By on July 1, 2009

Old cars never die. They go to junkyards and donate parts to keep their brethren on the road in perpetuity. They rust out in back yards and collect dust and hay in barns. Or their tooling goes somewhere else. Scores of older cars live on in lesser developed countries, most famously the VW Beetle in Mexico until 2003. But also Iran Khodro’s Peugeot 405 and South Africa’s VW Golf Mk1 (out of production in Germany since 1983). Similarly, one of the best selling cars in British history—British Leyland’s Austin/MG Maestro—didn’t go out of production when it was canned in the UK in 1994. The car, notorious for exemplifying BL’s miserable failings, lives on in China to this day. A writer for AROnline ventured to Chengdu, where the Maestro soldiers on, to investigate what happened to this disaster of a car. In addition to other bodystyles, the basic platform underpins a knock off of an MG concept from a decade ago as well as a Subaru Forester knock-off. The article is well worth a look. And it makes you wonder which early 2000s GM vehicles will be “brand new” in another corner of the world in 2030.

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11 Comments on “Encore Maestro!...”

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    Good article, neat subject…I especially liked the picture of the fellow welding the hatch area of the Forester knockoff while loosely holding his welding helmet. I wouldn’t count on great body tolerances if they’re hand-welding these cars together.

  • avatar

    I hope they don’t have their sights set on the 91-96 Caprices. I still have high hopes for that resurrection…

  • avatar

    For a very brief period (1991), right at the end of its UK lifecycle, the MG Maestro 2.0 EFI was seriously considered a worthy competitor to to the Golf GTI. Though it never had the reliability or longevity.

  • avatar

    Oh snap! An Iran Khodro reference! At least they’re not making Hillman Hunters anymore!

  • avatar

    The Golf 1 has not been out of production in Germany since 2003, but since 1983!

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Interesting article. It makes you wonder who is subsidizing that factory. All that factory space and material in place, yet they make 100 cars per year?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Vega :

    The Golf 1 has not been out of production in Germany since 2003, but since 1983!

    Damn typos! Thanks for the heads up on that; corrected now.

  • avatar


    They don’t make Paykan anymore… but they make Bardo Pickup, which is the same platform. Also I think it’s alive under the Peugeot ROA… you can go to IKCO site.

    What they do now is Samand, which is based on P-405 platform. They’re also launching the 2nd national car with EF7 engine which is an iranian development.

    Saipa in Iran also builds the Kia Pride under its own brand. Kia Pride = Mazda 121 = Ford Festiva

    I’d take some Chrysler and Isuzu vars and set up a factory to sell to 3rd world countries. Also some old GM platforms wouldn’t hurt. MKIII Golf, and some others. I’d really love to make such kind of project a reality.

    About the manual welding… even über robotized factories have some weldings/body creases filling made by human operators… not really a big deal.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    IIRC, production of the Mexican Nissan Tsuru (aka B13 Sentra) finally wrapped up within the past year. If it weren’t for the stupid import restrictions, I’d be willing to buy one.

    It would be nice if someone could set up a factory to start cranking out R32 Skylines again.

  • avatar

    Spent some time in South Africa a few years ago…my counterpart had a “new” City Golf…it was kinda cool riding around in a one year old Golf with updated dashboard, A/C and power windows!

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    Maestro was a very good car to drive round corners and across country roads, had a lot of interior room for its size, and good fuel consumption.

    A far more intelligent car than most 1980s cars.

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