This year marked the 7th anniversary of the demise of MG Rover Group in Longbridge, Birmingham. The last mass produced British car maker. For many this was an end of an era, none more so than for the workers. The whole area surrounding Longbridge was affected by the demise of MG Rover, families were broken up, ex workers became heavy drinkers and some even took their life. It played a massive part of the local economy; it left around 6500 workers jobless in an already difficult economy.
Now though, Longbridge is looking up, MG Motor UK are housed there, they design and engineer the cars in the UK. Currently MG Motor only sell one car in the UK at the moment, the MG6, it hasn’t been all that well received due to a one engine option and the interior quality is not yet to the quality of other mainstream manufactures (that really isn’t as bad as some say).
MG Motor has started to see better output, they have reduced the engine emissions, thus reducing road tax costs and the entrance of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) has helped market the MG6 better. The racing car is called the MG KX Momentum, driven by highly regarded racing driver and television presenter Jason Plato and racing driver Andy Neate.
This was my second year at Pride of Longbridge and it was even larger than the previous year, with an estimated 1100 cars attended compared to 880 cars of 2011. It is a very special event, as a massive MG Rover fan. The whole sense of being around the factory where your car was built is amazing; especially sharing it with other like minded friends makes it something you don’t get in today’s mad society. It is the coming together of 100 years of automotive history, some good and some bad.
The event was one of the largest turn outs for the Metro/Rover 100 Series, their aim was to break a world record attempt for the largest ever Metro/100 convoy in the world. As well as the Metro/100 being a huge hit on the day, the Rover 75 and MG ZT owners club were another large organisation that dominated the park.
One of the smaller turn outs at the event were the Rover 800 Series, a very elegant machine (especially in Coupe form) which I believe has matured very well over the years.
An immaculate kept Rover 820Si
A highlight of the Rover 800s was this immaculate Mark1 820Si, the detail the owner had gone to is truly outstanding, for example, each of the bolts in the engine bay have been painted. There was barely a stone chip on the paint work. A true delight.
This year also saw a greatly increased number of Rover 400/45 and MG ZS models. Generally the unloved car of the Longbridge based group, it was very moving to actually see these cars parked together and everyone having a good look around them. The most popular being the ZS variants due to their menacing looks and hugely regarded front wheel drive chassis. I own a 45 myself and it is my aim to make them more prominent. So keep your eyes open next year for something bigger and better.
The future of the HHR model is looking bright
Many conceive MG Rover cars to be bad, due to the 25/ZR & 45/ZS being dated designs, the reputation of the K series head gasket issues. But all those who hate and laugh at the brand, come to an event like this and your opinion will change massively. You will see rare and sought after models, and for one you will see how loved the brand is.
The event held at Cofton Park was organised by the Rover Community Action Trust (RCAT) and the Austin Longbridge Federation (ALF). Many thanks have to go to Gemma Cartwright MBE, the event’s organiser, her work has made this very special day possible and she has worked hard to get justice for Rover workers.
We at Retro and Classic Cars hope to see you there next year!