So you want to go to a Rally?
(a local show, historic car rally or village fete)

During the summer months you will hear some of our members mention about supporting one or more of the many shows, rallies, village fetes that are held every weekend around Cornwall to raise money for local causes.  Some of our members support a local rally or two during the summer, either in a nearby village or one supporting a favoured charity.  No doubt, you will be asked if you will be going along.

This is a personal choice and it will not be a 'Club event'; the Club only has a display at one major rally during the year.  Once you get to know other club members in your locality they will have information about the shows/rallies in the area.

Entry Forms
The first requirement for most shows/rallies is to obtain an entry form and return it, usually with an sae, to the organiser before the date specified.  There are very few shows which do not have an entry form and the organisers are happy for you to turn up on the day.

The organisers of the bigger shows will normally send you a pass so that the security staff at the gate will allow you entry to the site.  Do check that there may be specified times to arrive before, and leave after, as movement around crowded show sites is prohibited once the general public are wandering about.  Please accept that the organisers require that you submit an entry form as they have to account for all entrants in order to comply with their legal obligations and the event insurance (in the UK that is).   Be alert to what you are signing as some entry forms still contain illegal statements see Entry forms warning below.  

Once you have attended an event you will be on the organisers mailing list to be sent an entry form next year, if you have provided an sae the previous year.  However, most organisers are now publishing the entry forms on event websites and so the responsibility is on you to ensure that you download the form and enter before the closing date.

Your entry is not a definite commitment and you may genuinely not be able to attend due to some late problem or on the day the weather is not ideal for sitting around in a field.  However, it does not do you credit, or the Club, if you send an entry form on the off-chance that you might go to the event and then fail to turn up.

Your annual insurance arranged with RH Specialist Insurance Group through the A7CA insurance scheme covers you for attendance at shows/rallies.

What will you be doing?

show1Whenever you are out with your 'Seven' throughout the year you will always be meeting the public; and inevitably many people will be interested in your car and what you are doing - a rally, a Club run?  When you attend a show/rally you are there to display your 'Seven'.  In return for your attendance free of charge, it is implicit upon you to form part of the event and attract the paying public to view your car.

Most of the historic cars present will be post-war and unfortunately some owners arrive at these events, park and lock their vehicle and that is it; no rally number or details on display; they go off, having gained free entry, to look at the rest of the show.  Sadly, some will sit near their vehicle all day and completely ignore anyone showing interest.

Enjoy the day
Although the purpose of being at the show is to display your 'Seven' you can find time to wander about and chat tto other enthusiasts with their post-war cars and m/cycles that you recall seeing on the roads when you were a child.  Depending upon the size of the event there will be trade stands or, for the smaller village shows, table-top, bric-a-brac sales.  All shows, however large or small, will have a show ring, or main ring, for a programme of displays throughoutt the day.  So there is plenty for you, and your good lady, to do and see.  But don't lock up your 'Seven' and disappear for the day - you have been allowed free entry to display your car and so . . . . . .

You should display your Seven
show 3At any event the public will wander over because they have some level of interest in looking at historic cars.  Of the few makes of pre-war cars present our colourful and distinctively shaped cars will always attract their attention; maybe because they often see a 'Seven' in their area and want to view them a lot closer, or have read about CA7C.  It helps if you are prepared to display your 'Seven' by opening the bonnet and arranging your personal items inside so that as much of the interior as possible can be seen by those peering in.

 

show 6
Information sheet
A laminated A4 sheet, or two at the most, displayed with salient information is really an essential.  State the model name and year of manufacture; engine size and RAC hp/bhp; when and where it was first registered; when you bought it; how many owners it has had; any major restoration work; any modifications from standard; what your main interests are - Club runs, holidays, rallies?

 

 

Talking to people show 2
Some people will glance, perhaps take a photograph, and wander away; others will wish to talk but do not know how to approach you.  So, how do you engage their interest?  Some owners now cringe and say "I am no good at the 'PR'."  Fine, we have not all had careers where, through an official, or senior, position it has been incumbent upon us to 'break the ice', to open the conversation and put people at ease.  Some of you will say that you were not a 'rep' (meaning sales representative) but by your very dress, behaviour and charisma you have been a 'rep' all your life for your family, your school and perhaps university, your youth organisation, your company, and when you go abroad on holiday you 'rep' for England and St George!

So when you are out with your 'Seven' you are a 'rep' for the historic car movement and, in particular, Austin Sevens and CA7C.  By being at an event, or driving on a Club run, with your 'Seven' you 'rep', like it or not.  In reality, now you are there and parked, you really should try to talk to the people who come close to look at your 'Seven'.

Lacking in confidence?
But you own a 'Seven', and you know, without thinking, what model it is; how much it cost; its likely value; how long you have owned it; what has been done to it; what documents have been retained. 

