A lot of the classic/retro car hobby is about nostalgia. Cars your parents owned, or cars you dreamed of owning when you were a child.
In 1988 I learned to drive in one of the most uncool cars of the day, an Austin Maestro ‘City’. My memories of it were that it was just a car. It did a good job of going from A, around in a big circle and back to A again, all whilst my instructor told me off for mixing up my left and right, and wobbling the steering wheel every time I changed gear.
I don’t remember how many miles that 1986 Maestro had on the clock, but it did seem reasonably reliable. Only one mishap happened when I was behind the wheel. I’d reversed around a corner and put the handbrake on, only for the cable to snap. The instructor wasn’t too pleased. Lesson over.
After passing my test, I never held any sort of affection for the Maestro, and never planned on ever owning one.
Myself and a couple of friends, Simon and Matt, have recently got together and created some workshop space in the corner of Matt’s yard where we could work on our cars. There was also enough room for some more cars, should we decide to buy some. And buy we did.
The Maestro, for me, was an accidental purchase. When it came up for sale after the Pollitt decided to bail on it, I rang Matt and he told me to buy it. I didn’t think he was being serious. I mean, it was a Maestro.
Luckily, it turned out to be something special. Not only was it an MG variant, but underneath the multi-coloured panels, it was also a race car. By all accounts, it was built for the MGOC Championship and at one point was leading the championship.
The Racestro, as it is now known, arrived at the workshop with the interior missing and in its place, every panel from a Vanden Plas Maestro, plus boxes of repair panels, and every spare you could imagine.
It looked very sorry for itself, but at the same time, showed potential. Sat on its Leda coilovers, it looked, dare I say it, cool. Something a Maestro never was. It had taken a couple of hits up the rear, and the driver’s side, which may be why it was no longer racing.
Our research turned up photos of it sat on multiple driveways for eBay adverts as it was passed from owner to owner. All of whom seemed to love the idea of a race car, but had none of the passion or money to have a working one. Including Pollitt, who bought it off retro Rides to use in a N2G, which we did film. But as of yet, the footage hasn’t seen the light of day.
I thought I’d buck that trend and buy it, hopefully giving it a shot at a life on track.
With three of us having a share in the Racestro, it won’t get neglected. Especially as Simon has fallen in love with it. He is a car body restoration specialist and painter, and we are following his lead when it comes to the rebuild of this car.
The car needs new rear arches, rear panel and a new roof skin fitting before we can think about painting. But painted how?
Back in the ’80s, Simon used to watch the RAC rally with his late father. When I told him a race Maestro was up for sale, he said we needed to buy it. He knew instantly what he wanted to build. A Tony Pond MG Maestro (D129OOE) Tribute car.
Nostalgia in full flow.