Great news today that the Heritage Motor Centre is to be extended with a new building that’s been part-funded by the National Lottery, Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust and The Garfield Weston Foundation – this secures a brighter future for what is the closest thing we have to a motoring archive for Rover and its many antecedents. However, it’s interesting that the press release didn’t make more of the really significant news that we will now have a home for the reserve collection – the cars we know BMIHT has, but which are kept behind closed doors. But either way, it means that more of the treasures which many people only know through this website will finally be publicly viewable.
Additionally, the fact that this is a joint venture between BMIHT and Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, means that we’ll be seeing the two collections being brought closer together – as they really should be – which can only be good news. Actually, this has brightened up my day, because after returning from the Techno-Classica, I was beginning to feel that our heritage was looking increasingly under-represented at this most important of European shows. After all, when Mercedes-Benz spends tens of millions to get a small chunk of its multi-million pound collection to the show and then builds a bespoke display for them, you’ll see where I am coming from.
We had representation at Techno-Classica, of course. Jaguar Heritage occupied a substantial stand and showed off some of its most important cars, but – and this is a big but – where was Land Rover? After all, isn’t the parent company now called Jaguar Land Rover? Given that Land Rover both has an official collection of its own, as well as the Dunsfold Collection close to hand, it feels like the two marques should come closer together and stand shoulder to shoulder. Who here would love to see Jaguar Heritage become Jaguar Land Rover Heritage? I know I would.
Beyond that, as my long-time friend, AROnline Deputy Editor and BMC-loving petrolhead, Alexander Boucke said after our trip to Techno-Classica together, ‘I know they technically own Rover. Could JLR embrace Rover at such a show? I assume most former Rover drivers on the continent are now JLR drivers…’
Alexander has a good point. I suspect that many management types at JLR would hate to hear this, but the company – which is currently enjoying great success – could do worse than to step forward and become the official custodian of the all of the companies from its family tree over the years. Perhaps that’s what’s happening already with the emergence of the joint building at Gaydon. Just imagine, though, if we enjoyed such joined-up thinking next year at Techno-Classica, or perhaps ever this year at the NEC Classic Motor Show… There’d be a Heritage motor show stand where we could see a line-up that included something like a 1970 Velar, Royal Rover P5B and Jaguar XJ Series 1 – hardly off-message, is it?
Please tell me this is the future for British Motor Heritage – if that’s the case, I really can’t wait!
And if not, why not?