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HAGGATE TRIAL

 

Why is Haggate always so damn cold? The ground was absolutely rock solid, the sky the most deep blue imaginable with not a cloud to be seen except the vapour tra.ils of Northward bound 747's ...... it was hard to believe it really was West of the Pennines. However all this weather perfection still didn't make your feet one degree warmer or stop the drips on your nose from freezing!

Scrutineering started smack on time but as always it degenerated into a panic affair due to the late arrival of the majority of the competitors. No fewer than eight motors were failed at screwball, due mainly to the handbrake ... or rather lack of! Of these two eventually weren't allowed to start, one due to a badly broken front spring and one to lack of handbrake, the other six, by judicious adjustments and well aimed kicks at various parts eventually got through.

 

The fifty-one entries, including a brave and solitary ex Army LWB set forth to tackle the sections, while us wot had cum in POSH motors (see report elsewhere) sallied forth to marshal I. The ground was very very slippy and even though the sections were marked wide it was definitely a difficult job to keep all four wheels going in the same direction, and it wasn't long before Mr Hall put his tidy (ex) SWB diesel into a graceful swallow dive onto its offside. White paintwork and dirty diesel oil certainly don't match

any better than they ever did. Many competitors on my section managed to get an opposite lock drift going and still get through the posts, while many others slithered down the first hill straight out of the section with all four wheels locked and an eleven for their efforts, C'est la vie!

 

Rigor Mortis and lunchtime seemed to coincide nicely together and a convoy of cross-legged women could be seen heading off down the track to the local hostelry rather than face the prospect of frostbite! While everyone else thawed out Ted and Carl, loyal to the end, proceeded to alter several sections and erect the Team Recovery course aided, I believe; by Paul Dewhirst (whose nickname I dare not print on pain of death). A glow on the horizon heralded the return of the pub convoy and gradually the event got under way again. Fred Jackson's driving had deteriorated during the lunch- time recess as he promptly emulated the morning's performance by putting his Series 11 SWB on its side in a gentle 'slalom' kind of maneuver which resulted in a dented ego rather than dented panels.

 

The 12 section trial over, the braver entrants moved on to the death defying team recovery, which resembled for all the world the Pairs ice skating event at the Olympics (am I allowed to mention the Olympics??)

 

To my eternal shame I must admit I didn't see more than a couple of minutes of the Team Recovery, though judging from the cheering and jeering I could hear, it was the usual mixture of thrills and Keystone cops type comedy. Towards the end even the hardened hill dwellers were beginning to feel the cold, the semi detached centrally heated types having disappeared much earlier, and the prize giving had to be hurried through whilst there were still enough people to receive them.

Once again thanks to Ted Hartley, Carl Amos and Paul Dewhirst and also to the Landowner for his understanding. Marshalls can all award themselves good conduct medals for surviving the intense cold, but it was a beautiful day, wasn't it, and it's got to be healthier than being stuck in front of the telly all afternoon, hasn't it? well hasn't it????

************

 

THE LAND ROVER 'WHISPER WAGON'

 

In a lot of ways I've led a very sheltered life, especially where cars are concerned. At the tender and long distant age of 17 I had a brief flirtation with a Ford Consul Mk II, column change, bench seat and genuine plastic upholstery, it also had the drawback of being shared with my brother, (it wasn't the sharing that bothered me, it was the fact he was older and bigger and invariably had his own way!) Nevertheless it was my first motor car and as such will forever have a place in my heart, as much for the bench seat as for any other reason! Within 6 months I sold my half share for the princely sum of £20 as I had found my true love. In terms of women she was , without doubt, an old hag!

 

A Series 1 86" rag top of the 'well used' variety, complete with a heart of solid BMC diesel, but like a woman she captured my heart and controlled my wallet ..... and she was cheap ..... £65 to be precise. Twelve months of 45 mph motoring, 60 miles to the pint of oil consumption and constant oil filter bowl replacements led me to a separation, I no longer needed my rough and ready friend, though she had taught me much about what a Land Rover really is capable of, so I sold her into slavery with a tear in my eye and £120 in my wallet to make way for a new love affair, which has lasted to this day, at the tender age of 18 and for the sum of £100 a SWB S/2 truck cab entered my life.

