Buy­ing Guide

Austin and MG Mae­stro

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week -

‘Mae­stros still feel mod­ern but are rare enough to be in­ter­est­ing’

When Austin-Rover launched its new mid-sized hatch­back in March 1983, it was mar­keted as ‘the Mir­a­cle Mae­stro’. It was a clas­sic at­tempt at hyp­ing the brand in a bid to per­suade buy­ers that Bri­tain’s big­gest car maker had turned a cor­ner – that all those ghosts of the strife­torn 1970s had been laid to rest. Be­neath the dowdy looks it’s a hatch­back that’s fun to drive, and tough enough to with­stand be­ing used ev­ery day.

Launched si­mul­ta­ne­ously in Austin and MG guises, the Mae­stro ini­tially came with the op­tion of a 1.3 or 1.6-litre en­gine, the MG get­ting a twin-carb ver­sion of the lat­ter. How­ever, within a year the MG had been pepped up with a fuel-in­jected 2.0-litre en­gine, but the ul­ti­mate (and most cov­eted) Mae­stro of all was the Tick­ford­built Turbo. Launched in Jan­uary 1989 and fit­ted with a tur­bocharged and car­bu­ret­ted 2.0-litre en­gine, just 505 of these 152bhp hot hatches were built. Good ones rarely come up for sale. How­ever, more worka­day Mae­stros do. Ac­cord­ing to­ there are just a thou­sand or so of these neat-look­ing hatchbacks left, four-fifths of which are off the road (al­though that may be largely down to the time of year). But with de­mand at rock bot­tom there are more low-mileage minters avail­able than the mar­ket needs. Any­one look­ing for a clue-chip in­vest­ment should prob­a­bly look else­where – non-MG/ Turbo Mae­stros are un­likely to be truly sought af­ter any time soon – but these unfairly ma­ligned cars still feel mod­ern, de­spite be­ing rare enough to be in­ter­est­ing. They’re pain­less to own, too and can be run on a shoe­string bud­get.

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