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8.6.06. That was how NSRA Chairman, David Biggadyke, responded when asked for his reaction to last weekend’s Billing Fun Run rod and custom extravaganza at Billing Aquadrome. This year, the popular event entered its 34th year at the Northamptonshire venue and attracted an unprecedented turnout of top-quality cars.
“We were absolutely staggered by the quality of cars taking part,” says David. “In fact, there were probably another 50 cars that could quite easily have been trophy winners.”
Chris Andrew sandwiched between other show winners
Ten years ago, it was undoubtedly the case that you could have counted British hot rodding’s crème de la crème on the fingers of both hands, but last weekend, there were simply too many great cars to count. This viewpoint was echoed by many of the exhibitors and individuals taking part, and certainly reflects the very healthy state of street rodding overall in the UK. One suggestion put forward to explain the phenomenon is that there is considerably more disposable income available now – people have a higher standard of living and are quite prepared to spend more on their toys.
This Model B epitomises just how far rodding has come in the UK. It was immaculate and didn't even make the top 10. It was also for sale for a fraction of the build cost - call Kev on 07930 287103
Is it an age thing, as some suggest? Well, certainly a good percentage of the cars at Billing were owned by rodders who have probably seen their kids grow up and fly the nest, leaving them with more time on their hands to indulge their automotive passion. On the other hand, that doesn’t account for the many young rodders who have recently built, or had built, outstanding new cars.
Getting back to the event, however, earlier in the week, David Biggadyke had been a worried man. Torrential rain had turned the show arena into a flood plain, and there were frantic phone calls between the organisers to make arrangements should the rain continue. Fortunately, by Wednesday, things were looking up and the grass was rapidly drying out.
Street rods for as far as the eye can see
With the sudden, but very welcome, onset of summer come the weekend, the organisers definitely breathed a huge collective sigh of relief, and as what seemed to be the UK’s entire hot rod fraternity began descending on Billing, a palpable buzz developed about the place. By 2.00pm on Sunday, the entire display field was chock-a-block with an amazing display of rods, customs, classic American iron and custom bikes. It was a sight to gladden the heart of any petrol head.
Steve Fletcher's Ford Woody - just back from the Oakland Roadster Show
Steve Fletcher’s six-years-in-the-making Ford Woody epitomised just how far hot rodding has come in the UK. It was difficult to know where to look on this car, since every detail seemed to be a work of art, from the acres of sculptured wood prepared to a mirror finish, to the one-off interior, trimmed in the US by Gabe’s, and featuring hide contrasting with Ostrich skin panels and detailing. The car looked a million dollars, and in truth, the build cost probably wasn’t far short of this.
Steve walked away with the top trophy - and rightfully so
Contrasting with the Woodie, which incidentally took Participants’ Choice, or “Best of Show”, was a no less well-executed T bucket, owned by Nick Williams. This highly appealing, Sixties throwback was very simple in concept, with a choice amount of chrome, combined with meticulous preparation and finish. The car relies on non-metallic tones of yellow and orange paintwork (it doesn’t sound promising, until you see it) to get its point across. The result is a beautifully turned out rod, made all the better by its non-conformist simplicity.
Show winners line up for the parade in the main arena
As many in the UK rodding fraternity will be aware, the Billing Aquadrome venue was sold at the beginning of this year, and ever since, there has been a nagging worry that one of the most popular events on the calendar might not fit in with the new owner’s agenda.
The Model T of Nick Williams is just so cool!
Happily, however, the NSRA met with the facility’s new manager during the course of the weekend, and we understand he admitted to being very impressed with the event. As a result, David Biggadyke was left with the overriding impression that the future of the Billing Fun Run is secure.
Great news for all concerned.
Story: Andy Kirk & Graham Jones
Photos: Andy Kirk
Billing Top Ten
Chris Hay Hillman Husky
Kevin Foster 1934 Ford
Gary Chester 1932 Ford
Nick Williams Model T
John Unsworth 1937 Ford Pickup
Chris Andrews Fad T
Terry Howes 1939 Ford
David Greenfield 1949 Ford
Russ Pepper 1933 Roadster
Steve Fletcher 1946 Ford Woody
Best 1934 Ford
Best Ford Popular
Steve Fletcher 1946 Ford Woody
34th Street Top Three
Pop Festival Top Five
One for our American readers! - the restored Hamberis & Mitchell gasser from the 60s, now lovingly restored, and running on the street in the UK with a blown Hemi
Chris Hay's Hillman is so beautifully understated with its subtle bodywork and era perfect paint, but packs a serious V8 punch
It's not too often you get to see the true effects of Candy paintwork in the UK, but this tall T visibly glowed in the sunlight
Immaculate motor in the Fad T of Chris Andrew
Lovely preparation and finish on this 100E
An air ride really does allow you to drop your car into the weeds
David Greenfield's '49 Ford Coupe was another worthy winner
John Unsworth's 37 Ford pick-up
Pro-Street '69 Camaro was up for grabs - tel: 07867 694163
This early Beetle was just too nice to leave out