Silver Streak

Joe Barlow with his MG Maestro 1600

by practical-classics |
Published on

It’s the oldest surviving MG Maestro 1600, but this barn find’s restoration severely tested Joe Barlow’s skills and patience


Joe Barlow recalls what inspired him to own an MG Maestro 1600, when he was aged 22. ‘In Nottingham there’s a stretch of road over Trent Bridge between two sets of traffic lights – in a fast car you could get to the second set while they were still green. I had an XR3 and was used to beating Golf GTis. Then, one night, an MG 1600 left me standing and I thought, “I gotta find one of them…’”

Fast forward to July 2021 and Joe wins a 1600 on eBay. ‘It was a mess. It hadn’t run since 1993, and when my mate Bish and I pulled it from the barn I thought, “What have I done?” Although it was virtually complete there was a lot of hidden rust because they rot from the inside out. I decided that if I could get it running I’d restore it. Otherwise I’d scrap it and wave bye-bye to the £2400 I’d just paid.’

Once home Joe put a battery on the Maestro and was amazed. ‘It lit up like a Christmas tree and everything worked! Even the digital talking dashboard worked – although I’ve since found out that these were actually very reliable.’

He rigged up a petrol feed to the carburettors and, almost before he knew it, the car was running. ‘I didn’t touch the plugs, distributor or even check the water levels, although I did ensure it had oil. It coughed until it warmed up, then it was spot-on.’ Now committed to the restoration, Joe began stripping the MG and sourcing the parts he knew he’d need. It quickly became obvious he’d need a donor car. ‘It was strange how there’d be an area of solid metal then, right next to it, a piece completely rotted out,’ remembers Joe. ‘It was as if they’d built half the car from already rusty steel. I bought a 31,000-mile Maestro LX for parts, which proved vital – not only for replacement panels and repair sections, but also as a datum point for ensuring everything was going back in the correct place.’

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