 

Thus it was that Land Rovers became a way of life with me and I have been quite happy to accept that I should never rise to the dizzy heights of actually owning anything younger than 14 years old. However the old saying is that 'Everything comes to him who waits' and lo and behold this time it did! Santa Land Rover finally got sick of me groveling and through the kind help of Graham Cox (Marketing and Sales) a 10 seater V8 LWB Land Rover flitted into my life for a brief, but ever so romantic interlude, of such things dreams are made!

 

The V8 that arrived was the Swiss specification left hand drive model. This comes as full deluxe trim, automatic reversing lights, mud flaps all round, front and rear towing equipment, pedal pads, rear door spare wheel carrier and cover, laminated screen and locking filler cap. Externally, the Series 4 is only different in that the front grille panel has been brought forward flush with the front wings, this in turn means a reworked, longer bonnet with two forward running flares along its length. After the initial strangeness wears off it is an extremely nice looking arrangement, even the cheap and nasty 'chip basket' grille doesn't look out of place. Rovers obviously think there's more danger of someone purloining your V8 engine than your old 2 1/4, as they fit a bonnet lock as standard (mind you, the’re probably right!). The other external feature are the Land Rover V8 decals over the rear wheel arches, very tasty without being flashy .... "if you got it, flaunt it!"

 

The left hand drive itself took a bit of getting used to, there is very little room in the left hand footwell of a V8 and feet the size of dinner plates meant that on more than one occasion I found myself with my blinking foot wedged under the brake pedal! It did however have the effect proving that the brakes were very, very good when it mattered ie. at Gas Stations! The vehicle is aimed fairly and squarely at the Middle East market, so I think it's fair to assume that all Arabs have telescopic arms as the gear lever, specially for reverse, needed a real stretch and 3rd and 4th were a telephone call away. The other controls were spot on. The high- neutral-low lever sprouted out of the heel board conveniently placed for the right hand, with the centre diff lock switch at its side. The re-design handbrake was a pleasure to use, a short lever with a positive feel and ratchet .... and it actually worked! The new style anti-burst door catch were an absolute dream after the old 'toilet door' variety, they closed with a satisfying clunk, and nary a rattle or a creak from them after that. So much for the inside, what about the mechanics of the machine? Well, basically it is a Range Rover engine giving 90bhp, complete with Range Rover gearbox, using full time four wheel drive. The drive goes through a normal Series 3 type hypoid rear axle and forward to a spiral bevel diff in the front with constant velocity joints in the steering swivels. These constant velocity joints, the double hooks joint on the front prop and the steering damper are all designed to cope with the constant 4wd, They also made the steering as heavy as a lead lined coffin!

 

Under the bonnet there was plenty of space at the front and rear of the engine, but like all V8 engine installations it was tight down the side of the engine. Servo brakes and viscous coupling fan are fitted as standard and the only chassis modification has been the moving forward of the front crossmember. Underneath the engine and transmission sits very demurely sturdy cross members, which give a much better ground clearance than the old Land Rover set up, the exhaust pipes too are set up well out of harms way.

 

What about the actual driving of the vehicle? My first drive was on a foggy, wet January night and I had to concentrate on not driving down the white line and not keep smashing my knuckles into the door as I went for a non-existent gear lever!.

 

The engine note was definitely habit forming, there's nothing like the muted rumble of a V8 and at anything below top speed the noise was definitely a whisper compared with the 'normal' Land Rover. The engine was a first time starter on a morning, though it did have an addiction for choke, which was quite alarming with petrol at present prices! Top speed was-very disappointing, a genuine top speed on the flat was 70mph, with a favourable wind 75mph, but to balance that it would cruise at 60mph with little noise and enough in reserve to tackle any in clines or overtaking that was required, below 60 there was always enough on tap to take the 2 ton's of Landy on some quite spirited performances, and it was always up at the front in the Traffic light Grand Prix ...... Once I'd mastered the right hand gearchange!

