The Year 2000 Land Rover Meeting at Billing, UK

Yes, the biggest Land Rover meeting in the world is over again for this year. Held, as every year for the last ten years at Billing Aquadrome near Northampton, United Kingdom it is the Mecca for all Land Rover Enthusiasts.

It's hard to say if there were more people present than last year. Maybe the LRO staff knows. But what I know is that never before there have been so many already present on Thursday. We arrived with 8 cars at around 4 PM and had lots of trouble finding a suitable sized spot. A small party of danish LR owners had already set up their tents in our usual spot but they moved on when we had erected our camp. It looks as if we were either too noisy or to grumpy to bear as neighbours. Sorry for that mates. It wasn't our intention to scare you off...

Above: An nicely lifted Range Rover wearing 40" tires. This one belongs to Michael Baker of Nottingham and is road legal. The weather wasn't too great. After having been blessed the last 5 years with extremely good weather it changed a bit this year. Friday was fine with lots of sun but Saturday and Sunday were clouded and even some drizzle fell in the morning. In the evenings it was outright cold with a strong wind blowing and forcing everybody to take cover.
Seems as if we get recognized after all these years. The owner of the Take-away soon turned up, an elder indian man, very gentle. He came over to greet us and to shake hands. Also many traders had kept us in mind although none reached for the shotgun... Below: RPI cylinder heads and blocks. Anything from 3.9 to 4.6 and beyond.

What I like in the UK is the attitude of the people who sell stuff. Sure they want to sell but not at any price. If they find that you're not going to buy but lead an interesting discussion they welcome you. I found that almost nobody wasn't interested in turning me off once they felt the interest in their products. Special thanks to Warwick LR, Southdown (as usual), Dave Bowyer's staff and many many others who made me welcome even if I sometimes asked quite indiscreet questions.

I've been to many an event on the european mainland and never found this same attitude. Once a dealer finds out you don't want to buy his products he isn't interested any longer. Anyone having visited the IOR at Munich know what I mean.

The run onto the good deals started as soon as we finished putting up our tents. For those of you who never visited Billing (shame on you) there are about 250 dealers. Many of them carry new products only so there's no problem to get parts from them later in the show. But quite a lot do used parts of factory blems. Those are mostly complete parts where either the wrapping is damaged or some bolts missing or similar. Many of them only have one or two of a specific item and you must be quick to get it. So I laid hands on a genuine new, never assembled roof rack for Discovery for only 80 pounds. Not too bad when you consider the genuine list price of around 400.

Or for example Salisbury rear and Rover front axles as shown left for 20 each. Sure, they're used but what a terriffic deal nonetheless.

Even very special parts were laying around. I noticed several complete capstan winch kits for Defenders, still in their wooden boxes for about half the price of a new electric winch alone. Also front and rear Salisburys for coil sprung versions etc.

Above: 300 TDi correction kit for 130
The increasing number of computer controled Land Rovers put the non-franchised dealers under hard pressure. Land Rover is very reluctant to sell it's TestBook to them but you must handle the electronics. Now an company called Black Box Solutions came up with the Rovacom, an lightweight portable computer that does more than the genuine TestBook. You can read out all sensor datas, enter all settings starting from the door switch to the engine type. Sadly it's price tag prohibits it's use by single enthusiasts. The complete system costs 3000 pounds. You get a 30-day licence for 248, a 1-year for 2915 or a lifetime licence for 7200. Glps! But it does terriffic things as you can alter almost anything. Compared to the TestBook it does not "lock" certain values so they can still be changed later on. However connect a TestBook once to the system and those values can't be changed later on.
Southdown is a well known manufacturer of off road and on road armor. Skidplates and the like are it's speciality as well as winch bumpers. The new Discovery was due to get some parts. This posed unexpected problems. The new Disco II is completely different from the previous model, no measures are the same. The winch bumper you see at the right will sadly be a one-off. It too them 26 pieces and a week of hard work to do it. No customer can pay for that so the design will be dumped. Unless you really, REALLY ask nicely (and wave with a nice bundle of banknotes)
The Jungle Trekker are quite unusual tires. They look like they are going to dig down to the middle of earth when you just put them to the ground. Obviously one of the most aggressive designs I've ever seen. I wonder however about their sideslope holding. Maybe if the manufacturer gives me a set to test I'd be able to tell you more... Above: You probably will never see this bumper around

Left: W&H offer additional or replacement fuel tanks. This one to the left is for a 110 TD5 and takes 130 litres in it's 2mm stainless steel hold. The bottom is even made of 3mm stainless steel. Almost a bargain at 550 it replaces the genuine tank. Additionally you can put wing tanks inside the 110's that fit inside the rear wheelwell, giving an additional 48 litres per side. Makes up for 2500 Kilometres of road driving or 1200 in soft sand.

Right: Several makers had inserts to fit in the back. This one is for a 110, has 4 drawers and folding-up top.

Left: Roof tents were everywhere this year. This Brakhah from South Africa is very well made, fits an 90 as well as a 110 and even leaves decent load space on the roof rack of the 90.

Right: Foley made this vehicle to a clients specs. Base is a 130 TDi. The floor is lowered, the whole vehicle fits inside a container which might be a decisive factor depending on where you want to travel. Off road performance is reduced by the fuel tank and rear overhang. It took Foley 10 weeks of work on this vehicle so don't expect it to be cheap. For an empty body shell including the base vehicle you should count around 25000 which might still be acceptable.

Left: Running in a complete different price range is the 110 (or what else you may call it) 6x6 conversion which belongs to Gary Foster of Middlesborough. i didn't dare to ask how much he put into the car as it wasn't advertised for sale but I believe you will easily get an Autobyography Range for that money. Just look closely at the picture. Notice some differences?

Right: A very good idea are those small bumperettes for 90 and 110. They follow the rear corners and are fitted to the existing mounting points. Made of heavy steel, galvanised and then black powder coated they should last a very long time. This one isn't coated yet.

Left: Carbon fibres make their appearance with these wing top guards.

Right: Rised air intakes are great for allowing better air flow. However I wish they were available not only for the left side as the heater air intake would also benefit from a better air flow. Seen at Mantec.

Left, right and below: Vehicles for sale. They ranged from the 50 Pound Series running!chassis at the left to the Talon Riot Control Unit (below right) for 400.000 Pounds