You also know that CA7C offers members a choice of monthly runs, social events, holidays, teach-ins, black-hand gang support, and you know about the members who drive their 'Sevens' to up country events.  The person standing by your car doesn't know anything like as much, so you are in pole position and now is the time to use your knowledge accordingly. 

You must have had a chat up line at least once in your life, so don't be self-conscious about someone looking at your 'Seven' and showing interest.  If you are sitting in your car do not ignore them, but at least open the window and chat or, better still, and being more polite, get out and talk to them. 

Judging people's interest and opening the conversation

show 4
By his/her appearance the person looking at your 'Seven' is either too young to have owned a 'Seven', may be old enough to have owned one as a student or had to sit in the back of one on the family holiday jaunt to the west country, even worked as a mechanic in a local garage.  Selling an interest, in this case information about Austin Sevens and CA7C, is the art of making people feel special and that they might be more interested in what you can tell them.


Firstly, do not pounce or hover too close, let them have time to learn something from looking under the bonnet and inside, and from reading your info sheet.  Whilst doing this they may well look around for someone to talk to and notice that you are watching them showing interest in your car.  Just by catching their eye you have invited them to say something.  They may just say "Its a nice car." or not having fully read your info sheet may ask "Have you had it long?"

If they do not say anything but look as though they wish to be spoken to then, without delaying too long, and remember that a smile is both welcoming and disarming, you have engaged their interest and now for the opening line for the conversation.

It could be "Did your father (grandfather) have a 'Seven'?"  Perhaps you might ask "Have you ever owned an old car?"    Or how about "This car is now xx years old!"', or go rash and add "It is a (year/model) with a 747cc engine giving xx bhp." but only if you have noted that they haven't read your script. 

Let them ask questions
Once you have 'broken the ice' they should feel welcome to lead the conversation but you are in control because you, on most occasions, will know more about the 'Sevens' and your car in particular, than they do.  From then on it is just natural conversation.

People usually ask about mpg and top-speed; what maintenance is required; where you obtain spares; whether it runs on leaded or unleaded petrol; the cost of insurance; the need for an MoT and annual road tax etc..

Caution - only 'talk technical terms' if they ask a technical question because these days many car owners are clueless about the workings of their car.  You might have to tell them that the principles of the engine and gearbox on their modern car is no different; but nowadays we have a better knowledge of metals and efficiency is good due to fuel injection, electronic ignition and engine management systems; that fuel and lubricant chemistry is so much improved etc; but of course few of our modern cars will never last as long!

If they mention that they, or a family member, once owned a 'Seven' and they may wonder if it still exists then do refer them to the online AC7C Surviving Austin Seven Register at www.a7ca.org   Some previous owners have found that their once cherished and memorable car still exists.

Your wider knowledge
It helps to know the difference between the several 'Sevens' on display, eg. which have 3- and 4-speed crash boxes and when synchromesh first appeared; that the Mk1 Ruby has right angles at the base of the windscreen pillars and non-winding rear side windows, the Mk2 has curves at the base of the windscreen and wind up/down rear side windows; the Big Seven has a completely re-designed 900cc engine, and you can point them out in the display area. 

You know that about 300,000 'Sevens' and variants, by specialist coach-builders, were built between 1923 and 1939 and that around 10,000 are known to survive worldwide.  You might mention that Datsun and BMW, Holden in Australia, Rosengart in France, and the American Bantam Austin Co. built 'Sevens' under licence; that Jaguar was once the Swallow Motor Co. established by William Lyons using 'Seven' chassis and engines; that the chassis and engine has been an ideal base for specials for many years, the first Lotus built by Colin Chapman; and also the Caterham Seven. 

You are winning, you are a great person and really interesting to meet, and you have done your bit for Austin Sevens and the historic car movement, but above all for CA7C, one of the most active and respected of Austin Seven clubs in the country.  Tell them that we have around 135 members with near that number of road-legal 'Sevens', several others are being worked on, the oldest 'Seven' in the Club on the road in Cornwall is a September 1925 'Chummy', and that two in north Devon were registered in March 1925.  You might tell them about the background of the 'Chummy' and why Herbert Austin designed a small, low-cost, car for the masses.

show 5
If you are stuck on some topic in the conversation through lack of knowledge or information then involve another member with an interesting 'Seven' or someone else displaying a pre-war car nearby.  There is so much to talk about, once you have made that simple opening comment.  But do judge the interest of the person in front of you, don't hang onto them too long if the wife and children are fidgeting and are wanting to move on. 

 

But now for it - invite the well behaved child(ren), with the parent's permission, to sit in the driver's seat and have a little toot of the horn, let Mum and Dad take photos.  It makes their day, we are making memories!

