Llanidloes 3rd/4th July 2004
Over the past few months the forum of Club 80-90 has been buzzing with the possibility of a Syncro-specific event. This came about from a discussion on the Syncro board about holding an event to compete with the likes of Syncro de Mayo that is held on an annual basis in the USA, where there is quite a Syncro scene.
Excellent video from Mark Williams
For the uninitiated the VW T3 Transporter and Caravelle Syncros were built by VW with Steyr-Puch in various locations from ’84-’91, with production continuing in South Africa for some time after that. Steyr-Puch are renowned for their 4×4 experience and have had a hand in producing other vehicles like the Mercedes G-Wagen and their own Pinzgauer off roaders. The T3 Syncro was a slightly unusual vehicle, not promoted very much by VW, but with exceptional off road capabilities.
After a short search for a site a potential home for the first UK Syncro event was found in Mid-Wales. The site was 200 acres with a good field for rough camping, extending into a wind farm at the top of a steep hill. A site inspection on the weekend of the Bustypes event confirmed the site suitability and 80-90 club members continued preparations for the event.
One of the key aspects of the event with a large number of inexperienced off roaders was that it had to be well organised and safe. To this end Club 80-90 Syncronauts was formed and RAC Motor Sport Association (MSA) affiliated so public liability insurance could be gained for a reasonable sum. After negotiations the support of the Isle of Wight 4×4 Club (another MSA affiliated club) was gained to help with the logistics and event support. This proved invaluable for the actual event and Club 80-90 would like to thank the IOW 4×4 Club for their efforts – it wouldn’t have been possible without you!
On the evening of July 2nd club members started arriving at the site and the support staff completed a site inspection to define how the site could be used. This involved getting two vehicles stuck in a peat bog during the initial drive round of the site – a warning of things to come perhaps?! The Friday night social was the usual 80-90 mix of drinking and chatting, catching up is very important for an internet-based club. The ‘club pub’ the Spragmans arms was also erected in the camping field, to provide shelter from the typical Welsh summer. Not only were there Syncros at the event, there were the ‘Syncro-curious’ – 2WD T3 owners who wanted to have a ride in and see what the rare Syncros were actually capable of.
|Friday ended with some bad news – one of the key committee members, Clive Smith’s Syncro had broken down on the way to the event and been recovered to near London. Was he going to make it at all?|
The event proper and the driving kicked off at 10:30am the next day, without Clive. A total of seven driving Syncros assembled and drove to the top of the hill for some exercises to build confidence for those who hadn’t driven their Syncros off road before. The first of these was ‘anywhere Land Rover go, Syncro go better’ which was a drive across some moorland, with a couple of deep drainage ditches that caught a couple of people out. Vehicle recovery is one of the key features of driving off road and provides a wonderful team building experience, well that’s what the IOW 4×4 Club members told the Syncro drivers as they towed them out, anyway!
After this baptism of fire there was an organised drive round of the top of the site, giving people a feel for their vehicles. Including some very enthusiastic hill climbing attempts, with Jake achieving a clear foot of air under his front wheels on one bank. The drive back to the campsite for lunch was also quite a learning experience for some of the drivers. The convoy stopped halfway down for the support team to instruct one of the Syncro drivers about the finer points of controlling a vehicle on steep, slippery downhill gravel tracks.
On arrival back at the campsite there was excellent news – Clive had made it with his partner Jenny and met us in the field with huge smiles, despite arriving in a Nissan Micra. There’s a strong possibility this was a ruse, as a result of being Syncro-less they got to sample the widest range of Syncros during the event, both passengering around the site complete with the biggest of grins.