"I joined the organisation straight from school," he recalls, grinning.
"In itself, I feel that's quite an achievement. It wasn't really planned - I lived eight miles from the plant, applied to do a five-year business-technician apprenticeship, and that was it - the best thing that's ever happened to me."
The move into live events came in 1981, and ten job titles later the self-proclaimed "through-and-through Brummie" could probably write a book on the role of live events in the automotive industry. It would make for a rollicking read. "It's very difficult to put into words just how much I enjoy it - I love getting up in the morning," he testifies. "I'm in at 7.15 every day until roughly the same time in the evening. No two days are ever the same, that's the beauty of it."
His passion is clearly genuine - the fact that he's missed only one Birmingham City game, home and away, in three years, is testament to his all-or-nothing nature - and he's clear on how he sees the industry. "Events in days gone by were seen as a bit of a jolly, an excuse to have a laugh," he says.
"Now, they have to deliver for both the business and the brand. People come to us with ideas on the back of a fag packet sometimes and you have to turn it into a complete holistic experience. You have to educate, involve, entertain and get the aesthetics right - if you don't hit all four you've failed."
Knight stresses freely the importance of events retaining their fun, but there's bad news for the industry's grape aficionados. "If people come away just saying, 'Ah that wine was fantastic', then I'm not doing my job," he says. "There has to be a thread running through an event and you have to show return on investment. Everything we do and touch has to reflect what the brand's doing, even down to the crockery and glassware. It's no use 90 per cent of the experience being 21st century and the rest being where we were before."
He points to last year's ITMA award-winning Discovery 3 launch in Stockholm and a 2001 Range Rover event in Brescia as the moments that have generated most pride. The importance of finding a new and exciting destination for each event is something he stresses at length, outlining strict "location criteria" that keep Land Rover a few revs ahead of the competition.
"The agency relationship is also vital, and finding the right one takes time," he continues. "You need someone that challenges your ideas - all too often agencies just respond to what the client is asking, but the client isn't always right. I actually want them to say 'I think you're wrong', but you don't get that very often."
In a business world that is reluctant to stand still, illustrated perfectly by Land Rover's myriad parent companies over the years, Gary's adherence to the brand is something rare. Surely though, such a dedicated work ethic must play havoc with his home life? Far from it. "My wife, who I absolutely adore, is in the same business," he says. "She's head of logistics at Thomas Hannah Associates, so there's a definite understanding there. One or the other of us is always away somewhere."
Balancing home life with work commitments is a life's labour for most of us, so Gary is emphatic proof that for all the industry's ups and downs, one simple thing matters above all else: job satisfaction. "My niche is events and exhibitions. I want to better myself in that field to make myself a true expert. I wouldn't want to push for the MD's position ... I just love what I do."
GARY ON ...
... his obsession
I'm an absolutely passionate Birmingham City fan. I saw a 0-0 draw with Hull when I was six, and it's been in the blood ever since. People spend their money on all sorts - I spend mine on my football. I actually hopped back from Stockholm for a game during the Discovery launch.
... his dream holiday
My wife and I love the Caribbean. We go every year. We love the people, the climate, the history, the fact that you can explore small islands, dive into the culture and just chill.
... his funniest moment
It was a few years ago, and City were playing Southend away in the Cup. My mate, his son and I all met up and we travelled down. It wasn't until we got to the stadium that we realised we were a week early.
... who he'd have a pint with
Sir Michael Edwards, for what he did for the automotive industry, standing up to trade unions. Likewise, Maggie Thatcher transformed the nation - I was mortified when she stood down. Muhammad Ali stands out for me too - what an advocate, what a showman.
2005-present: manager, global events, exhibitions and promotions, Land
2002-2005: manager, global dealer/corporate events, Jaguar and Land
1985-1998: project manager, conferences and events, Austin Rover/Rover
1981-1983: exhibitions administrator, British Leyland