It’s that time of the year when, as the nights start to draw in, you can find the time to reflect on the year’s activities. For the VBOA it’s been another year of progress with our four event annual format now getting established. From my point of view the most rewarding development has been our website on www.vboa.org.uk. I think it’s a neat design and it’s certainly functional. All the stuff which needs regular updating, such as Directory of Clubs, News, Gallery and Events, are under our control. So, for instance, we can get gallery photographs from camera to your computer the same day they are taken and frequently do. The introduction of the overseas members section of the Gallery has produced some remarkable pictures and some remarkable cars. Somehow it seems to make the VBOA world a lot smaller and helps those who attend the popular annual International events keep in touch with their fellow club members in other countries. Right now the content has a distinctly Nordic bias, so how about a few more countries sending in their pictures?
Definitely not good news was the closure of Vauxhall Heritage Services. We are still trying to find out what is happening to the Vauxhall specific parts still at HS as it is imperative we prevent them from going for scrap. News will be posted on the website and sent to clubs by e-mail when we know more.
To finish the downbeat observations of the year, we still didn’t manage to find the right formula for the Spring Parts Day & Autojumble held in March. It lost money again and although that isn’t good news it’s not a killer if we felt the event was fulfilling a much needed purpose. John Ankerman and Barry Harvey have found a much more cost effective venue for 2007, only a few miles from this year’s site, which seems to offer even better facilities. We will be looking at the pricing, particularly for club members who want to operate a “car boot” stall, and what support activities we can add to increase attendance. However, as ever, we need to get the word around that if club members have surplus parts to sell then this is their opportunity to put them in front of genuine buyers. So if you own a Vauxhall, Bedford or Opel and either have parts to sell or parts to buy, or just fancy a social day out (the car park has been worth the visit alone at the last two events), then Sunday March 11th 2007 is the date and The Sports Connexion, Leamington Road, Ryton on Dunsmore, Coventry, CV8 3FL, the place. As we finalise our plans, full details will be put on the VBOA website under Events. Pictures from this year’s car park display are in the Gallery.
The International meeting in Sweden this May was a storming success even if the weather didn’t co-operate much. The organisation by Kay Mordza and his Swedish team was first class and we packed a huge amount into a short time. Next year’s trip to Switzerland in May is now well advanced and it looks as though once again a good turn-out of Brits will make the trip. The Swiss club need to know if you are going as soon as possible with payment due in January 2007. Pictures of this year’s event and all the details you need to know about the 2007 trip are on the VBOA website.
The VBOA National Rally in Association with CCC Insurance Limited took its traditional Billing slot of July in our calendar, again ably organised by John and a willing band of volunteers. We survived one of the few stormy Saturday nights in an otherwise perfect summer, but this didn’t seem to spoil things for the vast majority of club members and visitors. It was a great honour for the VBOA to have Adam Opel AG loan us cars for the special display and once again Vauxhall demonstrated their support for the old car movement by setting up loans of cars and tents, raffle prize donations and a Heritage Centre display and photo montage. We had three more clubs join the show this year and feedback from the clubs at our last meeting indicated that the event was generally very well received.
With Billing moving to new ownership in the spring of 2006 and rumours going around (now confirmed) that the Land Rover event was being held elsewhere in 2007, we felt it was time to meet with the new site general manager to clear the air. John Ankerman and I met with him on October 18th and were satisfied that our event was not only secure but will be welcomed back. We discussed a number of issues:
1. The new Billing management was committed to refurbishing facilities and adding new attractions, such as indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Refurbishment would lead to new shower blocks being added to the current toilet blocks in our display fields. This process was in the planning stage and work would commence as soon as possible. How much of this will be in place for our event in 2007 is not clear, but the building work will not impinge on our show fields and we can expect a better level of amenity as a result.
2. They would work with us to promote our show with the local press and through their website. This is particularly relevant in 2007 as it will be the 25th Vauxhall show to be held on the Billing site and the 10th under the VBOA banner.
3. A serious health and safety incident at another show this year had required the attendance of the fire brigade. As a result, Billing is now required to mark out safe camping areas, although no compulsion to use these exclusively will be brought to bear. They will do this for our show alongside us to ensure we get our required layout.
4. Internal security has been improved by the acquisition of three modern, liveried, vans. The new standing orders for events are that two vans are dedicated to our fields. We will continue to hire dedicated security for any special display vehicles, as per this year.
5. A new event scheduling process will be deployed to ensure the gate and other park staffs are fully informed of our requirements and the agreed charging policy. This will be totally dependent on club member’s cars displaying the approved VBOA windshield sticker, a process they are introducing for all external events so it should work much more efficiently than in prior years. They will continue to provide the stickers at their expense. A dedicated VBOA entry lane will not be provided. If the sticker process is worked correctly it is more efficient to use all the lanes to get people in.
6. We expressed concern that this year’s PA system reach had been reduced to display ring coverage only, apparently as demanded by “management”. We explained our exact requirements and they undertook to work with us to provide what we want. To this end they will be taking the provision of the PA service “in-house”.
7. Billing entry charges are going up across the board for 2007. They had not been increased for 3 years and John tells me that the VBOA entry has been pegged at £10 for at least 6 years. We agreed the following special VBOA rates:
£10 for day visitors (no change)
£12 for camping visitors per 24 hour period (a £2 pound increase. For an average Friday evening to Sunday afternoon camping reservation it will mean a £4 increase from £20 to £24). The 2007 public camping rate is not yet finalised, but will be between £18 and £20 per day
The £12 for 24 hours rate to apply for a 5 day period commencing on Thursday July 5th
Electrical hook-ups £4 per 24 hour period (a £1 increase)
We believe that now the new management has established what it wants to do and who they wish to work with we will see a marked improvement in support, enthusiasm and communication, both with us and internally. We have scheduled another meeting with the general manager for March/April to review the event build-up and that the agreed arrangements are working smoothly. As a result of our meeting, John and I were happy to confirm our booking for July 7th and 8th 2007.
Given that 2007 will be the 25th Vauxhall show on the site, and the 10th under VBOA management, we want to make the show as special as possible. It will also be the centenary of the creation of Vauxhall Motors Limited as a registered company in Luton. The current thinking for our central display is to attempt to assemble an example of every car model type made in Luton. That’s a lot of cars, but with help from the clubs and Vauxhall I think we could do it and it would be a fascinating display. I appreciate this would exclude Opel and Ellesmere Port products, but your turn will come! Full details of the national rally will appear on the VBOA website and be updated as we fill in the detail.
We ended our year with an open day at the Vauxhall Heritage Centre in Luton on October 8th. Having messed with us earlier in the year, this time the weather was unseasonably warm and sunny and the attendance was simply stunning with the most mouth watering and varied collection of vehicles in and around the Griffin House car parks. This year we added hot food provision and Vauxhall supplied their VX Racing Astra simulator, with visitors competing for the “Golden Wellie” award for fastest lap. With the fine weather producing an almost café atmosphere, the event was a fitting finale to the VBOA year, particularly as nearly £600 was raised on the day for a local children’s hospice. Pictures can be found on the Gallery section of the VBOA website.
All in all a very satisfying year with lots to look forward to in 2007. Oh, and if I haven’t made my point yet, please keep an eye on the VBOA website! Its constantly changing has the latest info on our events, news from the clubs and lots of pictures. It’s your resource, I hope you use and enjoy it.