Post date: 20-Jun-2017 12:43:19
Saturday June 17th.
The Cambridge-Oxford Owners Club achieved what many had thought impossible by gathering one example of each Pre-Farina Austin Cambridge and Westminster 'Project GS5' based vehicles at their unique celebration of the models at Longbridge on Saturday June 17th.
With 21 Pre-Farinas in attendance, including an ultra rare A105 Vanden Plas, an A95 Countryman, and all three types of commercial (van, pick-up and SunTor camper), the club believe it to be the biggest gathering of these cars for many years, and certainly the biggest at the factory in which they were designed and developed since they were in production.With the long-term future of Longbridge in doubt The COOC worked with Gemma Cartwright's Pride of Longbridge team to organise the event. Club Chairman Taff Gillingham explains, "We were keen to organise an event at the spiritual home of these cars while it's still possible, and through COOC committee member John Lakey, who lives in Birmingham, were able to work with the POL team to make this a community event and gain support from MG Motor to assemble the GS5 cars around the iconic factory Exhibition Hall where so many original press photographs were taken. In fact many club members were amazed and delighted to find that the room in which we had our buffet lunch and showed period GS5 Pre-Farina-themed films that have been preserved and restored by BMIHT was the very room in which the Mini had been launched".
The club invited former workers from the factory to mingle with members and explain how the cars were made, and two apprentices who started at the plant when the cars were still being produced, Les Gammon (who arrived his restored Austin 7) and John Baker, presented the awards and cut the celebratory cake.
With over 50 club cars and other classics (including a 1938 Austin 12 New Ascot) in attendance there was an enthusiastic audience for Longbridge historian, and former Austin Apprentice Tony Osborne's amusing tour and talk on Lord Austin's office, which is preserved in the Exhibition Hall, that he had to do three performances. Tony also ended the day's events with a fascinating illustrated talk about the history of the Longbridge factory, proving it was surely the most diverse of the UK's car plants.