Long ago when diesel was cheaper and Evoques hadn’t been invented, Brian one of the founders of the South Coast Land Rover Club and his wife thought about a new event where a group of Land Rovers go for a leisurely morning run through the countryside starting off at a special venue with maybe a breakfast beforehand and ending up at another place of interest not too far away where the participants could then enjoy a further attraction or entertainment.
From that original idea, the Coast into the Country run was born, the thought was that it should be a planned drive open to anyone with a Land Rover following a prepared route to arrive at the selected destination. It was not just a case drawing a route out though the logistics for the start, drive and end destination needed work.
An obvious choice for the start was the art deco Shoreham Airport terminal building, there was sufficient parking facilities on site for a significant number of vehicles. Following negotiations with the Airport arrangements for booking in and more important the restaurant to open early for breakfast were agreed.
The route then had to be carefully planned and most important tested, once perfected it had to be run by the Police and then re-run at the eleventh hour to ensure that no last-minute changes were required. From these tests lessons were learned in that potential entrants with high vehicles were warned to only approach the start from the north because of the low bridge to the south, also it was considered that because of the poor traffic light phasing on the northern A27 junction all vehicles should turn west to facilitate a relatively unbroken convey exit.
Finally, negotiations with the destination venue had to be completed, these included dates to coincide with any other special event, concession entry prices to be built into the price of the run and final parking arrangements.
On top of all this following the financial commitment by the Club that needed to be covered so it was important to advertise as widely as possible and try where possible to gain some sponsorship, remember the very attractive keep sake rally plaques, tickets, posters, colouring books and crayons and trophies all cost money. The end aim has always been to be in a position to make a charitable donation at the end of the day.
Over the years since its inception the Coast into the Country run has had several very interesting venues chosen for the finish point, many indeed were used more than once. In the early days, the run took place towards the end of the year but more recently it has filled a slightly earlier slot in the calendar, it has always been difficult to find a happy medium between suitable venue dates and holiday periods which are not so convenient for many.
To name but a few of the venues visited there was Amberley Museum which has many interesting exhibits and was the location for scenes of the James Bond film A View to a Kill. There the run vehicles were placed strategically around the site to match up with the exhibits on site, this created a very interesting scenario in the end. We have also been to The Dunsfold Collection to coincide with their open days, the Bluebell Preservation Railway, Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum (revisiting in 2018) and Brooklands Museum.
On at least a couple of the outings members brought along and utilised a military catering trailer and I must say very good it was too.
We are always open to suggestions for further finish Venues, the criteria as outlined earlier being a gentle morning run ending up somewhere for lunch with ample parking and some sort of attraction to fill the afternoon.
There has always been a trophy for one lucky entrant usually referred to as the Spirit of the Run, the recipient is usually selected by one of the officials of the end venue, their choice of the vehicles on the run for whatever reason not necessarily concours. The first I recall was awarded to a very unusual Carawagon conversion.
Over the years there have been many varied Land Rovers on the run all variants and many different versions of each, fire appliances, commercial and military as well of course as many domestic and modified vehicles. We had a radar truck a couple of times a couple of TV outside broadcast vans a Perentie 6-wheeler with on board compressors and generators in the engine compartment from Australia. Over the years The Dunsfold collection has also brought along some pre-production examples.
The average number of participants has varied but has I don’t believe fallen below sixty and the best was something over a hundred.
We always have a backup team for those who fall by the wayside, usually casualties in the true Land Rover spirit manage with help to get started and complete the run. It is however surprising what condition some of the more loved variants turn up in, their MOT garages must have some interesting interpretation of the regulations (remember entrants are driving on the public highway and as such should be suitably tested insured and where appropriate taxed) the Club cannot condone any breaches of those requirements.
One very nice lady entrant in the early days turned up with a Series One towing a military Sankey two wheeled trailer, she asked for help from our team saying that the trailer was not towing well; it very soon became apparent that the rear cross member of her Landy or rather what was left of it was barely attached to the remainder of the vehicle. Once she was convinced that a ratchet strap or a couple of nuts and bolts would not effect a satisfactory or indeed safe repair, she reluctantly decided to collect the trailer later, I suspect once no longer under our gaze!
If you have any queries or questions about the run I’m more than sure that one of the SCLROC team would be happy to help you.