This year’s annual NEC Lancaster Classic Motor Show, with Discovery, was the biggest yet for the organisers in terms of attendance, with 71,216 enthusiasts filling the six halls packed with a record 3000 vintage and classic cars from 300 motoring clubs. The 9-11 November show used a ‘built to last’ theme which was presented in numerous interpretations, it saw unrestored ‘barn finds’ to concours gleaming examples on display.
This year’s Rover 200&400 Owners club stand, had four generations of these cars, ranging from my rare surviving Mk1 213 SE Auto, Craig Cheetham’s Mk2 216 Gsi with 183,000 miles – covered mainly for journeys to and from Greece, Simon Scott’s former ‘Dunlop 216 GTI challenge’ Mk2 race car, to Tony Baker’s example of the final variant of the 200 (and Rover’s final car launch) Rover Streetwise TD.
The highlight for me, was my first time being an exhibitor, and not just a visitor or journalist. I had been invited by the club, to display my 80,000 mile, 1988 Rover 213 SE Automatic. The Mk1 (SD3) generation was Britain’s 9th best selling car in all of 1988. Today there are believed to be only around 50 examples of the Honda engined 213s left.
I had been keen for my 200 of the ‘forgotten’ Mk1 generation to be given its chance to shine, on display in front of all 71,216 visitors. So on a wet Thursday 8th November I took it to work, and during my lunch break over to the nearby NEC. I realise not many exhibitors benefit living that close to the venue, but it was an added bonus for me which meant I didn’t have to book any time off work! I arrived at the familiar venue to then find myself getting lost trying to navigate the site to the correct entrance for the exhibitors, I hope someone has suggested to the venue, they should signpost where exhibitors to go, and perhaps have more staff directing everyone, rather than two men in reflective coats standing in the middle of a car park with a walkie talkie! It was amusing as I watched several classic owners like myself driving from all directions and entering/leaving car parks, just trying to find the entrance to the rear of the venue! For any future exhibitors – arriving at the NEC, follow the signs towards the south car parks, take a right at the mini roundabout, which you then take the first left on the service road opposite the entrance to Resorts World and you’ll go round to the back of the venue.
Membership Club Secretary, Jeremy Howson said ‘The three generations of our cars on the stand demonstrated the breath of the range now covered by the club from the original Rover 213 to one of the last Rover Streetwise models. These were supplemented by an original Rover 216 GTi Dunlop Challenge race car, demonstrating the racing heritage of our cars. Next year the Rover 200&400 OC celebrates two significant anniversaries, 35 years since the original Rover 213 & 216 (SD3) were launched and 30 years since it’s replacement, the Rover 214 & 216 (R8) were launched. These milestones will be followed by the 25th anniversary anniversaries of both the later 400 (HH/R) and 200 (R3) models in 2020. The club has seen an increase in membership, we had around 69 members three years ago, now we have around 265, and now we are helping preserve all three generations.’
Having my car on show was a proud experience and it was boosted by being an exhibitor, and interacting with all kinds of enthusiasts across the weekend. On the stand, conversations ranged from those asking how I managed to find a surviving Mk1 200 and about keeping her on the road, to the usual ‘my Dad had one of those’ conversations. The fact all three generations at the NEC Classic Motor Show were in working order, just demonstrate with the right kind of care and attention, these cars actually really were built to last!
I would like to end with a few words of thanks; to those who brought their cars along, those who volunteered to be on the stand without a car and promote the club, also to club members who came along to say hello and especially to the chairman and secretaries who gave up their time to organise and make all this happen. I think we can all agree it was a successful three days and we contributed much towards broadening knowledge and appeal of our club’s existence.
Thanks for reading,