Thursday November 15, 2018
The name of the 1992 Maestro 1.3 Clubman that belongs to Anthony Ellis is the wholly appropriate “Juliet Maestro’. Yes, the last series of Juliet Bravo aired in 1985, but one of the abiding memories of the show that once dominated BBC schedules is of Austin Maestro patrol cars arriving at various crime scenes throughout Burnley, Accrington, and the Ribble Valley.
Anthony’s car served with ‘Lancashire Constabulary and it was based at Chorley for a while’. He first saw the Maestro a little over three years ago ‘when it was advertised on the MMOC forum; I was keeping an eye on it!’ and acquired it as ‘no one took the project on!’. A further inspiration was For The Love of Cars when ‘they restored an SD1 police car’.
On buying the Clubman, Anthony ‘I joined a Facebook group called Blue Light Vehicle Preservation Group and from there the members were more than helpful with sending old car pictures, and they looked for another ex-police car that served Maastricht, but mine is the only one remaining’. Anthony does recall Maestro ‘and the Montego’ squad cars when he was younger but now ‘I can’t believe there are no more about at all’.
As you can see from the photos, the Maestro was not in the best of health back in 2015 and to restore it to its former glory involved ‘Near enough three years, from starting to take the car apart till the day of the MOT. Once all the welding work was done it was then off to the paint booth’. The car was then ‘taken to my works. I’m a recovery driver and my gaffer let me use the garage’s two post ramp. From there it took just over eight weeks, and that was after work’. The refurbishment took ‘five or six hours a night with the help of one of my work colleagues’.
The special equipment for the Lancashire Clubman includes ‘the original Storno radio with a handheld receiver’. The blue beacon is ‘perfect for that car and era’, and there are also “Police Stop” boxes with intermittent flashing warnings mounted front and rear.
As for the audible signals, there is ‘a two-tone Fiamm air horn’, and although there is a small engine under the bonnet Keith Adams points out on his indispensable website - https://www.aronline.co.uk - how ‘with a 0-60mph time of 12.8 seconds and a top speed approaching 100mph, a 1.3-litre Maestro is more than capable of sitting in modern traffic’. Anthony observes that the driving experience is ‘” different” as I’m used to a five-speed box, and this is a four!’ but ‘I get to 70 ok!’
Today, Anthony is still discovering more about the Maestro’s time in police service, and ‘a couple of gents on the preservation group put me in touch with an ex-serving VMU (vehicle maintenance unit) mechanic. He had actually peeled off the crest off a damaged car 25 years ago but was unable to post to me as it was so brittle’.
Mr. Ellis eventually met with this gentleman at a Blackpool car show who brought with him ‘written evidence' of the Ellis Maestro's police career after I gave him the vehicle registration. He'd kept the logbook of all the cars he worked on - including the first 6,000-mile service of J 844 KHG in 1992.
And the result of these painstaking efforts from Anthony and his friends is, quite simply, social history on wheels, ready to be used, appreciated and generally enjoyed – as countless visitors to the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show would doubtless agree.