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CLUBS - A hassle or a godsend?

In my short time rummaging through the various Viva clubs I can say that I have had no real problem with either the clubs, or the members of any of the clubs I've been in. Most people, like me, love their Viva and do amazing work to keep these cars on the road. I remember back in 1979 when I first owned DHR that I joined a club called the 'Vauxhall Specials Group'. I think the guy who ran it help start the Viva Owners Club but can't be sure of that. (See the old windscreen card we use to leave under any likely cars wipers). I have been a member of four clubs in the last few years and at oneSpecials Group time I was in all four at the same time. As it meant some 60 a year going on fees that could be better spent on my cars, I have settled on two; the 'Viva Outlaws' and the 'Viva Drivers Club'. The other two clubs I joined were the 'Viva Owners Club' and the 'Droop Snoot Group'. Politics will always raise its ugly head, (just look at David Mellor and Anne Widdecombe), in any club, its human nature, but in these two clubs I haven't found any yet. They treat our hobby as just that.... a hobby. The cars are the stars and clubs are run to help the members and to try and have some fun with like minded people. I have put a quick run down of the clubs below and the opinions stated are my own and in no way represent the views of the two clubs I'm in.

VIVA OUTLAWS

For me the best Viva club around. No not because I'm now a committee member, but because I found them to be the most helpful and friendly of clubs when I was green behind the ears and finding my way in the world of Viva's. At the time of meeting them I was already a member of the 'Viva Owners Club' and the 'Droop Snoot Group', but decided to drop both after a day with the Outlaws.

I contacted them by accident really; I came across their web site whilst I was testing the internet at work. (Well it does need testing now and then. (2nd of August 2005)). I sent them DHR's details as their site said they had a register of Viva GT's. Within a couple of days I was mailing Guy Turner, (otherwise known as Spot), and he asked if he and a friend of his, could come and have a look at DHR. At this time DHR hadn't been stripped down very much, although the engine was out and the wife wondered why two grown men would travel great distances to come and look at, (these are her words again, not mine), "a pile of rusting junk!". Well on the 10th of September 2005 Spot arrived at my garage in his V8 GT. What a great sound it made as it burbled its way down the hill. Keith Laxton arrived a little later, (otherwise known as Edd), after a few get together's I realised that Edd always arrives late. I think he has his own time zone! They came and had a good look at DHR and I learned more in the next few hours than I thought possible. There was no snobbery, no one-upmanship, just good honest Viva talk and the beginnings of a few piss takes that have carried on ever since. Spot said he would stay for an hour or so but ended up staying all day, Joanne brought us some sandwiches and beer at lunchtime and I had a really good day. Since that day I've never looked back and what a great time I've had.

'We' are a small, friendly, sociable club that caters for the modified Viva. (We are so sociable; sometimes we end up falling over and slurring our words). We are in the VBOA and attend Billing and Santa Pod each year as well as other shows and 'meets'. The get together's are always fun and no snobbery is allowed. The cars are not 'judged' and no matter how your car looks, you will always get a warm welcome. At get together's most of the talk is Viva related and when it does drifts off, it still tends to return back to the Viva. Modification doesn't just mean sticking some huge great lump into the car, (no I don't mean you Edd), it could be parts that can be used from other cars to keep the Viva on the road. The AGM is held on the Saturday night of Billing and is arranged before the beer starts flowing in great quantities. If you want to know anything about a Viva ask them, they will know and if they don't, they will know someone who does know. (I don't know so it's no good asking me if I do know? If you know what I mean!). We are run by a small committee which talks regularly and keeps in touch with members with a bi-monthly newsletter. It's not flashy, but it's very informative. (Sometimes to technical for me and they translate into dumbo language for me). Take a look at the web site on www.vivaoutlaws.co.uk and see for yourself.

