Events : Report – BMC and Leyland Show, Gaydon

Keith Adams

BMC and Leyland Show (1)

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.

British Leyland and BMC Show (17)

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 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.

British Leyland and BMC Show (24)

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…


Keith Adams


  1. Brilliant, but you really have to think it was such a waste, BL putting all this research and producing some astonishing prototypes and concepts that were refused production due to poor management, apathetic work force and an unrelenting/unforgiving public.

  2. Some nice exhibits here. My friends Dad once owned a white Mini Clubman Estate with the wood effect side panels as shown here. H Reg

  3. Glad the Americanised SD1 aroused some interest. It is actually a NAS (North American Specification) model, the NADA term was not applied to SD1 (unlike P6). This NAS retains its original Federal requirements, which I agree are ugly yet appealing. Though it certainly had some thought given to styling those massive bumpers. It features a low compression V8 with Lucas fuel injection and catalytic converters, along with lots of other Federal requirements and unusual features.

  4. That’s my Maestro, Milly in the top photo, next to the prototype LC10.

    I helped organise the Cowley Convoy from MINI Plant Oxford and we took around 50 cars. I loved both the convoy and the show, although by the time I had talked to everyone, I had little time left to look round. For me, this is my perfect type of show (although I would have liked it a little less hot!)

  5. I am convinced that that little MG soft top (third row up) would have sold in big numbers. There are some shapes that whilst not exactly setting the world on fire – are just so right!
    So much good stuff at Gaydon. Fortunate enough to live close enough to visit often. Magic.
    As others have said, we lost a lot of opportunities to lead the field – a vist to Gaydon (rather depressingly) proves the point.

  6. Unfortunately I didn’t attend but have enjoyed seeing many of the exhibits and visiting cars on here. Some wonderful memories of bygone years, for example a harvest gold Allegro, sandglow Maxi and zircon blue Ital Estate plus the rare sight of a 1979 Mini Special in rose red. Dr Moulton’s Mini Cooper S and Metro 1.3S were a real bonus as I understand neither owner knew that the other was attending! Great to see these two interesting and rather special cars featured in the current issue of Classic Cars Weekly!

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