As I write this it’s the first day of spring but nobody seems to have told the elements yet as its still cold and gloomy. Fortunately, the nearest we’ve got to a spring day so far this year was on Sunday March 19th for the VBOA Spring Parts Day & Autojumble. It encouraged a number of fine cars to attend, their owners hopefully finding the parts and accessories they needed. Also on display in the car park for the first time were the new VBOA flags and banners which everyone agreed looked good and added some additional professionalism to our endeavours. These will be a feature at all of our events and it may be possible to loan them to groups of clubs who are doing a particular show and want to get together under a common VBOA theme. One such event might be the NEC Classic Show and we are due to have talks with Vauxhall to see if they too can get a bit more involved with this prestige show.
Inside the hall at the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre, the format was the same as last year and once again the family facilities of the venue were appreciated by our visitors. The financial outcome is still to be finally determined but unfortunately it looks as though the VBOA will lose a fairly serious sum of money on it for the second year in a row. We already have some ideas as to how we could improve the draw of the event, but I think we will need to carefully consider the situation at our next meting to see where we go with it. It definitely serves a useful purpose to many as the people leaving with armfuls of panels and components showed, but for a second year with better publicity and no Mother’s Day clash, it was disappointing to lose money again.
We managed to get our new VBOA website launched a day ahead of schedule on February 28th and those who have visited www.vboa.org.uk have made complimentary noises about the layout and content. The site contains a directory of affiliated clubs, details of VBOA events, news, a gallery for events pictures, pricing information and a comprehensive history section. The latter is a series of articles that will build up over time to cover the Vauxhall, Bedford and Opel marques. Quite a lot is already available to view and further articles are written and illustrated and will be added “as and when” to keep the site refreshed and worth visiting on a regular basis.
In the news section, these articles and press release will be listed so everyone can be up to date with VBOA and related issues. In the club directory section we will shortly add the facility for club logos to go at the top of each club listing, so each page can be “personalised” to the club. Only the photo gallery section is still to be completed and this will give us the opportunity to put up past event photos, such as the 2003 Vauxhall Centenary 1000 Mile Trial, as well as some of those interesting cars I and others photographed in the car park at Warwick. In fact, anything we think someone might be interested in! The intention is for the site to greatly aid communications in the Vauxhall, Bedford and Opel club world, particularly with our overseas colleagues, but also to be an interesting site in its own right for anyone involved, or thinking of getting involved, with one of our cars or commercial vehicles. Crucially, the club directory is designed to put people in touch with the club that best suits their needs, so it needs to be kept bang up to date. For that reason, most of the site has been constructed so updates, listings, news, events and the gallery are completely under our control and, provided the information is given to us we will undertake to maintain it as an accurate and professional site for the benefit of all.
One source of invaluable information, in particular photographs and technical drawings, is the Vauxhall archive kept at the Heritage Centre. Old friend to the owner’s club movement, Andrew Duerden, is now active in this area and although resources are tight he will try to help any club that has a legitimate request. Contact details for Andrew will be going out to the clubs shortly and all requests must be channelled through an affiliated club. Unfortunately we have also lost a good friend in the form of Senior Restorer Dave Hines who has left the Vauxhall Heritage Centre to seek fame and fortune in the USA. A few of us went to his leaving do and the VBOA will be writing to him to express our appreciation of his help over the years. As yet we have not heard of a replacement, so Andy Boddy remains our sole contact.
The second VBOA Committee meeting of the year was held on March 5th and clubs have the minutes. At last we are close to the final operating instructions for the Vauxhall Trade Club, something which can save member’s money on specific parts for the newer cars and oil, antifreeze etc on all cars. Again, final details will be sent directly to clubs. Following a presentation on their activities, the Mk1 Astra Owners Club was accepted as an associate member of the VBOA, with a vote to accept them for full affiliation to occur in twelve months time in accordance with the VBOA Constitution.
The VBOA National Rally in association with CCC Insurance is starting to loom large on the radar. Taking place on July 8th & 9th, autojumble invitations have been out for a while and the follow-up process is about to start, but long time supporters like Courtenay Turbo and Vauxhall VXR have already signed up for large displays. Clubs were asked to confirm plaque and entry sticker numbers to John Ankerman and it looks as though attendance will once again increase, so let your club know your intentions as soon as possible as space is getting tight. Site entry fees have been pegged at last year’s level, the normal £15 gate charge being reduced to £10 per 24 hour period for cars with a valid VBOA event sticker on display. This special rate has been extended this year to include the five days from Thursday through to Monday, so campers can take due advantage. The security arrangements which worked well last year will be repeated and shower blocks will be open from 6.00am each day until late. Free trailer storage is possible by contacting John Ankerman.
All the fun of the fair will be once again be present with a relaxed “club day” on the Saturday and a more formal series of events on Sunday, including the club displays in the show ring, the award for best club stand and the Chairman’s Cup “best in show” competition. The latter will run to the same “fun” principles as last year with one vehicle to be nominated by each club and a popular vote to take place on Sunday afternoon to decide the winners. I say winners, as we have also increased the silverware available this year.
We have also decided to create a VBOA headquarters area around the sound van adjacent to the show ring and trade area which will be identified with our new flags and banners and will act as a communications centre for the show. The PA system will be as per last year, giving us full site coverage. We will also locate the central “Back to the Future” display and show sponsors CCC in this area, so we have a VBOA hub throughout the show. Entries for our display of dream cars, one-offs and prototypes are firming up nicely, with cars as diverse as the Duke of Edinburgh’s electric CF van, the RHD Manta 400 that visited the Opel Manta Owner’s Club stand last year, the Wayne Cherry Silver Bullet, Black Magic and Silver Aero, the prototype Sportshatch, the XVR dream car, Lighting, David Jone’s (ex-Vauxhall Styling Chief) FD and a film star’s DX coupé. The Queen’s Viceroy has also been tracked down with the help of the Autobahnstormers and I am hopeful we will get a few more surprises yet. It’s not intended to be as ambitious as last year’s competition car display as we need the space to get more of you in, but it will be a fitting centre piece and something we can hopefully get the classic and local press interested in.
A number of Brits are off to Sweden in May to join this year’s International Rally. It looks like a first class entry and both Total Vauxhall magazine and Vauxhall Motors have lent their support, Vauxhall arranging for their 1903 car to attend as a static display. Next year it will be the turn of our colleagues in Switzerland to host the event and their plans are already well advanced with a provisional programme, dates etc. posted on the VBOA website. Actually, there is a lot to celebrate in 2007 with the 50th anniversary of the Victor, 40th of the FD and the centenary of the foundation of the current Vauxhall company, Vauxhall Motors Limited. One advantage of our heritage is that every year from now on is the centenary of something, 1908 being that of the RAC 2000 Mile Trial won by the Pomeroy designed Vauxhall “Y-Type” prototype in the hands of MD Percy Kidner. A Rolls Royce came second. I wonder if Vauxhall fancy a second Centenary run, but over 2000 miles this time!
Finally, the next VBOA meting will be on Sunday May 14th and it will be combined with the AGM.
The weather must improve soon, so happy spring/summer motoring in your pride and joy, unless of course you are reading this in Australia and hoping for a break in the heat wave.