Coming to the end.
If you have a really good conversation and the person seems to be very interested in historic cars, even having asked about prices and availability, why not be a bit cheeky and suggest that he/she might like to own a 'Seven' and that CA7C (or their local A7 Club) helps people to buy and maintain their car; refer them to our website and the helpful information about buying and owning a 'Seven'.  Finally, when those who have been interested do depart and offer their thanks for your time, please do make a point of thanking them for their interest.


But be prepared for the awkward moments.
Mostly you will be chatting with people who have a good knowledge of, or a real interest in, historic vehicles.  However, there are always those who look but don't want to know or talk; but when some people feel compelled to talk to you you will hear all sorts of comments.  The most common being 'My father (grandfather) had one of these' and inevitably they proudly quoted the registration number followed by much reminiscing of a young life squashed on the back seat with siblings, dog and luggage, for a long trip.  We would all love to have a £1 for every time we have heard those stories.

Some of the comments we have had are:
'My father had one of these, it was a Morris Ten.'  "No, this is an Austin Seven."  'They're the same thing, this is just a badged Morris.'  Oh, dear he was thinking of BMC in the 1950's!

'This is one of the best cars that Ford ever made'.  "No, this was made by the Austin Motor Company at Longbridge."  'No mate, Ford made 'em with the Prefect and Popular.'  "Sorry, that was the Anglia, Prefect and Popular.'   'Cobblers, you've no idea what you're talking about.'  "Well, I only own the car."  Another lost cause!   

'You folk have ruined these old cars painting them in these gaudy colours.'  "They are all restored and painted in their original Austin colours.'  'Utter rubbish, all pre-war cars were painted black.'  Some people will never accept the correct information so why continue the chat?  

'Austin Seven? (with suitable puzzled look); are these kit cars?'

'You have got an incorrect registration, all pre-war marks were two letters and four numbers.'  "Actually this is the original registration as three letter marks were introduced in 1932 when two letter marks had been fully allocated by some Licensing Authorities."  'Oh.'   Why worry with folk who are not really interested?  

'The engine fitted into this Ford Popular was one of the best at the time.'  His wife was most impressed with his knowledge as they stood in front of a 'Big Seven' with a clearly headed information sheet; 'Austin' marked on the engine; an Austin Seven badge on the grill; parked in the middle of the Cornwall Austin Seven Club display.  

'How did you get these cars here?'  "We drove them."  'Oh, so are you allowed to drive these cars on the road?'  "Yes."  

All you can do is to smile and be tactful, let them pass on their way blessed in their ignorance - some will never be convinced as their mind is already made up.  

However, the real joy is with the younger generations; the little lad in a pushchair who seeing the 1929 'Chummy' exclaimed 'Brum' (from children's TV).  The boy who realised the cars were older than his Granddad; the teenage girl who came and talked to us in a car park saying 'They're kinda cute, real cool.'  Those who want to know how the engine works and are so sure that it differs from their modern car.  The lad who drew each 'Seven' on display, made notes, and then visited a member to see some other models, and has kept in touch ever since.  The two lads who were doing a GCSE project on old cars and went away with photographs, pages of notes and website references. 

Those moments are so worthwhile, and enjoyable, and a reward for our time preparing for, and attending, the event.

Time to go home
At the end of the day you will have enjoyed talking to people who were interested in your 'Seven'; you will have heard, and said, the same thing countless times.  You will have met people who think that they know more than you, and usually they don't!

After all that you may be given (not always) a memento by the organisers to acknowledge your attendance at this year's event.  If it was an worthwhile event then you will want go again and will be waiting for the entry form next year; just hope that the sun shines!

So, do try a show/rally, you will meet some interesting folk, enjoyed a few chuckles, and have an enjoyable day, if the weather is good.

 

Entry forms - warning The following information appeared in the FBHVC Newsletter No:2 April 2007.

EVENT ENTRY FORM INDEMNITIES
It came as something of a surprise at FBHVC to discover that participants in some events are still being asked to sign entry forms that indemnify the organisers against all claims, however caused. 

FBHVC cannot emphasise enough that no-one should sign such a form, as in doing so they are likely to be breaching the terms of their own insurance policies and thus put themselves at risk of invalidating their insurance.  An incorrect entry form indemnity can be worse than no indemnity at all.

Any entry form indemnity that uses phrases like ‘howsoever caused’ or ‘notwithstanding that the same may have been caused or occasioned by’ is likely to fall into this category.  Such wordings were made illegal by the Unfair Contract Terms Act of 1977 because they go against the principles of fair contract by seeking to hold the organisers indemnified against claims resulting from injury or damage that they may themselves have been responsible for causing.

[CA7C members should not fall into this trap and do check what you are being asked to sign.  Do not hesitate to strike out the words and write "Illegal by the Unfair Contract Terms Act of 1977".]

 

This article, written by Doug Castle, is based upon the one which originally appeared in CA7C Seven Focus in July 2007 pp15-17.

Back