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It has become a tradition for our Autumn Gathering to be held in Kent - not without good reason as this country is known as ‘The Garden of England’ and the area abounds with attractive villages and imposing stately homes. One of the most appealing of these is Penshurst Place and Gardens, which was chosen again this year as the venue for one of the most popular meetings in our calendar, with attendance in excess of 700 people and around 400 cars. We were delighted to welcome the MGB Register, who joined us for their 1998 National Meeting and which ensured a large attendance of MGB owners, whose line up of cars made a truly splendid sight. One rarity here was the Aston-Martin MGB prototype. To complement this, interesting displays were also organised with a variety of cars from other Registers.
To cater for those who like travelling in MG convoys, three road runs were
arranged - from Farningham in Kent, Godstone in Surrey and Cuckfield in West
Sussex, culminating at Penshurst Place. Following some simple directions,
the tours took entrants along some pretty country lanes. The main attraction
for locals was to spot just how many people managed to lose themselves in
the maze of minor roads that crisscross this part of the country and for
entrants, the sight of MGs travelling in the opposite direction will always
cast some doubt on the skills of the navigators! The sun soon broke through
the early morning mist, paving the way for a glorious day, and restored
harmony in one or two cockpits!
The Gathering was again organised so that there should have been some activity for everyone. It included a judged Concours, self judged Pride of Ownership, Gymkhana, Adult Treasure Hunt - which toured the wonderful gardens and Toy Museum, Children’s Activities - with no charge and prizes for all entrants, Trade Stand displays, Other Marques section, Club display and of course, the lovely venue of Penshurst Place and Gardens. The standards in the Concours and Pride of Ownership were exceptionally high and those cars in the Premier Concours Class were displayed in front of the marquee, where they attracted a stream of admirers all day. One viewer was heard to remark that their engine compartments were so clean that they must have arrived on trailers - he is still trying to escape the wrath of the proud owners! There were quite a number of RV8s and MGFs at the event and it was pleasing to see some of the owners of these modern MGs entering into the Pride of Ownership class, which will maybe encourage a few more to do so in future years.
The Gymkhana competition incorporated six tests, which assesed a contestant’s driving skill and the agility of the passenger. Some cars are more easily manoeuvred around cones than others, but many drivers were surprised to find just how difficult it is to judge how far their car would coast in neutral or how close they were parked to an imaginary kerb. A few more trips in the MG to the supermarket car park may be called for!
At the end of the afternoon, June and Bill Wallis - MG Car Club President - presented the awards in front of the marquee, with a parade of the winners’ cars from the Concours and Pride of Ownership. Car of the Show was deservedly won by Paul Garett, in his 1964 MGB, which has previously won first in class at Silverstone and Duxford.
Aston Martin Prototype
In 1999, the Autumn Gathering is moving on to another delightful setting in Kent - Groombridge Place Gardens, near Tunbridge Wells - the venue is enchanting, so if you missed the splendid show this year, make a note in your diary now - Sunday 19th September 1999!
Jenny Morgan, Event Organiser - 0181-657-2714
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