Pride of Longbridge – April 2012

The first “Pride of Longbridge” took place in April 2006, exactly one year after the collapse of the former MG-Rover Company, in Cofton Park, which is a large area of green space right next door to “the Austin”, site of the old Longbridge manufacturing plant. The organisers were pleasantly surprised by just how many cars with some linkage to the now extant Company turned up. It’s been repeated every year since, and follows a particularly simple format: got a car that has some connection to Austin, BMC, Austin-Morris, Leyland, any of the companies that were subsumed in this once giant sized automotive manufacturer, then you just turn up and follow the directions of the marshals. Apart from a few ice cream and burger vans, all that there is of interest are the cars and the vast parkland. Such is the affection for the cars, clearly, that this is enough as the event has got bigger and bigger every year and the 2012 event which I attended was populated by a vast number of cars. It was like an illustrated history lesson, with examples of just about every model ever produced certainly by Austin and many of the other companies in the BL Group. Once upon a time, the cars depicted in this report were those which dominated our roads, now even those which sold literally in their million are a rare sighting.




Austin’s family car from 1952 to 1954 was this, the large bodied and rather under-engined A40 Somerset. There was a 6 cylinder version, the A70 Hereford, too, and there was one of these parked up close by (no picture, annoyingly) which made it easy to see the extra length in front of the scuttle, needed to accommodate the larger engine.


Entry level model in the Austin range from 1952, and a direct competitor to the Morris Minor, were the A30 and later A35 cars. Several saloon models were joined by a couple of the Vans. These latter had a much longer production life, but relatively few have survived as they tend to be worked hard.


This was the first BMC car to have styling by the Italian Pininfarina, and in Countryman form is also widely credited with being one of the first hatchbacks.



This was the luxury 6 cylinder version of the more prosaic Cambridge model, and these cars featured a higher standard of trim along with more fittings as well as the bigger engine. I have to say that when one of them set off, the noise that came from the car was really rather pleasant – a refined sort of rumble that you only get form a 6 cylinder car. These were among my favourite period pieces of the day.


There were a couple of these very brightly coloured cars that were primarily intended for the US market, where they were sold as a Nash. Performance was limited even after the upgrade to the larger B Series engine, but they had a certain appeal.


There were 2 distinct iterations of the Farina designed saloons. The first appeared in 1959, and sported the fashionable rear tail fins on a body which looked rather similar to that on the Peugeot 404 and Fiat 1800/2100. In 1962 a revised version appeared which removed the fins, tidied up the styling and had mechanical changes which included a larger 1622cc engine. The car was available as an Austin Cambridge (A55 and A60), Morris Oxford (Series V and VI), Wolseley 15/60 and 16/60, MG Magnette and Riley 4/68 and 4/72, with the Austin and Morris versions also available in estate format. As the Morris models were made at Cowley, it is fitting that most of those on display at this event were Cambridges, though there were a couple of Wolseley as well.



Although the genuine early Cooper models are the most valuable Mini, by some margin, there is a lot of interest in the very early saloon cars, and there were several of these, dating from the time when they were badged Austin Se7en and Mini Minor, with at least one example from each of 1959, 1960 and 1961.

This Mini has apparently lived in the same street all its life. The first owners used it sparingly for over 30 years, before giving up driving when its current owner was able to buy it. It has still done less than 30,000 miles and is in both original and excellent condition

The Van and Pickup models are now the rarest of the Mini derivatives, but there were examples of both at this event.

There were relatively few “regular” models from the late 1960s onwards, and only a couple of Clubmans (no Estates) and no 1275 GTs.

These 1100 Specials were the first limited edition car, produced in 1979 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the car. Available in the two metallic colours presented here, they combined the 1100cc engine from the Clubman with the original body shape.

From the 1980s until the end of production, a vast array of limited edition cars were produced and representatives of many of them were on show, ranging from the Mini 25 produced in 1984 to celebrate the 25th anniversary, the Italian Job cars in honour of the car’s starring role in the film, to the Surf and several Cooper cars from the time before the model was focused on the Cooper versions.

There was even an ERA Mini, that very powerful and spectacularly unreliable model produced in small quantities in 1989/1990.


Britain’s best seller from the 1960s until it was usurped by the Cortina in 1972, most of these cars rusted away long ago. Available in Austin, Morris, MG, Wolseley, Vanden Plas and Riley versions, they sold in their million. The MGs were popular as a sports saloon and there were a couple of these present, including one of the last ones built, as well as its replacement the 1300GT and the more prosaic 1100 and 1300 saloon cars.


Never achieving the level of success of the smaller Issigonis cars, the Land Crab has its followers today. There were examples of the Series 2 and Series 3 cars at the event, with the latter represented by the luxury Wolseley Six model.


There were only three Maxi on show, one of which was a late model Maxi 2.


Much to many people’s surprise, the Allegro achieved a certain cult status a long time ago, and one of the real enthusiast for the car is a friend of mine, Rev Colin Corke. He has owned this 1100DL model, one of the very first produced for 18 years now. It has featured in many magazine articles over the years.

There were several other Allegros, including a couple of the rare Estate cars and several Vanden Plas models. They were presented in a series of very period colours: Harvest Gold, Sandglow, Vermillion, Russet Brown, Denim Blue and Applejack. Would anyone buy a car in these shades if they were offered these days, I wonder?


Although there were a couple of these, there do not seem be any pictures


Just 2 of this short lived large hatchback on show.


Although the Metro and Rover 100 have not perhaps the best reputation these days, you would never have guessed that from the vast number of these cars on show, and the enthusiasm of their owners, who ranged from a number of keen youngsters, many of whom had clearly modified their cars, to those which had been in the family for some considerable time.

