December 2 – Austin Maestro
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Sitting at the lights was a Maestro. Yes, that’s right, a Maestro. White with standard rust patches and missing wheeltrims, which just made it all the more Maestro-ish.
I’d forgotten these things even existed. When I was young, the bowling green groundsman had an (ironically) green one with drilled steel wheels. It didn’t last long. I had a couple of Corgi Maestro vans as well, oddly enough, one of which was branded ‘British Gas’ and carried a matching generaton…showing my age, I know.
Apparently they carried on building them in Bulgaria after we had gotten sick of them in Britain, but the last ones I can remember were K reg or thereabouts. They had horrible, horrible sounding diesels if I remember rightly, and pulled that mid-90s Rover trick of putting ornate-looking silver wheeltrims on them in a last-ditch attempt to make them look respectable – despite the fact that at the same time and for not a lot more cash, you could have had a (then new) Mark 3 Golf.
For my sins I drove one of these things a few years back on an autotest and, shock horror, had quite a bit of fun in it. It was a 2.0-
litre GT MG version complete with red seatbelts, and the fun may have had something to do with the fact it was only accelerating in first and second gears and being handbraked round some cones. I’m sure if I took it out on the road the novelty would soon wear off.
It must be a sign of me getting old when most of the cars I can remember from being a wee boy are no longer on the road. I hope someone, somewhere has preserved one of these things though, just as a grim reminder of how far cars have come in a relatively short space of time.