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Cars that just vanished. No.1: Montego.


The Mighty Quinn
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Exactly this, they were just disposable bangers. There were so many about and they were worth so little that if anything went wrong the cheapest solution was to scrap it and buy another. The Montego is the one car more than any other I remember being absolutely everywhere in my childhood that has simply disappeared - there's usually a decent turnout at BL shows but otherwise they're a very rare sight and I haven't seen one in the wild for years.

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The absolute weirdo I was when I was a kid, I used to trawl the Autotrader with a self imposed budget of £500. I deduced at this point about the best thing I could get was a Late Maestro 1.3. In all honesty they weren’t that bad when you appreciated them for what they were - a cheap simple car. 

I think the last Montego saloons were pretty much handbuilt to order for fleets, the MOD bought a shit load of the 2.0D Primas usually on a K -P plate. Usually ended on the minicar circuit. I don’t think they were offered to the retail market as a saloon from about 1992 onwards?

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Montegos, more than about any mainstream car of the 80s, got tatty very quickly, with rust appearing on door bottoms/sills whilst the equivalent Sierra/Cavalier still looked clean (at about 3-4 years old).

The saloons also had very low resale values compared to the competition. The estates were more desirable (and popular with private buyers) but they still aged very quickly. 

They really only had 3-4 years of selling well, by 1988 the Rover brand had taken over.

The R3 200 series constantly outsold the Maestro/Montego range from about early 87 onwards. 

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The only two company cars my dad had were both Montegos - all I remember about the first one was that it was a white, E-reg 1.6L saloon that got sideswiped by a lorry carrying hay bales in France on the first day of our holiday. It was replaced by a green H-reg diesel estate, that he picked up on my sixth birthday, and I remember my favourite feature was that if anyone tailgated us he'd drop it into second, boot it and engulf them in a massive cloud of grey clag. 

It got sent back at four years old, then turned up on the forecourt of the local Hyundai dealer - turned out it had been sent to auction in Birmingham and then made its way back. I used to see it around, covered in Kurust and leaving a smokescreen even after I passed my test - looks like it died around 2003 though. 

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Rust. 

I was born in 82. We moved to a big town house in 88 where we all had to street park. I remember 4 or 5 “rustbuckets” on our road - all Montegos - all exploding in brown acne. Doing the maths - they were rusting (and badly) at 3-5 years old. 

I went to buy a Montego about 10 years ago for £300. At that stage £300 was a night’s work for me and - with one child - I could do wtf I wanted with my money. I still walked away. I thought it was dreadful.

I’m far fonder of the Maestro!

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5 minutes ago, angle said:

The only two company cars my dad had were both Montegos - all I remember about the first one was that it was a white, E-reg 1.6L saloon that got sideswiped by a lorry carrying hay bales in France on the first day of our holiday. 

I remember two of my dad's company cars. First was a Cavalier that kept breaking down. Memorable as it had a car phone built in. The company chopped that in early. My dad got his colleagues car as a replacement - Montego countryman. I remember it well for having squeaky rear suspension. 

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Had a drive in a fellow reps Montego Turbo when it was only a couple of months old and was so great looking.  It went well, very fast (compared to my company 1600cc Sierra) but it did come with Saab 99 like turbo lag.

I remember the specific day well for another reason. I was working in a cash and carry in Tottenham, a few hundred yards from Broadwater Farm Estate and left about the same time the riot started.

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26 minutes ago, BorniteIdentity said:

Rust. 

I was born in 82. We moved to a big town house in 88 where we all had to street park. I remember 4 or 5 “rustbuckets” on our road - all Montegos - all exploding in brown acne. Doing the maths - they were rusting (and badly) at 3-5 years old. 

I went to buy a Montego about 10 years ago for £300. At that stage £300 was a night’s work for me and - with one child - I could do wtf I wanted with my money. I still walked away. I thought it was dreadful.

I’m far fonder of the Maestro!

Interestingly, Maestros seem to have survived better than Montegos. Not entirely sure how, or why. If I had to choose, the Montego would be my steed of choice. 

As an aside, what were you doing ten years ago that afforded you £300 nightly?!

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They were very handy and driveable - I remember we had one in the company car pool. People were sceptical about it before they drove it but it was quite popular after - quite quick.

Most would have been driven into the ground - and a biggish saloon isn't a very desirable car when it gets old - maybe that explains the better survival of Maestro.

There is one parked in a garden off the Old Kent Road.

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27 minutes ago, Dick Longbridge said:

Interestingly, Maestros seem to have survived better than Montegos. Not entirely sure how, or why. If I had to choose, the Montego would be my steed of choice. 

As an aside, what were you doing ten years ago that afforded you £300 nightly?!

DJing! I’m too fat and too old now - and have had my fill of drunkards spilling lager in my laptop!

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1 hour ago, Craig the Princess said:

Weren't these (along with the Maestro) almost as stealable as 80s Vauxhall's?

 

Certainty my Dad's one ended up burnt to a crisp after it was taken in Nuneaton.

 

I'd love to say that, that incident didn't cloud my judgement when it came to dealing with people from Nuneaton later in my life, but I'd be telling a fib. A properly comfortable car to sit in dissecting just how bad the Orient are on the way back from a foreign game.

 

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My dad bought a B reg 1.6 estate in 1988. At four years old it was starting to rust. The clutch would slip due to a leaky rear crank oil seal.

Fast forward to 1993 - he acquired a 2.0 VDP Efi saloon in silk green. Dodgy respray apart it was ok - punted on due to rot - the boot floor in between the rear suspension was bulging and the windscreen falling out.

They had a huge appetite for wheel bearings.

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When I joined Lucas Engineering and Systems Ltd in 1989, our departmental pool car (Design for Manufacture and Manufacturing Technology and Engineering) was a Directors old company car. 

A monty 2.0 HLS estate. 

It was unofficially looked after by a bloke called Dave Sefton, who had worked at Longbridge at a Development Engineer. 

The first time I drove it, from Shirley to Pontypool, it started raining and I had to get off the motorway and find the nearest dealer to reattach the drivers side wiper arm.

Over 6 months Dave got new springs, tyres, shocks, brakes, suspension joints, exhaust and all sorts of electrical and carb bits to make it like new.

Then he had to plead with finance not to scrap it, because it was the most costly company owned car.  As he pointed out, it had been abused for 3 years and it was now good for another 3. They let us keep it. 

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