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NEC 2005 Adventures.        

It was all set, I had received the confirmation from the NEC organisers informing that the club had been allocated a stand at the 2005 Classic Motorshow in November, and all the necessary arrangements had been made. The cars were all chosen and more or less ready; Ben Flatman was to bring along his Jade Green Princess 1 2200 HLS, Jim was to bring his restored Sandglow Princess 2 2200 HLS, and Keith Wilson his 2.0 HLS Ambassador in Opaline Green. I had decided to give my Black ex-ministerial Automatic Wolseley 18-22 an airing, so everything was in place, right…? Wrong.

             Due to a very hectic year, I had been unable to enjoy my Wedges to the full, meaning that several had been subjected to longer than usual resting periods in the garage. The Black Wolseley was SORN’d, and had been since the early part of the year. In readiness for the NEC, I felt that some minor enhancements to the paint finish were in order, as well as a re-paint of the under-bonnet area. Consequently I booked it in for the work to be undertaken in early October. Plenty of time for the NEC (a month away)… Once the car was all taxed and ready to go, it was driven out of the garage, the tyres were pumped up and the paintwork was dusted down. It was then the dramatic shape was pointed in the direction of the roads of Epping, straight to the nearest petrol station.

             £20 later, and a few gallons of Optimax in the tank and it was “the car that’s (to quote the Leyland publicity at the time) got it all together”. Gear lever into “Drive”, and away we go in style, off to the bodyshop. The car was gently driven up to speed, to allow everything to bed in once again. All seemed to be going swimmingly; the car was keeping up with modern traffic on a fast-ish road, and receiving plenty of admiring looks from passers by. “Oh look, a Princess…”!

 “Have you the time……?” “Yes… about 10am!” By this time I was entering outer London, and as usual the traffic was building up. In the queue I decided to drop the car out of gear into “Neutral”, to save the gearbox overheating (a practice I always adopt in an old automatic). When the traffic moved on, into “Drive”, and off we went. Suddenly, the gears changed from 1, into 2, back into 1 and then 3. “Strange…”, I thought…












To avoid the traffic I decided to venture down a series of side roads, to head towards the North Circular Road. During this time, the gearbox was deciding it preferred to remain in 1st gear, and stubbornly refused to change into anything else. Normal service then resumed, and into 2nd gear it went. A few junctions later, we came to a set of traffic lights. Foot on the gas… nothing. Suddenly, “BANG”, it walloped into gear, and off we went. With a mild dose of whiplash, I carried on towards the North Circular, with it making noises most unbecoming to a Wolseley; lots of expensive sounding noises… The car was now being coaxed, rather than driven.

             It was at the (locally) infamous “Charlie Browns” roundabout, where the North Circular divides into several other major roads that the gearbox decided to lose drive completely. Great! Moving the gearlever had the grand effect of doing nothing, and pressing the accelerator by now just revved the engine. This was not looking good. I decided to adopt the “it’s broken, so what the heck, lets get it there or bust” approach, and moved the gear lever randomly between “1” and “2” and any other position just to get it moving, in a manor befitting a twirling lucky dip. A plunge on the accelerator produced an almighty “BANG” again, and we were mobile. Fortunately we were not too far from the bodyshop now, and the car kept mobile, just. I reckon an average of 6,000 rpm was used to produce 10 miles an hour speed (I apologise now to the residents of South Woodford and Wansted that I woke up that morning). After what seemed like a century, we arrived, and I switched off the engine.

             It would not start again; the gearbox thought the car was in gear, despite being in “P”. A check of the dipstick showed fluid almost up to the top of the filler neck. When we left Epping, the levels were spot on. The diagnosis was simple; the gearbox was seriously broken (not the exact wording used, but politer!!!”. What do I do – the NEC is weeks away and I now have a wedge shaped paperweight?

turn home, I called my friend Kevin Davis, and explained my problem. ‘I have a whole 2200 engine and gearbox, which I removed from a Princess a while ago’ he said. This was fantastic, just what the Wedge doctor ordered. A deal was done, and a date was arranged to collect the engine and ‘box. Thanks Kevin!

