By on November 16, 2011

Even though I’ve never been in a Austin/MG Maestro, I feel fairly confident in stating that the Rover Group’s little front-drive compact was unexciting at best. Still, the advertising folks must have though (after 11 rounds of Singapore Slings down at the pub) we can make it look cute and sexy!


You decide. Bachmann-Turner Overdrive plus models in post-apocalyptic/crypto-punk outfits plus a general jittery sense of enforced silliness equals… big sales? Not really. The surreal touch of having the post-chick-consumption car say “BURP!” with a Mylar balloon poking out of the trunk adds something special, though.

You want happy silly instead of grim silly? Those ad hucksters should have gone to Japan for some education in making miserably underpowered small cars look fun. For example, pick just about any Starlet ad.

Or they could have talked to Renault’s UK-market ad agency about combining music and babes to make a boring commuter car look exciting. Poor British Leyland. Hey, do you think the Maestro had any Whitworth fasteners?

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13 Comments on “Adventures In British Leyland Marketing: You Ain’t Seen Nothing Like the MG Maestro Yet!...”


  • avatar
    jeff_vader

    I have driven one. They were rubbish. The MG Turbo versions handling was scary enough to change the colour of your underwear. And not it a good way. It also had a voice based warning system so when you left a door open, it told you off in a voice not a million miles away from Stephen Hawkings.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I was about to argue the point, and then I realized that I was 14 years old when I drove an MG Maestro and didn’t have the most developed sense of chassis dynamics.

  • avatar
    The Doctor

    At least it’s different from most of BL’s domestic adverts which were mostly variations on the theme of “It may be a turd, but it’s a British turd”.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Wow, what a flash from the past. The Maestro was a serviceable car back then. My Granddad had one and it served his, limited, needs of going to the post office and back!

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    The Maestro and the Montego (its saloon shaped big brother) were HORRIBLE cars. I remember my best friends parents bought a Montego back in 1988, and even as a 6 year old I remember thinking “This thing is rubbish compared to my Dad’s Ford Sierra.”
    Later on in my teenage years I had the pleasure of getting to completely abuse a terminally knackered Montego around a field on a friends farm. It finally bit the dust when a less than skilled friend drove hit head on into the only tree in the field. A fitting end for a piece of junk.
    Anyway, hideous cars. Offerings from Ford and Vauxhall at the time were infinitely better made, handled better, broke down far less and didn’t turn into rolling piles of iron oxide within 10 years.
    However there are some misguided souls who believe that they are worth saving… God help them:
    http://www.maestro.org.uk/

    • 0 avatar
      SimonAlberta

      Montegos and Maestros had strengths and weaknesses like any vehicle of that era. To say that a Cortina-based Sierra (i.e. 1960s technology) was “infinitely superior” is downright laughable. I could just as easily say early Sierras were “crap” but that would be just as ignorant as your comment. Truth is I liked the Sierra but it was FAR from perfect and the same goes for the Vauxhalls too.

      The 2.0 litre Monties were decent cars and the 1.6 versions out-performed both Ford and Vauxhall and the handling was as good if not better.

      They had good interiors and space, etc. etc.

      Just because you and your moronic friends trashed one in a field doesn’t make you an expert…same goes for the “I drove one once” guy.

      I drove literally hundreds of them because I sold them…they were GOOD cars. Perfect, of course not.

      Torque steer on the turbos? Big time? Rust? Yes, but not that bad for the time? Unreliable? Well, most of my customers had very few problems and I bought my Dad a slightly used Maestro and he kept it for over a decade with no real trouble.

      So, I get pissed off with people running things down when they don’t deserve to be.

      The Maestro/Montego’s main problem was that BL was too slow getting them to the market so they were always a bit behind the competition but only stylistically because the next generation of cars didn’t change much under the skin.

      I LIKE and have OWNED all kinds of vehicles generally regarded as POS by know-alls and I’ve had almost nothing but good service and joy from them.

      Maybe some people should just walk and stay away from cars. They clearly don’t appreciate them.

      Sorry for the rant folks. I think I’ll stop coming to this site because I find the clever Dicks running down virtually every vehicle ever built to be a total downer.

  • avatar

    Cute, very tiny girls they had with the R5 ad, then. Fascinating, how they managed to get out from the backseats from an R5 with style, isn’t it?

  • avatar

    That is the WORST Bachman-Turner Overdrive soundalike in the history of soundalikes.

    Here’s the original: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7miRCLeFSJo

    This is a “performance clip”, made in 1974 before MTV came along and called them videos.

    And the spot is bad enough to make J-Lo’s Fiat 500 spots look good.

  • avatar

    As one of the few North American members of The MG ‘M’ Group (1998), the club for MG Metro, Maestro, and Montego enthusiasts, I must protest! The Maestro is, ah, um…. Well, honestly, I have no idea. I’ve never seen one. I’ve just got a Metro. I believe it is best described as “an MG.”

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    OF those cars the Renault was actually quite good, especially when they ripped the engine out the front and put it in the back to make the turbo version.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renault_5_Turbo

    One other thing, I know those adds are rubbish but honestly, they aren’t any better today. Still a pack of lies trying to make an abysmal product seem tolerable…

    • 0 avatar
      theirishscion

      Yes, having owned a succession of first and 2nd generation R5s, I can confirm that, whilst fairly dreadful by today’s standards, they weren’t _nearly_ as bad as you might expect.

      Mine were fundamentally quite reliable as well, I never had to walk anywhere as a result of mechanical failure, though I did have to learn how to drive variously without clutch, hydraulic brakes, headlights and a self sustaining idle at various points. I also spent quite a bit of time listening to wheel bearings and CV joints noisily failing. And the wipers weren’t terribly good and the seats were terrible (replaced with the driver’s seat out of a Corolla on a custom adapter bracket, solved that problem). But the suspension was surprisingly good, they were tardis-like in interior space, and the little engines and transmissions were functionally unkillable. Of course, I never paid more than 500 punts for one either, which goes a long way to explaining why mine were catching a touch of unreliability.

  • avatar
    mr_min

    Actually the 4wd turbo starlet was a bit of a hot hatch in the day. Classic Toyota conservative tune, meant that if you found one you could wind the boost up and create your very own GLHS :)
    The rest of the car was crap tho..

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    I never thought the 1980s were cool. Honest. I never did. I never owned any of those clothes. Nothing in those colors. Never. And the hair. I never did that with my hair. If you have any photos of me in clothes that look like that with hair like that – that isn’t me.

    And I would pay you some nice cash for the photo negatives.


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