Dunsfold Col­lec­tion Show

There re­ally is no other Land Rover event on the UK show cir­cuit quite like this one

Land Rover Monthly - - Contents - Story: Gary Pusey Photos: Nick Dim­bleby

As one of the most unique among the coun­try’s nu­mer­ous Land Rover shows, 2017 was a hit

Ire­ally do think it is to­tally unique among the coun­try’s nu­mer­ous Land Rover shows, al­though as a trustee of the Col­lec­tion I will hap­pily own up to be­ing a lit­tle bi­ased! But looked at ob­jec­tively, there is no es­cap­ing the fact that it is the only event in the UK, or any­where else, for that mat­ter, that has at its heart the world’s most sig­nif­i­cant col­lec­tion of Land Rover ve­hi­cles. No one has bet­ter, or more var­ied, or more in­ter­est­ing, than the Dunsfold Col­lec­tion.

It also has its roots in one man’s pas­sion for Land Rover history, his fore­sight in seek­ing to pre­serve ve­hi­cles, doc­u­ments and arte­facts long be­fore any­one else was do­ing so, and his will­ing­ness to share his col­lect­ing habits with oth­ers. Brian Bashall ac­quired the first ve­hi­cle for what be­came the Dunsfold Col­lec­tion in 1968. His ob­ses­sion was passed on to his sons Christo­pher and Philip, and what was now a fam­ily af­fair led to the first Col­lec­tion open day in 1994. Many who at­tended those early open days have said that it felt like a per­sonal in­vi­ta­tion to a friend’s Land Rover party.

And al­though the event has ex­panded sig­nif­i­cantly, and along the way the Col­lec­tion has be­come a reg­is­tered char­ity, the trustees re­main com­mit­ted to

the prin­ci­ples, the char­ac­ter and the friendly ethos of the Show that were es­tab­lished by the Col­lec­tion’s founder. My favourite so­cial me­dia com­ment in the run-up to the show this year was: “It is more than a Col­lec­tion, it is a way of life”.

This year, what is now a two-day show at­tracted over 20 of the UK’S top Land Rover clubs, many of which have par­tic­i­pated in the event for years, and who be­tween them ex­hib­ited over 250 ve­hi­cles along­side the Col­lec­tion’s dis­play of 131 of its ve­hi­cles. But each year we also see new ex­hibitors, and this year we wel­comed the re­cently-formed Free­lander Own­ers’ Club.

From the out­set, Brian’s in­ten­tion was to cre­ate a re­laxed, fam­ily-friendly event for en­thu­si­asts of ev­ery type of Land Rover, from pro­to­types and one-offs to fac­tory-spec pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cles, through ev­ery mil­i­tary vari­ant, to the weird and the won­der­ful and the down­right wacky. The Col­lec­tion has also em­braced ev­ery new model the fac­tory pro­duces, re­main­ing truly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the en­tire range of Land Rover ve­hi­cles and en­sur­ing it never be­comes frozen at one par­tic­u­lar point in time.

The Bashall fam­ily’s en­thu­si­asm was met and re­cip­ro­cated by sim­i­lar en­thu­si­asm in oth­ers, as well as a great deal of loy­alty and on­go­ing sup­port. And this was as true this year as it has been in the past. Ded­i­cated vol­un­teers from among the Friends of the Col­lec­tion help pre­pare the ve­hi­cles for dis­play and po­si­tion them with mil­i­tary pre­ci­sion, as well as man­ning the Col­lec­tion mar­quee through­out the week­end. Many of them have been help­ing out since the very first open days.

To­day, the show still strives to be friendly and in­ti­mate. It re­ally is all about Land Rover peo­ple com­ing to­gether to share their en­thu­si­asm, show their ve­hi­cles and ad­mire the ve­hi­cles of other en­thu­si­asts, eat and drink well, and have a con­vivial time to­gether in the Sur­rey coun­try­side. As one show vis­i­tor said to me on Satur­day evening: “I spend a week­end here with my fam­ily away from ev­ery­thing, en­joy­ing our Land Rover, and watch­ing other peo­ple en­joy theirs. What could be bet­ter?”

A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of vis­i­tors choose to make a week­end of it, and the camp­site is filled with ev­ery­thing from ex­pe­di­tion roof tents and caravans to bivvy bags. Stay­ing overnight means en­joy­ing your own bar­beque, or sup­per from the cater­ing vil­lage. And pa­tro­n­is­ing the beer tent, of course, which has also be­come the lo­ca­tion for one of the week­end’s un­doubted highlights: the Satur­day evening char­ity auc­tion hosted by the in­domitable and larger-than-life Richard Bed­dall, whose abil­ity to per­suade peo­ple to part with their pen­nies in the in­ter­ests of the Col­lec­tion never ceases to amuse, amaze, as­tound and en­ter­tain, in equal mea­sure.

This year, Richard raised over £5000 for the Col­lec­tion, in the process selling ev­ery­thing from first edi­tions of Tim Slessor’s book First Over­land, to a se­lec­tion of G4 cloth­ing and equip­ment, a cou­ple of highly-de­sir­able G4 bikes, brochures, spares, JLR pub­lic­ity ma­te­rial, and a Range Rover L322 rear door, au­to­graphed by a very large num­ber of movers and shakers in the Land Rover world! This year’s top lot was pos­si­bly the day out near Gatwick fly­ing the Bri­tish Airways Air­bus sim­u­la­tor. I would have hap­pily put in a bid for this my­self if it were not for my pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence in a sim­u­la­tor at East Mid­lands air­port some years ago, when I re­gret to say I de­stroyed an oth­er­wise per­fectly healthy Boe­ing 737 dur­ing a bad weather land­ing at Hong Kong.

