Okay, so it’s taken a while due to commitments with the day job, a family holiday, three unexpected car purchases (one more to go, watch this space…) and diverting attention to my 214 in order to prepare it for Pride of Longbridge but, at long last, I’ve had time to properly investigate Project Maestro and determine if it’s any good or not.
First of all, it’s a project car. I didn’t expect perfection, nor did I want it. Nor, though, did I want a complete basket case.
Somewhere towards the better end of the middle ground, then, would be perfect and that’s pretty much what we’ve got. If the car were to be taken apart, nut and bolt, and fully restored, I’m sure you could spend thousands. But then, there are other rarer, lower mileage Maestros that would undoubtedly come before it in the queue.
However, if you were to bring it sympathetically ‘back-up’, from cosmetically challenged (as it is now) to more than presentable, it’s something that I reckon can be achieved on a relatively modest budget, and is, indeed, where we’re going with it. I have a budget of about £300 with which to sort it out – not huge, but the car is mechanically pukka and drives really well, with a surprisingly oil tight engine – other than a quick service, I don’t plan to do anything to it mechanically, and it has new tyres and wheel bearings already.
More importantly, most of its less attractive points are purely cosmetic. With just 52k on the clock, the majority of them covered on Jersey, it has escaped the ravages of salty motorways and harsh northern winters. Whilst that’s not enough to have kept Rampant Maestro Wheel Arch Corrosion completely at bay, the underside is reassuringly solid and most of the external rust can hopefully be stopped and tidied up before it gets any worse, rather than run into full rebuild territory. A statement that, I acknowledge, may well come back to bite me on the bum.
In no particular order, then, here are the main items on the to-do list…
1) Source the missing parts of brown interior trim (or try to repair what we have) and affix them to the inner door shuts on both sides – a job that will give a huge cosmetic boost, as the door surround area has previously been welded and, whilst solid, it ain’t pretty. I may have a lead on this already from AROnline reader Darren Tebbitt.
2) Mend the blowing exhaust – the pipes all look good, so I think this is simply a case of a gasket or some exhaust paste around the joints.
3) Tidy up nearside rear wheel arch and cosmetic scrape on the bodywork – I may leave this until later, and see how much money is left in the budget before deciding whether to get it done semi-professionally, or give it a go myself (help!!!)
4) Source some rot-free offside doors or, in the absence of such holy grails, attend to ugly, lumpy filler repairs with some less ugly, less lumpy filler repairs. If anyone has any Cashmere Gold Maestro doors and is feeling especially benevolent, I love you. That simple… Bizarrely, the nearside doors are absolutely fine.
5) Nip the scabby front wheel arch in the bud before it gets any worse.
6) Thoroughly clean and underseal the underside of the car before Winter – I got my local garage to lift it up on the ramps for me, and it’s amazingly solid under there, with only one visible welded repair around the OSF jacking point.
7) Investigate the faint smell of petrol that only seems to occur immediately after the engine is switched off – answers on a postcard?
8) Decide whether or not to keep the ‘aftermarket’ wipe clean headlining, fitted by a previous enthusiastic keeper…
9) Find a new metal sunroof that hasn’t gone rusty
10) Try to revive the non-functioning nearside electric window
11) Fit the Austin-Rover mudflaps that I’ve had in my lock-up for the past seven years ‘just in case’.
12) Give it a damned good clean (last on the list, most likely to be first carried out…)
The verdict – really not that bad overall. The next update will follow in a few weeks, once I’ve got my next new acquisition out of the way and have sorted out my lock-up, ready to get the Maestro up there for some paint…