The Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon is one my favourite places in the whole world. Where else can you immerse yourself in such a cornucopia of Leyland related etherea for the price of a meal at Bernie’s Steakhouse? Things have changed in the past couple of years, for sure, but all in all, we have little to complain about, as Ford’s entries to the museum have been an appealing mix: a base-spec 1976 Fiesta, a GT40, an RS200 and a host of Jaguars and Aston Martins. As I say, nothing at all to complain about.
Obviously, the Leyland exhibits have thinned out somewhat, but it is nice to know that what they have there is safely tucked away for posterity.
At the moment, it feels as though I live in the place, though; I have been every other weekend for a couple of months now for one reason or another, and I am sure that most of he staff there know me by my first name. I don’t know whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. Probably good, as most of the staff are ex-BL and invariably have some interesting tales to tell. The bad bit is me not seeing my kids as often as I would like…
…after I had finished on business there, and on
my way out, I passed a rather interesting
parked car around the back.
Anyway, this weekend, I got lucky. After I had finished on business there, and on my way out, I passed a rather interesting parked car around the back. The Princess based Triplex 10-20 Glassback was stood out a mile, and forced me to stop. After all, it was out in the open, so presented a wonderful photo opportunity. As I walked over, I spotted other interesting cars: a Mini Cord, the SD2 prototype, a plastic bodied ADO16, and a previously unseen (by us) LC10 mule. Wow. Talk about lucky. Thankfully I had my camera with me, and you can see the results via the Latest Updates page.
The staff there were also very helpful: when asked about photography, they were happy to move the cars around for me. That’s definitely good service.
Despite this, it was not quite the joyous occasion it could have been. What did upset me, was how these “priceless” cars, were parked out the back, in the open, in many cases with their windows open. I was told that these cars were being moved from one storage space to another and that’s why they were out. However, in spite of this reassurance, some of them did look surprisingly weatherbeaten.
The Triplex car looked particularly sad, thanks to its Hydragas having lost pressure, which left it forlon-looking sat on its bump-stops. The vivid blue paint job looked dull under a layer of grime, and the interior was also suprisingly dirty. I suspect none of this apparent neglect was intentional, but from my perspective it was particularly upsetting to see, as one has an image in one’s head, that these cars are loved, cared-for and in pristine condition all the time. Sadly, real life is not like that, and I know Gaydon has a fairly large collection on its hands.
Having said that, perhaps it’s time that austin-rover.co.uk lobbied Gaydon for the semi-permanent loan of one of its prototypes: I’d love to get SD2 or the Triplex Princess running… I can see myself in either one of those.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.