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Clapped out runabout or economical town car? Both! I am not going to pretend a car of this generation does not have its problems but it also has its good points. THE CAR The maestro was first produced in 1983 and 596,000 cars were made. The model is available in 1.3, 1.6 litre petrol engine or 2.0 litre diesel or diesel turbo. The maestro has a four cylinder engine and reaches a maximum of between 93 and 101 mph depending on the model (but take it from me with a tail wind and a steep slope you can try for more!). The 0-60 statistics don’t quite rank with a Porsche and range from the 1.6 model at 10.5 seconds to the 2.0 litre diesel at a lethargic 16 seconds. Not a car for avid drag racers. The maestro is a relatively fuel efficient car achieving 39 miles to the gallon, although the diesel models achieve only between 51.4 and 55.6 miles to the gallon. BUYING SECOND HAND There are certain faults which are common in old maestros and so when stalking through the used car market the buyer should be wary for them! The bodywork is prone to rust, especially around the door seams, tailgate and around doors and windows. Oil and coolant leaks should be checked for. Expect the need for frequent oil changes on diesels and high oil consumption on the 1.3 model. Also expect to live with a permanent oil stain on your driveway, which no garage mechanic can fix (the guides won’t tell you this!). Needless to say you should expect to find rather ‘tired’ interior trim and worn upholstery – unless you pick up one of those delightful little runabouts that has been owned by the same old lady for 20 years and no one has ever sat on the back seat! MY EXPERIENCE When I first got my hands on a maestro (something I don’t always admit in polite company!) I fitted an alarm an immobiliser. This probably seemed utterly superfluous on an E Reg old
motor but I was feeling paranoid after my ancient metro had been stolen a couple of weeks before. On the positive side the maestro (1.3 ltr engine) was reliable, solid (okay – also, admittedly tank-like, but you felt safe in it!) and economical. On the negative side it shook like a petrified rabbit when driven over 75 on the motorway. Power assisted steering had never even glanced at the car, so you had to go into training to be able to handle manoeuvres and the bodywork left a great deal to be desired. Ahh – the bodywork. How can I forget that? My maestro was registered as ‘white’ but at a glance, due to the excessive rust, it was more brown. There were holes in the doors, boot – well, everywhere! Worst of all, when raining water would pour through the roof and – there was no sun roof! Would you believe that the front seats were permanently wet and I always had to drive about sitting on a plastic bag? When offered a lift friends would insist on sitting in the back – so I felt more like a chauffeur than anything else. The maestro eventually had to retire when it cost me £300 for the welding to get it through its MOT. However, I had one last laugh – I traded it in and was given £100 for it and, I later found out that the dealer only managed to get £50 for it at auction! Hmm – having read my review, have just realised that there seem to be more negative points than positive. However, the rose tinted spectacles of memory will leave me with good thoughts of the maestro. Long may they rust on our roads!
Ok, so it looks like something only your grand father would drive around in, but if you can see past its boxy facade and look at the reality you won't be disappointed. A pleasing drive in all conditions, it may surprise you with nifty acceleration, five speed gear box and roomy seats. Where the Maestro comes into its own however is through it's reliability, it'll rarely let you down! With care (it suffers a little from rust) it's a car that should cost far less than the average to maintain. The only downside to it is its tricky intermediate window wiper setting, I've had my Maestro for five years and never quite mastered it! If you're looking for a cheap second hand car, you could do far worse than this.
I have to say that I am going to go against the standard Maestro opinion on this. You ask many people what they think of the Austin Maestro, and they'll say how awful the car is, many of them without ever going anywhere near them. Myself I think the look of the Maestro is incredibly old fashioned, but if you scratch beneath the surface and know what to look out for you can pick up a bargain Maestro that will serve as an excellent first car or family runaround. Everyone associated the Maestro with rust, however I feel that this was always harsh because very few cars of the Maestro's age avoid rust patches. Admittedly a lot of the earlier Maestro's were prone to the British Leyland effect - i.e. questionable build quality and reliability, but I feel the Maestro's bad reputation was largely uncalled for. As I said earlier Maestro's make excellent first cars and family runarounds, so heres a few tips on what to look for if your after a Maestro and a few tips on the Maestro range. For starters the engine - The Maestro in it's Austin-Rover guise came with a choice of a 1.3 or 1.6 engine. These are both incredibly reliable engines whichever you pick. The 1.6 is the same as was used in the Montego (examples of which are often seen having done 100,000+ miles as ex-company cars and still running strong), and the 1.3 is the excellently reliable and simple to work on Austin A Series engine, as used in the Metro. You will also see MG Maestro's about which are similar looking to the 1.3/1.6 Austin-Rover models, but they have alloys, MG grilles, some more luxiourious features and a 2 Litre engine in the EFi. There are also some MG Maestro turbos around which look excellent and are incredibly quick with 2 litre turbo engines in. You can't really go wrong with Maestro engines, they are the best of British design, the only thing really to watch out for is the slightly dodgy automatic choke, which is pro
ne to failure, but manual choke conversions are available cheap and the conversion is an easy job to do. The bodywork has to undergo serious examination because of the rust problems. Main Maestro rust hot spots include the rear wheelarches (this is the main place), along with underneath the grille at the front, and the sills and pillars are often susceptible to rust. Be careful to check these places very carefully because although it can be successfully treated, there are some cases where it has gone too far and cannot be put right. When purchasing a Maestro you should also check thoroughly the central locking (if that model has it), which can sometimes be prone to failure and also the boot catch can occasionally play up. Interior wise again the Maestro holds up pretty well. They are very spacious cars internally and if reasonably well looked after, the seat and interior trim lasts forever. The main problem internally with the Maestro is the headlining which in some cases can be prone to sagging, this can be a difficult job to put right but it is possible. These are the main spots to look out for with a Maestro. I have only highlighted the main spots to look out for, in no way am I slating this car at all. If you just check the main problem spots, you can pick up a car that will last you a long long time and give you excellent, reliable, and economical service for many years to come. The good thing is about the Maestro's bad reputation is that second hand models are dirt cheap and hence should be on a list of potential cars of any first time buyer or economical minded person.
