Words and Photographs: Mike Humble
Once again, here at AROnline, we are proud to say that this year’s Pride of Longbridge event was a complete success and enjoyed by all those who attended. It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years since full-scale production of MG Rover cars shuddered to a halt in B31 back in that dark month of April 2005 – a month many of us fans will never forget. What did impress me though, was the progressive feel to the Longbridge area.
Impressive new buildings are sprouting up – there’s a housing development on the site of the former old office block and other community rebuilding projects are underway on the vast, sprawling site which once housed the former Austin > MG Rover empire.
They say time heals old wounds and Pride is all about celebrating the past as well as looking to the future. It was both interesting and reassuring to see the current Longbridge site incumbent, MG Motor UK Limited, displaying the company’s current products with a small selection of dealer and manufacturer cars from the nearby Sales Centre.
The MG6 Register were in attendance with their cars, showing the motoring public and brand fans that MG is, indeed, still alive and kicking. Such a shame, then, that MG UK chose not to valet and clean the engine bays of their show cars – one or two commented on this and I thought this was a poor show, especially as MG UK Headquarters was only 300 yards away.
It was also good to see so many different cars and to press flesh with many of AROnline’s readers, some of whom had travelled from as far away as Scotland or the South West, making my journey from leafy Horsham look like a whiz round the block in comparison.
The Cowley to Longbridge convoy once again attended the gathering with Simon Woodward – a regular site fan, proudly displaying his manual 2.5 Rover 75 Club. Staying with the swansong Rover, the 75 & ZT Owners Club was in attendance with over 80 models on display. Actually, I was so impressed with this model’s turn out that I threw caution to the wind and joined – something I normally avoid doing – and the Swiss 75 now boasts a stunning club sticker and tax disc holder.
Every model in every level of condition was on public display and the Maestro and Montego Owners Club were in top form on the day with a huge array of ’80s retro classics. One of my highlights of the day was bagging a drive in Club Magazine Editor Sam Skelton’s lovely, original Montego 2.0 HL and I reciprocated by handing over the keys to the Project Rover 75.
Birthdays included the MGB’s 50th and Ambassador’s 30th – both models were in evidence on the day and it was great to see them in daily use. All the heritage models were also there to see and enjoy: Austin Seven, Mini, Austin Metropolitan, Morris Minor and even Triumph 2000 models attended, proving that once bitter rivals could become brothers-in-arms.
Even though the day was somewhat overcast, the rain mainly stayed away with just the odd spit of the wet stuff simply beading off the polished and loved cars that were on parade. This year’s event was well organised with all models and brands having their own separate areas and, once again the public who simply just visited to see the 600 plus cars were superb – I was one of the last ones to leave and noticed the lack of litter and clutter – all thanks to the sterling efforts of the staff and volunteers who tirelessly worked to make the event such a continued success. I, for one, look forward to the event in 2013 – see you there?