Blog: Maestro in China
Dave Leggett | 11 June 2004
Amazing what exists on the web isn’t it? I mentioned yesterday the old Austin Maestro van being made in China and someone has sent me a link to a truly impressive website for Rover aficionados that has the details. Obviously a lot of effort has gone into creating this resource by people who really care about the heritage of Britain's often troubled indigenous volume carmaking industry that has had many incarnations from BMC through to the present (clinging on) MG Rover. But the website doesn’t fall into the category of ‘total blinkered enthusiasts only’ as such sites sometimes do. A quick look around suggests that it is very informative and draws on insiders at the company.
The rights to build the Maestro have apparently been purchased by a Chinese tobacco company (that car is s-moking!). Find the details by going to the link below>left-hand rail> Facts and figures>Around the world>(scroll down to)Licence to build>China>Etsong. The description of the failed Bulgarian Maestro project and the problems that the Rover team had in working with the Bulgarians put a big grin on my face, first thing this morning. And FAW producing an Ital estate (a very close relation to the seminal 1970s BL Morris Marina)? That's just plain scary..
Footnote: I once crashed a Maestro (luxury Vanden Plas trim, no less) whilst driving to work in London in the morning rush hour way back in 1988. It was a company pool car that no-one else seemed to want for some reason. That particular morning it was raining quite heavily and I was running a little late. I misjudged a bend, hit the brakes too hard and skidded into a traffic island with a bollard on it. The bollard was totalled and there was plenty of damage to the Maestro's colour-coded 'brittle plastic' front bumper. Fortunately, nothing was coming the other way. I must have cut a pathetic figure as I lifted the bollard remains onto the traffic island and inspected damage to the car. The rain seemed to get heavier. But the thought that it could have been a pedestrian rather than a bollard that I'd hit was extremely sobering. The car, I recall, had an annoying voice synthesiser which kept telling me patently obvious things like 'handbrake on', to which I would constantly be replying in sarcastic tone 'yes, I ****ing know that'. But it had the last laugh.
I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....
Given the startling complexity of obtaining a journalist visa for China - the code 'J2' is now indelibly stamped on my mind - it was with some surprise how swiftly I managed to sail through airport im...