Pride of Longbridge isn’t a car rally, or certainly not in the conventional sense. It does what car rallies do, but it also does much, much more than that.
Whereas Fords, Vauxhalls, VWs, BMWs and Citroens (to name but a few) all have one-make shows that attract enthusiasts from far and wide, none has quite the same poignancy, spirit or community feel as PoL. Some of that, I’m sure, is down to the circumstances in which the original Save MG Rover rally took place a decade ago. The rest is due to the community spirit that exists among owners, united in their love of what was once a proud British car industry and the great vehicles that came from it. In many ways, the day leaves the politics, the constant cycle of poor senior management and frustrations of under-development behind and focuses instead on the great work of the designers, engineers and marketeers that delivered us cars that we love, today as much as ever. Moreover, PoL focuses on the achievements of the workers who, on a hugely transformed site directly opposite Cofton Park, supported generation upon generation of their family by building them.
This year’s PoL was the biggest ever, with over 4000 cars and 10,000 visitors. Organiser Gemma Cartwright MBE told us: “2015 was the biggest so far. So many ex-workers stated how grateful they were for being able to attend, meet with friends and share their stories with enthusiasts. Local people stated how they loved seeing the streets full of Longbridge heritage and future again.”
AROnline was there in force – although Features Editor Mike Humble arrived a little late after some mild nurturing of good friend of AROnline Tanya Field’s MG Maestro, en route with the Cowley convoy. Mike’s partner, Jacky, brought along his de-Project Drived Rover 75, and Editor Craig Cheetham came along in his recently acquired 214 R8 Mk 1, which drew a surprising amount of attention.
Meanwhile, comment of the day goes to my good friend and MG TF, Rover 400, ZR, Allegro and Midget owner Jon Murden. When we bumped into each other for an impromptu coffee at Hopwood Park services, he said to me: “If only all motorway service station car parks were like this…” Austins, MGs and Rovers as far as the eye could see. If only, indeed…
Next year’s event takes place on 16th April. See you there – and, in the meantime, enjoy the photos below…