HRH The Princess Royal's Middlebridge No 5

August 2023

Location: Great British Car Journey - Derbyshire

A very special car with a unique history

(From Gatcombe Park to Museum)

Reg: F417 RR0 formerly 1420 H

Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne had a real passion for the Scimitar of which she had eight over a period of time. Her first Scimitar was a joint 20th Birthday and Christmas present from her parents, the late Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh. In 1988 HRH, the Princess Royal opened a factory in Beeston, Nottinghamshire, where the NEW Middlebridge Scimitar was being built. Middlebridge had worked closely with Reliant and the Owners Club to enable them to identify weaknesses and to improve the quality and refinement during development of the new car which had 450+ improvements .This process took nearly 3 years to fulfil.

To the delight of Middlebridge Scimitar Ltd, HRH ordered a car which would turn out to be the last Scimitar she would own for 35 years! Middlebridge supplied the car with the Princess Royal's private plate, 1420 H, fitted. All the Princess Royal's Scimitars have shared the same cherished number plate which refers to her position as Colonel-in-Chief of the 14/20 Hussars. She was appointed the Colonel-in- Chief of the 14/20 King's Hussars in 1969. The number plate 1420 H was sourced by the Regiment from, of all things, a milk float in Bermondsey, London and presented to her as a 20th birthday present in 1970 from the Regiment.

Middlebridge did not get No. 5 completed on time for HRH the Princess Royal so she was loaned Middlebridge No. 1 which was built to a virtually identical specification. It was this car that was all over the press in early 1989, as HRH was clearly enjoying the car's performance and got stopped for speeding on two successive days - and by the same Policeman. 'Ma'am was NOT amused' The car was specified with 5-speed manual transmission, econo-drive cruise control, head-lamp wipers, sapphire green pearlescent paint, a black velour interior and a car phone. The car is still exactly as it left the factory on 13 December 1988. The drive train is totally original and, incredibly, this even includes the original exhaust system! The interior is also totally original with the clock still working and holding good time. If that was not impressive enough, when the boot cubby boxes were opened, inside was the original car jack, wheel brace and the tool roll with all of the tools in very original condition.

It is testament to HRH the Princess Royal's care for the vehicle that it is in such a good condition, after 114,000 miles of (no doubt), enthusiastic driving! The car is instantly recognisable by the horse mascot on the bonnet which, on inspection, is actually being ridden by a female equestrian rider and is believed to be a present from her Mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, at the time of the 1976 Olympics when the Princess Royal rode the late Queen Elizabeth II's horse 'Goodwill' during the 3-day Montreal event. It is assumed this bonnet mascot is unique. The car also has a badge bar that was designed and fitted by Middlebridge Scimitar Ltd during the initial build. Mounted on the badge bar, to the left looking at the car is a Royal Automobile Club badge, centre is the Hawk (Prussian Eagle) with a beautiful patina, a gift from the 14/20 Royal Hussars to HRH the Princess Royal on becoming their Colonel-in-Chief. To the right is a badge depicting the Young Adventurers Club, London.

HRH was not only a Middlebridge Scimitar owner but was also active with the 'MESS' (Middlebridge Enthusiasts Scimitar Set). You will note the Middlebridge Front Grille Badge which was actually purchased from The MESS by HRH Princess Anne and proudly adorns Middlebridge No. 5 and has done so for many years. The car also has the later personalised owners' hand book, a 1:43 model of the car and a set of Anniversary tread-plates signed by all Middlebridge owners and enthusiasts that attended the marque's 25th Anniversary event held at her Gatcombe Park home in 2014. During 2022/2023 The MESS and Gatcombe Park were in talks about Middlebridge No. 5 which, for personal security reasons, was not being used and enjoyed to the same degree that it used to be.

A proposal was put forward to HRH to ensure that the car would be conserved and maintained to enable display in a well-known car museum for all to view while being available to The MESS for specific events. The MESS have tried to site the car within the Nottingham Industrial Museum , unfortunately that has not been physically possible, however we're delighted to announce The MESS and the Great British Car Journey in Derbyshire, will exhibit the car prominently within this museum. It can be confirmed that Middlebridge No. 5 now forms part of a private collection and that all of the conservation works agreed with Gatcombe Park have been fulfilled with a huge focus on retaining the cars originality.

Conserving the car was a very unique proposition. It was important that a car with this provenance should be kept 100% original. This did present problems but these have been overcome and it has been given a MOT with no advisories and transported to a marque/fibreglass specialist for very minimal paint correction and conservation work to remove stone chips and the odd mark caused through 35 years' of enthusiastic ownership. Once completed the car will be transported to the GBCJ museum where it will form part of an interactive display for the public to view and learn of the car's history and provenance. The car will (occasionally), also be transported to various events throughout the UK. Hope this brief summary gives you a taste of what to expect.

On the 30th August George Sampford and myself embarked on yet another Middlebridge adventure, we collected a trailer from Alan Cavendish Tribe in Tamworth and headed North to Nottingham (The home of Middlebridge) where we were invited to a 90th Birthday Bash for John McCauley, (ex joint MD Middlebridge Scimitar Ltd). We were delighted to have been invited by the family to join in on this very special family occasion, we enjoyed some lovely Greek food and I treated myself to a wine as I'm not driving for a change, after a couple of hours, we said our good-bye's and headed North to Huddersfield and to our hotel for a meal and a beer. The next morning the 31st we arrived just after 8am to collect the car with the above works completed. This very unique car will now journey from Yorkshire directly to Brookhill Manor Derb's for a full photoshoot and road-test by Classic & Sportscar magazine. It will then have a short journey to the Great British Car Journey in Ambergate, Derb's DE56 2HE where she will be one of the museums prize exhibits within their awesome interactive museum.

We note prior to writing this that the car has received an incredible amount of interest and has already been on the BBC TV, BBC Radio and has been all over Social Media. We hope this exposure will really increase awareness of the Middlebridge marque in the future.

We hope you like the overview pictures.

Picture No 05 11 left to right Richard Usher (CEO of the Great British Car Journey), Kohji Nakachui ( ex Owner of Middlebridge Group of Companies) Dennis Nursey (CEO Middlebridge Ltd) Mick Gaughran (on behalf of the MESS, Middlebridge Enthusiasts Scimitar Set).