The Series Two Club - all photos © Annette Flottwell 2003
Billing 2003 17-20 July, 2003
Imagine 8.000 Land Rovers in one leisure park plus some 200 trade stands and countless tents, caravans and between them more than 15.00 Land Rover nuts with the zeal to see them all - that's Billing. Even the mud on the first two days definitely improved the looks of many Land Rovers, though it didn't exactly improve the camping.
same as last year)
owner, who has been successfully participating for ten years in Comp safari
races, was delighted to show his vehicle. It pleased him even more that
RPI had chosen his vehicle to mount a stainless steel exhaust on their
stand, so his engine of his dream machine would sound as good as it was
tuned. It did on Sunday...
Soon another remarkable V8 conversion
caught my eye. What you see here looks like a perfectly restored, standard
late Series One 88. Only if you look closer, you might detect the
nonstandard fan, which is the only visible difference till you look under
the hood. A previous owner has fitted very neatly a 3.5 later V8 into
the Series One. Only a slight conversion of bulkhead and chassis was done.
The present owner fitted an overdrive, as the little gearbox was revving
its head off at 55 miles. The only other -invisible - modification are
reinforced brakes. Not in vain this Series One has won some prizes as
the best conversion!
left: the 80" Range - right:the
original 80" 1948 Land Rover
LPG specialists were also well
represented this year, a Belgian company showed how state of the art Dutch
and Italian equipment can be fitted to any European standard. That is
not surprising as LPG in Belgium is only 25-30 cents/l so any Belgian
petrol driven Land Rover will be converted soon. DIY kits are available
from £ 200.
Friday night brought an invitation
to the Forward control club. Only about 1500 of these rare Land Rovers
were ever built, so you do not find many survivors. The club, Reg the
president proudly said, has now 26 Forward controls registered, 6 of which
belong to Peter Coelho. Peter owns a very rare bus, a twin cab and some
pickups. There is certainly no other club like this class - free, relaxed
and fun loving bunch of total nutcases. Of course here I felt at home
and I was not allowed to leave without promising to bring the original
Trappist beer next year. The next morning brought all the historic Land
Rover clubs in the arena.
A completely different kind of enthusiasts celebrate Camel trophy memorials, trying to reenact the legend of jungle challenges. Although the Camel trophy no longer exists, for many it was the beginning of their interest in Land Rovers.
This is also how this group from
Lisbon started. When they found an untouched piece of sandy and muddy
Land south of the Portuguese capital, they decided to cross it in their
Land Rovers. It took them a whole weekend to do 3 kms - so they called
their club Burundi in memory of the Camel Trophy. Many other
weekends followed till they decided to drive 3000 kms to attend the Billing
The Dunsfold Trust is a Sussex
Museum and Land Rover company dedicated to the preservation of rare Land
Rovers. They presented here for the first time the prototypes of everybodys
favourite modern Land Rovers. It is rare that you see these vehicles on
another occasion than their open days, when they will show you their whole
treasure of rare vehicles. What you see here on the left is - believe
it or not - the first Freelander, the body design was still very different,
but chassis and drivetrain were already what was later built into Sollihulls
answer to the success of Japanese SUVs. Considering that today Land Rover
sells more Freelanders than all the other models together, their approach
was certainly right, doing their homework on the body design.
Later I discovered another evolution in modern accessories: This company presents well-hidden theft proof drawers for your Range Rover or Discovery, which is not a bad idea if you live in a modern metropolis like London or Paris.
The hunt for bargains went on till late. Even the author could not resist to buy half a ton of stainless steel bolt and nuts in odd sizes. Many seemed to find out at the last moment that even Land Rovers have limited storage capacities.