THE VIVA DRIVERS CLUB

The club was formed by a breakaway group from the Owners Club. Now agree or disagree with the rights and wrongs of that all you like, but I like them and their attitude. Another club that doesn't worry about the state of your car or how much Viva knowledge you have. (Flod's in it for Christ sake and him and me hold about as much Viva know-how as a page three model knows about quantum physics. (But we do make a nice cuppa and can cook a good burger, unlike a page three model. Think of Flod and me as WAGS.)). They do loads, (and I do mean loads), of shows. They attend all over the country and always seem to get a good turn out. They also hold 'hit squad' weekends where they descend, on mass, to a member's house and give them a kick start with their project. (Beer and curry are compulsory in the evening and some form of breathing apparatus is required the next day). They have a good relationship with the Outlaws Club and a lot of events overlap without the need of the UN peacekeepers. They send out six A4 newsletters a year and publish an up to date set of accounts in each newsletter. They do have an assortment of regalia as well. They are run by a small committee and also have area reps. They do hold an AGM which this year turned into a weekend event. It was held at the Compasses pub in Greenfields near Luton, where they camped at the rear of the pub overnight and on the Sunday went to the Standon Museum of Transport. A great way to hold an AGM. They have come a long way in a short space of time and are also members of the VBOA. Their web site is www.vivadriversclub.com

THE VIVA OWNERS CLUB

The oldest Viva Club still running I believe and the one which probably has the biggest membership. It's now run by a committee after being run for many years by Mr.Adrian Miller. The club has a very good web site developed by Paul Bottomley who managed and maintained it for many years. (Paul has also freely given me advice when setting up my website, for which I'm eternally grateful). The forum on the website is excellent for keeping up to date with other members and if you post a question, someone will always give you an answer. I was a member of the club for three years but just found it to 'clicky' at that time. (I don't think it's like that now). That aside, I did meet quite a few members local to me who meet up once a month and we still do, although I think only one or two are still members of the club today. They are a good bunch, knowledgeable and friendly and we meet at the Compasses pub on the first Wednesday of the month. If you are a member of the Owners Club you can purchase spares from 'Viva Spares', a business run by Adrian Miller. They also have a regalia section for members. It was always the dearest of the four clubs to join but if memory serves you got a quarterly newsletter and now they do now hold an AGM. I have no experience of their AGM so cannot comment on its content. Again members of the VBOA. Their website is www.vauxhallviva.com

THE DROOP SNOOT GROUP

I must admit I don't know a lot about the group as after I'd joined I realised they cater mainly for the HC models onwards and obviously the 'snoots' in particular. I did try them when I was researching DHR's history and they sent me some HB articles they had but none for the GT unfortunately. This is another long standing club with a very good web site. It also has a forum which I used to first make contact with them. If you have an HB I personally don't think this club is for you, but if you have a Firenza, Magnum or any slant four Viva they may be what you are looking for. Also VBOA members. Their web site is
www.droopsnoot.co.uk

THE VBOA (Vauxhall Bedford Opel Assosiation)

I'm now the Viva Outlaws representative for the VBOA and I must admit I started out being very sceptical of the organisation. (I wasn't head-hunted for the role, it's just that I live the closest). My thoughts were that it was to political, to 'clicky', and I couldn't really see the point of the organisation. I have changed my mind, big time! Seeing the bickering that goes on between clubs, seeing how difficult it is to try and please everyone, I don't envy the committee members one little bit. How you try and get all the Vauxhall clubs to pull in the same direction I don't know, but these guys do and good on them I say. Lack of communication, lack of feedback, lack of praise; but still they keep going. I do my bit, I give up as much time as I can spare, but I wouldn't want to join the committee for all the tea in China. Next time you go to Billing, what about seeking out one of the committee members and just say 'thank you'. I'm sure it would make their day and perhaps go a little way towards rewarding them for all their hard work. www.vboa.org.uk

CLUB REVIEW

Anyway that's my interpretation of the Viva Clubs I know about. If you're looking for a club my only advice would be try them before you hand over your money. Talk to members, go to some shows and meet them, sometimes things just feel right, as in my case with the Outlaws, but remember everybody is different and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But if you do join a club and don't like something, don't just slag them off, help the club out and put some effort into making things better. Most people who run the clubs give up their time and in most cases money, to keep them running....please remember that before shooting from the hip. If they didn't do it, nobody would.

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