This City Special was proudly displayed with a notice outlining all the items of specification which were omitted to help reduce the price. Hair Shirt Spec sounded a bit generous, though it did at least have cloth seats. It is believed that this is the sole survivor of such a basic car.

This is an early example of the Automatic, a car which initially was a separate model derivative in its own right. Now 31 years old, it has still not quite covered 3000 miles. It is one of a fleet of cars owned by my friend the Rev Colin Corke, who lives very locally (he is the vicar of Longbridge), so he was only putting on a few miles by bringing it to the show.

Colin also owns an immaculate MG Metro, and the told me that he had spent £300 last year and added a K Series 1.1C model to his collection last year.

There were a couple of other MG models, from late in the production life when the graphics had changed.

A number of other Austin models arrived, ranging from the early and basic cars to the plusher Mayfair and GS cars of the late 1980s.. There was also an example of the limited edition Advantage.

Plenty of the K Series models, few of which appeared totally original

The Cabrio was a rare beast, but of course one of these arrived, too.


It’s not just the MG versions of the Maestro which retain some affection, as there were several of these cars ranging from an early 1.6L through to late model City and Clubman cars, along with a couple of Vans. There several MGs, mostly the 2.0i models, but there was one of the earlier R Series engined 1600 cars and there were three of the very rapid Turbo cars.

There were also a number of Montegos on show, which awakened more than a few memories for me, as my first two cars were 1.6L models from 1987 and 1990. Those present here ranged from a 1.6HL and Mayfair model from early in the production life, through a facelift 2.0 GSi in the rather unfortunate Oyster Beige colour, and a late model 1.6 LX. There were also a couple of MG cars.

There was just one Montego Estate at the event – a late model Diesel car. The owner said be bought it for peanuts (I think he said £150) because it had a “seized engine” which turned out to be nothing more than a blown head gasket. He is enjoying this much underrated car as his daily driver.




This was Morris’ large car offering in the late 1940s.

The replacement for the Six was this, the MO Series Oxford, a car with very clear styling linkage to the smaller Minor.


Although this is a product from Cowley and a direct rival to the cars which Austin were producing in the 1950s, the ever popular Minor was well represented at the event, with saloon and Traveller models on show, including one recreated in Police Panda livery.


Derided by most, but loved by a few, there were a small number of Marina and Itals at the event, though slightly surprisingly, none of the versatile Estate models.

>One of the rarest cars of the day was this, the Mumford Convertible conversion of the Morris Marina, About 80 of these cars were produced in 1974, and it is believed that this car is just about the only survivor. It was seen earlier in the year at the Brooklands Austin-Morris Day (which I was unable to attend), and was the star attraction.


TD and TF


This is the 50th anniversary of the MGB, and we are going to see lots of these cars at events throughout the year, for sure. Only a few attended this one, though.


A lone example of this 1990s car.

MGF and TF

There were large numbers of the popular mid-engined MG, of course, with plenty of Fs, the later TF and even quite a few of the Chinese model TF LE1500 cars.


Just one of these, but it was certainly capturing a lot of attention.


You could see a row of freshly built MG6s in the background, as the Cofton Park venue adjoins what remains of the Longbridge plant, and there was a manufacturer presence associated with the display of these cars, but there were several privately owned MG6 Hatch and the Magnette saloon cars.




Someone commented that this used to be thought of as a large car, but looking at it now, it really does not seem so. I guess that they are right, but the person who aspired to one of these in the 1960s and 1970s probably now has their sights set on a 5 series BMW.


There were quite a few SD1s, including one former police 2600 model. All the other cars were V8 powered, with a mixture of the pre- and post-facelift models. The earliest one had either had a very cosetted existence or a thorough restoration. It was in excellent condition.


Initially there were just two of the XX cars, the joint venture with Honda that produced the Legend and the first 800, and then later in the day a top spec Sterling model arrived.

There were more of the facelifted R16/R17 cars including several 800 Coupes and a long wheelbase car.


Just one of these, an early 216S.

200 and 400 R8

Attracting a lot of attention was this, a very early 214 SLi with less than 15,000 miles on the clock. These cars were once a common sight, though this is one of the rarer colours.

There were lots of other R8 models, with three and five door 200 hatchbacks the Coupe and Cabrio as well as 400s in Saloon and Tourer, though surprisingly the only Saloons were the top of the range 420s, with no examples of the regular 414/416 like I had, erm 20 years ago.

200/25 and ZR

There was a long line of the BRM models at one end of the event area. These cars were all finished in British Racing Green and are easily identified by the orange moulding around the lower grille area

400 and ZS

75, ZT and ZT-T

Numerically there were far more of these cars than any other, which is perhaps not surprising, as the 75 and ZT are still relatively young, and with very high levels of owner satisfaction reported by the likes of JD Power when the cars were newer, they clear retain their popularity. There was a good mix of saloon and estate bodies, and Rover and MG versions, with plenty of the facelifted cars as well as the earlier ones. The ZT260 was particularly well represented, and there were even a few of the very rare Rover V8 models.

A lone example of the last all new model to wear Rover badges, the much derided CityRover.





The last car to wear the Triumph badge was this, the Honda Ballade based Acclaim. These cars rarely appear event at classic car events, but today there were three on show. One was heavily modified, and a second one seemed to avoid my camera, but I did at least capture this one.



This was a posher version of the Morris Six.





This wooden device was designed by Sir William Towns (responsible for the Aston-Martin Lagonda among other things), and was based on the chassis of the ADO16 Austin/Morris 1300, though this one had the later E Series 1750 engine.

This was an excellent event. Free to attend, and with a vast array of cars, most of which you rarely see, it was a great wallow in nostalgia. Whilst not particularly warm, the rain stayed away, which was a further bonus.

2012-04-15 08:56:24

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