VBOA Matters – 4 / 2007

We held our last committee meeting of the year on December 9th and it was a very well attended and busy meeting.

That description pretty well sums up the VBOA year too, in which it has to be said, not everything went to plan! Not least our National Rally at Billing, sponsored once again by CCC Insurance, where the weather took us to the brink. Only hard work by organiser John Ankerman and the Billing management saved the day. Indeed the weather was so good over the actual weekend you might have been forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about. All I can say is, you should have been there on Wednesday. Despite all the problems, we once again saw some great club stands. It seems the anniversary theme is catching on and by my calculations we have another bumper crop coming up in 2008. The 75th of the A-Type “Light Six”, the 60th of the L-Type Wyvern & Velox, the 40th of the Viva GT, the 30th of the Royale saloon and coupe and the 25th of the Nova. These were all, in their own ways, significant models in our history, so I look forward to seeing the celebrations next year. And on the subject of anniversaries, unfortunately we had to cancel the central display at Billing (and the Chairman’s Cup) which was a celebration of 100 years of Vauxhall Motors Limited. We will have to debate whether we go for a special 101st anniversary in 2008 as all the runners and riders were lined up this year and in the event had nowhere to go! Seems a shame not to try again. A number of clubs have told us that they preferred their 2007 emergency stand allocation and its given John some ideas for potential new layouts to freshen things up for 2008. We already have the dates booked at Billing and the good news is that it will be held the weekend after the British Grand Prix as once again they give up the unequal struggle of trying to compete with us.

If the weather tried to rain on our big parade in July then it atoned somewhat in October by giving the third Vauxhall Heritage Centre gathering a dry run. Vauxhall are always generous hosts and the result was a great turnout and a good excuse to give the car a final outing of the year. However, we did note that the catering needed geeing up and it will be raised with the provider next year.

Another resounding success after three years of trying was the Spring Parts Day & Autojumble. In this case the venue came to our rescue. At half the cost of the previous one, the Connexion Exhibition Centre at Ryton-on-Dunsmore near Coventry proved an ideal venue on pretty well all counts and using it allowed us to drop prices and fill the hall with autojumblers and club members taking a “£5 pitch” and selling off surplus goodies. This made the event probably the best place on Earth to get even the really hard stuff for our marques. It was also a great social event and we aim to build on that in 2008 by taking both halls on the site, thereby removing the car boot sale which cramped our style parking wise this year. We will rev up the catering here too as the queues were too long, mainly because the venue management thought we were hopelessly overestimating the likely turn-out. For 2008 they promise to believe us. We hope to have a mobile rolling road in attendance again and we should have enough outside space to make the event even more enjoyable for all. Don’t miss it and If you want to join the “£5 club”, give me, Ian Coomber, a call on 07812 525164.

The VBOA International Rally was hosted this year by the Vauxhall Owner’s Club of Switzerland under the expert guidance of Marlyse Haefliger and her very willing team. A sizeable British contingent made the trip to the beautiful Interlaken area in May, to join a magnificent gathering from all over the VBOA World. We certainly saw some magnificent scenery, both by car and by mountain cable car. We also got a big dollop of very unseasonable snow which stopped Barry Harvey in his PA and some Droop Snooters from tackling the old Vauxhall Engineering “Three Passes” test route, used initially to test PA prototypes. The journey proved a bit too far for some, including my Hurlingham which shed a couple of teeth off its diff. while tackling a local Alp. There not being a suitably qualified local dentist we drove it home with very non-musical accompaniment. The main car display of the event was outside a cheese factory, complete with Alpenhornists. This saw no less than three 30-98s (including Nigel Gray’s), one of which was an ultra rare Wensum model. There were also a number of Swiss assembled cars and it was fun spotting the small differences between them and the UK cars. The Swiss also exhibited some previously unsuspected verve behind the wheel as we witnessed an L-Type being “doorhandled” twice round a traffic island. In 2008 we are invited to Australia to join a two week rally as guests of the Vauxhall Opel Owners Club of New South Wales. Cars can be provided by the generous hosts headed by Adam and Cath Vella and it really could be the trip of a lifetime you were looking for. Details of how to join in are under events on the VBOA website. For 2009 the wheel will have turned full circle and it will be the UK’s turn to host the event. John Ankerman is already thinking about venues and we expect a large UK turnout as well as a big contingent from the Continent. Watch this space!

As an organisation, the VBOA is in good shape. Four successful events, more clubs wanting to join both at home and from overseas and a very healthy bank balance. We resolved to spend some time at the first meeting in 2008 discussing what surplus VBOA funds could be used for, other than buying the Treasurer a new car (her idea). All suggestions gratefully received. We will also be considering some changes to the VBOA constitution regarding how clubs become and remain members of the association. When these changes have been ratified we will publish the revised constitution. We have also resolved to get some of the furniture out of our Committee room so everyone can sit down in 2008!

Sadly, 2007 has seen the passing of a number of stalwart Vauxhall and Opel folk. Bill Blydenstein, Tom May and Tony Fall, to name but three. All played significant roles in promoting Vauxhall and Opel, particularly in the sporting arena. Bill was particularly and rightly revered by the DSG and they organised a spectacular get-together of some of the cars for which Bill was responsible for a Total Vauxhall Magazine photo shoot. Its good to see TV getting involved with some of the older cars and it was also great to welcome them as media sponsor at Billing for the first time this year.
The VBOA dates to remember in 2008 are:
Spring Parts Day & Autojumble – Sunday March 9th
National Rally, Billing – Saturday & Sunday July 13/14th
Aussie Tour – Saturday September 6th to Saturday September 20th
Vauxhall Heritage Centre Open Day & Club Meet – Sunday September 14th

Full details of all of the above and news as it happens can be found on www.vboa.org.uk.

The next VBOA Committee meeting will be held on February 3rd 2008 and the AGM on April 27th 2008.