Events : BMC/BL Rally 2005

For the fourth year running, had a stand at the BMC/BL Annual Rally and Spares Day, held each year at Ferry Meadows in the fair city of Peterborough, and Keith Adams was there armed with his camera, sunscreen and walking boots to bring you the report.

And just like each preceding year, the stand has become larger and more professional in its appearance thanks to the efforts of everyone who got involved by donating their cars, time and interest…

AFTER what seemed a long cold wet spell, the sun shined on Peterborough the day the BL Bandwagon rolled into town. Thanks to the efforts of BMC/BL Annual Rally and Spares Day organizers, Mick and Barbara Clarke, the twelfth running of the show was a complete success and larger than ever. Owners clubs from all over the country, covering all manner of vehicles made the annual pilgrimage to Peterborough, and for any fans of the marque who made it, the show was a complete success.

Richard Gunn's Mini 850 joined in the proceedings, and although he professes to hate the car, I think its charms had began to work on him again after a short period of reliability...Some clubs clearly made a massive effort to show off their wares, and special mention should go to the Maestro and Montego Owners Club, the Allegro Club International and the Triumph Dolomite Owners Club for putting on some great displays. A working demonstration of the Montego digital dash was a curiosity not to be missed on the Maestro stand – and if you looked hard enough, you could see one of Molly’s rivals on the forthcoming Staples2Naples run, a particularly lush Montego estate.

There were many other highlights to take in too – my first sighting of a Belgian built Innocenti Mini De Tomaso was a real pleasure, as was the multi-coloured Rover 2200TC, which stopped everyone in their tracks.

Of course, had its own stand, and thanks to the efforts of everyone who displayed their cars, as well as the organizational skills of Alexander Boucke, Declan Berridge and John Capon, we managed to present an extremely professional looking stand with a wide array of BMC>Rover cars. It’s impossible to know where to begin when describing the cars on the stand, as just about all were truly stunning examples. The MG M Cars looked magnificent together (I’ve never seen such deep shine on a Metro or Maestro before), but then again, the row containing cars from the Seventies looked amazing – a real ‘Brotherhood of Mann’ (Marina, Allegro, Princess, geddit…)

It was our intention to obtain as many example of every significant BMC>Rover model (post-Mini) and line them up. Thanks to an appeal on the website, and an enthusiastic response from the site’s readers, we managed this task with ease, even if at times, it proved somewhat stressful. Sadly, we were unable to secure a prototype from Gaydon in time, but we are working hard to change that situation for the next show the website members will be attending…

During the day, many interested visitors joined the stand, and quite a few were impressed to see such a wide range of cars brought together under one banner. One visitor told me that he thought this could be the future of BMC>Rover owners’ clubs, as he thought a pooling of resources would lead to strength in numbers. Another person voiced his feelings clearly, ‘seeing all these cars together in one place is an experience of deep joy… it’s a rolling catalogue of disasters, but one you can’t help but love. Just like an errant child…’

We put together an inpromptu display of Rover 75s, which was made up of the three finest examples of the breed that I know. Ben Shephard’s V8 was a late but very welcome entry – and one which attracted many interested observers – especially when the bonnet was raised, or the engine fired up. Mike McCabe’s famous ex-AutoExpress and Centenary Cavalcade car put in an appearance, as did Tim Burgess’ extremely pretty CDTi. Mike and Tim, especially, are Rover 75 nuts, and it was great to see these guys’ cars together for the first time.

Centrepiece of the stand – without a doubt – was Kelvin Lambert’s ex-Works Triumph TR8 rally car. When it appeared on the stand, it seemed as though everyone at the show followed it, cameras in hand. It’s such a shame that digital cameras could not capture the magnificent sound of that Buick V8 when the throttle was blipped. From 100 paces, it had the power to raise the hairs on the back of one’s neck.

The only real disappointment for me was that we couldn’t get our Rover R8 display together – We managed four in the end. Richard Jesset’s stunning Tomcat had been sidelined with a mechanical gremlin the night before – and we didn’t attract a single Cabriolet owner to put their head above the parapet. Still, there’s always next year…

It was a long day, but one we hope that was well worth the effort, as it was an opportunity for people who have only communicated on the Internet to meet face to face and talk (without embarassment) about their shared passion. It was quite a sad occasion for me too, as it is more than likely the last time I will be able to organize ‘our’ stand. But the good news is, we have been given a pitch at the forthcoming NEC Classic Car Motor Show this autumn, and we intend to put together something really special.


All the cars displayed by

We tried to create a rolling line-up of all of BMC>Rover’s post-Mini glories. Each car was placed in a row denoting the decade of its introduction… but this policy did throw up a number of anomalies, such as the ERA Mini…

Still, we should be forgiven for these inconsistencies when one considers the interesting variations we managed to find for the show.

1989 ERA Mini Turbo owned by Peter Kay.

Vanden Plas Princess 1100 owned by Declan Berridge.

Austin 1800 owned by Darren Mitcham.

Austin Maxi HL owned by Richard Plaxton.

Morris Marina 1800 Super De Luxe owned by John Capon.

Austin Allegro 1300 owned by Jon Murden.

Princess ‘Snapdragon’ owned by Kevin Davis.

Triumph TR8 ex-Works rally car, owned by Kelvin Lambert.

Rover Vitesse Twin Plenum owned by Ian Chisem.

Austin Metro 1.0 owned by Michael Turner.

Austin Maestro 1.3LS owned by Alexander Boucke.

Rover Sterling owned by Steve Whipps.

Rover 820 Turbo 16V owned by Scott Woodcock.

Jaguar XJ40 owned by Alex Sebbinger.

Rover 214Si owned by Helen Young.

Rover 620GSD owned by Ian Cole.

Rover Vitesse Sport Coupe owned by Kevin Davis.

And now for the MGs…

MG M Cars, a Zed and two convertibles competed for attention. We grouped the MGs together, and it has to be said that they looked great together…

MG Metro Turbo owned by Richard Murphy.

MG Maestro Turbo owned by Gareth Kidman.

MG ZS 120+ owned by Jon Mower.

MGB owned by Adam Hills.

MG Midget, owned by David Jacobs.

…and now the Rover 75s.

The Rover 75 is already a classic car in my eyes and whether or not is is reincarnated by Nanjing or SAIC in the future, it remains a beautiful British car. We were particularly proud to display three of the finest examples out there – and by the reactions of the stand’s visitors, it was a view shared by many others. Whither a 75/ZT owners’ club now?

Rover 75 V8 owned by Ben Shephard.

Rover 75 CDTi Club owned by Tim Burgess.

Rover 75 Connoisseur 2.5 owned by Mike McCabe.

…and the R8s.

We wanted to get an example of each one of the six Rover R8 body variations… we didn’t make it, sadly.

Keith Adams

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