 

By some happy coincidence Haggate Trial was held on the same weekend as I took delivery, so it was with great pleasure that I set out for the wilds of Nelson to show off my new toy. Pennine lads, traditionally a dour lot, were not to be impressed that easily, after all hadn't Pennine being fitting V8's for years, it didn't stop the bonnet going up and down like the bank rate as interested parties did a bit of investigating however! Haggate was, as always, very cold and the ground was frozen solid. I decided to be daring, however, and have a gentle trundle round the hillocks, it soon became apparent that its size was a definite disadvantage in those kind of areas and I decided that cowardice was the better part of valour, especially as I was being egged on to greater darings by several of the more sadistic members. It soon became apparent to me that the 'Whisper Wagon' was a thirsty beast, in fact, thirsty is probably the understatement of the year, my frequent visits to the local petrol parlour became a scourge of some amusement when the pump jockey (an ardent admirer of 4 wheel drives) first clapped eyes on the V8. He veritably drooled with excitement. Non- chalantly I answered his ceaseless questions as yet another 15 quids worth slid down the filler tube. "Sounds powerful" he said. "It is" says I, mentally watching the clock register £15.57 and wondering when it's going to stop. "I bet it's hard driving on the left" says he. "No problem" says I. £16.75 and the lad's happy that my chariot will not consume another drop, and I'm happy that the gauge stopped before it passed the £17, that was all between me and starvation that week. Having paid up I locked the filler while super fan looked on in awe and waited for the mighty engine to rumble into life, a cheery wave of goodbye and I jumped in ..... only to find a yawning emptiness where the steering wheel should have been! Did I feel a fool as I slid into the driver's proper seat, red faced and embarrassed, while super fan mentally ticked me off the 'hero' list.

 

The fuel consumption was without doubt terrible, local running (albeit very hard driving) gave an average of 12mpg, a steady 55mph on a long run gave me the best figure of 17mpg, while a run at the legal maximum brought me back to 14mpg. I began to realise why it was aimed at the Middle East market, still it does run happily on 2 star petrol.

 

The following weekend I embarked on a trip to Norwich to attend meeting of the Breckland Land Rover Club in my official capacity as ARC Chairman. I set out at 3-0 pm on Saturday and by the time I was on this last leg through East Anglia the weather had turned rotten. Time was running out, so I decided to push it on. The Land Rover responded beautifully, it cornered well, the full time 4wd coming into its own on really tight roundabouts or corners, and I could use the acceleration to overtake and traffic hop. One absolutely vital appendage that is missing from this and every other Safari Land Rover, is a rear wash/wipe system (definitely ought to be a standard item Mr. Rover). I had done about 50 miles at that pace when, sure enough, a blue light appeared inviting me to a rendezvous in a convenient lay by.

The fact that he went to the wrong window tickled me immensely (I should add that I wasn't really worried as I had been just on rather than over the speed limit). The constable was very affable and appeared to be little disturbed at my seeming hurry in such poor conditions. His real motive in stopping me soon became apparent as he began to question me about the Land Rover itself. One nil to Land Rovers!

 

Before returning home the following day I went along on the Brecklands Sunday event, a Green Road run. Pennine would have called it a Safari, but it all boiled down to the same thing. A good run along tracks and green lanes that could test a Land Rover's capabilities. A very friend bunch of characters and varied crop of motors left Norwich in two groups to run the chosen trails, all of which had been surveyed by Syd Frisby, their Chairman and Green Roads Officer for the ARC. All legal and above board, very heartening!

 

I wasn't really sure whether Graham Cox really had this sort of thing in mind when he let me have the motor, but I thought "What the eye doesn't see ....." The V8 behaved perfectly and I used normal drive all the time until we came to one particularly boggy, narrow patch. The lead motor had several futile attempts and finally let Dave Bygraves (Chairman of the Anglian ROC) have a go through. With these two now through and the bog well chewed up I chose 3rd low range with the diff lock engaged and with a throaty snort the V8 was through with hardly an effort. While several motors helped the rest of the convoy through, several of us went on to the next hazard through a boulder strewn stream with a muddy exit.

 

Again the V8 with sure footed traction picked its way delicately through and out the other side, the high torque of the engine really showing its ad- vantage. Several more easy tracks followed before I decided to quit while I was winning and said goodbye to some new friends I had made in East Anglia, so while I pointed the bonnet North West and home, they carried on in true Land Rover spirit to the pub for some lunch and then to tackle some more of the rough stuff. The whole journey had been a pleasant experience from every angle apart'from the petrol price tag of £38 for the weekend!

