By Mike Peake.
Sunday morning dawned extremely bright and disgustingly early and before we knew it, an unnecessarily cheerful and loud Gar was banging on our doors telling us it was time to get up. Cursing the fact that the start of British Summer Time had deprived us of an hours sleep, we staggered about getting dressed and finally fell into Gar’s bus for a very quiet trip into the NEC for our final day on our stand.
I’d say uneventful, but I had to feel sorry for Gar as his eyes were watering profusely due to all the stale alcohol induced emissions from our 2 Yorkshiremen. Not me of course, I was just extremely tired due to the loss of that hour and not hungover in the slightest. We realised things were bad though when we arrived at the stand to find that even “Last minute Liam” had beaten us there. At least the show hadn’t opened to the public though. (It Had?... oh, sorry…)
There followed a brief bout of fisticuffs over the right to curl up and die in Apollo’s sleeping quarters. Apparently, being an “Admin” does not mean I have the right to claim priority in such matters. (Just no respect for authority some people!) So I decided I would rely on sugar to get me through my sleep deprivation. That, along with the constant supply of very strong, lifesaving coffee from Apollo soon had me back to close to normal.
There was a steady flow of visitors to our stand but nowhere near as busy as Saturday. This was nice as it gave some of us a chance to recover and chat to our fellow stand members who turned out to be a jolly fine selection of chaps. It also gave me a chance to have a proper look and scramble over the fantastic selection of motors that we were displaying. Finally! I hear you say. Half way through part 3 and hardly a car mentioned! Well that is part of what is so special about our group. It’s just as much about all the great people here as it is about the cars so I make no apologies for that. We are a fine bunch of people, all 22,000 of us! Congratulations.
Yes, yes, I know, the cars. Where to start? Well let’s start with young Thomas and his rather lovely Granada Mk 2.
Young Thomas is just 17 years old and at the time of the show, hadn’t even passed his driving test. (He has now. Congratulations!) His car is an absolute credit to him especially as he has done so much of the work himself. I don’t just mean a service and a bit of a polish, but proper heroic and manly stuff like cutting and shaping metal and welding and spraying type of stuff. The week before the show, Thomas was still showing us pictures of holes and dismantled car parts which gave Gar some heart murmurs I can tell you. He did it though, and a newly MOT’d and rather good looking and well-presented Granada arrived on Thursday along with Thomas’s Dad Adrian. Adrian is slightly less good looking and nowhere near as well preserved, but he was available to bring the car for us.
What is surprising is that young Thomas has managed all this derring-do on his Granada whilst Liam, who has 108 rotten Granadas including the one he bought at the show - and none of them actually running - has only managed to polish his Chopper! (It’s a Raleigh Chopper. Behave!)
Young Thomas has proved his dedication to our hobby and even though he is only 17 he didn’t seem to be a hooligan in a hoody at all. He organises a charity car show in his home town of Maesteg in June. It was a great day last year and we’re making a weekend of it this year with a tour of the valleys on the Saturday. Details can be found on our website here. It would be great to all turn up and support him.
Next up would be Mark Smiths Triumph Mayflower, Mildred. Or, as I heard many a muggle say on their approach “Oh isn’t that sweet! It looks like a baby Rolls Royce!
Mildred is a fairly recent acquisition for Mark, unlike his yellow bowler hat, but his enthusiasm and love for the car is abundantly clear. He only had to catch someone glancing in Mildred’s direction and he was off to deliver his encyclopaedic knowledge. I have to be honest and say that Triumphs of the 50’s have never grabbed my attention as much as those from the 60’s and onwards, but having sat in the gloriously comfy driver’s seat and listened to Mark’s enthusiasm, I might just allow myself a 2nd look at these baby Rollers. Oh, and if anyone knows where to get a seal for the under screen vent, let Mark know.
Now, not only did we have the only Ford Zephyr in the show, we had a brace of them. They couldn’t have been more different though. It was definitely a before and after experience. The Brooks brothers were kind enough to bring their stripped out and stripped-down example at extremely short notice after another car pulled out. As none of us would fall for the “Can you fit a Fatbloke in Apollo’s toilet?” jape anymore, they decided to see how many fat blokes you can fit in a stripped Zephyr instead. Surprisingly, we ran out of available fat blokes before the car was properly full!
it proved a huge draw of the crowds alongside Farty Woodward’s glorious, fully restored and multi award-winning example. As much as I love this stunning car though, there was no way I was going to brave the interior without a military grade Nuclear/Biological/Chemical suit. In fact, as nice as the interior looks, it was a condition of our public liability insurance that the car was hermetically sealed for the duration of its stay at the NEC.
Of course, I have to mention Apollo the Rover P5B Camper. Yes, I said a Rover P5B camper. For those of you that have been members for any length of time and haven’t been hiding under a rock, you will already know and love Apollo who has become somewhat of a mascot and flagship of our group.
For those of you that have been living under a rock and newer members, put the shot guns and pitchforks away. Apollo was converted into a camper by his original owner way back in 1972 when you couldn’t spit without hitting one of these cars. No one is really sure why he chose this car to convert but he did and created a unique vehicle.
The Brooks bought him at this show some years ago, and worked their magic to produce the glorious, mad as a box of frogs vehicle we see today. A wonderful mix of the old and new, he was, quite possibly, the most popular car of the show. There wasn’t a moment when he wasn’t surrounded by admiring muggles and he bought a smile to everyone that approached our stand.
