So, in the Spring of 1981, a new club was formed with Ian Clarke as Secretary, and John Warr as editor, and several founding members who still belong to the TR Drivers Club and others who having left for one reason or another have now returned. Although primarily for owners of TR7s, and then TR8s, owners of all TR marques were invited to join. This has never been a Club for only one style of car.
The first newsletter, was seven pages of A4 size paper, printed on one side, and stapled together. The editor welcomed members, looking forward to the success of the new club, and asking for articles, photos, etc. (No change there, then.) There was one advert, from Practical Classics, and the beginnings of now regular features, such as Cars/Parts/Spares for Sale/Wanted. There was also a questionnaire, to find out what articles of Regalia would be preferred.
Even at this early stage, it was apparent to the founders that "those TR Drivers who have joined are an enthusiastic band, keen to preserve the TR breed, and keen to share their ideas and enthusiasm for a great sports car". I think you will all agree, that this is still the aim of the club, which is still run by a Committee of volunteers, who gladly give of their time to keep the flame alight.
By July, also, there was the beginnings of local area meetings, a tradition that has continued, across the whole of the United Kingdom, from Scotland to Cornwall, and many in between.
At this time it was becoming apparent that the TR7 production was going to cease, and in his Issue 2 report, the Secretary writes: "It is up to the Club and its members to ensure that the existing TR models are preserved, and that spares are always available at reasonable prices so that we have a living proof of what a great TR sports car industry this country once had, until the accountants and boffins decided that it was to be no more". I think we can safely say that this aim has been achieved; in no small way due to the expertise and experience of both its members, and suppliers such as Rimmers, Robsport, S+S, Quiller and Parts 4. The TR7/8 is now starting to become acknowledged as a true classic, not just by its owner/drivers, but by the press as well. Over the last year we have seen several complimentary reports.
By the Summer of 1981 members and their cars were starting to attend local and national car shows, the Easthampsted Auto Day, Bracknell, was one of the early ones, and the Classic Car Show at Brighton, corresponding with the London to Brighton Veteran Car Club run; there was an appeal for a third car to go on the TR Drivers stand. It was this show that gave "everybody the chance to see, probably for the first time, the TR8". This was a DHC TR8, owned by John Ford, described as a "real crowd puller". There was more success for the Club when the stand was placed third, beaten only by the Jaguars Drivers Club, second; and the Daimler & Lancaster Club who were first.
By the Autumn of 1981, things had really taken off for the Club, with the Editor being swamped with news and articles, receiving enquiries and membership growing at a very healthy rate. The first set of Regalia was ready for purchase, including jumpers at £9.50 and T-shirts at £5, both including VAT and postage.
November saw the first informal concours, at Hurtmore, near Godalming, Surrey. Judging was not only on condition and presentation, but also on the owner's ability to answer questions about his/her vehicle, general questions on the TR marque, and general knowledge questions! The judges were Bob Ashby and Mike Brisby of Practical Classics.
The TR Drivers Club was also becoming international, with members in the USA, Norway and Switzerland. With the advent of the world wide web, and emails this has continued to expand. By 1982, the magazine had tripled in size, now 21 pages of one sided A4. Plans were under way to improve the format, and there were more adverts, more Regalia and informational books for sale.
May 1982 saw the first magazine which was in the now familiar size, A5 page, professionally printed, with reasonably clear photos included.
In 1983 the first International Weekend at Castle Ashby was held, over the first weekend in July; another tradition which is still continued today. It was noted that the "members are amongst the most enthusiastic of any one make car club", and "this International Meeting" [was] "a reflection of" [their] "enthusiasm". The venue was shared with the Standard Motor Club who were holding their 24th National Rally.
Membership was one thousand, and growing, which proved that placing our first advertisement in Exchange and Mart, in March 1981, inviting owners of all TRs, regardless of model, to come together, was a good idea. We, [the Club], had our own race series, thanks to Dick Penny, and a very active social scene, thanks to Steve Clare, and of course the many active and enthusiastic area secretaries who put in so much work.
Among the events held at this first show, was a self-judged concours, (everyone a winner then?), autojumble, driving tests, slalom etc., with a bar and snack bar. It lasted one day, starting at 10.00 am, and ending at 4.30 pm with the Concours winners' presentations.
It seems on reading this, that not a lot has changed over 25 years, the club is still flourishing, membership remains fairly static, and the knowledge and expertise of its members is exceptional. What one doesn't know another will, and gladly shares with other members. The magazine runs along similar lines to the early ones, with the editor still asking for more articles, news, etc. All so familiar, but never boring, always entertaining and enlightening.
We are invited to all the prestigious car shows, including Stoneleigh, and the NEC, where we had possibly our best ever stand last year. With the Triumph Forum we keep in touch with other like-minded clubs, and ever being forward-looking, we have instituted what we believe to be the first junior membership. Open to children, and grandchildren, of existing members, they have their own pages in the magazine, with their own events at our National Weekend. We trust the Club's future will be safe in their hands.
(the late) Val McMillan