Feb '83 & the Austin Maestro had press launch in Spain. If Metro meant survival, Maestro meant profitability.
Edwardes’ comments came at his final press conference in Sept 1982, where he noted his biggest regret was launching the Metro before the Maestro as he believed BL would be in better financial shape. That said, he also noted that if BL hadn’t launched a new car in 1980 (LC10 launch would’ve been in 1981) then the firm might not have survived.
Front & centre at the car’s launch was AR’s Chairman, Harold Musgrove. Musgrove would be AR’s main frontman at several launches & this was no different. However, privately Musgrove had serious doubts about the car. In an interview in Practical Classics, Musgrove noted he was ‘appalled’ when he saw the car in 1981 & called BL Cars’ Chairman, Ray Horrocks, that ‘it had to be stopped’. Unfortunately, he was too late as the body tooling had already been ordered.
Any doubts Musgrove had were swept aside as BL's PR machine swung into action. The report pointed out the importance of the UK fleet market but also noted 10k cars were already at AR's 1,550 UK dealers. The report ended positively, but would it in reality?
Given BL's nationalised status, the Maestro was presented at 10 Downing Street where that noted motoring critic gave her own unbiased opinion after a 2min drive.
Amusingly, it was later revealed the car’s colour was a mistake. For the Rover 800 launch, Thatcher’s press secretary, Bernard Ingham, noted: “They are fully aware of the importance of getting the right colour this time’’.
A few days after the press launch, on Mar 2nd, the Maestro received its world debut at Geneva.
One thing you could never accuse AR of doing was underselling their cars, but perhaps in hindsight, the Maestro’s launch campaign might have been a tad too far especially given some of the issues which would befall the early cars.
Given the delays, issues plus the internal views that occurred during the car’s prolonged development, one now tends to view that ad rather differently.
The Maestro was launched, its production life would be a bumpy ride.
But that’s another story...