Events : BMC/BL Rally 2004

For the third year running, had a stand at the BMC/BL Annual Rally and Spares Day, held each year at Nene Park in Peterborough.

ANOTHER scorching day in Cambridgeshire set the scene for this year’s 11th national BMC/BL day. A fair amount of behind-the-scenes planning resulted in fielding its biggest presence at the show yet, with our stand representing a fair cross-section of BMC>Rover’s output over the past 40 years or so. Notable exceptions included the Mini, Allegro, Maestro and Montego, although examples of all these could be seen on other stands at the show. Interestingly, only three cars from the recent BMC>Rover Top Ten list were represented amongst the twenty cars on our stand.

The centrepiece of the stand was SD2, the 1975 Triumph 1500 proposal, which was on hire from BMIHT at Gaydon for the day. Unsurprisingly, the car attracted a contsant stream of visitors, no doubt helped by some free publicity by way of the public address system. For the majority of the visitors, this would have been their first chance to see the car close up: to pore over its interior, look under the bonnet and check out the boot. Indeed, having the SD2 more than made up for the fact that we did not have any production Triumph saloons on our stand.

Centre of attention: SD2 was swarmed over, photographed and videoed by numerous visitors to the stand throughout the day.

Clearly, not everyone was expecting SD2 to be there, with several people looking a little puzzled on first seeing it, although the free handouts and on-screen information cards would have soon satisfied their curiosity. The consensus of opinion amongst those I spoke to and overheard seemed to be that the car had strong Citroën overtones, with a bit of SD1 (particularly about the interior) thrown in for good measure. Perhaps less flatteringly, several people also saw a lot of Lada in the car… Opinions about the car’s fate seemed to fall into two distinct camps: those who bemoaned the fact that it never reached production, and those who were more than happy that it never got beyond the prototype stage.

Of course, it wasn’t all about SD2. This year’s stand displayed a broad range of cars representing every decade from the 1960s to the 2000s. The full rundown looked like this:

Triumph 1500 'SD2' - BMIHT Gaydon Rover 216GTi - Staples2Naples car
MGB roadster - Adam Hills Triumph TR7 DHC - Ian Chisem MGF - Mark & Yvonne Jeffs
Rover 25 Spirit - Stuart Bishop Rover 200 Coupe - Richard Jessett Rover 416 - Chris Mills
Rover 3500 Vanden Plas - ??? Rover 3500 - Keith Adams Rover Vitesse - Ian Chisem
Jaguar XJ40 - Alex Sebbinger Princess 'Snapdragon' - Kevin Davis Satan - Richard Gunn
MG Metro Turbo - Richard Murphy Rover 800 Sterling - Steve Whipps Rover 100SE - Helen Young
Austin 1800S - Alexander  Boucke Austin Maxi - Richard Plaxton Vanden Plas Princess 1100 - Declan Berridge

Our stand was also graced by motoring journalist Richard Gunn, from Classic Car Weekly, who was showing Satan – his Woodall Nicholson Kirklees (Stretch Princess, in common parlance); he was also handing it over to a new owner at the show. It’s a fair bet that the stand will be receiving good coverage in a forthcoming edition of the magazine…

This vision of Hell in black and red fake fur – complete with coffin-shaped switch panel – is the interior of Satan, Richard Gunn’s Woodall Nicholson Kirklees. It won’t be staying like that for long though: the car was handed over to a new owner at the show, who’s planning to undertake a full restoration before pressing the car into service for his business. First job was to give the car a sex change, with a more innocuous-sounding name…

Alexander Boucke (left) and David Jacobs look on as SD2 is trailered-up for its trip back to Gaydon. Minutes earlier, show organisers Mick and Barbara Clarke were delighted to catch sight of it just before it left; they had understandably been otherwise engaged throughout the day.

The glorious sunshine helped to ensure a good attendance, although subjectively numbers seemed to be down this year, perhaps due in part to the fact that there was at least one other national BMC car club event being held elsewhere.

Looking around the other stands at the show, there seemed to be the usual bias towards the (former) BMC marques, with relatively few Rovers, Triumphs and Jaguars to be seen. It would be nice to think that in future years the show will be attended by a much broader spectrum of the marques from the “BMC>Rover” panoply. Having said that, there were also a suprising number of non-BL makes on show (not to mention the Subaru Impreza in which David Jacobs arrived, after a last-minute refusal by his MG Midget to comply the MoT tester’s requirements).

The Triumph Dolomite Club had a good turnout, but examples of other cars from the Jaguar, Rover and Triumph areas were few and far between at the show.

Special thanks go to Alexander Boucke, Dale Turley and Kevin Davis for their help with making our stand this year such a success. Thanks also to all our exhibitors and visitors, to those who purchased merchandise from our stand, and of course, to the show’s organisers – Mick and Barbara Clarke.

Further photos of SD2 will be posted in due course.

Report by Declan Berridge

Keith Adams

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