The 52nd National Reliant Rally was one I have been looking forward to for a while as given the rarity of Reliant Regal Mk VIs, there was going to be three of them on show, one of which was mine. As Caroline was working Saturday morning we could not get over to the rally until Saturday afternoon, so whilst Caroline was at work, I drove over to the a farm in Kingsbury, picked up my trailer, drove over to the garage in Belgrave, picked up Lucie and all my camping gear before coming back to Glascote. A 16 mile round trip to just to load a car on a trailer, things will be so much simpler when I buy a house with a garage and space for a trailer. Once Caroline was back home and we were fed and watered, we set off for the rally, forty minutes or so later we were there and I pulled into the Stoke Prior Country club.
A number of Reliants were already there as many had camped since Friday and a number arrived Saturday morning. Paying my camping fees and collecting my goodie bag that contained a rather nice glass engraved with Reliant 75 (as it is Reliant's 75th anniversary) I thought that will make a great whisky glass. In the bag was also two little tooth brushes and little sachets of brown sauce, red sauce and mustard; none of which left my teeth clean or my breath fresh though the mustard did leave a nice tingling sensation!
Driving over to the field I soon saw my brother waving away and Pete and Dee so I parked up the car and set about unloading Lucie off the trailer. Whilst doing so, I noticed Ray Sterling’s 1961 Reliant Regal Mk VI saloon and that has had a good bit of exercise as not only did he drive it 70 miles to the rally but earlier in the morning he popped back home, knocking up another 140 miles. I'm not so sure that Lucie would be as confident on long journeys like that, not until I have rebuilt the engine anyway.
Despite the strong winds trying to blow Caroline away when she held the tent, the tent was soon erected and the car unpacked. All done we wandered around the field saying hello to folks and looking at the Reliants that were there so far.
Wilfried was also there again having driven his 1952 Reliant Regent all the way from Belgium. Talking to Wilfried he had been making up his own rubber grommets for where the petrol filler pipe passes through the body of the vehicle and he gave me one for Lucie that he had made up.
As the evening approached everyone gathered in the club house for a play. Sadly where we were sitting it was a silent one as we couldn't hear a word, which was actually quite amusing as it was entitled Cinderella and each time I looked up there would be either Pirates, Bears and Jack and the Beanstalk etc. What we did gather though was that Cinderella drove off in a Reliant Robin Mk III - or at least a cardboard version of one anyway. Several pints of Guinness later it was time to head back to the tent for the night.
The night was a long restless one, the wind outside was howling and it was actually a cold night not helped by a leaky air bed that seemed to get thinner and thinner each time we moved. Eventually the sounds of people milling about were buzzing around us and so about 8 am we got up and head for the shower rooms before going to the club house for a full English breakfast and what seemed like the best cup of tea ever. One good thing about it being cold and windy during the night was that no condensation inside the tent and so we packed everything up whilst it was nice and dry. There were heavy clouds looming though the strong wind seemed to be pushing them away revealing the occasional burst of sunshine.
By now more cars were turning up and Paul Dunn arrived with his freshly restored 1960 Reliant Regal Mk VI saloon, possible one of the oldest Mk VI's that still survives. Everyone gathered round as he and his mate Phil unloaded it off the trailer and after saying hello, I was delighted to be the first person to take it for a test drive around the field. It was so amazingly quiet inside compared with Lucie, it just shows the difference that a bit of sound proofing and carpet makes around the engine bay.
Quite a crowd had gathered around the car by now and so Paul let various folks take it for a spin. Our plan was to get all the MK VIs in a line up for a photo though the cars were stating to be lined up for the main display and so the Mk VI's joined that, all parked behind each other. After handing back five trophies from last year, this year I was asked to be a Car of the Day judge and so my task was to go around and check the condition of the paint work and the tyres on each vehicle that entered. Initially I did not enter Lucie for anything though my brother said that I should and he entered it into the Regal class.
There were 41 entries into the various classes so it took a while making sure that I had marked each car. Naturally, I didn't do my own, I asked one of the other judges to mark it. Given that the marks were for paint work and Lucie's paint work is just a mishmash of colours, she was give 10 points out of 30. 15 being the average and 30 being exceptional. The main display was quite impressive this year as quite a few Reliants had turned out and there was plenty of various models both 3-wheelers and 4-wheelers on show. It was great to see a hand full of Mk I Reliant Robins as well as over the years their numbers seems to be dwindling fast.
After judging I found Paul Dunn and Ray Sterling and asked if they'd like to get the three Mk VIs together for a photo shoot. We parked just to the side of all the events so that we had a good background and we couldn't help notice how different our Mk VIs were. One difference was the front of the saloons being higher than the van and yet measuring from the chassis to the top of the body work, the van was the same measurement as one of the saloons. The cameras then came out and all three Mk VI's were captured from about every angle. Given that there are only around 15 - 20 Mk VI's still known to survive and only a handful still on the road, it was good to see three of them together. Following this I then went to have a go in the manoeuvrability competition which is again organised by the Telford branch (Pete Gnosill, Geoff Payne and Kerry Croxton) as they won last year's event. Last year by sheer luck I won the individual men's trophy. How I haven't a clue given the poor visibility in Lucie.
This year you had a small wooden joust and without stopping you had to drive passed a stake and unhook a plastic hoop off it, this I did OK. Then it was park forward, as close as you can to two stakes in the ground and reverse off that on to a pretend wall parking as close as you can. The first time I tried this I don't think I did to badly. There was then an array of stakes in the ground that were numbered from 10 to 1 and you had to drive through them. Inside Lucie when the engine is running you can't hear a thing outside and not being able to hear Kerry I stopped to see what he was saying ... he was saying you can't stop!. D'oh, so I lost that one. Finally there was a reverse park into a made up area where you are only allowed one forward movement and then from the driver’s side throw a plastic hoop either out of the passenger window or over the car onto a target. The windows in Lucie are sliding ones so there was no chance of throwing it through the passenger window so I threw it over the car and missed the target completely. I had a second go though actually scored even worse and at the end plastic hoop ended up on the roof as I tried to throw it over the car.