There were over 20 stands in the trade vil­lage and au­to­jum­ble, selling ev­ery­thing from old parts to new parts, scale mod­els,

“It is more than a col­lec­tion, it is a way of life”

cloth­ing, ex­pe­di­tion gear and can­vas hoods.

Al­though the Dunsfold Col­lec­tion Show has a long history of awards – for the Best LeafSprung ve­hi­cle, the Best Coil-sprung, and so on – this year two im­por­tant new awards were in­tro­duced. The Best in Show Award, which is given to the Land Rover ve­hi­cle that most in­spires our guest judge, was this year cho­sen by long-term sup­porter of the Col­lec­tion and Land Rover fan Mark Evans of A4x4is­born fame, vet and petrol­head. Mark scoured the show­ground be­fore choos­ing the win­ner, and awarded the tro­phy to the Land Rover Op­tional Equip­ment Col­lec­tion, for their su­perbly-re­stored Series IIA 109-inch with a fac­tory-ap­proved Har­rier back­hoe by Air­drive. Com­ment­ing on his choice, Mark said: “I was de­lighted to find this won­der­ful IIA with the back­hoe. The team have done an ex­cel­lent job of restor­ing it over the last three years, and it was tremen­dous to see it be­ing demon­strated. It was a wor­thy win­ner!”

The sec­ond of the new awards is the Brian Bashall Me­mo­rial Award, which will be pre­sented an­nu­ally to in­di­vid­u­als, groups, com­pa­nies, clubs or other en­ti­ties that have made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the preser­va­tion of Land Rover history and her­itage. This year, the judges awarded the tro­phy to the Houben fam­ily from Hol­land. For the very few of you that haven’t heard their name be­fore, the Houbens are re­spected through­out the world for their knowl­edge of the mar­que, their won­der­ful col­lec­tion of Land Rover ve­hi­cles and their ex­cel­lent restora­tions.

JLR ar­ranged a me­dia event on the Fri­day be­fore the Show, and guest jour­nal­ists had their first op­por­tu­nity to sam­ple four of the Col­lec­tion’s ve­hi­cles that had never been avail­able to them pre­vi­ously, in­clud­ing clas­sic Range Rover chas­sis num­ber one. JLR also sup­ported our event by con­tribut­ing to the cost of our show pro­gramme, which this year was the big­gest and best we have ever pro­duced, with pho­to­graphs and in­for­ma­tion on all of the 131 Col­lec­tion ve­hi­cles on dis­play. JLR’S spon­sor­ship of it means that we could pro­vide the sou­venir pro­gramme free to ev­ery vis­i­tor to the Show.

JLR also pro­vided a pre-pro­duc­tion ex­am­ple of the new Range Rover Ve­lar and this was on dis­play through­out the week­end. Need­less to say, it gen­er­ated a great deal of in­ter­est and was much-pho­tographed.

Land Rover Ex­pe­ri­ence Lon­don have been sup­port­ers of the event for many years. Their demon­stra­tion drives in Land Rover ve­hi­cles al­ways prove pop­u­lar, this year es­pe­cially so be­cause the ve­hi­cles they pro­vided were 110 De­fend­ers, and 2017 is the last year these cars will be used by Land Rover Ex­pe­ri­ence cen­tres through­out the coun­try. LRE Lon­don also spon­sored a VIP hos­pi­tal­ity tent that dis­pensed tea, cof­fee and cakes to Friends of the Col­lec­tion through­out the week­end.

The VIP tent ob­vi­ously proved to be an im­por­tant at­trac­tion, be­cause we signed up around 50 new Friends of the Col­lec­tion, as well as a num­ber of new Wall of Fame sup­port­ers. We were es­pe­cially hon­oured when the De­fender 50th Own­ers’ Club & Ve­hi­cle Reg­is­ter pre­sented us with a do­na­tion of £1000 and we are de­lighted to add them to the Wall of Fame as a Gold Sup­porter.

Among the thou­sands of vis­i­tors over the week­end, we were pleased to wel­come friends old and new from all over the UK as well as Aus­tria, Bel­gium, France, Ger­many, New Zealand, Por­tu­gal and Switzer­land. We were also pleased to see a num­ber of Land Rover em­ploy­ees, both cur­rent and re­tired, whose per­sonal sup­port for the Col­lec­tion is very much ap­pre­ci­ated. Their guided tours and talks on the ve­hi­cles they were in­volved with at the fac­tory are al­ways well-at­tended and this year was no dif­fer­ent.

The weather was kind to us through­out the week­end and we were treated to a low fly­past on Sun­day af­ter­noon by the Aces High Dou­glas Dakota, which is con­ve­niently based at the nearby air­field and was re­turn­ing to base.

As an op­por­tu­nity to see ex­am­ples of pretty much ev­ery ve­hi­cle that Land Rover has pro­duced, as well as many of the huge va­ri­ety of Land Rover-based con­ver­sions, and while away a few hours with like-minded folk, the Dunsfold Show can­not be beaten.

Be­low: From trade stands to Land Rover clubs and the Col­lec­tions own 131 ve­hi­cles, this year was a real hit

This page: Ev­ery type of Land Rover from pro­to­types to mil­i­tary and the weird and won­der­ful were rep­re­sented

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