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Thousands roll up to celebrate iconic car
Buy this photo » Andy Shonhard and his son Jamie, 12, with their 1968 MGB Mk I. Mr Shonhard was born in the same year the MGB began to be manufactured
THEY turned up in their thousands, all clean, waxed and sparkling for a very special party.
Around 3,000 classic MGB cars in an array of bright colours joined a celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the iconic automobile.
Manufactured in Abingdon, the car, with its lightweight body and acceleration speed of zero to 60mph in 11 seconds, became the most popular sports car MG ever produced.
An estimated 6,000 visitors came from across the country to show off their own, treasured MGB roadsters or look at the classic machines.
The cars were parked in line after line on the grass in front of Blenheim Palace.
Among the visitors was Andy Shonhard, 50, and son Jamie, 12. They completed a 220-mile round trip to bring their red MGB Roadster from Kent for the anniversary.
Mr Shonhard said: “I’m a member of the MG owners club and so just came along to see the cars and be part of it. I was manufactured in 1962 as well.
“I got my MGB about two years ago. I had liked them in the 1970s and 1980s but never had one then, but I had the opportunity a few years ago.”
Oxford businessman Max Mason said he had not planned to go along, but when a meeting was cancelled last minute he hopped in his MGB to join the party.
He said: “It was fantastic to see so many cars together. The lawn in front of Blenheim Palace was full of MGs.
“I didn’t decide to go until this morning so my car was not clean, but when it rained I had less to moan about.
“It was brilliant. To see so many, 2,500 cars, built so well in Oxfordshire in the last 50 years, you don’t have to look anywhere else.”
Chris Seaward, of MG car club, said: “It was excellent, everyone had smiles on their faces.”
The Abingdon factory produced 512,243 MGBs between 1962 and 1980 and at the height of production employed 1,400 people.
Although it was known at the time as the “poor man’s sports car”, the MGB was highly popular and around 75 per cent were exported to America by boat, for which journey the entire car had to be covered in wax to prevent sea water getting to the coating.
The final MGB ever produced in the Abingdon factory was returned to the Abingdon County Hall Museum in December last year, with help from British Motor Heritage.
All profits from the event will go to the charity Macmillan Cancer Support.