This was an interesting one… The Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon is home to some of the most interesting prototypes in the history of British Leyland, Rover and BMC – and yet it has taken until 2013, some eight years after the demise of MG Rover, to launch an event tailored towards these cars. So has the wait been worth it?
The new event was actually tacked on the back of a popular Mini meeting and was described by its organisers as one ‘incorporating vehicles manufactured by the British Motor Corporation, British Leyland and Rover including commercial and military vehicles’. True to form, a selection of rarely seen (unless you’re a regular reader of AROnline) prototypes from the museum’s reserve collection were the centre of attention for history fans, while the scores of Minis catered for everyone else.
The pre-event pubicity described the show as having more than 80 different marques covering a 100 year period – but, unless you included the permanent displays in the museum, what was shown in the car part didn’t really come close to that figure. Despite that, it was probably a case of quality not quantity, with some truly stunning cars being displayed by their owners, either as day visitors, or as part of the Owners’ cClubs who joined the event.
Stars of the show came from the 1959 Mini Register, which displayed a collection of early Minis by the front of the museum. Right next to them were some of the cars from the Cooper Sport 500 register – the final few cars off the line. Cars from the Rover SD1 Owners Club, the Maestro and Montego Owners Club, and www.leylandprincess.co.uk were also there, showing off some truly lovely examples. In the main area, as you’ll see from the gallery, there were smashing cars on show.
Leaving aside the wonders of the Triumph SD2, Ferrada LC10 (above) and Metro saloon from Gaydon’s collection, personal favourites were the Coca Cola Triumph TR7, the Austin Ants, Mini Mokes, Mini 1100 Special and 25 special edition and the ugly, yet appealing, NADA-spec Rover SD1.
Thoughts about the show? There’s potential for the future and for a first effort, this wasn’t bad – but, for those who’ve made the pilgrimage to Pride of Longbridge earlier this year (a damp squib, in 2013, but usually brilliant) or intend to make another trip to the BMC/BL Rally in Peterborough, then there was probably little at Gaydon not seen before. However, if the event can grow and Gaydon can nurture the communities while taking advantage of its place at the heart of the UK motor industry, we might have a third show to call our own…