AROnline has gone and bought a Maestro. Well, it is Friday the 13th after all…
It all started with a random conversation. In one of those ‘small world’ scenarios, I happen to play for the same rugby team as the Chief Sub Editor at Practical Classics, Matt George. While it’s a distinct worry (to us, at least) that a collapsed scrum could lead to a distinct shortage of talent in the classic automotive media, it does mean that Saturday pre-match conversation often diverts away from the game and more toward the world of the distressed automobile.
AROnline had been looking for a project car for a couple of months, and being the Editor and pulling rank, I’d decided it was going to be a Maestro because I’ve never actually owned one. Our first hot lead, a white Maestro in a garage in South East London was frustrating, as we were outbid in the eBay auction in the dying minutes.
The second seemed promising, when we were approached by an AROnline reader whose elderly aunt had passed away, but all went quiet and we eventually learned the car had been sold on to a neighbour. Which left us car-less, and having promised the powers that be that a project would be forthcoming ‘early in the New Year’, I was running short of ‘early’.
It was only when Matt was showing me some pictures of his newly acquired Nissan Bluebird (what can I say, the man has taste…) that I was alerted to something very gold and slightly rotund in the background of the image… By the time I’d thought about asking ‘Is that a Maestro?’, I’d somehow managed to agree to buy it from PC’s Editor, Danny Hopkins, who in turn had recently rescued it from a scrapyard… in Jersey. Funny how these things happen…
A week later, and the newly registered C426 OVW (nee J 3545) is sitting in my rented storage awaiting full evaluation.
The good bits?
It has covered just 52,000 miles from new, most of which will have been below 35mph.
It’s a Vanden Plas. Don’t you know?
It has mostly its own sills and wheelarches.
The interior is in good nick (although it’s a Montego dash VP with velour trim, which I’m told is an anomaly).
It looks pretty good from 10 paces.
The radio-cassette works.
It drives surprisingly well.
It appears to be pretty much free of any oil leaks.
Brand new tyres all round.
10 months’ MoT.
The bad bits?
It’s an automatic…
It’s not entirely devoid of bodyfiller, notably around the o/s door bottoms.
It makes a funny clonking noise from the back end.
The sunroof is jammed shut, and has some rust.
It needs new tailgate struts.
It has had some welding to the top of both sills, inside the door shuts.
It’s not a Mk 1 Vanden Plas, so it doesn’t speak.
So, the next steps? Well, once I’ve cleared the decks in what’s an astonishingly busy time with the day job, my plan is to get it up in the air and have a good look around underneath (it looks pretty good, to be honest) and create a job list graded from A to C, A being essential, B being desirable and C being academic, but probably the kind of silly thing I’ll do first (like give it a lick of polish).
I’m also going to get AROnline’s grease guru, Mike Humble, to give it a full and frank verbal deconstruction, as I’m one of life’s eternal optimists (I also reckon it’s a pretty sound car, all things considered)…
So what do we think? And does anyone have any idea what we should do with it next?
Answers on a postcard, and if you can wait that long (I’m sure you’ll all be tingling with anticipation to see it sooner), I’ll be bringing this one along to the BMC/BL Spares Day at Peterborough in August.