolution in chassis design – from Mini to Maxi and beyond – with ideas that still influence automotive engineers today. Our journey took us from the King’s Road in London to Moulton’s lab in Wiltshire and to Cowley – from where the Mini found its mojo, to the places where it all became possible. Read about this amazing story in the new issue of Practical Classics.


astra gte RESTORATION

Rob Hall’s first restoration project was a Granada MkII, which he completed in 2004 when he was just 17. Since then he has had a string of projects bearing the blue oval including a Fiesta Mk1 and various Granada MkIIs, but when offered this 51,000-mile Vauxhall Astra GTE that had slumbered in a garage for 20 years, he knew he couldn’t pass it up. ‘I’m an electronic engineer at a local audio company and, one day at work, was talking cars with my colleague Terry Bateman when he mentioned the Astra that had been slowly gathering dust in his garage. Terry had put the car away after he got a company car, but couldn’t bear to part with it as it held special memories for him. It was the car in which he’d driven both his children home from hospital. Their first car ride.’  Knowing that Rob was into classics, Terry offered to give him the GTE if I promised to give it the restoration it deserved. The more he looked at it, the more he realised that what this car would require something really special…

Rob Hall’s first restoration project was a Granada MkII, which he completed in 2004 when he was just 17. Since then he has had a string of projects bearing the blue oval including a Fiesta Mk1 and various Granada MkIIs, but when offered this 51,000-mile Vauxhall Astra GTE that had slumbered in a garage for 20 years, he knew he couldn’t pass it up. ‘I’m an electronic engineer at a local audio company and, one day at work, was talking cars with my colleague Terry Bateman when he mentioned the Astra that had been slowly gathering dust in his garage. Terry had put the car away after he got a company car, but couldn’t bear to part with it as it held special memories for him. It was the car in which he’d driven both his children home from hospital. Their first car ride.’

Knowing that Rob was into classics, Terry offered to give him the GTE if I promised to give it the restoration it deserved. The more he looked at it, the more he realised that what this car would require something really special…


austin a40 BUYING GUIDE

Few family cars of the Sixties have as much charm as the A40, in part thanks to its arrival in the late 1950s. That styling was courtesy of Pininfarina; this was the first BMC model to be designed by the legendary styling house. The A40 was also the world's first mass-produced hatchback, which offers even more usability than the regular saloon, although both cars share the same silhouette. The A40 shares many mechanical components with the A30/A35, MG Midget and Sprite, as well as engines and gearboxes from the Morris Minor, so parts supply is plentiful. We show you how to buy the best in the new issue of Practical Classics.

Few family cars of the Sixties have as much charm as the A40, in part thanks to its arrival in the late 1950s. That styling was courtesy of Pininfarina; this was the first BMC model to be designed by the legendary styling house. The A40 was also the world's first mass-produced hatchback, which offers even more usability than the regular saloon, although both cars share the same silhouette. The A40 shares many mechanical components with the A30/A35, MG Midget and Sprite, as well as engines and gearboxes from the Morris Minor, so parts supply is plentiful. We show you how to buy the best in the new issue of Practical Classics.


THE PRACTICAL CLASSICS TEAM AND THEIR PROJECTS

More French rust appears courtesy of Editor Danny Hopkins (and his Renault 14) and Deputy Editor James Walshe’s 2CV this month! Sam Glover is messing with his Panhard but Tomkins is bucking the trend this month with his Austin Seven purchase!

Check out more of our latest projects at the Practical Classics workshop and find out how we plan to get them back on the road!