ACI National 45th Anniversary Event 2018

After lots of planning and preparation the 20th May was soon upon us, and it was time to head for the British Motor Museum to celebrate the Allegro’s 45th birthday. The museum at Gaydon was the chosen venue for this year’s National Rally not only because of its central and easily accessible location but because it’s also been the choice for various other birthday events including Allegro 21, 30 and 40, so it was nice to carry on the tradition.

Gladys was packed up with trophies, welcome packs, birthday cakes and, of course, cleaning supplies and headed for Gaydon before most people were even awake, so I could get set up before the droves of Allegros starting arriving. Upon reaching Gaydon I was met by early bird Dave West who was busy preparing his VP 1.7 on the large grass area the museum had given us for our display.

It didn’t take long for Allegros to start arriving, and by midday we totalled 31 Allegros plus eight visiting classics all from the BL/Austin Rover stable, including a Marina, Maxi, Mini and MGF plus two Maestros and two Rover 200/400s. Among the Allegros there were some rare and interesting vehicles including an aconite 1300 Super, a turquoise 1.5HLS, a series one estate and not one but two Equipes! Also, after a complete absence of series 3s at last year’s event 11 turned up this year, making for a very attractive display of late 70s/early 80s colour schemes!!

For many members the rally provided an opportunity to explore the newly-refurbished museum and recently opened Collections Centre, and everyone seemed very impressed. Outside the gift shop the museum Archivist, Gillian Bardsley, had created a cabinet of Allegro items which included Colin Corke’s wonderful Allegro launch wallpaper, as featured in Quartic 116. 

With so many wonderful Allegros on display it wasn’t an easy task choosing the cars in the various judging categories, and some people even came back a couple of times to change their minds!

Sadly at the end of last year we lost long standing member Don Bridle. Don was always an avid supporter of club events, and so it was decided to have an award in his memory. Don’s son Gary (who is also a club member) came along to the show with Mervyn Irvine and chose the car he thought his dad would like the most, and Teresa Vincent was delighted that SWK 701W, her prized oyster metallic series 3 1.3HLS, was the first recipient of the award. It was also wonderful that the new owner of Don’s treasured Tara Green LE, John Kingsford, was able to bring the car to the show and also joined the club on the day.

Harris Mann once again joined us and kindly chose the Allegro he liked the most. This year Tricia and Vernon Foster were very proud that he chose their series 2 estate affectionately known as ‘Russet’. Harris thought it was a lovely example of an Allegro, and was also impressed that Tricia and Vernon have owned Russet from new. I don’t think anyone else at the rally could claim to have owned their Allegro from new? 

We were also very pleased that Harris Mann, who celebrated his 80th birthday a couple of weeks before the show, gladly accepted the club’s invitation to be our President in recognition of his contribution to designing our favourite car. He was presented with a few Club goodies to mark the occasion, and also cut the 45th birthday cake.  

All too soon a very enjoyable day drew to a close. Whilst I can organise a number of things I can’t control the weather, but once again the sun shone on us all day. Let’s hope the wonderful weather continues through the rest of the season. Many thanks to all members who came along on the day and especially those with long journeys. Hats off to Roger and Cheryl Reeves, who came all the way from the Netherlands! I look forward to seeing you all during the rest of the year – safe motoring. 

Tom Morley