Rob Archer tells us about the Lamborghini Countach lunch he organised.

 

There are of course a lot of forums/websites that most of us subscribe to and follow in relation to our favourite brand/models. In fact, you could say I’m somewhat obsessed and have to check in on a daily basis, irrespective of where I am in the world, for my daily dose of forum medicine. In 2014, a chap called Paul posted up a thread suggesting a Countach get together. The response was very positive and a lot of good folk thought it a great idea. For one reason or another, the meeting did not happen. Bad timing, locale or other commitments got in the way.

Come early January of 2015, when it’s cold, wet and salt upon the roads (the devils seed!) I had the seasonal complaint of “NDC” (Non Driving Condition) and was trawling the forum when I came back across the Countach meeting thread. The single cell amoeba inside my brain sprung into action and I thought about having a go to see if we could get this meeting to happen in 2015. The first port of call was to contact Paul and confirm I would not be stepping upon any toes. He was very supportive and with his blessing another thread was posted up in an attempt to organise an event. I kept the format very simple, meet up at one venue and approx 1 hour drive to another venue for Sunday lunch. No overnight stay etc. I also made the location more southerly in the hope to get some semblance of turnout. At the very least, depending upon numbers, the event would not take up too much of my time and would be easy to organise for a small number of attendees which, was my expectation. I was hoping to get at least 5 cars to the event and kick start the event. In fact, I would have run the event with less than 5 cars.

All I wanted to achieve was to get an informal like minded group of owners together to have a spot of lunch and an opportunity to talk about our cars, share ideas, discuss problems and solutions. To this end, I wanted to keep the event for Countach owners only. I got requests from other Lambo owners and non Lambo owners wishing to attend. But I’m not a club and for the 1st meeting, I wanted this to be a Countach only event. As one of the chaps said to me, it’s your meeting, therefore your choice. No doubt I put a few noses out of joint. Goes to show, you can never please all of the people, all of the time. At this point, I must mention that I had a photographer, Dan Pluck contact me via the forum. Dan wanted to come and take a few shots. I must say we were blessed with Dan attending and the pictures in this article are all his. What a top man he is and is hereby known as our “official” photographer.

Organisation. Pain in the butt but the end result worth it.

I had good response from the forum and I put the word out on other forums I frequent to add visibility and hopefully get more numbers together. I also spoke with dealers and independents to make them aware of the event and to ask them to pass the word on to their clients that own a Countach. I also researched the forums and private messaged people who had posted and looked like they owned an example. This was starting to pay dividends and the time came for me to be better organised. Out came my Excel spreadsheet and I started to collate details. I also posted up an attendee listing on the forum and once this had a few names against, more started to come out of the woodwork and sign up.

Whilst getting owners to sign up, it was time to start to figure out where the locations would be and the venue for the Sunday Lunch. I was acutely aware that the month of July is prime time and as such, I’d better get going on sorting out the details, otherwise we’ll be like Ministers without portfolio. I had a couple of ideas for the meeting up venue, Waddleston Manor and Blenheim Palace. Both of which turned out to be non starters post some communication. One of the chaps coming to the event had suggested Bicester Heritage. An up and coming ex RAF site that is now a motoring heritage site with small businesses providing services to the heritage and classic motor enthusiast. I got in contact with Tiggy (great name) at Bicester Heritage and set about discussing use of their site for the meet up venue. Whilst this was in progress, the hotel for the lunch venue was also in need of being decided upon and booked. The biggest issue with organising this sort of event is that of variance. People say yes, then no, then maybe. Needless to say, this added to the fun of trying to book venues when you’re not 100% sure of the numbers. Anyway, I digress. I wanted approx 1 hour drive to the lunch venue, so out came Google maps and the search was on. I spoke with 3 hotels and in the end, settled upon Luton Hoo, as they could facilitate good parking in a picturesque setting, with an all round package for lunch that fitted the bill nicely.

D-day, minus 2 weeks

In order to facilitate and confirm the bookings. I set a cut-off time of 2 weeks prior to the event. In my mind, this allowed plenty of notice to the owners and for me to complete the bookings and chase up any outstanding payments. Of course, this was simply not the case, even at the last moment, I had a late booking. I won’t deny, this organisation lark is bloody hard work. Constantly changing details, numbers. I’d like to personally thank Brian at Bicester Heritage for being very patient with me and my multiple email updates on a daily basis, he also sorted out some accommodation for one of the party that requested it.  I then spent time planning the route from Bicester Heritage to Luton Hoo. So as to avoid major events and roadworks. Whilst trying to ensure a good route with some opportunity for the odd spirited drive!

D-Day. Tally Ho ! ! !

