This one isn’t going to be much of a Trip Report, for the simple reason that it wasn’t much of a trip. I decided to mark my first weekend of living in Peterborough by visiting the Land Rover Owner Show which was happening, literally, just down the road at the East of England Showground.
It’s worth noting that this was the first Land Rover show I’d been to in just over two years. Partially this was because of my Land Rover’s, er, ‘enforced absence’ as I took a painfully long time to rebuild its swivels but mostly this was because once you’ve been to two or three Land Rover shows a year for two or three years you realise that they’re all pretty much the same with the same vehicles on the same club stands and the same trade stalls selling the same products. When you begin to recognise Range Rover trim pieces for sale on an autojumble stall you realise you need a break.
However with the even being so close I figured it couldn’t hurt to pop along and see if anything had changed.
The answer is, no, not really. Like all car shows it’s fundamentally the same as they always have been. This isn’t really a complaint- I will happily wander around a showground on a nice day, look at Land Rovers for a few hours and overindulge in cooked meat products from a van. The old favourites like the Series 2 Club and the Camel Club were there with the usual array of Landys which I’vse seen many times before. However I did notice a few subtle changes during my absence from the scene.
The most noteable was how much more corporate the show was. By this I mean the number of company stalls selling brand new ‘stuff’ rather than the autojumble, tools, MOD surplus and nuts-and-bolts and a couple of people selling winches that made up most of the trade stalls ‘Back In My Day’. All that was there today, of course, but it I really noticed far more stalls selling *bling* than before. I guess this is all part of Land Rovers (especially the Defender) becoming cool cars in their own right plus the modern LR range is much more suited to the modifying and performance scenes than ever before, since they now feature actual road-going performance and their increasingly electronics-based systems are up for a lot of aftermarket tinkering. That’s my explanation for the huge number of stalls selling ECU upgrades, sports exhausts, mirror-finish wheels and any number of cosmetic upgrades like body kits, different grille designs, bonnets with air scoops in them, flush-fit side window panels and so on.
The peak of this was probably Nene Overland who had a range really rather attractive (that’s high praise coming from me, since I generally don’t ‘get’ sports-modding, especially with Land Rovers) upgraded Defenders in ice-white paint with colour-matched or contrasting roofs, grilles and wheels. They also did very potent-sounding engine conversions using the 5-cylinder Ford TDCi and Land Rover TDV6 engines . It’s good to see that the age-old traditions of hacking Land Rovers about to put new engines in them is still alive and well, even if it has taken a rather unusual turn.
The full set of pictures from the day is here.
That isn’t to say the usual modded Landys with big knobbly tyres and lots of ironmongery on the front weren’t there- they were, and in abundance – it’s just that this newer side to the Land Rover culture really caught my eye.
The other aspect that was noteable by its increased presence wasn’t so new. There were loads of ex-military Land Rovers there. Partly this was because there were at least two large stalls selling freshly pensioned-off MOD stock (very tempting- there’s something so appealing about a no-frills Army-spec 2.5 diesel Ninety with a soft top) but there was a heavy presence from several ex-military vehicle clubs as well. I have a lot of respect for these people because it takes real dedication to drive a stripped-out Lightweight or a WMIK Defender with no windscreen or doors. The attention to detail is something to behold, and it hasn’t stopped at getting the right symbols and insignia stencilled over the camo in the right places. A lot of the clubs had vast arrays of matching military equipment on their stands and the owners seem to be increasingly turned out in military uniform or combat gear.
Another thing worth mentioning is the standard of the commentary at the arena. The standard is generally fairly low at these events but whoever was on the microphone today (I’m afraid I didn’t catch her name) was on the ball, seemed to have at least a passing knowledge of, or interest in, Land Rovers and the chats with the vehicle owners managed to be fairly insightful rather than the ‘One Show’ level of banality that is the usual style.
In conclusion- I’m glad I went, it was pretty good as Land Rover shows go (and if you weren’t completely show-weary like me it would have had everything you could want) and there was some new stuff to look at.
The full set of pictures from the day is here.