Words by Ian Nelson. Images by Nick Salmon and Ben Wright
By all accounts, the rally at Beaulieu on 7th July was a great success – lots of people have told me how much they enjoyed the event, which was all due to the glorious weather. So much for my organising skills - or maybe lack of...!
Over 200 cars packed the rally field and there was certainly lots to see. We had a uniquely impressive array of long-distance Sevens starting with John Coleman’s famous Chummy in which he travelled from Buenos Aires to New York in 1959. Thanks to Dorset A7 Club, Kai Coleman and the Heritage Centre at Gaydon for arranging the loan of this fascinating car. Then there were the more recent A7 heroes, including Guy Butcher and Eunice Kratky’s Chummy, very recently returned from their epic journey from New York to Alaska, then all the way through South America to Tierra del Fuego. A total journey of 18,000 miles - astonishing.
We were also delighted to see the A7s of Jack Peppiatt and Amanda Peters, Stan Price and Diana Garside and River Dukes. These cars have recently repeated John Coleman’s drive from Buenos Aires to New York, and it was a privilege for us to see these fine cars lined up at Beaulieu. Thanks to Jack and Stan for bringing the cars straight from their trans-Atlantic containers to Beaulieu – a lot of effort and much appreciated. Other A7s on display had done the Peking-Paris route, crossed the Andes, consumed Route 66 and been Round Britain. We were pleased to see A7CA chairman Andy Lowe with his Special and grey book editor-elect Ed Waugh.
Vince Leek was there with Chris Parkhurst and Geoff Cox, having taken their cars over the Andes a few years ago. Vince went home richer, having sold and signed several copies of his very readable book, Austins over the Andes. Nearby, we saw the Lotus-rivalling Simplicity alongside the most advanced A7 racer, Complexity. John Miles brought his much written-about Ulster and these cars were all much admired.
The 750 Trials section put on a spectacular display with their three trials cars on the grass banking. Meanwhile in the heat of the midday sun, Mike Griffiths and Penny Chew organised a marathon session of Austin 7 driving tests and the inter-club relay race. Lining the top of the field were the visiting cars from our friends Tacot Club from Calais. We hope they enjoyed their day at Beaulieu on their tour of England.
There were more Autojumble stalls than ever, record sales of ice creams, and a record attendance (100) at the Saturday evening grand barbecue dinner. Only the sizzling burger stall was unhappy, as people like me stuck to cool mint choc chip cones for their lunch. The Saturday afternoon run through the New Forest, planned by the Dorset A7 club was enjoyed by many and will become a regular annual feature. The judging of the cars and the prize giving went faultlessly, and we were delighted to see our club president, Tony Southgate, presenting the trophies.
We are very grateful to our advertisers and to our sponsors, RH Classic Insurance and Warranty Direct who effectively reduced everyone’s entry ticket price by £2.
Many thanks to all of you (you know who you are) who worked hard and thoughtfully to make this 51st rally another big success in the annual Austin Seven calendar. See you on 5th and 6th July next year, when our theme will be Austin Seven commercial vehicles.