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
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.
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.
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).
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.”