History : Maestro pick-up hack from Cowley

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Andrew Davis, a former assembly worker at Cowley, sent us this fascinating image of one of those workaday hacks that never escape the factory. This one, a pick-up conversion of the Maestro, lived a long and absolutely fascinating life.

Here’s a brief snapshot…

Andrew recalls the history of the pick-up shown in the photograph above: ‘This is a picture from 1996 of our pick-up outside the workshop in Cowley. From memory, five pick-ups were built in Longbridge, not at the home of the LM10 in Cowley. At least one of the pick-ups was in use at Longbridge, one was blown up on TV by Jeremy Beadle and another was in use by a tyre firm in Abingdon for a number of years.

‘They didn’t have any additions to the chassis rails, a heavy gauge bulkhead behind the cab and angle iron along the inside edges of the tub. Ours had a habit of cracking where the panel was cut at 90 degrees between the cab and tub – we used to weld it up every so often.

‘We had it as a works vehicle from 1995-2000, keeping it going using some of the Bulgarian CKD parts. After this picture was taken we added a box section system to fit a ladder rack and mobile work vice. We also towed a train of trailers loaded with kit to the various installation works that we did around the factory.

‘At one stage it was taken away, repainted and photographed to tempt the Chinese into buying the tooling. When Rover split from BMW, Longbridge insisted on having it back and we didn’t envy the person who came to collect it – as it was so noisy, we thoughtfully gave him some ear defenders to wear!’

14 Comments

  1. Quite good looking makes me think of the Australian BMC 1800 pickup,I suppose that it wasn’t considered for production, it might of given the VW Caddy or the Ford P100 a run for it’s money.

  2. Is anyone else thinking Prima diesel?
    Or even a MG badged version, BLs version of the Plymouth Scamp (a Talbot Horizon pickup of all things).
    It looks like it was kitbashed out of the van version, there’s just the front section of that slight high-roof.
    Putting the front interior from the VdP might have made something interesting, or even a crew cab, much like a British Dodge Ram…
    Ah the possibilities, missed as usual.

    • Remember another eccentricity, the Proton Jumbuck, a pick up in bright yellow based on the Proton Persona that was aimed at the youth market? I do recall a few being sold by a Proton dealer in the North East.

      • I remember that. I thought they might’ve been trying to capitalise on the success of the Skoda Felicia ‘Fun’ which are still sought after now in some modified car circles.

      • Proton actually had some interesting wheels aimed at younger drivers about 15 years ago. The Jumbuck pickup, which seems to have gained a second life on the used market as a farming general purpose vehicle, the Satria GTi – part developed by Lotus and using a Lancer engine de-turbo’d but higher compression, and the Coupe which looked like a poor man’s Impreza coupe.

  3. There was a dealer that offered a proper Maestro pickup to the public, as described by AROnline last year

    http://www.aronline.co.uk/blogs/ar-cars/news-maestro-pick-up-surfaces-or-is-it/

    “There was never an official Maestro pick-up, but there was a known conversion produced from 1985 by Austin-Rover Main Dealer BMG (Bletchley Motor Group), based on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

    Using a Maestro van as a base, BMG cut away the roof and blanked off the rear bulkhead with double diaphragm steel and a strengthening rib, leaving a 17.5-inch deep load bay based around the original van floor.”

    • I remember seeing an article about that when they were new, I think it was in “What Van?”, must have been around 1984. The rear tailgate from the Marina was used.

  4. I worked for the Austin/Rover dealer, Penta Group in Reading Berkshire back in the mid 1980s, they had a white Maestro pickup they used as a general maintenance vehicle, from memory it was never sign written but was kept in clean condition.

  5. Jemma – You’re correct, it was kit bashed, Longbridge just took an angle grinder to the vans. The rear bulkhead was fixed in with a flange to allow it to be spot welded. Nicely finished with a tailgate trim to cover the edge. Does anyone at Cowley remember the “Three Amigos'”? So called as three of us travelled around the site in it, whoever sat across the middle changed gear for the driver, we tended to only use 1st and 3rd as second was a bit uncomfortable….The Perkins engine was bomb proof, just very noisy.
    If you look closely there is an offset pin coupling next to the tow ball, used for towing a set of gas bottles and other trailers. Eventually we fitted a proper pin hitch from an old works Land Rover.

  6. About 1997, there was a Montego pickup in the Tyseley area of Birmingham. It looked like it had been cut down from an estate (accident damaged?) and was painted pink. Well, it takes all sorts.
    Speaking of Maestro vans, does anyone have a picture of the billboard ad’ titled “How to get a Maestro van load into an Escort van”? it showed an Escort van whose roof had been opened with shears and rolled up over the cab. Wonderful stuff.

  7. Used to drive one of these when I worked for Hartwells of Abingdon

    which was an Austin/Rover Dealership at the time.

    in the early Nineties. They used it for the motorcycle business

    quite an interesting drive with an Honda CBR 1000 strapped on the

    back!

    • Neil
      Your Hartwells pick up must be the one I mentioned, always thought it belonged to the tyre place opposite the Abingdon hospital. Used to take ours out to wholesalers around Oxford, always lively especially with nothing on the back.

      • Yes Andrew that would be right the guys who ran Hartwells bike shop

        and “Tyre sales” went into business together to form Abingdon motorcycles. Business sold on since, now “Blade motorcycles”
        I think.

  8. I remember seeing yellow maestro pick up in the mid 90,s at shoreham car auctions I think it was from gatwick airport

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