I had been looking forward to the 53rd National Rally for a while as it was the first one I’d go to with my son, even though he is only 12 weeks old. Better to start him off early on I thought. Sadly a fifty year old two seater van with no seal belts isn’t going to be any good for carrying two adults and a child in a car seat as unless I nail the car seat to the roof, there is nothing to attach it to. Therefore without question my 1961 Reliant Regal Mk VI van (Lucie) had to be trailered to the event. I had even got a t-shirt sorted out weeks in advance thanks to the ChipShop in Brooklyn, New York who sent us “Reliant Robin Owners Club of North America” t-shirts. Arriving bright and early at around 9:25am, my wife (Caroline) unloaded my son (Harvey) as I unloaded Lucie off the trailer. Having already met a few friendly faces, I took Lucie for a short spin around the field and then it was time for a cup of tea from the burger van.
This year looking around the field, there appeared to be no more cars than usual but the actual variety was quite staggering and so I went for a walk about with my camera. In the three wheeled flavour the oldest vehicle I saw was Steve White’s 1959 Regal Mk V saloon (Herbie) and then there was my 1961 Regal Mk VI van and also a 1965 Regal 3/25 with the large slatted front, something of a rarity these days. The late 1960s / early 1970s Regal 3/30s seemed to be out in force this year and there were all three types of Robin as well as Rialtos and a TW9. Quite an assortment indeed, one Reliant powered object not usually seen was an Allett lawn mower. Whilst not actually built by Reliant, looking under the bonnet reveals a Reliant engine. This brought with it great interest as well as a free grass cut for the land owner. What I found especially nice was a Robin Mk III van brought along by Mark and Sue Cropper. You don’t usually see many Mk III vans but the one they had looked superb.
As the gathering commenced, I lined up Lucie and put up her sign detailing why she is painted the way she is. I was then asked to be one of the judges for Car of the Day but no sooner had I began to start marking the vehicles my brother Geoff came over informing me our dad had taken a turn for the worst. I had left my phone in the car and so retreating to my car I phoned my sister Sharron who informed me that this looks like the end and our dad was about to die.
As they live in Cornwall I was at least seven hours away needing to pack up and return Lucie back home. My brother has Pete and Dee Gnosill if they could tke his Reliant (New Blue) home so that he could come home with me and then immediately set off for Cornwall. Sadly within 10 minutes of leaving the rally we got another phone call saying my dad had died.