Of course, being July in the UK, I should have expected bad weather and I would not have been disappointed. The weather was pants. Wet, grey and generally miserable. Saying that, I was like a kid in a sweetshop with excitement. The Mrs and I had a 2.5 hour drive to get to Bicester and needed to be there early to organise the cars in, chat to the Bicester team, grab an early cup of tea (tea tasting is a very important part of any organisers role) and get all the paperwork ready to sign attendees off and collect some final outstanding payments. For Bicester Heritage 11 cars were due to show. Does not sound like much, but this must be a pretty high percentage of the UK populous. The plan was for owners to arrive, grab a tea - coffee and pasty followed by a tour of the site from the charismatic Brian. Then to depart for Luton Hoo Hotel and lunch. Bicester Heritage was an ideal meeting venue, easy to find, large, secure, good facilities, wonderful patina of the buildings and great history of the site. This coupled with the various small businesses that are present on site made for a great venue. Cars started to arrive from 09:45 onwards. The unmistakable noise of the V12’s reverberating around the site, coupled with thunderous exhausts, I could die a happy man right there.

Owners arrived, parked up in line and were duly pointed to the Scramble café for breakfast. We had the opportunity to be social prior to the guided tour of the site. A few of the owners already knew each other, Countach ownership is after all, a fairly small group in the UK. But for others who did not know too many people (myself included) we quickly gelled as a group and the conversation was easy and flowing. There is no such thing as a typical Countach owner and I’m sure this is true of most marques of car owners. Come 10:30 and Brain led us off for the tour of the site. We had the opportunity to visit some of the smaller businesses on-site such as trimming, alternator specialists, car storage and also a couple of the dealers had opened up for us to have a gander at their wares and salivate over their stock. Yes please, I’ll take that lightweight Jag E-Type! Various buildings and aspects were pointed out, along with their use when the site was a RAF station and alternate use of late, such as being used for film work such as the Imitation Game. We ended up back in the Scramble Café yard and a few minutes later, it was time to depart.

Italian Drama in more ways than one.

Being the organiser has its benefits. I got to lead the convoy of cars to the venue. It also has its negatives, as everyone expected me to know where I was going. No pressure, but you don’t want to look a complete muppet for screwing up the route that you had planed. Thankfully, the Sat-Nav, a printed out copy of the route, an Ipad and the Mrs to operate it all, got us there in pretty much perfect time. However, when you are driving 20+ year old cars, which are Italian Diva’s, there’s bound to be some drama. The convoy started off great, I don’t think I’ll ever lose the image of 6 – 7 Countach’s in a line behind me as I drove. Was a stunning sight to behold. Especially through the odd populated area, Joe public were in shock. Part of the route to the hotel included some fast dual carriageway and this gave one member of the group an opportunity to really give his car an “Italian tune up” as he flew past me as if I was in reverse. It was truly epic to behold a Countach on full chat with a free flowing exhaust. Of course, the rest of us were none too tardy in this respect either. Being in front, I was somewhat oblivious to what went on behind me. We had a couple of cars with issues. One being battery related, he managed to get to the event. The other being more serious electrical gremlins. This was sorted (dodgy Alarm system) but not in good time to attend the hotel and lunch.

 

And so to Lunch.

I choose Luton Hoo as they have a wonderful façade and accommodated parking for our cars in a cordoned off area in front of the hotel. We had private dining with drinks on the terrace.

Shame it was not sunny but at least not raining. There were fewer cars in attendance at Luton, 8 from 11, as some owners could not make both venues. We had other owners join us, so 22  in number. Lunch was a wonderful end to our day. Good food, easy and relaxed environment. All too soon, our time was up and we moved outside where the chat and joviality continued. As you would appreciate, the sight of 8 Countach’s parked up was proving very popular with other hotel guests. One of the owners was kind enough to let a few people take a seat / picture, even the odd Grandma got in on the act.  As owners started to leave, Dan (official photographer) hooked up his kit to the outside of his car and took some in-motion shots of the cars leaving Luton Hoo. The shots that Dan produced for us throughout the day are truly stunning! I’m sure you’ll agree. I can not thank him enough for his time and expertise. Dan is on social media and can be contacted via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Feedback. It’s a gift.

As you may remember, my original intention was to get a few cars together for a chat and a bite. My target was 5 cars but I would have met up even if the numbers were lower as you have to start somewhere. However, the inaugural event far surpassed this and the day was very successful. I had wonderful feedback from the attendees and their appreciation for my efforts. So much so, that I committed to run a similar event next year in 2016 (I must be mad) . The problem is, I’ve set the bar high and it will be difficult to replicate. I have to be honest, organising an event like this takes a large amount of effort and incurs some stress as well. I take my hat off to those that do so. I had thought to do this one event and then pass on the reigns. Anyway, I have three months rest until I start the process all over again. The positive news is that I’ve built up a good contact list of owners and hope to have even more cars in attendance next year. I’ll look to run the event in a more central location so as to tempt those in a more Northerly position, to come out of the woodwork. Mind you, next year is the 100th Anniversary of Ferruccio Lamborghini’s birth so no doubt there will be a lot of events being planned around this.

Final note, if you know of a Countach owner, please put them in contact with me and I’ll add them to the list for next year.

Rob Archer

 

Photography by Dan Pluck