Shortly after I arrived, I was asked by the RCoS to make a presentation, together with a former colleague from Rover, to start this year's British Car Week.
So what is British Car Week? And how come we Brits haven't heard of it before? Well, back in March 1997, an article was written in the American magazine Road and Track, lamenting the lack of British Sports Cars to be seen on the road. The article grabbed the attention of Austin Healey owner Peter Schauss, who suggested that one week in late Spring each year should be promoted as 'Drive Your British Car Week'. The idea was to get cars out on the road and promote them in whatever way possible. From that point on, the last week in May was adopted as British Car Week.
This year celebrated the third BCW, which now has a dedicated web site at: http://members.aol.com/Tringafun/britishcarweek.html (I hope Ed.)
Sweden has been a very active participant in this event, and for this year its second largest city, Gothenburg, was chosen for the centre of activities for the majority of Scandinavia. The week started on Saturday 20th May, with a meeting at the local BMW Rover dealership, who kindly laid on coffee and sandwiches, whilst several new cars were made available for the day to test drive. These included a Rover 75, MGF, several Discoverys, and a Range Rover. Around 40 people turned up, including 5 Rover Vitesses from Norway. In the afternoon they held the RCoS AGM at a local sports car museum, followed by a splendid evening meal at the nearby ICA Gardens Hotel, ten miles south of the city. The meal finished around 10.30 pm, then came the time for our presentation to officially start the week.
The evening finally ended around 1:30 am. Amazingly virtually everyone stayed for the presentation, including several people who had driven through the previous night! Such is the enthusiasm of the Swedish! We were joined by a couple of guys who came over from Chester in a 1951 Marauder. This was quite a rare beast, being only 1 of 15 made by Rover, a 2 door, 2 seater convertible, based on the P3 saloon. The driver was the charismatic Ian Glass, and the co-pilot was the youthful 82 year old Frank Harvey from Chester. Ian was amazed, "I couldn't believe people stayed up for the lecture. In an English club they would be straight in the bar! These guys are so intense!"
Sunday started rather too early at 8 am and was the main event of the week, with a scenic drive and treasure hunt, ending at about 4 pm. This covered some of the most picturesque parts of the area, not to mention some of the best roads, and ended in the centre of the city at one of the main squares called Gotaplatsen. The weather was superb, over 30 degrees C, and perfect for top down driving. Eighty two cars took part in the day, which finished with a special parade up the main street (called The Avenue), which is normally closed to cars. All sorts of strange cars were there, including Range Rover, Mini, Jaguar, Alvis, Riley, the inevitable MGB and several Spitfires, plus one TR3A, and a single, but immaculate TR6. Around 40 prizes were given in the presentation at the end of the drive, by the British consulate general (chauffeur driven to the event in an FX4 taxi!), and also my ex-Rover colleague (self driven in a New Discovery), ending a really superb day.
Each evening of the following week featured a convoy drive from the Gotaplatsen in the centre of the city, out to a different destination via a specially chosen route for maximum entertainment. For example, on the Tuesday evening, about 25 cars turned up for a drive out to the private car collection at Billdal, south of the city. The museum was opened specially for the event, and has about 50 sports cars, dating from 1923 to 1977. We were also treated to a personalised guided tour by the owner, who then cooked food for us at the end of the visit. Not bad for a multimillionaire!
The BCW ended on Saturday 27th at the Tjoloholm Classic Car Show. This was set in the magnificent grounds of a castle, about 20 miles South east of the city. Several hundred of the 600 cars on show were British.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn't so kind as it absolutely threw it down all day. A boat show would have been more appropriate. In fact, of the 10,000 people expected, only 700 braved the elements. Nonetheless it was a good opportunity to talk with other enthusiasts; hot soup in the Land Rover Club's tent became very popular that day. Triumph was represented by several Spitfires and a TR6, plus a truck carrying the superb locally made "TRIUMF" ice cream.
So that was British Car Week. For me, it was all summed up in a comment from Ian Glass. "Scandinavia is a bit of a forgotten place. Most people are happy to take a ferry to France and then drive for hours to somewhere in the south for a holiday, but coming here is much more relaxing. OK, it's 25 hours on the ferry from Newcastle, but you drive off the ferry and in five minutes you're at the hotel. It's so easy! The people are friendly, enthusiastic and helpful. The place is beautiful and the events well planned, I'll definitely be back next year". To put this in perspective, Ian and Frank are competing in eight or nine classic car rallies this year. I think they should recognise a good one!
I hope this gives you a brief idea of what British Car Week was like, Scandinavian style.
For more information, have a look at the story on The Rover Club of Sweden website: where it's available in Swedish and English, at: http://www.tripnet.se/rcos/
Reprinted by kind permission of the editor of the TR Drivers Club.
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