Yet another rebirth of the Maestro…
It’s true what they say: you cannot keep a good one down. However, the current custodians of the Maestro/Montego line have seen fit to give the old girl a thorough going over.
Words: Alexander Boucke
The Chengdu-based Sichuan Auto Industry Group Company Ltd. has revived the old Maestro Van. The company purchased the tooling and production line equipment etc from FAW Group following the latter’s acquisition of the Etsong Automobile plant at Qingdao in Shandong Province where the Lubao QE6400), had been built.
Sichuan Auto, which produces buses and coaches under the Yema, brand, has now launched the Yema SQJ6450, a Maestro-based van with a 1.3-litre engine and a Montego front end which is similar to the later version of the Lubao, built by FAW Group before the Etsong Automobile plant was sold on to SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Company Limited. The first vans are appearing on the streets of Chengdu now but the company is, reportedly, developing a full range of cars based on the Maestro/Montego platform.
Yema have recently exhibited a five-door estate but AROnline cannot determine whether this uses a five-door Maestro or a Montego estate bodyshell from the picture available. Wheel arch extensions and a new front end attempt to achieve a smoother, more modern look, but the trademark side scallops remain unaltered.
The smaller SUV, SQJ6451.
Yema has also presented two SUV like cars which, despite looking very much like an old Subaru Forester, are said to be based on the old Austin platform. The shape of the windows on both cars suggests that larger parts of the original body frame have been carried over but a re-skin of the doors and new front panels mark a major departure form the original design. The smaller SQJ6451 features a 1.5-litre engine with 91bhp. This model’s wheelbase and door shapes indicate that it is based on the Maestro’s structure. The larger SQJ6485 offers a DOHC 2.0-litre engine with 123bhp and a longer wheelbase.
Yema say that this model is also based on the British platform. The shots showing the side of this model suggest that a Montego saloon bodyshell has been used as the starting point.
However, these Maestro/Montego based cars are not the only models which Yema has recently revealed – the small car (shown below) has some visual links with the Smart Four-Two, but also features partially enclosed wheels and may be aimed at the purely recreational off-road market. As discussed elsewhere, we’d say it’s simply a case of the Chinese dusting off an old Matra prototype, and showing it off as their own…
Another vague connection – this is a clone of the Matra M72, once considered as a potential Rover.
Artist’s impression of the factory the new Maestro will be built in…
The new production line looks clean and modern,
Yema’s factory and the production line showing the final assembly of SQJ6450 vans.
Some vans have been donated to help in the regions devastated by the big earthquake.
A modified prototype of the SQJ6450 van.
Estate car – is that a Pininfarina-styled front end?.
Montego meets Audi Allroad, but those scallops remain in place…
The larger SUV, SQJ6485.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.