After a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus, the Pride of Longbridge (POL) rally made a return to Cofton Park in Birmingham. It’s a poignant place to hold this rally, as not only is it opposite the site of the ‘The Austin’ in the leafy Longbridge suburbs, but it’s also where the Save MG Rover Rally was held on 16 April 2005, just days after the Administrators were appointed to call time on the company.
In all, almost 2000 cars made it to Cofton Park, with a great span of entries from the 1930s Austin 7s, through to a handful of the latest generation MGs brought along by their enthusiastic owners. The sheer number of Rover 75s and 200/400s was heartening to see, especially considering how rapidly they are disappearing off our roads. But what really makes Pride of Longbridge stand out is the sheer variety of cars at the event, which is treated by many as an annual pilgrimage.
Poignant venue, triumphant event
The event, masterminded by the brilliant Gemma Cartwright MBE, was also thought-provoking for another reason. It’s the first time Pride of Longbridge has taken place following the removal of the final car assembly buildings at the factory in 2021 – CAB 1, CAB 2 and the Paint Shops have all gone, leaving just the Kremlin, the Elephant House and the iconic Conference Centre standing.
MG UK was also notable for its absence – the first time the brand has had no official presence at Pride of Longbridge – and the company’s branding has disappeared from the former factory’s gates. However, at least Summit Garage (Dudley) Limited had a presence at Cofton Park, bringing along its Maestro delivery van to add a little class to the proceedings.
Rover Tomcat fan Mert Özgün was probably the hero of the show. He and his son took six days to drive the 2300 miles from Ankara in Turkey to display their Rover Tomcat Turbo (above) at the event. The car had just 36,000km on the clock and came with an impressively-engineered twin-axle trailer with matching Tomcat body attached to it. Great work!
Gemma Cartwright said afterwards: ‘Thank you to the POL volunteers for today – they are a fantastic group, who worked well together. It was an amazing feeling seeing the cars starting at the top of the gates then the wonderful river of Longbridge cars literally entering the park. Thank you to all those who attended and travelled to support POL in recognition of the great cars we made and the collapse of MG Rover.’
Enjoy the gallery!
Photography: Stephen Wright and Nicolas Roughol