Whenever people talk about the Austin-Rover Maestro, people seem to just write it off as a complete and useless failure, I have to stick up for it though and say it was actually a hell of a lot better than everyone seems to think. There was always going to be a certain publicity problem amongst the British press and British people because the Maestro was the car that replaced the Austin Allegro, and the Allegro was famed for wheels flying off whilst driving and windscreens popping out whilst the car was jacked up. Also the fact that Austin (as with the rest of the British motor industry), was owned by British Leyland, and anything associated with BL was looked on as a very bad joke. Anyway the Maestro was introduced in 1983 and was well accepted amongst the press. It was a very innovative car of it's time. This is because the early models had the talking trip computer digital dashboards. A voice would come on in the drivers speaker and give a voice warning if the engine was overheating etc... Also it had an electronic engine management system with an automatic choke. All this was very very groundbreaking in it's day. The Maestro was finished in 1995 by Rover. However a few thousand were built recently in 1999/2000 from kit cars that Rover were going to sell over to Bulgaria but the deal fell through. A garage took the Maestro kit cars on and converted them from left to right hand drive and the 1000 or so that were built became Britains cheapest new car at the time at only 4995-00 on the road. Anyway onto the Maestro now. Well to me (ignoring the stigma that the Maestro has mainly from people who've never touched one) the Maestro says several things and has many quality features. For starters theres the engine. All 1.3 litre Maestro's used the excellent Austin A series engine. These engines go on forever and have a proven track record for many years. They A series engines are also very easy to work on and faults can
be put right relatively easily. This isn't forgetting the excellent 2.0 injection MG Maestros that were made based on Austins O Series engine (the one used in the Montego) and never to forget the 505 ever made MG Maestro Turbos which look excellent and will do 0-60 in 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 131 mph as manufacturers standard!!! Another plus point with the Maestro is that it offers very good fuel economy. You can expect anything between 40-50 mpg with a reasonably looked after Maestro. This is very important nowadays as fuel prices continue to spiral. Maestro's are also incredibly roomy inside both in the front and back. Some models offer the normal luxeries such as electric windows and sunroofs. There are things to look out for if your after a Maestro though. The main downfall of the Maestro was the rust problem. This is curable though if the car you buy hasn't been too badly invaded. The main places where a Maesrto will rust are as follows so be sure to check these places if your after buying one: Wheel arches (particularly rear), sills, under the grille and the front and rear pillars. All in all ignore the things that people say about Maestros because if your looking for a second hand motor you could do a lot worse than go for one. Excellent fuel economy and a good Austin engine are major plus points for it.
We bought a second-hand E-reg (1988)Maestro about 4 years ago, for the vast sum of £1200. It has served us so well I just had to tell you about it! For reliability it just can't be beaten. We bought it on about 86,000 miles, and it is now around the 110,000 and still going strong. Okay, so the mileometer broke when it got to 100,000, but that was soon sorted . . . ! Since we had it it has had a new battery, alternater, exhaust and rear wheel bearings - all except the exhaust we replaced ourselves. It has never failed us on a long journey - in fact on one hot Summer's day returning from Cornwall and stuck in traffic and with everyone else overheating around us, we were rock solid and cool. We do a lot of fairly long journeys - old Eric (the car) has taken us to the very tip of Scotland and the Western Isles, all over Wales, and to Lands End, without so much as a grumble. All it takes is a bit of looking after, and fresh oil now and again. Stylish? Well a lot of people laughed when we first got it, but increasingly I see Maestros out and about, which is weird as they are not made anymore. I think they went up to about J, then that was it. Of course, there is the younger brother the MG Maestro, which I am told goes like sh*t off a stick (to coin a phrase) but I haven't yet had the pleasure of driving that one . . .yet! If you want a cheap runabout, and are prepared to look after it, then this might just be the car for you. Like all old cars it has its problems, but spares are relatively easy to get hold of, and you'll learn to live with the rust (all Maestros rust in the same place - under the sills and round the rear wheels). It won't be environmentally friendly though - maybe the later ones are unleaded or diesel - but check first. The seats are comfortable and roomy, it has a proper glove box and spacious boot, and is a good drive - capable of doing 0-70 in about 5 minutes and overtaking any
Eddie Stobart Lorry on an uphill straight!! No 5th gear - but who needs it? Eric has given us many years of service, and I would recommend a Maestro to anyone!
The Rover Maestro. Well hmmm! Why do people always regard the Rover Maestro as one of the worst ever cars designed by Austin Rover. Sure, it has its problems but there is a better side to this car that no-one expected. No-one knows that it is actually the base for the Land Rover Freelander which is selling as the best off-roader at the moment in Europe and the USA. We have had three Maestros and, yes, they have not been sparklingly brilliant but they provide the goods any day. As a cheap runaround, they are great as they regularly do 40-45 mpg and saves a few pounds at the petrol station. Also, the LX and Vanden Plas models from 1985 - 1993 were also gifted with electric windows and sunroof. But there are no need for extras! This is because it is such a joy to drive (especially the 2.0i/EFi models!)