Concepts and prototypes : Maestro cabriolet

Stephen Harper was responsible for this fascinating Maestro convertible sketch – here’s its story…


Maestro cabriolet

Maestro Cabriolet

Four-door Maestro Cabriolet was an interesting concept...

Looking back now, the Maestro seems like an unusual donor car for a chop-top, but this was more than a flight-of-fancy – there was a serious purpose behind its creation. During the early 1980s, there had been design upheaval at Longbridge and Canley had brought in the changes, and some felt that Austin – as a marque – was in danger of being left behind.

Stephen Harper, the designer who produced this sketch recalled, “At the time at Canley Design Studio, with Harris Mann, Roger Tucker, Robin Owen and others now out of the picture, there was only a few of us ex Longbridge designers (myself, Adrian Griffiths, John Gregory) still ‘flying the A-flag’. There had been an invasion of Whitleyites from the Chrysler studio when Roy Axe had taken over from David Bache, the likes of Gerry McGovern, David Saddington, David Arbuckle, and many clay modellers…

 

Maestro Cabriolet was an idea to create an internal concept car, on which we could testbed new ideas, and give Austin/MG a convertible, even if it was more boulevard than sports car…

“So in the spirit of not letting the Brand lose its identity, whenever I could, I would try new ideas, to keep interest alive for development of the existing product range (after all those cars were still paying our wages). The Colour & Trim group (John Stark, Michele Wadhams, Colin Parson) would keep the Metro alive using numerous specials, and so the Maestro Cabriolet was an idea to create an internal concept car, on which we could testbed new ideas, and give Austin/MG a convertible, even if it was more boulevard than sports car.

“At the time there were pityfully few open cars. The Citroen Visa cabrio had provided me with a technical solution of how to maintain the rigidity, as had the Stag. But the Product Planners, down the corridor, were too involved with XX, to take time for such a niche market car.”

Citroen Visa Cabriolet was the inspiration behind the Maestro Cabriolet.

Citroen Visa Cabriolet was the inspiration behind the Maestro Cabriolet.

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

3 Comments on "Concepts and prototypes : Maestro cabriolet"

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  1. Chris Baglin says:

    My first reaction when seeing the topic heading was ‘this is going to look bloody awful’, but, on seeing the ‘artists impression’, it actually looks ok.

    That said, I doubt whether it would have sold well. I do like the idea of a 4 door cabrio, and the rag top Visa looked pretty good to me (hope it handled better than my early 2 cylinder Visa Club did).

  2. mm says:

    Yuppies, estate agents, big hair, shoulder pads, two faggots and a synthesiser pop songs, XR3 cabriolets.

    The 1980s were so full of trash.

  3. Tony says:

    just seen the TV advert for the new Citroen DS3 cabrio, strange to think 30 years later the idea has come full circle, just a shame it wasn’t a Rover product.

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