OK I know technically, it wasn’t on our stand but as Paul Clappison is a member of our group and he won the Pride of Ownership award its close enough and we’re claiming it! His MGB GT is stunning and his pride of ownership was evident in the way he spoke to everyone that approached his car whether they wanted to or not. Congratulations Paul. Well deserved.
I have deliberately left the next car on our stand to the end for one very good reason. I have fallen hopelessly and irrevocably in love with Alan Crown’s 1948 Rover 18. The moment I sank into the voluptuous armchair masquerading as the driver’s seat and clapped eyes on the view down, down, down that beautiful long bonnet, I was smitten.
My mind was whisked away to wafting down country lanes and through the county towns of Britain in the 50’s and may have accidently let slip some brmmm, brmmm noises.
Oh and gadgets! This car has great gadgets! You can keep your sat nav, heated seats and Bluetooth. This gorgeous Rover had a great big lever on the driver’s door that instantly opened or closed the window in case emergency hand signals were required. It had a slidy switchy thingy above the driver’s door that raised and lowered a sun/privacy screen over the back window. (there is a surprising amount of room in the back seat too.) It had a windy handle that opened the bottom of the windscreen AND It even had a great big free wheel on the dash! I have no idea what this free wheel does but it said “Free Wheel” on it and I think it was jolly nice of Rover to give you one especially when you remember that rationing was still a thing when this car was built.
The Rover has a great history too. You remember I said young Thomas was our youngest active member? Well, Alan isn’t and this was his 1st car back when God was a boy. Alan has owned the car ever since apart from a brief spell when he sold it to the chap who restored it and then bought it back again. He’s driven it all over Europe in his younger days too.
Sadly and all too quickly the end of the show was announced over the PA system. As is tradition, all the owners sounded their car horns. Imagine our shock then when our ears were assaulted by the loudest rendition of “Dixie” on air horns that I have ever heard. We looked over to see Young Thomas sat in his pride and joy with the biggest grin imaginable on his face. Perhaps he is a hooligan in a hoodie after all!
The horns quietened and we set about dismantling the stand. By the time we were ready there were massive traffic jams of classic cars at each of the halls roller doors. It looked like we were going to be stuck there until midnight. BUT…. We hatched a cunning plan. We got Farty Woodward to open the windows of his Zephyr.
As you can see, this instantly achieved the desired result and we were all headed home to our own beds.
In case I haven’t conveyed it or maybe despite what I have written in these blogs, I had a fantastic weekend with a truly great bunch of blokes. So I end with the thank yous and apologies if I missed anyone.
A big thank you to Gus and Tosh brooks, Alan Crown, Ian (Farty) Woodward, Mark Smith and Thomas and Adrian Jenkins for supplying the cars and manning the stand. Also, to Bernard Owens and Liam White who despite not having a car of their own on show, agreed to help out on the stand anyway. We appreciate that It is a massive commitment in both time and money to show your cars at an event like this and without you we would have no stand. Thanks again. Thanks also to all our international members for supplying the great photos for our international members wall.
Further thanks to Gus and Tosh Brooks, Liam White and Ian Woodward for being sporting chaps and not getting offended enough to cause me physical harm for anything I’ve written.
Obviously HUGE thanks to Gar for having the dedication, enthusiasm, patience and above all, pig headedness to organise a truly professional stand at a prestigious show like this. Most of all though, thanks for not actually killing anyone whilst in “Mr Hyde” mode.
Thanks also to Shannon Jenkins (sister of young Thomas) for manufacturing our stand uniform shirts, Eric Dalton and the Brooks brothers for supplying the carpet, Phil Allin for the banners and Dominic Coleman for the plaques and photos. All of which, under Gar’s project management, produced one of the best non-commercial stands at the show. Further Special thanks to Ian (Farty) Woodward for providing the “soundtrack” to the whole weekend. The man is a miracle of evolution.
Another big thank you to group founder, Lord John Simpson of Boston. Despite having to spread his time and talents between our stand, Practical Classics and the Boston Classic car club stands, managed to spend so much time supporting us. This may have had more to do with the enormous quantities of cake on our stand rather than a true display of his dedication though.
My penultimate thanks go to our glorious leader Captain Paul Sweeney for his commitment and vision in steering and growing our group to where we are today. A fantastic fully inclusive community of like-minded cheapskates that won’t pay a subscription that can come together and mix it with the big professional fee paying clubs and be taken seriously when we are here. Thanks are also due for his guidance and support to Gar in his times of stress and to the rest of us Admins; Steve, Andrew, Zebidee and Edwin.
Finally, my biggest thanks of all go to Tosh Brooks for saving my marriage and quite probably my life. He came up with the idea of turning the new hole in my caravan into a locker door providing inside/outside access to the bathroom cupboard. It will be just like them new caravans and, best of all, Mrs FB loves the idea.
Our next event is our tour of the Peak district in mid-May. This happily coincides with my 50th Birthday so it could get messy.
Thanks for sticking with me and I hope you enjoyed it. See you soon.
Enthusiasts of British Motor Vehicles Built Before Nineteen Eighty Five and the Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show at the National Exhibition Centre. Part 1 (How’s that for a snappy title!)
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