RICHARD GUNN

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - News Analysis - se­nior Con­trib­u­tor

Hav­ing vis­ited the Rootes Ar­chive Cen­tre at Ban­bury, it’s amaz­ing how much won­der­ful ma­te­rial there is in there, and how ef­fec­tive and self­less a job the vol­un­teers of the RACT do un­rav­el­ling and pre­serv­ing it.

They’re to be con­grat­u­lated on their ef­forts and en­thu­si­asm. But it’s clear why a new base is needed. The ar­chive cen­tre is housed in a small sec­tion of a for­mer lab­o­ra­tory com­plex. Or rather it’s squeezed in, us­ing ev­ery avail­able inch of space. The Ar­chive would ob­vi­ously ben­e­fit from bet­ter and big­ger stor­age fa­cil­i­ties, with­out the worry of how much the rent is likely to rise the fol­low­ing year.

Such a fine col­lec­tion of his­tor­i­cal ma­te­rial – which is of sig­nif­i­cance to any Bri­tish clas­sic fan, not just Rootes afi­ciona­dos – de­serves a se­cure home to show­case it.

The ar­chives of other Bri­tish car firms are safe, looked af­ter by of­fi­cial bod­ies with ad­e­quate fund­ing. Rootes doesn’t have that lux­ury and is there­fore much more vul­ner­a­ble and at risk.

The more that can be done to es­tab­lish a per­ma­nent base for this col­lec­tion – so much of which hasn’t been fully ex­plored or is known about by the gen­eral pub­lic – the richer the en­tire UK clas­sic car scene will be.

Don’t for­get too that the decades of plans and draw­ings are al­low­ing re­man­u­fac­ture of ob­so­lete spares. That’s mak­ing jobs for peo­ple and keep­ing ve­hi­cles on the road that might oth­er­wise have been side­lined.

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