Car Show Photo Report: Lytham Hall, May 2023 – Part 1 – Buy British Leyland – There’s Something For Everyone!

The classic car show and gathering season is now upon us and getting into full swing. Over here, we seen to have gone from a long drawn out spring (was Easter really 10 weeks ago?) to mid summer. Hot off the tram from Blackpool to Fleetwood, we took the Alfa Romeo Spider to its northern England car show inauguration, in the small seaside town and old fishing village of Lytham, just south of Blackpool. The show itself was at Lytham Hall, as fine a piece of 18th century Georgian architecture as you’ll find.

And the Spider had some good company for a day basking in the sun. Let’s take a walk around, in no particular order but starting with the cars of British Leyland, its ancestors and descendants, to see some of the highlights and of my personal picks.

As should be the case at any proper British car show, we were offered a selection of Morris Minors, arguably Britain’s favourite and most frequently recognised classic, nostalgia or “happy memories” car.

This is a 1957 Minor 1000 Tourer, and I suspect a rather good picnic.

Also available as a saloon – this is a 1967 Minor 1100 saloon.

And a 1970 Minor Traveller, with the structural ash wood framing.

Next up the Morris family tree was the Oxford, a name dating back to 1912. This is a 1967 car, with the 1.6 litre B series engine and Farina styling.

It was twinned with the Austin Cambridge, and also with MG, Riley and Wolseley versions. Once a common sight, now restricted to shows but with a strong and loyal following.

In any logical world, like the one Ford Motor Co lived in for example, the then 14 year old Minor would have been replaced by the BMC ADO16. This is a 1971 Vanden Plas Princess 1300, the grandest version of all.

ADO16s are relatively rare on the classic circuit; examples seem to be disproportionally from the smarter brands, Vanden Plas, Wolseley, MG and Riley. Duotone Minors are a rarity and “aftermarket”.

This is a 1966 MG 1100, looking great in duotone green over cream, as used in a lot of the early marketing for this variant.

And with an interestingly placed radio aerial on the bumper plinth. Extra points for the accessory shop  stick-on heated rear window.

Was the Austin Allegro the spiritual successor to the ADO16 and the Morris Minor? Maybe, to some in the management hierarchy of British Leyland, but not to the British public.

This is a 1976 Series 2 car, with the 1275cc engine and four speed gearbox in the sump.

Of course, there were some Minis. This is a 1967 Austin Mini 1000.

Cross a Mini with an Allegro and you get an Austin Metro, sort of. This is a 1988 MG Metro Turbo, with the famous (and then 40 year old) 1275cc A series engine. White wiper arms are an aftermarket addition, but the rest of the white is factory. It was the 1980s.

The Metro’s larger contemporary, the Austin Maestro, is another car not yet well represented on the classic scene. Blame the scrappage schemes of the noughties, I suspect.

This is 1983 MG Maestro 1600 – the earliest version of the BL’s take on the VW Golf defined hot hatchback, complete with electronic instruments and voice synthesiser. And a nice example too.

Or perhaps you prefer a classic MG B roadster – this is a 1969 example.

From 1981, BL were building Hondas under licence. This is the first one – the 1981-84 Triumph Acclaim, aka the Honda Ballade. Another rare sighting – rust has claimed many.

The Acclaim replaced the last of the old Triumph saloons, the Dolomite, built out of the front wheel drive 1965 1300 saloon but with rear wheel drive and a revised longer bodyshell.

This is the top of the range Sprint, with the 16V single overhead camshaft four cylinder engine co-developed with Ricardo and of which a version was also used by SAAB in the 99. At launch in 1972, the Sprint could perhaps stand comparison with a BMW 1602/2002 or the Alfa Romeo Alfetta; unlike them, the Triumph had no significant development in the next eight years, beyond adding an overdrive to the four speed gearbox.

The orange car alongside is an MG TF LE500, a revived version of the 1994-2002 MG F and 2002-2005 TF, assembled at Longbridge by SIAC, MG’s then new Chinese owners, from kits shipped from China.

Dolomite was a name with a history with Triumph – this is a 1938 Dolomite saloon, with a 1767cc 65bhp four cylinder engine. The design of the car was led by Donald Healey.

Grille of the day? Easily!

A car beginning to appear, albeit in small numbers, on the classic circuit is the Rover 800 (Sterling 825 in the US). This is a series 2 car, with a more rounded style and an interpretation of the traditional Rover grille, which was not exported to North America.

This is a 1994 car, with the 2.7 litre Honda V6 engine, sold as the Rover 827.

Two others Rovers of interest – a Rover 216, developed with Honda and in this case fitted with the Rover K series engine. This was arguably BL’s last commercially successful volume product, with sales still increasing when it was replaced by a more expensive and slower selling product, the 1995 Rover 400 (HH-R) twinned with the Honda Domani.

The Rover 75 was BMW’s first, and as it turned out last, Rover. There’s a proud and growing network of 75 fans, seeing it as a best of both worlds car – German engineering with Rover (or a particular form of British) style.

One more unusual but appealing Rover was the Coupe of the 214/216 hatch, known to some as the Tomcat. This is a 1.6 litre 216 version, dating from 1994 as you can tell from the colour. Pop out Targa panels added another twist.

Land Rovers and Range Rovers are not guaranteed at a car show; to see a Series 1 of each together is a bit of a treat. 1956 vs 1975.

Of course, no British car show could be complete without a Jaguar or two, and this one, just a few miles from the birthplace of Jaguar in 1922, was no exception. I normally prefer my E Types to be the Coupe, like this 1962 3.8 litre Series I example.

This is a Series I roadster, with perhaps the best interior I’ve seen on an E Type for some time.

C’mon, just what is there not to like?

Perhaps my highlight of this BL review was this 1978 Jaguar XJ6 L (L = long wheelbase) 4.2 litre. Aside from the Series III door mirrors, I see absolutely nothing wrong with it?

And I suspect you don’t either.