by Mark Nobes, chief editor

One of the first jobs I had was washing cars for a local Austin dealer, and I must have scrubbed hundreds of rusty Maestro's! To be fair, they weren't all rusty, but this was a problem that occurred with many cars back in the day, and not just the British models, either!
When the Maestro first launched in 1983 it was quite well-received, and this small family car was in a good position to compete against rivals such as the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Astra. In fact, it became the bestselling car of 1984 in the UK.
Red Austin Maestro - 1982
Public Domain photo (royalty free) of a red Maestro (1982)

Compared to other similar sized cars, the Maestro was spacious and comfortable, and the voice warning system was futuristic, although it became rather irritating after the novelty had warn off. Cosmetically, it wasn't a bad car, but underneath the bonnet problems were looming.

The first diesel models lacked turbo power, as did the 1.6 MG version which was also difficult to start. The fact that the Maestro was being built by British Leyland was always going to be the thorn in its side, and financial problems at the company weren't helping matters. As with many cars built by BL,
it suffered from rust and reliability problems.

After the demise of BL, in 1988 production was handed over to the newly-formed Rover Group. However, sales continued to decline and by 1989 the Maestro had fallen to 19th place in terms of car sales.

Production ended in 1994, although in July 1995 the car was given a new lease of life, and 2,200 were assembled in a Bulgarian factory (using Complete Knock Down CKD kits) sent from Britain, before the factory finally closed in April 1996.

Unsold models were bought by a couple of British dealers who converted them to right-hand drive. Believe it or not, models were still being built into the 2000's, this time by a Chinese company called Etsong, although they used Toyota engines and mainly produced vans, but a few hatchbacks were built, too.

  • Base (1983–1985)
  • L (1983–1990)
  • LE (1986–1988)
  • HL (1984–1987)
  • HLE (1983–85)
  • HLS (1983–1986)
  • LX (1990–1993)
  • City (1985–1988)
  • City X (1985–1988)
  • Special (1988–1990)
  • Clubman (1990–1994)
  • SL (1988–1990)
  • Mayfair (1986–1988)
  • Vanden Plas (1983–1988)

The video playlist includes;

1. A history of the Austin Maestro
2. A basic, red 1.3L
3. 1987 1.3 HLE in lovely beige
4. 500 City van in showroom condition
5. 1989 MG Maestro challenge
6. British TV advert featuring Noel Edmonds.
7. MG Maestro Turbo awakening from hibernation!
AUSTIN MAESTRO 500 with camper van conversion
Austin Maestro 500 with campervan conversion

Austin Maestro (22119226914)

This red Maestro was photographed in Malaga, Costa Del Sol, Spain.

By TuRbO_J from Adelaide, Australia (Austin Maestro) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


A white 1986 MG Maestro
Austin Maestro Camper Van
This Maestro City van has been converted into a campervan - Creative Commons photo

The interior of a Maestro Vanden Plas
The interior of the luxury Vanden Plas model

Austin Meastro handbook (1983)
1983 handbook

A 1.3 HLE Maestro (1983) in beige

Austin Maestro in Oxford Front Quarter
By Motacilla (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


MG Maestro Turbo engine
Under the bonnet of an MG Maestro Turbo

Austin Maestro registered June 1987 1598cc

Austin Maestro 1598cc (registered June 1987)

By Charles01 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


1985 Austin Maestro 1.3 Base (15738312589)

1985 Austin Maestro 1.3 Base

By Charlie from United Kingdom (1985 Austin Maestro 1.3 Base) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


1992 Austin Maestro 2.0 turbo diesel Clubman (Rover Maestro), 6-9-2013 (9688726726)

1992 Austin Maestro 2.0 turbo diesel Clubman photographed in Weymouth.

By Charlie from United Kingdom [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


1987 Austin Maestro 500 City Van (13040837994)

1987 Austin Maestro 500 City Van

By Charlie from United Kingdom (1987 Austin Maestro 500 City Van) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Maestro AA van (6254794218)
By allen watkin from London, UK (Maestro AA van) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons