Billing 2000

Having owned our 1973 Land Rover for 18 months, my wife Jane and I decided to attend the LRO show at Billing. We made our bookings and arranged a day’s holiday to give us a long weekend.

The weekend before was spent fitting the drop plate for the tow hitch and a new trailer socket- the old one being full of muck and corrosion! Of course this “short job” ended up a long one, battling with 27- year old wiring and rusted bolts. We normally tow our caravan with Jane’s Frontera Sport.

The following Friday we set off early on a fine summer day for Northampton. We found that the Landy towed the caravan adequately at around 55mph, with somewhat leisurely acceleration! It was however very stable and not as bouncy as when solo!! Being a warm day, it soon became very hot in the car despite opening the vents and windows, perhaps I should fit some insulation to the floor and bulkhead.

We arrived at Billing around midday, to find it packed, I have never seen so many Land Rovers in one place, all models, from new and shiny to old heaps!

We had great difficulty finding somewhere to park the caravan; fortunately, one of the site managers directed us on to a vacant mobile home pitch. This was a fair distance away from the main area, but gave us our own water and electric point, which was a bonus. I don’t know how people who arrived later managed, as camping space was at a premium, with tents everywhere! We are fortunate in having full facilities in our caravan, as there were queues for the toilet/shower blocks.

Once settled in and fed, we went walkabout, the show was impressive, my credit card could have taken a severe battering, with everything on sale from complete vehicles to that elusive spare part. I could easily have left with another Land Rover, but common sense (and the wife) prevented it! We did buy some shirts and a few small tools I needed, plus a cooling down visit to the on-site pub!

We were both very impressed with the range of items on sale, Jane liked the new Range Rovers and Discos on sale, (don’t we all?). I saw a couple of Defenders, which would look nice on the drive!

Eventually, having spent hours looking around, we adjourned to the caravan for a rest and evening meal, then later that night visited the bar and buffet. During the evening, there were loads of owners posing around, many with huge national flags attached to their vehicles and friends piled in, or, on top of them! It was nice to see the number of foreign vehicle about, obviously it isn't just the Brits who are 4 x 4 nuts!

On the Saturday we visited the off-road site, it is a couple of miles away. It was a good course, not overly challenging, with plenty of mud and lots of water! The object seemed to be to soak the spectators by the water-splash. We had about an inch of water inside our cab as we went through! Still there are no carpets and it all ran out! Jane found it highly amusing! The drop-plate also hit the rocks going into the river, so it needs an “adjustment” with the grinder.
Some drivers went in too fast and drowned their ignition, but they were unceremoniously hauled out by a big mean 101. On return to the caravan we found about half an inch of water in the headlights! They dried out fairly quickly with the aid of a hair drier once we returned home!

We spent the rest of our time looking around, watching the arena shows, and generally chilling out, leaving on Sunday afternoon for the trundle home.

We enjoyed ourselves, the weather was good, there was a friendly atmosphere and our Landy got wet and muddy inside and out!

We thought that the show was too big for the site. Some people were turned away on the Saturday apparently. However, the LRO show moves to a new venue in Warwickshire next year, which is much bigger. We will definitely go; it would be great if the club could have a display area, and it would be a good excuse for a party! So who knows? Will we go to Billing in July 2001? Not sure yet- maybe.

The picture shows the Land Rover having a bath! It is a 1973 88” petrol, in good condition and generally reliable. I have carried out some welding to the chassis and fitted new foot-wells. It is slow and noisy and leaks oil, and water gets in when it rains. Nothing unusual there, then- but it is fun!

Dave Sumner.