After Etsong gave up on the slow-selling Maestro-based Lubao, First Auto Works (FAW) took over the production rights, and gave the car a bit of a spruce-up.
The FAW Lubao came in two flavours – one with the original Maestro front-end, and the other, with added Montego…
Chinese Maestro story : the FAW years
The Chinese automotive group First Auto Works (FAW) acquired the production rights to the Maestro and Montego from Etsong in 2003. The Etsong Lubao had proven to be a slow-seller in its original form, and China’s massive FAW group, which is the country’s oldest car company, initially launched the Toyota-engined Lubao CA6410 pretty much unchanged, but went on to develop the car into an interesting amalgamation of Maestro and Montego.
On 11 May 2003, FAW revealed its CA6410 to the Chinese press, and it didn’t exactly go down a storm, even though it was cheap and aimed primarily at the western-Chinese market. According to site contributor Erik van Ingen Schenau, ‘Production continued unchanged, as First Auto Works (FAW) took over the project.’ It was interesting that FAW acquired the rights to the Maestro, given its former production of the Morris Ital-based Huandu CAC6430 – reuniting these former British stalwarts on the other side of the world.
Erik explained where the CA6410 name came from: ‘The reborn Maestro’s name meant it is registered with the Beijing authorities as a bus (hence 6000-series) and is classified as being 4.1-metres long (the 410 part of its name).’ The longer van version, which was sold alongside the hatchback, was known as the CA6440 on account of being 4.4-metres in length.
A little later, FAW unveiled the Lubao CA7410 (above), which added the Montego front to the Maestro to create what UK fans have lovingly nicknamed the ‘Monstro’. No sales figures are known, but anecdotal information suggests that it was not a successful car – FAW did, though, shift more units than Etsong ever managed to.
The FAW Lubao faded away, and eventually the rights to this model were sold on to Sichuan Yema Automobile Co, which is headquartered in Chengdu. It would live on…
Thanks to Erik van Ingen Schenau and Graham Arnold