             A week later, me, my Father and a Skoda pick up truck drove to Southampton to collect this engine, to deliver to the bodyshop for them to fit the engine. This proved to be a good thing since it allowed the engine-bay repaint to be undertaken more thoroughly; with the old engine and box out, it proved far more straightforward. I was not bothered about losing the original engine, since the engine to be removed was not the one originally fitted to the car in any case.

things were looking up, the car was being painted and the engine installed, and was due to be picked up the week before the show…. What else could go wrong? Nothing, surely…


             Two weeks before the show, I called Jim to discuss various arrangements about the show. Everything was in order. There was however just the matter of his car, which was suffering serious engine issues (see last edition). “Sorry Alex, the car can’t make the show”. Fortunately, Jim’s ‘other’ car, a 1976 Reynard Princess 1 2200 HLS was back in action, so this was decided upon as the new show car. We were back in business again.

 What else could go wrong…?!

 The Saturday before the show was pick-up time for the Wolseley; it was collected and the engine was running beautifully; fresh oils and coolant had been added, and the car now moved again under its own steam. It was pointed back in the direction of Epping, and all seemed great. All it needed was a good vacuum and polish ready for the show.

 Upon arrival home, all was well, except for the fact that one of the carburettors had decided to start spewing petrol out the overflow pipe, all over our tarmac driveway… Fantastic. Now, I would not recommend removing or stripping down a carburettor from an engine that has just been run, but this had to be done as the car was due at the NEC on THURSDAY, and it was SATURDAY and it was still BROKEN!!!! After a fun session of carb removal, burned fingers, a stripdown and a refit the engine was started and the leak had been fixed. The next job was a wash and vacuum, then I thought, to be safe, give the car a run up the M11 to see how it fares on faster roads.

 All went well, until arriving home, when I noticed that the carburettor was spewing out fuel again. It then started to rain and was getting dark. AAARRRRRGGHHHHHH! I moved the car into the garage and closed the door, not happy at all.

The next morning, I tackled the carb-leak again, and seemed to rectify it for good. After a good polish and scrub-up, it was all set for the NEC. HURRAY!


 The Thursday morning arrived, the car was loaded up with all the NEC paraphernalia; flags, video players, televisions, BBC B computer (don’t ask) and it was off to Birmingham. The journey was relatively uneventful, and the car drove beautifully. I arrived at the NEC by 11.30am, and Jim and Harry were there busy unloading carpet tiles from the van. The relief as I parked the car inside the exhibition hall just could not be expressed, following all the problems I had experienced in the preceding weeks.


We all set to work laying the carpet tiles, which were soon in situ. After that, one by one the display cars arrived; first Keith, then Jim returned with his car, then Ben arrived. Throughout most of this time I was wiring up the stand display monitors, and emerging from underneath a car with bits of co-axial cable in each hand! Kevin Davis (whose Snapdragon Princess 2000ST was being displayed on the “Retro Cars” magazine stand) joined us and helped with the set-up. By 6.30pm it was all done, the stand was set up and everything was in place.

 The following morning, Friday saw the first day of the show. This is a good day, as it allows a great opportunity to see the show without the crowds that build up over the weekend. This show has something for everyone, from Ford Granadas to Jaguar XK120s, Rover SD1s to Ferraris, and everything in between. The Club stand was in a section devoted to British cars; we were adjacent the Vanden Plas OC, and the Austin Sheerline Princess OC.

weekend saw several hundred, if not thousand of people pass via our stand. Comments such as “my Dad had one of those”, to “I remember those” were commonplace. Something I noticed this year was the genuine interest that is being shown in the cars now, and the amount of complementary comments was startling.

 We had been given special permission to display the “Leyland Cars of the 1970s” video about the Princess from the producers of that video (available from and this drew crowds. This, coupled with the VCR it was being displayed on (an early 80s model), added to the ambience of the stand. “Lock up your petrol”!

