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.

(Introduction same as last year)

morning polishblue dutch 88On Friday morning I woke up in he back of my 109 round 6.30, rubbed my eyes and blinked, to see two Series Two club members polishing their green, very shiny standard 88. Must tell them to polish mine instead, I mused, but what on earth was the strange contraption on the bumper bar? I was to find out later. The billing meeting for all: Those who like to polish and shine, those who like beer and wine and those who carefully get their Range Rover dirty on that one occasion. The Dutch family brought their 88 (right) for the first time, sure they will come again if it is only for the bargains!

roofrackThe second hand market battle had already begun, many come to Billing to buy special parts, get a special offer here or there or haggle over the price of the item they always wanted. The picture shows some happy Discovery owners who found their roof rack on Thursday evening. We took it before it was too late, they commented.
There is also the opportunity to ask questions, look at the parts you are keen on and see some conversions or accessories actually work. The engine specialist RPI showed this year what seemed to be a Lightweight, but in reality, a fine tuned shortened Range Rover’s 4.6 l 300 HP RPI engine, 5 speed gearbox, chassis and drivetrain were hidden under the seemingly Spartan Lightweight body. This ‘Lightweight’ will easily overtake you in a Golf GTI on the motorway, having four times the engine power of the Land Rover it seems to be.

rr lwt RPIRPI V8 engineRPIs dream machine

The 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...

really a v8neat v8The Series One V8

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!

very short rangie1948

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.
This ultra-short Range Rover will certainly have some advantages in difficult trial situations. All superfluous interior trimming has been removed to reduce weight by 500 kgs.

fwc club bbq 2fwc club1(left: the Forward Control Club committee and their Land Rovers on the right

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.

winner S i clubs 1 club lineup(left: the Series One Club's winner and all their Land Rovers lined up in the arena

The Series One club had succeeded to bring 19 early Land Rovers in the arena. Most of these look much better than they had ever looked new, now every single member declared that his vehicle is now only used occasionally for shows and gatherings - the odd working Series Ones are not to be seen among all these fine restorations any more.
107 SWs1_fire_engine_actionWhen you look around, you can’t help being impressed with rare participants like this 107 in mint condition. Countless hours of stripping and rebuilding are necessary before a Land Rover will qualify for a Classic Car show as these all do. Still, they are all prepared to do the jobs they were meant for - as the fire engine shows here at one of the many Billing lakes.

little S II towing4shiny Series Twos on di0026(left: the Series Two Club's towing demonstration and right the concourse class Series Twos. Mind you, they are still many Series Twos that work every day in the club.

The Series Two club came next - and I understood what the attachment I had observed the other morning was good for. The scale model Series Two was pulling the 88 into the arena. Let it be known that the man presenting the excellent ‘recovery’ job has used his Series Two 109 for 19 years as a ‘real’ recovery vehicle. They also presented a 109 Station wagon with a matching Brockhouse trailer as it was sold by Land Rover forty years ago.
lwt club lineup 3grey fine lwtThe Lightweight club presented this year more than 30 vehicles in the arena. Even the youngest enjoy the gathering, posing on the bonnet of their parents’ 88”. The club invited me to pick the winner for this year’s presentation, which was not an easy task. Was it to be the beautiful rare Series Two or the better than new Series Three? In the end I decided for the Series Three with the excellent parade paint job.

burundi club camel trophy re-enactorsLeft: More than 6000 kms return trip for 5 men in a 110 300 Tdi: The Burundi Club from Lisbon. Right: A group of Midlands Camel Trophy re-enactors.

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 show.

 freelander prototypeSouth African Td5 studyLeft: The Freelander Prototype - showing the maximum articulation. Right+ The Series 5? No a South African Defender Td5 Prototype!

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 everybody’s 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 Sollihull’s 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.
What may be the future of the modern Td5 has been built by Land Rover South Africa. In 1999 they presented this design study, the vents have vanished because the air condition is foreseen as a standard. It is odd how this body resembles the Santana PS 10, while our European standard 110 Td5 still looks like its own ancestor 40 years ago in spite of the modern electronics under the aluminium dress. It is not surprising that the Dunsfold Trust had to disappoint many visitors who wanted to buy the prototype. Who knows what Ford will come up with in the future?

Above: This is the first 110, built in 1977. It oddly resembled my prototype Stage One V8 from 1976, but underneath this first coil sprung was completely different, mounted on a stretched Range Rover chassis. This was modified in the rear to accept a 109 crossmember and tank, the wings are all aluminium and the front is - except the eyebrows - exactly like a prototype 109 V8. The windscreen is a one -off, but the interior is again almost 100% like any 109 V8. The first 110 was never road registered.

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.

packing the lootgreen fwc with tidy tarpSunday brought more clubs Into the arena, even the Forward control Club had made an effort to look tidy and hidden the contents of their load beds under very clean white tarps.

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.

Annette Flottwell