The Octagon in England

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Extract from November/December's NAMGBR publication - MGB Driver
Written by Marcham Rhoade

The Octagon in England 1996

Pub sign In our last issue we bemoaned the fact that there was very little for the MG aficionado to see in Abingdon unless one knew where to look. However, that is not the case elsewhere in the UK for wherever one turns something of MG interest is happening especially early in the when England is usually seen at its best!

Earlier this year we were able to visit the National Classic Car Show at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) where many MGs and associated products were on display. However, this was only after paying what I considered an exorbitant entry fee to get in ($15), park the car ($6) and get a program consisting mainly of adverts ($5). So we were in the hole for nearly twenty bucks per person by the time we got in the cavernous halls! How a family of four can afford it I just don't know!

Anyway back to the opened by Nigel Mansell! Pride of place from our perspective had to be the Heritage stand where teams attempted to rebuild a bodyshell MGB (Historic Rally version) versus a TR8 over the weekend under the title of The Big Live! Lots of good fun and the stand was a continual draw for visitors wanting to see how it was done! There was also some friendly rivalry (and not a little skullduggery!) between the two hard-working teams. The result was announced as a dead heat but the MGB team had to be held back or they would have beaten the Triumph lot by hours!

Also on the Heritage stand were two of the MGF Heritage Specials which are built at Longbridge to a customer's specification, and then are completed by Heritage at Gaydon. Both cars carried a new hardtop available in Old English White similar to the color of the hardtops used on Abingdon Works MGs! Heritage then adds a new interior trim comprising leather upholstery with an MG motif and additional chrome interior appointments. The hardtop comes for a cool thousand bucks while the interior trim costs another $700!

Many other MGFs and variants were also on display while the three main MG clubs all had the usual comprehensive stands selling MG regalia and memorabilia. On the MG Owners' Club stand was the club's MGF and MGB GT V8 plus a racing TD, while the MG Car Club showed an MG Metro Turbo, a supercharged TB and one of the original PA Cream Crackers. The pre-1955 based Octagon Club had a pair of T-series MGs on display.

In the giant autojumble, business seemed to be quieter than normal, in fact my humble opinion is that the character of this show has changed since it was first inaugurated. There seemed to be far too few clubs showing, and far too many auto dealers offering cars at vastly inflated prices. An acquaintance remarked that the NEC looked like a giant dealers lot, and I had to agree! However if you've never been to one of England's giant classic car shows then, by all means, build it into your program. Allow plenty of time for your the club stands were at least 500 yards away from the Heritage stand!

The 1996 MG Regency Brighton to London!

Each May, a sight worth seeing for the past twelve years, has been the long line of MGs snaking their way from London to Brighton for the annual MG Regency Run. This year, 1996, the organizers decided to run the event in the reverse direction. From a start on Madeira Drive, by the sea in Brighton, to a finish at the home of many MG record southwest of London.

MGBs on the Brroklands bankings Over 400 MGs took part in the 1996 run making their way through the beautiful Surrey countryside before their early afternoon arrival at Brooklands where a giant MG party soon got underway! Many rare, older MGs were to be seen but our attention was drawn to the moderns where apart from the usual torrent of B's, Midgets and V8s we were delighted to see several RV8s and MGFs which had been accepted on the run.

MGs of every type eventually lined the famous Byfleet Railway banking where in the Thirties crowds thrilled to the close wheel to wheel action of early MG Midgets and where MG finally dominated racing and record breaking. In the famous Brooklands clubhouse photographs, posters and models recaptured the excitement of that great era. Of course afternoon tea was served and the other side of Brooklands, as a focal point of the British aircraft industry, attracted many visitors to the vintage aircraft display. All in all an event not to be missed if you ever visit England during May!

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