Car & Classic Magazine MENU

1986 Austin Maestro Camper – Classified of the Week


By Chris Pollitt

Campers are very much a global favourite. The idea of strapping a bed and kettle into the back of a van is one that has captivated thousands of us over the years. Explore the great outdoors, go up hill and over dale, live a life of adventure… or park up on a Caravan Club site in North Devon and fail to sleep because of the dog in the tent next door barking all night. One or the other. It’s all wonderfully British.

Extending from the more conventional van-derived campers are the car, or small van-derived campers. Again, these vehicle are seen all over the world, but nowhere demonstrates such variety as the UK. If we can fit a camping stove, a thin mattress and some aftermarket windows into the back of something, we will. The Mk1 Escort van, the Citroen Berlingo, the Nissan Micra (no, really, it was available as a one-man camper), the Seat Terra and of course, this, the Austin Maestro. In van guise, the designers saw an opportunity to make an ace little camper and we have to say, we’re kind of into it.

Austin, Maestro, Austin Maestro, Maestro 500L, Austin camper, camper conversion, classic camper, retro camper, classic car, retro car, motoring, automotive, carandclassic,, Austin Rover,

How cosy does that look. We can quite happily imagine sitting in there as the rain beats down on whatever bleak corner of Norfolk we’ve ended up in. Some Tesco ‘meal deal’ sandwiches on the go while the kettle comes up to a boil on the stove. Radio playing Steve Wright with the occasional crackle. Bliss. Snug, warm, very British bliss. And don’t think you’d be cramped in there. Look at the exterior pics and you’ll see that this particular Maestro has a raised roof, so even the tallest of campers will be comfortable. The two rows of facing seats fold out into a bed, there are curtains aplenty for maximum privacy, and the whole thing is trimmed in myriad shades of brown.

We can’t lie. We’ve always liked the Maestro, so this camper 500L Countryman version goes some way to floating our boat. Being Maestro-sized, it’s a camper without any of the cumbersome dimensions typical of campers. It can go anywhere and won’t stress you out when negotiating the narrow streets of somewhere like St Ives. Its size also lends it to the spur of the moment. No kids this weekend? Just in the van and go. No need to plan, pack and check everything on a big camper that hasn’t moved for six months. And on that note, the Maestro could be used every day as a normal car for commuting. It is just a Maestro after all. A Series engine, four-speed ‘box, simple design and construction, car-like on-road manners. It’d be rude not to.

Austin, Maestro, Austin Maestro, Maestro 500L, Austin camper, camper conversion, classic camper, retro camper, classic car, retro car, motoring, automotive, carandclassic,, Austin Rover,

This particular Austin Maestro 500L Countryman to give it its full name, has had just four owners and they all seem to have doted on it. What’s impressive is that this car hasn’t been restored, it’s been preserved. This is a proper survivor of the ’80s, which is quite special. It’s been loved a great deal, as is evidenced by the condition both internally and externally. With 96,000 miles on the clock, this is also a camper that has lived its best life, so you owe it to do the same.

Austin, Maestro, Austin Maestro, Maestro 500L, Austin camper, camper conversion, classic camper, retro camper, classic car, retro car, motoring, automotive, carandclassic,, Austin Rover,

It’s not going to be for everyone, and we know that. However, if you’re looking for a cheap, fun, usable, classic camper, you can’t do much better than this. It’s a wonderful and charming nod back to how we used to do small campers, but it’s not so old that it’s fragile and should be pampered. This Maestro has plenty of life and plenty of camping adventure left in it, and all for a mere £5,900. Go on, get it bought, start having adventures.

Enjoyed this article?

Sign up to our weekly newsletter to receive the latest articles, news, classic cars, auctions and events every Thursday - compiled expertly by the Car & Classic team

Article's featured image

Get Jacked – Must-Have Lifting Kit

To own an old car is to work on and maintain an old car, as such, you’re going to need to lift it up from time to time in order to carry out work. And of course, the car usually comes with a jack for exactly that reason. Sadly though, manufacturer jacks are more for […]

Article's featured image

From Purchase to Passing – The Lifecycle of a Capri

When it comes to classic car ownership some people own many different makes and models over the course of their lives, continually changing things up and moving on, while others stick to just one special car, loving and cherishing it forever. I used to belong very much to the first group, having owned several classics […]

Article's featured image

1988 MG Maestro – Project Profile

The Maestro is one of those cars that people like to mock, but look beyond the typical derogatory banter and what you’re presented with is a car that was actually rather good. Released in 1983, the Austin Maestro took over duties from the Allegro, which meant it didn’t exactly have to work hard in order […]

Article's featured image

The One That Got Away…

I don’t know what my parents must have been thinking as they watched my elated 15 year-old self help push £525 worth of rusty Classic Mini onto their suburban London driveway. I’d probably de-valued the property significantly with the arrival of my first project car and over the subsequent years, quite a few have graced […]

Article's featured image

1931 Bentley 8 Litre – Classified of the Week

The 1930s were a magical time for motoring. With coachbuilding in full swing, manufacturers had to build faith in their name with only their chassis and engine offerings. There was no manufacturer body to fall in love with. We had to bond with the engine. And this is why Bentley did rather well. This Bentley […]