So basically you want to unwrap a model and keep sections straight for panel lines in photoshop, etc?
Not sure what Maya's unwrap tools are like, but I would try an external program like uvlayout. It lets you straighten and hold certain edges while relaxing the rest of the mesh. So you could make strategic cuts along panel lines (assuming the mesh is lined up with panels) and then straighten and pin them. Uvlayout isn't free though, so not sure if that's an option.
If it's a high res sub-d type model, you should be able to unwrap at a the base mesh level or 1 up, then subdivide further with little added distortion. Then you have a lower res mesh to deal with while UVing (maybe obvious).
There are other ways as well but it really depends, will be easier to give advice if you post pictures and refs so we can see what you're going for.