Saurday arrived, and saw many more people arrive. It was nice to catch up with Chris Pollin and his girlfriend, new to the club having bought an Ambassador recently. Unfortunately, some very sad news was announced when Jim arrived. He informed us that Harry’s son had been a passenger involved in a serious road accident, and was very ill in Hospital. Our thoughts were, and are still with Harry and his family, and I am sure I speak for everyone when I say that I hope Philip has a very quick recovery.

Sunday saw more or less the same format of the show, and before we knew it, the announcement came over the PA system “The Classic Motorshow has now closed”. This was the end of the show for another year.

 we all dismantled the stand, we reflected on the success of the weekend, many membership forms had been given out, the cars had been very, very well received and a great time was had by all. By this time I was bracing myself for the journey back. As we left the vast citadel that is the NEC complex, and headed south on the M6, I was so pleased with the weekend, and now look forward to the next year. The Wolseley incidentally drove home beautifully.

2005 was a big year for the club, with the 30 years of the Wedge celebrations. The NEC marked a great end to that, and we now look forward to 2006. No special anniversaries, but that does not really matter. Lets just get those Wedges out and about and show just what great cars they are!

Wishing all members a a Prosperous New Year.


Club Rally at Blenheim Palace - 25th September. 2005.



Pageant of Motoring, Broadlands - Hampshire,
 Ausust Bank Holiday Week-End.

Princess 30th Anniversary/Austin Centenary Rally.

This is what the organisers promised!!.
"During the weekend commencing Friday July 8 2005, the largest ever gathering of Longbridge built motor vehicles will be amassing at Cofton Park, opposite the factory at Longbridge in South Birmingham. The event is being staged to celebrate and commemorate the founding of the Austin Motor Company and 100 years of continuous motor vehicle production at the Longbridge factory."

Unfortunately, production ended after 99 years and nine months, but in all other respects, the entire weekend was a massive success. It was great to see 19 wedges assembled in brilliant summer sunshine,  with which we were blessed for the entire weekend.

The First Arrivals on Friday Evening - 8.30PM at Cofton Park. 

7.30 am Saturday Morning -  Chas Webbs Ambassador -  14th in the 100 Car Cavalcade, assembled in Birmingham's Victoria Square, prior to driving in procession to Cofton Park, Longbridge.

A line of 11 Princesses - soon to become 12 with the arrival of Grahams Hearse.

The first of the Ambassadors to arrive, owned by Chas Webb, Harry Parker, and Steve Forde, to be joined later by Alex.

The above three photos show the Centenary Cavalcade Medals awarded to our members Ben Flatman with his green Princess, and to Chas Webb with his Ambassador.  You guys did us proud - thanks.

Two Very Fine Princesses Owned by Denise Holloway.

Paul Vincent's Princess 100 Special - first time out for 10 years.

Frans Van Zoest 2.2 Princess.  (One of two from the Netherlands).

Without any doubt - this was the largest and most important event the club has been involved with to date, and it's good to know we played our part in this very important occasion in British Motoring History. Very many thanks to all members who attended - some having travelled considerable distance.   

Bromley Pageant of Motoring - June 8th 2005.

 Thanks to Member, Craig Lewis, for the photos and permission to use them. 
 There are more excellent pictures of the event on member Kevin Davis Website


Bygones Museum. Banbury, Warwickshire.
Spring Meeting, May 8th 2005.
(On a cold windy Sunday Morning).

Pete Maycroft's Silver Leaf Ambassador VDP.

Denise Holloway's latest.   

Princesses owned by Craig Lewis, and Dave Batten in the museum yard.


Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire.

The first club event to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Wedge was held at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire, on a cold Sunday 27th March 2005.  Just a small private gathering which was supported by seven owners who felt the need to get together during this very important anniversary weekend,  (30 years almost to the day) to mark the Launch of the 18/22 series, soon to become known as Princesses. Inset - the morning arriving members.  Graham Ryder can just be seen alongside his Black Vauxhall Corsa.



NEC Classic and Sportscar Show-
21st, 22nd, & 23rd October 2004.

