Blog : Mike meets Mann at the Practical Classics Restoration Show…

Mike Humble

As what often happens at many events, you tend to bump into a few people as you mooch around the displays and barely get anything done – this certainly proved to be the case last year when I was at the NEC. I actually enjoyed my visit to the Practical Classics Restoration Show this time and wore a more sensible pair of shoes (the gold, 3-inch heeled sling-backs were left in the car) in an effort to avoid being almost crippled after walking miles and miles. The downside of the NEC is the walking – even the trek from the train station car park to the main halls is not for the faint hearted, but I need the exercise in all fairness.

NEC Princess
The birthday girl Princess was well represented (Image: Neil Rapsey)

From an AROnline point of view, two important cars are celebrating their birthdays this year: both the Princess and Jaguar XJS are 40 years old in 2015. These vehicles despite being bang up to date, got off to a very shaky start and were much talked about in the motoring press . In the case of the Jaguar, the sleek two-seater is today judged in every sense as a classic car. The Jaguar suffered in the same way as Roger Moore did when he took over the reigns from Sean Connery as 007, the XJS only got ridiculed back in 1975 because it was so different to what it replaced – the E-Type, and Jaguar Heritage displayed a truly stunning early XJS on their stand.

And, of course, the Princess was there in all her regal glory, basking in the attention. Not only that, but the well-regarded BL stylist Harris Mann was enjoying the show and we chatted for a while about his wonderful wedge. He agreed that the final shape in the metal almost mirrored his original drawings and visions for Leyland’s new car and, when asked for his thoughts some 45 years after the first full-scale clay models were produced at Longbridge, he told us: “I think it still looks fresh and different today and I was very pleased with the final outcome when launched.”

Former BL stylist Harris Mann - a sprightly 78-years-young spared a moment to chat about the Princess - a car he is very proud of
Former BL stylist Harris Mann – a sprightly 78-years-young spared a moment to chat about the Princess – a car he is very proud of some 45 years after his first involvement

It was also great to chat with the ever jovial and site friend Tanya Field from the Maestro and Montego Owners Club. We had a coffee and discussed this years Pride of Longbridge Cowley Convoy. I am taking my 75 to the event, of course, but I won’t be driving it there. My steed on the day is something a little different, more of that will be mentioned a little nearer to the time but it’s a car that I am personally really knocked back and chuffed about to be trundling up to Birmingham with. Site fan and good chum Neil Rapsey will be piloting the AROnline Project Rover 75 – the car’s so good… I’ve owned it thrice.

So don’t forget boys and girls, 18 April is the date for Pride of Longbridge and this time it’s a poignant one as it’s soon to be 10 years since the demise of MG Rover. Be sure to look into the site regularly as we will be running some features looking back to the time when the wheels literally fell off our beloved MG Rover – some from a very personal perspective, too!

Here are a few images of metal that caught my eye on the day…



Mike Humble


  1. Now that’s interesting, Mike. I very recently came across a picture of a BMW 3.0CSL and thought “oh yes, I used to really like those”. I’m hardly the biggest BMW fan either.
    Of course, the other cars are great too!

    • If ever there was any evidence to ague that BMW haven’t always designed and built ugly and conservative cars, the 3.0 CSL was it. To find anything else more convincing, you’ll need to go pre, or only just post, WWII.

      Shame about the horrid colour though….

      • 1602 and 2002 were just as interesting – just a csl in minature. Loverly cars. Shame BMW don’t build anything as pretty these days.

  2. Sorry, the XJS was awful looking. It’s like the Daimler SP250: an awkward execution on a promising structure.

  3. I think that ten yellow is great. I loathe this current fashion for dull shades of grey or in pimp blacks.
    I met Keith Helfet at show once. Lovely chap.

  4. I was struck by that gold SD1 when I saw it on Sunday ( it brought back happy memories of my manual 3500 in that colour that I had from 1979 to 1983 ) and I thought that if you saw that as a newly introduced model in a showroom today you would think ” what a stunning car that is – I must have one” .

  5. We were there too, Mike Brewer even re-styled the pundit hairdo on the cover of classic cars(Quentin W) A nice show, but a looooong drive from Glasgow. I got my hands on a nice Matchbox Lensley BMC 1800 Plnlnfarinaa prototype and a website where there’s a Rover 75 in BRG in 1/43 miniature….A really great day for all of us.

  6. I think that blue XJ-S looks great – and I usualy prefer the later chromed bumper type.

    Also nice to be reminded just how cool the Austin/Morris 18-22 series as it was called when launched looked in ’75. Still stands up today and I’m not surprised that Mann is still pleased with it – even the slightly iffy BL body colours shown there can’t ruin it.

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