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

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK - Paul larkins

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.

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