Events : Over 50 Landcrabs star at the BMC and Leyland Show

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

The Austin 1800, generally known as the Landcrab, celebrated its 50th birthday in style. The call for them to attend was heard and over 50 assembled in front of the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon. Held for the second time in 2014, the BMC and Leyland Show proved to be an excellent day out – and not only for Landcrab owners.

Words and Photography: Alexander Boucke

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With the celebration of the Austin 1800’s 50th Anniversary and the Montego turning 30 (and the original Mini 55), owners and fans of all cars made in the era between the formation of BMC in 1952 and the days of British Leyland were invited to the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon on 6th July. The gathering of Landcrabs was, as already mentioned, huge – 51 were counted in the end. LOCI – the Landcrab Owners’ Club International – was true to form with cars attending from Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal.

AROnline reader José Carlos Magalhães (pictured, below right, with fellow AROnline Facebook Group member, James Mclernon) from Portugal drove his pristine Austin 1800 S all the way to Gaydon and was a clear winner of the award for the longest distance travelled. “My friends, what a day! What more could a man want? Fantastic people, fantastic cars!” José remarked. Other notable exhibits in the Landcrab section included a stunning collection of five real and replica rally cars, an Australian ‘Ute’ pick-up and a replica of a Durham police car. Meanwhile, a 47-car strong Cowley Convoy maintained the tradition established at previous events and undertook the rather shorter drive from Oxford to Gaydon.

Picture: Cláudio Vitorino

The Heritage Motor Centre rolled out a couple of cars from the reserve collection into the blazing sunshine. The last-of-the-line Montego parked next to the oldest known model. The last Triumph Acclaim from the collection proved to be the only Acclaim at the show while the Triplex 10-20 Glassback Princess (pictured below) joined the five wedges on display, one of them a pre-production car. The museum’s prototype MG Metro 6R4 joined a collection from very early Austin Metros up to late Rover 100s.

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The pair of Leyland P76s (out of three in the UK) made a great centre piece for the show, including a hay bale and oil barrel to show the boot’s vast capacity. For many, including the author, this was the first opportunity to see these large cars in real life. Lots of discussions about lost opportunities were heard around them! The cars, which are owned by ex-Rover Engineer Alan Firth and Dave Eadon, have already been featured on AROnline (A tale of two Leyland P76s and Car of the Month: August 2002).

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The late Dr. Alex Moulton’s Metro and Mini Cooper were also reunited at the show, hiding their rather special suspension systems from casual observers, and exhibited by their respective current owners, Paul Vincent and Ivan Jennery.

The Autojumble could grow a bit but, for a show in only its second year, the overall consensus was that the event had been a great success. The entry fee included admission to both the BMC and Leyland Show and the Heritage Motor Centre, making the venue a good day out for the whole family.

Tom Caren, the Heritage Motor Centre’s Events Manager, commented: “I think the event has gone very well and I’m pleased that it is growing. Last year’s was the first major show I co-ordinated for the Centre – that was well received, and today has built on that. The enthusiasm of the owners and visitors for the cars they love is infectious, and we are looking forward to a similarly impressive turnout at Gaydon next year.”

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Alexander Boucke

Based in Aachen, Germany, Alexander has had BMC>ARG cars around him since birth - in fact his earliest childhood memories are from buying a new Landcrab with his family at the age of two. The new cars have aged to classic cars and a few more have joined the family fleet - most of them by now proper classics and many with Hydrolastic or Hydragas suspension. Alexander joined the AROnline team back in 2002 when helping out to get some facts right on the Austin 3 Litre.

14 Comments

  1. Fantastic! I never knew about that one. A ferguson 4×4 Triumph 2500 Estate was known to me, but this is far more interesting. Would it be the first FWD-based 4×4 (with FWD bias in the drive train too!)?

  2. I don’t know the answer to that – not sure when the 1800 4×4 was conceived. The Austin ANT might have come before it but, of course, that did not feature permanent four wheel drive.

  3. WoW! A 4×4 Landcrab, what an interesting project and it appears to have been extremely well done.
    Would this have had any connection with the 4×4 ADO 16 Rallycross car I wonder?

  4. The Landcrab, once it beat its early problems, was rather a good car. Nothing else in its class rode as well and had as much interior space and the engines were powerful and refined, particularly in twin carb or 2200 form.

  5. Also to add in Wolseley Six form, these were highly desirable cars that offered an alternative to a Rover 2000. Actually Landcrabs of all kinds were familiar sights on the road well into the eighties. Compared with what followed in the seventies, Landcrabs seemed to be well made, durable cars.

  6. The 1800, was most of what has been said above.
    My dad had 2 from new. I was 9 in 1968 when he had his first, then I was 13 when he had his second in 1972. Yup loads of room. Blah de blah.They were however 100% deeply uncool! friends dads had MK2 Cortina 100% cool. compared to the land crab.The Land crab, were frumpy looking, inside and out. A design triumph, they were however a style disaster!
    My friends dad had a MK4 Zodiac which was a uncool car. compared to the Land crab It was quite acceptable!

  7. @ Big H, the front end styling was a bit of an acquired taste, but from the rear they resembled a limousine. Also what else could ride as comfortably, seat five adults in comfort, take as much luggage and perform as quietly for the money? Yes a Cortina 1600 E was probably very cool in 1969 and went well, but couldn’t match the Landcrab in the four areas I’ve mentioned.
    Perhaps the most stylish family car of this era was the Vauxhall Victor FD, although it was underpowered and very basic in 1600 form. Go for the VX 4/90 and you had a highly competent fast saloon that had overdrive to make high speed driving more bearable.

  8. @ Glenn Aylett,certainly agree about the FD Victor.My Father had a white FD 2000 in 1970.I was only 3 at the time,but looking back at old photos of the Vauxhall,it certainly was a very sleek motor.

  9. Glenn & Howard. I agree, the FD Victor, VX490 and Ventora were stylish family cars in the late sixties. The VX4/90 had a twin carb version of the Victor’s 1975cc motor. My Dad had an earlier FC VX4/90. (1.6 85bhp)

    About those landcrabs, the ones with alloys and Rostyle wheels look really neat.

  10. @ Howard, it was the most stylish British family car of that era. I think if they brought out a 2000 E model with leather and wood, it could have done really well as the non VX 4/90 models were fairly basic.

  11. Yes Glenn – The best FD’s were the VX4/90 and Ventora. They got better trim, Rostyle wheels on VX,Vinyl roof on Ventora and extra instruments such as rev counter, ammeter and oil pressure guage.

    The Ventora had the 3.3 litre six cylinder Cresta engine. I still have a couple of period brochures and even though we are 45 years on, they still look good…

  12. I wonder if the Acclaim mentioned was the beige A reg one I overtook on the M1 the other day driven by a female heading north?

    Looked to be in pretty good nick, and nice to see one in the flesh, so to speak.

  13. Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, the ADO17 was one of the most advanced cars of its era, being fwd, not being particularly massive on the outside but being as spacious as a full size luxury car, and the Hydragas suspension offering an extremely comfortable ride. Also compared with the ancient Farina models it was produced alongside, the ADO 17 was light years ahead and twin carb models could cruise quite easily at 90 mph all day, something that would be impossible in a Farina or many lesser family cars of the late sixties.
    Also for all there were some issues around oil consumption at first and a wrongly calibrated dipstick, the ADO 17 went on to prove itself as a reliable, durable car and would be one car of the era that I would feel confident getting out of after a crash. Perhaps if the styling wasn’t as controversial( although I find the car distinctive from the rear), the driving position was better and the 2200 with PAS was introduced earlier, the ADO 17 could have cleared up.

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