 

The next day I awoke to find a Winter wonderland of snow covering the countryside. Great, a chance to check out the Snowmobile. The 750 x 16 Rangers and the full time fwd made easy work of the road conditions and only twice did I have to resort to the diff lock in drifted over back roads. The saddest moment of all came that evening when one of the most miserable men I've had the misfortune to meet came to take my new love away from me. He'd just delivered a Morris Marina to a local garage and seemed to think he was on jankers having to drive a Land Rover back to Brum .... is the age of Androids already with us I ask myself??

 

To sum up, a very enjoyable vehicle which I've no doubt has a very hefty price tag (I was unable to ascertain its English equivalent price). Exceptionally heavy steering and fuel consumption are its biggest draw- backs, while its excellent,traction and slightly better ground clearance go a long way to making up for its sheer size handicap in any real britches seat off roading, but by far its biggest asset was the fact that it looked, sounded and felt right. I only hope the Arabs appreciate it!

 

BRAMHAM PARK SPECIAL STAGE RALLY

 

The 1980 stage rally season got off with a bang for quite a few competitors at this David Brown Motor Club run event. The cold, snowy conditions and close proximity of trees made collisions more of a 'when' rather than 'if affair and none of the Pennine entrants came through unscathed, though some did come unstuck rather more spectacularly than others! Pennine also saved the day for the DBMSC when the event was threatened with an early end due to the back log of stuck vehicles in the snow bound car park. A quick radio distress call to the Pennine 'Sooper Snatch' recovery team and there was a gaggle of Landies in among the cars like foxes in a chicken run, hooks were being fastened to anything thicker than an 1/8th and those that refused the offer of a tow were left floundering for an hour or so before finally submitting to the inevitable. The estate manager was taking a great interest in all that was happening, and I thought we were in for a prize doing over the state of the field which closely resembled an African wallow hole. T’was not so! He disappeared for 10 minutes and returned with a 12 sealer, which he threw round the field with gay abandon like a demented dolphin. He confessed to me later that he hadn't realised that Land Rovers were so much fun. I received an official written thanks from the David Brown Club for all the Pennine members who stuck at it in atrocious conditions, and at their own cost, in order to recover the spectators and many expired rally motors. Your efforts were well appreciated.

 

Well what about the lads with their brains removed ie the drivers. I received an anonymous report on this event, so I shall print his/her account. I'm fairly sure it wasn't a Pennine member as all the long words were spelt correctly!

BRAMHAM PARK RALLY

 

Great, superb and other words (all unprintable) were said by all drivers / navigators who entered this event. Anyone who would like to know what French offroad rallies are like should have entered this event. Run the David Brown Car Club and Alwoodley Motor Club to their inimitable high standards on the estates' roads, farm and forest tracks covered with snow, ice, mud and bordered by ...... big trees.

 

Out of 60 entries 5 Pennine members rolled, smashed and slithered their way around. David Harrison gave his usual magnificent display of Range Rover driving to finish 14th O.A. and 1st 4WD with only one small scar to show just how hard he was trying. The David Brown entered SUV estate of S. Wood / M. Owen proved that under the right conditions they have a very useful vehicle and a Land Rover beater. 22nd O.A. 2nd 4WD J. Oldfield 2 1/4 Lightweight decided short cuts through the woods would make up for his lack of power and spinning off on the first stage, but it didn't help his truck cab's appearance (perhaps now he'll fit a cage) 31s O.A. 4WD. Raymond Sagar's run of bad luck continued with a trip to the woods and a sick engine giving a low position of 47th 0,A. and 4th 4WD Alan Beaumont and Kevin Taylor 214 Lightweight thought on one run a different approach was required (upside down) and resulted in petrol troubIe and a change of jeans to come 51st O.A. 5th 4WD. Lastly poor Stuart Brown, the only Lancashire lad who dare enter these events, took a trip the woods, resulting in broken steering and retirement for his smart V8 Series 1, Thanks to the organisers and all our lads are looking forward to the EIcar Forest Rally.

Anonymous

 

 

 
 
MSA and ARC club members are welcome to come along and join our events. Phone Mark on 07866 506521 / 01282 703718

 

 

Pennine Land Rover Club, Pennine LRC