Puff the magic wagon ready to star in epic european rally
1970s Austin rally star is reunited with its all-female crew after 40 years
A clutch that was ‘ready to bite your head off’ and a distinct lack of braking has brought back fond memories for Bron Burrell – after more than 40 years she will rally her Austin Maxi competitively once again.
Burrell will find herself behind the wheel of the Maxi that took her and teammates Tina Kerridge and Tish Ozanne to South America in 1970, as she and Tina are busy putting the final pieces in place for their return in the Maxi – ‘Puff’ to its crew – with the London to Lisbon rally in April as the goal.
Back in 1970, the then 25-year-old Bron was part of a three-woman team who took part in the Daily Mirror World Cup – 16,179 miles from London to Mexico City in the specially prepared Maxi.
‘Puff was a bit of a hard drive back in 1970,’ says Burrell, ‘although I thought I could drive anything when I was young, of course. She only had the 1450cc engine back then so we named her “Puff” because she needed a magic dragon to help her fly along.’
After she reunited herself with the recently restored BL family favourite in 2013, which now has a 1750cc engine, Bron describes the car as ‘divine’. She adds: ‘ The clutch bit your head off and there really were no brakes per se. It was terrible. I thought then how on earth we managed to drive her back in 1970. But it was just amazing to be in her again – I felt 25 again.’
More recent changes to the Maxi in readiness for the gruelling rally ahead have included a new braking system, wheels that have been professionally crack-tested and refurbished and an overhauled electrical system.
‘She is certainly ready for Lisbon,’ continues Bron, ‘apart from sorting out the seat issue. I really do need a better seat for the long distance driving the rally will demand – the original Maxi seats just aren’t adjustable enough.’
‘I wondered how on earth we managed to drive the Maxi back in 1970’ Bron Burrell
‘Puff’ visits Germany en route to Mexico in 1970.