VBOA Matters 4/1 - a View from the Chairman Ian Coomber, VBOA Chairman
My name is Ian Coomber and in May this year I was elected Chairman of The Vauxhall, Bedford and Opel Association. After 38 years with Vauxhall and General Motors Europe, latterly as Vauxhall Sales and Marketing Director, I certainly should know a little about the company and its history!
At our last gathering it was suggested I write an article after each meeting for inclusion in the individual Club publications to inform their members of the work of the VBOA. The activities of the VBOA are probably not large on most Club member’s radar and I would like to change this.
The Association exists exclusively to promote the future well-being of, currently, 20 UK and 7 overseas clubs, and we would welcome more input into this process so that the models we love and cherish are given the recognition they deserve from the classic vehicle movement and the public alike. Why are few, if any, of our models built since the 20’s valued in the UK at over £20K, or even 10K? We know what gems they are and what advanced engineering and styling features GM have introduced regularly over the last 75 years through our cars, vans and trucks. I believe it’s a matter of co-ordination, promotion and communication of the brands that comprise the GM family outside of North America. I have to say that this task is not made any easier by the fact that there are 20 UK clubs catering for these brands , with others eager to join. That’s where the VBOA plays a major role in co-ordinating the activities of the associated clubs. Co-ordination both between clubs and with our commercial brand partners, Vauxhall Motors, Adam Opel, Vauxhall Heritage Services, Irmscher UK and many others, to ensure we are presenting the best possible face to the public and gaining the benefits available from pooling resource and ideas.
Specifically, the VBOA currently co-ordinates displays at selected shows of National importance (and we need to agree a future manageable list of these), organises the all-club National event at Billing and liases with Vauxhall on a number of issues of importance to us. At present the latter include advice to individual clubs on the pros and cons of becoming a limited company, negotiations with Vauxhall Marketing to ensure clubs do not infringe new Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) rules being introduced by Vauxhall, ensuring that the valuable Vauxhall Trade Club facility remains available to club members and playing a key role in ensuring that the priceless Vauxhall archive material is preserved and available for club access. We also have direct contact with Vauxhall Heritage Services to ensure that the Heritage website includes accurate club listings, a club events calendar is maintained and that the commercial offers are in line with club demand.
However, there is a lot more that could be done. The Vauxhall 1000 Mile Trial has stimulated a major interest from our overseas members in holding events open to UK and other overseas clubs. This year a marvellous event took place in Denmark hosted by the Vauxhall-Bedford-Club Denmark. Co-ordinated in the UK by the ever efficient Barry Harvey, next year we are invited to Holland and in 2006 to Sweden. I very much prefer to drive cars rather than sit in a field looking at them, so this is a development I am sure the VBOA will pursue with vigour under my Chairmanship! There is also a trip to New Zealand planned for 2006 and possibly one to Australia as a follow on. Watch this space!
I mentioned new clubs anxious to join. At our July meeting we initiated procedures to welcome the Mark 2 Cavalier Owner’s Club, the Chevette Owner’s Club, the Vauxhall Vectra Owner’s Club and the Bedford Club of Holland was confirmed as a full VBOA member.
I also mentioned Billing. Not at its traditional date, but on September 17,18 and 19. Given that on the usual Billing weekend the weather was lousy, it may turn out to be an inspired decision! I am pleased to say that the organisation supremo is once again John Ankerman, ably supported by Colin Roberts, Anne Norris and many others. A new lay out will focus the event on the arena activity (on Sunday only this year so we get the best displays and leaving Saturday for club activities) while giving the clubs plenty of room to express themselves. The usual auto jumble will be supported by the Vauxhall Village. Entry will be strictly controlled by windscreen stickers only available through a VBOA club. Catering choice is to be extended this year, more litter bins will be in evidence and the shower block opening hours will be extended. A tea tent will provide additional welcome refreshment but there will be no beer tent! .
Entry charges from the Billing complex (not the VBOA) are a little higher this year at: £10 per car per day and £13 per night camping or caravanning, plus £3 for an electrical hook-up.
The clubs mentioned above will be invited to join us for the first time and I hope, despite the change in date, we get a bumper turn out and that we are blessed with a fine three days. Every year it’s the same old faithful band who turn up to mark out and serve in so many ways during the event. The VBOA needs you, so please consider volunteering, through your club, for a little extra light duties!
I said we wanted new ideas. One that came up at our July meeting was for an ‘out of season’ spares sale at a central location such as Stoneleigh. We know that auto jumblers don’t tend to take our kit to regular shows, saving it up for Billing. We don’t want to undermine Billing (and its precarious finances), but there may be a case for a specific sale early in the year, where an entry charge is made and both trade and club members (on a car boot basis) can sell parts. We are looking into this and will see how we go. The next VBOA meeting is on August 22nd, so please feed any ideas or comments to your VBOA representative.
Finally, and sadly, I have to advise members that a good friend of the Vauxhall old car movement, Nigel Hunter, died in June. Although self employed, Nigel worked almost exclusively for Vauxhall organising driving events for the press. However, he will be known to many club members as the organiser of the very successful Vauxhall Centenary 1000 Mile Trial. Always a robust character, his favourite phrase when dealing with someone whose point the didn’t share was, ‘you are confusing me with someone who gives a xxxx’!
Whether you are driving, showing, restoring or just dreaming, have a very pleasant Vauxhall, Opel, Bedford or Holden time!