HRH The Princess Royal’s Shooting Brake Joins Record Middlebridge Scimitar Gathering at Silverstone Classic
HRH The Princess Royal’s lifelong love of Scimitar sportscars, along with her love for speed, will be marked at this year’s Silverstone Classic as part of a record-breaking gathering of cars to honor the Middlebridge Scimitar’s 30th birthday. It’s the latest attraction added to this summer’s famous historic racing festival, which takes place on the grand prix circuit on July 26 to 28.
Anne, The Princess Royal’s enduring relationship with the much-loved and born-again British car dates to 1970 when she was given an original Reliant-built Scimitar GTE as a joint 20th birthday and Christmas present by Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Underlining her attachment to the car, The Princess Royal went on to own no fewer than eight further Scimitars, all retaining the original car’s 1420 H registration plate in honor of her position as Colonel-in-Chief of the 14th/20th King’s Hussars.
She further underlined her affection for the model by being quick to support an ambitious new company—Middlebridge Scimitar Ltd—funded by Kohji Nakauchi, when it resurrected the GTE shortly after Reliant had ceased production in the mid-1980s. She also officially opened the new factory in Nottinghamshire in the UK in 1988 and the following year took delivery of the fifth Middlebridge Scimitar, the MB5, off the production line. The car is still in her stable today. Even more famously, while awaiting its delivery Princess Anne was loaned the production prototype MB1, in which she was twice caught speeding on the Aylesbury by-pass on consecutive days by the same policeman!
The pre-production prototype, MB1, and MB5 will be reunited at this year’s Classic to mark the 30 years of Middlebridge Scimitar production. For this 28 of the GTEs have been rounded up from all over Europe by the Middlebridge Enthusiasts Scimitar Set, in what the club believes will be a record gathering. Further, only 78 of these plusher, fuel-injected cars were hand-built at Beeston before Middlebridge went into receivership. Nakauchi, known as ‘Mr Middlebridge’, and the company’s former chief executive Dennis Nursey will also be present.
“It will be the biggest ever gathering, topping the 27 we had for the 25th anniversary at Gatcombe Park, and we are still hoping for what would be a very fitting 30 cars,” said the club’s Mick Gaughran. “The Silverstone Classic is one of the greatest events in the world and we are delighted to be holding our 30th birthday party there—with such a fantastic turn-out, it’s going to be a wonderful occasion.”
In addition Friday’s special anniversary track parade will be headed by the Middlebridge Racing International Formula 3000 1989 Reynard 89D as raced by Mark Blundell, in its eye-catching purple Dairy Milk livery. The car was recently rediscovered in the United States and is currently being fully restored to lead the parade. Middlebridge’s ambitions at the time stretched into circuit racing, culminating with its purchase of the Brabham team and a short-lived Formula 1 effort.
Images courtesy of Silverstone Classic