Buyers Guide


There are a few simple ways to verify the identity of a MG Maestro Turbo via the VIN number. The VIN number for a Maestro Turbo always starts with the prefix SAXXCTWT7AM followed by six numbers. Apart from the V5 the VIN number can be found stamped into the off side front suspension turret, on a plate in the boot and on an aluminium plate riveted onto the bottom of the B pillar on the near side.

A few Maestro Turbos have been re-shelled so it is crucial to examine the area around the suspension turret carefully for the correct VIN number for the correct identity, the aluminium plate is easily removed, so it could easily have been transferred between vehicles.

Body Work

You will find nearly all Maestros regardless of model will rust in similar places. The word 'Maestro' is an anagram of 'seam rot', and this is very apt, be generous with the anti-rust wax into every crevice

Common areas to look out for are:


  • Tailgate bottoms start to rust on the inside seam across the bottom.
  • Rear Valence

  • Unfortunately Austin-Rover decided to save some money on paint, and you will find most rear valences (behind the rear bumper) will be unpainted and are prone to rusting. The best place to check for rust is to look inside the boot underneath the carpet towards where you are standing.
  • Windscreen

  • Corrosion on the a-pillar seams are not unusual, if left to rust this can cause problems. All the glass in Maestro Turbos was originally bronze tinted.
  • Rear Wheel Arches

  • A common problem on all Maestros, dirt becomes trapped inside the arches and causes them to rust. This area is easily fixed and repair panels are widely available.
  • Rear Suspension Turrets

  • Lift the carpets inside the boot area and check for corrosion on top of the suspension turrets. This area can be fixed but is time consuming for perfection.
  • Sills

  • Inspect the sills for corrosion, common areas of rust are found on the seams at the bottom of the pillars, sill end plates on the front and rear wheel arches and on the inner sill under the rear door area.
  • Doors

  • The bottom of the doors are a common area for rust, particularly at the corners.
  • Restoration

  • Many Maestro Turbos have will have had some form of restoration in its life time, it is important to check that all areas have been repaired professionally as for areas repaired with filler the rust will come back in a few months time.

  • Interior

    Interior trim generally wears well, although the red stripe sewn onto the seats tends to disintegrate. Headlinings also sag, but the biscuit moulding they stick to rarely crumbles and the lining material can be replaced. Front footwells can get damp if the doorseals have failed, but more commonly (and harder to trace) it is because grommets are missing or perished from the front bulkhead. Often cars will suffer from leaks at the bottom corner of the bonded windscreen, sometimes into the passenger compartment and often causing the glass to delaminate and go milky.

    Steering and Suspension

    Driveshafts are generally long-lived. CV joints are good too, although people often blame them for rumbling or knocking that really comes from the wheel bearings. The front ones can fail without developing any tell-tale play at the wheel. You will need a hydraulic press to remove the bearing from the hub.

    Many turbos will have been lowered, some too low, doublecheck the sump area for any damage.


    Although the brakes are vented, and standard set up will struggle to cope with the power. Many owners have often upgraded their brakes with MGF or Volkswagen parts. Some owners have experimented with rear discs but these are generally though to be un-necessary and purely cosmetic.


    The standard radiator for a turbo is double core, many owners will have replaced these with the standard 1600 radiator. Many motor factors will say there is no difference between the turbo and the 2 litre EFI radiator but there definatly is! The EFI radiator is much longer (full width), and you cannot fit the intercooler pipes past it. The later 1600 radiators are the same size but have a lot less cooling capacity.


    The turbo models are fitted with the Honda-designed PG1 gearbox, differential bearings are a common failure on this unit. That in turn will allow the driveshaft's to move excessively and leak oil, sometimes onto the clutch through a vent hole in the casing. The turbo "gold seal" gearboxes were fitted with metal caged bearings which are longer lasting (the standard MG boxes used plastic caged bearings).


    Stepper motor O-ring seals can swell due to unleaded petrol attacking them, and this can cause rough running. This can be fixed by fuel resistant O-rings, please contact me for details. Rebuild kits are available for the carburettor. Some owners will have fitted an up-rated needle, (or modified the original one) along with boost level increases to improve performance.


    The Turbo as standard has an automatic choke ECU which is located on the glove box roof. This can cause problems usually through corroded contacts. It also controls the temperature gauge, and an erratic needle here is a good indicator that the ECU needs cleaning or repair.

    Rear lights that fail are usually caused by poor earthing. At the other end of the car, the dim dip relay (the pink one) can also give problems including loss of headlamps or dash lights. Headlamp problems can also be traced to a faulty stalk switch.

    Central locking can fail in the rear doors as the mechanism gets too stiff for the motor. Cleaning and lubricating can fix the problem, as can robbing motors from a late Metro or fitting aftermarket replacements instead.


    All cars are unleaded compatible although Rover only certified that in the UK market in 1989. A common problem is oil weeping from the cylinder head gasket in the area between the number 4 cylinder and the distributor cap. Valvegear can sound tappety. Cambelt failure will wreck an O series engine, so double check the service history to ensure this has been changed. Check for oil smoke in the exhaust that may indicate an abused engine.


    Look for excess oil in the intercooler or intercooler pipes as a sign of turbo failure. Some oil is however normal. Check for blue smoke in the exhaust.