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Unexceptional Classics

Unexceptional Classifieds: Austin Maestro van

by Antony Ingram
4 June 2021 2 min read
Unexceptional Classifieds: Austin Maestro van
Photos: Car & Classic

Price: £3750
Year: 1991
Mileage: 124,000
Condition: More florist than brickie
Seller: Car & Classic

We’ve reported before how the survival of certain vehicles hangs more perilously in the balance than that of others. Nobody is surprised to find a Ferrari still happily roaring along in its dotage for instance; even if it’s had two dozen previous owners, each and every one will have driven it sparingly and likely had it maintained regardless of cost.

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But an old supermini? It could have a fraction of the previous owners of that supercar, but when all those previous owners have been cash-strapped first-time drivers, survival is unlikely. Old repmobiles too – the Cavaliers and Mondeos of this world – may be well maintained initially, but after a hundred thousand miles pounding Britain’s motorways and a few owners paying a few hundred quid a pop, most are destined for the crusher.

Vans probably work harder than any vehicle this side of a taxi, so it’s no surprise they also succumb to the ravages of time. Apart from this 1991 Austin Maestro 500L van apparently, which the seller describes as a time capsule and for once, using this term doesn’t make us want to slam our heads in a rusty BL doorframe.

While not pristine, it’s about as unmarked as you can expect a from a 30-year old commercial vehicle that has worked for a living. The advert points out some bubbling on the A-pillars and at the edge of the bonnet – the former likely to become an issue before the latter does – but the arches, sills, and other typical Austin Maestro trouble areas are apparently in fine fettle.

The ply-lined load area also looks clean – check out those arches – and while there’s a smattering of brown under the bonnet, the 1275cc A-series (the smallest engine available in a Maestro) benefits from a new battery and is said to start on the button. Those familiar with these engines will know that may be no exaggeration either, as a good one fairly bursts into life at the first twist of the key. Not bad for 124k miles, if that’s the case with this one.

Other than some non-original seats – which may be from some kind of Rover – the cabin looks as period-correct as the exterior. Is it just us, or is Austin’s three-spoke steering wheel from this era quite a sporty-looking thing, too?

The van is currently listed as SORN but it’s MOT’d until December, which provides some peace of mind. But then look at it: if a van has made it this far without falling into disrepair, it’s probably got plenty more life left in it yet.

Also read

Unexceptional Classifieds: Toyota RAV4
Your Classics: “Norman” the Austin A35 van
A British Car to Beat the World: 40 years of the Metro

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