MG Rover’s historic Longbridge plant on the outskirts of Birmingham will celebrate its centenary during the weekend starting Friday July 8, 2005 with what is expected to be the largest ever gathering of motor vehicles built there.
The cars will assemble at Cofton Park, opposite the factory, in an event staged to mark the founding of the Austin Motor Company and 100 years of continuous motor vehicle production at the Longbridge factory, still sometimes referred to locally as “The Austin”.
The event is being organised by the Federation of Austin Clubs, Registers and Associations in conjunction with an exhibition company. Phoenix Venture Holdings (owner of today’s MG Rover Group, Powertrain Ltd, MG Sport & Racing, XPart Ltd) will support the event, together with a classic car insurer.
The event will commence on Friday 8th with a celebratory dinner at the Chateau Impney, Droitwich, while, on the Saturday and Sunday, Austin and Longbridge-built vehicles will assemble from all over the UK and further afield, for what is expected to be the greatest UK factory gathering.
Birmingham City Council has approved a parade of 100 Austin and Longbridge-built vehicles spanning 100 years, from the earliest known surviving examples right up to the latest MG and Rover products, to drive in a procession from the heart of Birmingham, via the factory site and onto Cofton Park where they will remain on view as part of a display for the public.
It is planned to have the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Avro Lancaster Bomber PA474, the ‘City of Lincoln’ fly over the event during the course of the weekend to represent the time when, during the Second World War, Longbridge focused on military vehicle, armament, munitions and aircraft production (including Stirling and Lancaster bombers).
At the Park, visitors will be able to see many examples of Austin vehicles assembled by the 22 clubs affiliated to the Federation. These will include stately Sheerline limousines, diminutive Austin Sevens and Minis, taxicabs, military vehicles, Devons, Cambridges, 1100s, 1800s, Maxis, Allegros, Montegos, sporty Austin Healeys, Princesses with their distinctive wedge front and even a replica Austin Whippet bi-plane from the 1920s.
The number of Austin vehicles participating in this strictly ‘one-off’ event will be in the thousands.
“This will be a once in a life time opportunity to view as many products from the Longbridge factory as are ever likely to be assembled together in one place,” and MG Rover spokesman said.
There will be a number of supporting events including a vintage automotive parts market and other proposed events include a tour of the nearby Austin Village and Austin related sites, along with tours of the current Longbridge production facility.