Driving a Wedge into Publicity:

'Times they are a changin’ was the thought as I left the NEC after helping dismantle the show stand space.  The Wedge is finally gaining popularity and a momentum that I firmly believe is going to continue into next year and beyond.  I could not believe the number of people that flocked to the stand, a stand that was the product of hard work and effort from Alex, Kevin, Craig, and John aided by John Johnson and of course Harry.

Thursday was set-up day at the NEC and the fruits of an idea Alex and Harry had the previous year, endorsed by Kevin in the February and culminating in an acceptance in July for a 120 sq Metre stand - now what do you do!!

Well the thing to do is to consult Alex’s dad on accessorising, and before long John  and Harry had acquired a vanload of carpet tiles, light in colour.  They did a great job of anchoring the cars and promoting the paint palette colours akin only to the seventies.  Kevin arranged a visual display of the ‘Wedge Story’ with adverts and literature that backed the stand space.  While Alex arranged an array of period electrical hardware to form a display of club details and the most fantastic period film of 18/22-launch material, an internal BL publicity video well worth a purchase from - lock up your filler caps chaps!

Less was definitely more in view of the stand layout that was praised by the organisers; it had a kind of show room appeal, with open access and plenty of space allowing people to sit in the cars and reminisce about the past, ironically I heard no stories about rouge drive shafts or displacers!  Each car donned it’s original sale price in the year of registration, which provided endless entertainment for the public, but it did emphasise the crazy inflation we experienced all those years ago with Craig’s car being almost twice the price of Alex’s in less than four years.

And for those cars, we had on the far left Craig Lewis’s 1981 spec 2200HLS auto in Champagne beige with the tasty Paprika trim.  Next John Capon’s lovely 1978 Reynard Metallic (a favourite colour of mine) series 2 2000HL with Sorrel trim followed by Alex’s 1977 Vermillion 2200HLS auto complete with unmarked mink interior, another peach.  Alex has recently bought this car from John but that’s another story – eh Alex!  Finally lying in waiting on the far right was ‘Snappy’, Kevin Davis’s rare Snapdragon Yellow 2000HL auto with black trim.  Snappy as you may know has been tastefully modified from stock in period ‘sports styley’ donning Ambassador alloys, de-chromed trim and ST badging - among other up grades. Alex is keen to persuade an Ambassador owner and car to the 2005 event and show something rare such as a Morris too, - get polishing Daniel!

So the scene was set for the Friday opening day, the quietest of the weekend but eventful with the surprise visitation of an artisan.  Stand staff were star struck when Harris Mann made an appearance.  Casually sitting in the cars he had penned all those years ago he remarked an their condition and the stand presentation.  The guys I understand were a little dumb struck in his presence but welcomed the encounter. Later came the TV crews for regional news, which translated into 10 seconds of footage of Alex’s Dad adjusting the fury dice in the Princess.  The News prompted the show with a tag line ‘from Porsche to Princess’.

Saturday was the busiest day, with on average two dozen people on the stand at any one time, listening to the tales of Princesses past I think the chaps managed to persuade a few of them to join


Sunday was also a popular day with club members turning up for a chat such as Roy Adams from Bangor, Northern Ireland as well as friends of Robin Cameron who was unable to come due to family illness.  Over the three days the media had dropped by. Keith Adams of and Classic car weekly snapped many photos and remarked on the quality of the cars, as did Richard Gunn, also of Classic Car Weekly.  So we anticipate a few column inches of publicity in the forth-coming print.

What a great weekend, well don’t take my word for it, just look at the pictures.  Thanks again to those who took part – a job well done.  I look forward with excitement to the next year and the celebration events; lets take this opportunity to really drive a wedge into the media and the public forum for the car, the club and it’s members with interest and enthusiasm.

 Jim Inshaw.  (November 2004 - reprinted from the club newsletter of the same date).


Early Club Meeting at the Cotswold Wildlife Park,
Burford, Oxfordshire - May 9th 2004.


Clubs National Rally at Stanford Hall - Lutterworth
Leicestershire.  July 11th 2004.


BMC/BL Day at Peterborough - 1st August 2004.


Clubs Southern Area Rally - Broadlands, August 1st 2004.