By Mike Peake
It’s Friday Morning and the excitement is mounting for the 1st proper day of the show. Gar, who was our Fat Controller and taxi driver for the weekend (our cars were locked inside the NEC) turned up to ferry the Brooks and I back to the to the NEC by what I am sure was a very different route to the one taken last night. (Taxi drivers eh?) We arrived at the NEC VIP car park and breezed past the long line of jealous Muggles waiting to get in as we flashed our magic wristbands at the security people.
The stand looked as almost as good as it did last night except the banner had fallen off the wall. It appeared that the Gaffer tape the Brooks brothers had supplied was of the “cheap” variety and not up to the job. (Well, they are Yorkshire men tha’ knows!) However, it was soon back up again, secured by good proper southern gaffer tape.
From left to right, looking at the stand, we had Lincoln Hunt’s stunning 2 door 1972 Range Rover. The car was bought new by Lincoln’s father and been subject to a superb restoration. So much so that during the show, a representative of the Range Rover Owners Club was heard to say that it was the best example he had ever seen.
Next to that was Liam White’s gloriously crusty V6 Cologne engined Mk 1 Granada, looking just like it had spent 20 years in a German barn. Which is not so strange, as that is exactly what it had done.
Next was our meticulously placed centrepiece, Andrew Tanner’s partially restored 1908 Hillman-Coatalen which is undergoing a full restoration and rebuild. As the car has been off the road for 105 years I’d have thought he’d have finished it by now but no, he reckons it will need another 2 years. It turned out that the Hillman was the oldest vehicle at the show.
Poppy was next in line and to my eyes the NEC lighting did her no favours whatsoever. It showed up her poor tired paintwork to its worst and seemed to highlight the poor panel gaps.
Finally, Standing majestically on the right of our stand was… (drum roll please)…. APOLLO! The Brooks family's Apollo is so well known and loved in the group that she needs no further introduction from me other than to say that she even drew the attention of Classic Car Weekly and ended up in their pages.
More details about all 5 cars are available on the website here, and in the case of Apollo and Poppy, multi-part Blogs are there too.
At 10 o’clock, the show opened and the Muggles came flooding in. We realised what a prime spot we had in the top corner. As they came through the main entrance to the hall and looked right as most people do, there stood Apollo, acting as a glittering beacon of the unusual to draw the punters to our stand - and it worked a treat. We were flooded with people wanting to know about all our cars with Apollo and the Hillman drawing particular crowds.
The initial rush died down to a steady flow, giving us time to open the cake and have a cup of coffee lovingly supplied from the depths of Apollo’s kitchen. Very handy to have Apollo there I must say.
We were also able to take in turns to wander off for a look around the rest of the show. Whilst deciding on shifts, we noticed that some members of the team were missing. Lincoln had a pass for the morning as he was working, but Liam was nowhere to be seen. He eventually turned up late afternoon.
Apparently, after leaving us last night he was kidnapped by the local Chinese Triads, bound and taken to their casino where he was force-fed copious amounts of alcohol before being left for dead sprawled, fully dressed at the end of his bed at 6am. It must have been a dreadful ordeal for him as he still looked really shaky and ill when we saw him.
Friday finished with a trip to Gar’s local for a beer or two and a carvery. Now, as you know, I’m a dedicated Fatbloke and it has taken years of hard work to get to the fine figure of a man that I am today.
However, I was shocked at the level of dedication shown by some of my fellow team mates. Their dedication was truly at another level. I have never seen plates so full of food or piled so high as I did at our table. The joint winners of the highest plate award, who shall remain nameless, actually achieved a height of 3’ 7 1/2“ from plate to the top of a teetering Yorkshire pud.
The ultimate winner was obviously the chap who ate all of this and 2nd place was awarded to the chap that couldn’t manage the last 3 peas and a smear of gravy. 2nd place was obviously distraught and blamed his lack of appetite on “Still feeling shaken up” after being taken by Triads the previous night. (oh…did I inadvertently give one away?)
Saturday was much busier than Friday with lots more visitors and again, loads of interest in our cars. We still found time for cake, tea, chat and a wander though. During one of our chats, Gus Brooks offered to have a look at the panel gaps on Poppy. He’s a jolly nice chap is Gus despite what his brother says about him.
When we opened the bonnet to see what needed to be done, it became apparent that the noise I’d thought was a stone being flicked up under the car on the way up was actually the air box bolts falling out. Fortunately the air box was still hanging in there and I was in the right place to find replacement bolts. With Gus’s help it was soon back where it should be. He also had my bonnet and doors straightened and looking SO much better. Thanks Gus.
Later that afternoon Mrs FB arrived in state and deigned to spend some time chatting with us mere mortals and having a look around our stand and the show in general. She proclaimed that it was all “rather nice”.
With that, we left the show before closing time so that we could dress for the awards dinner that evening, where Mrs FB and I would be representing the group. It was going to be a tough night - but we were willing to put ourselves through it for the sake of our members!
To be continued...
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