Amazingly, it’s now nine weeks since the 2023 Citroen Car Club National Rally was held, as usual, at Abbots Rippon. This year’s event was something a little bit special. With 1983 seeing the launch of the Citroen BX in the UK, we had an excuse to party. Unusually, I even took my family this year to celebrate 40 years of BX in the UK.
The actual release of the Citroen BX in the UK was actually in August. However, the CCC National made for a perfect opportunity to get all the UK BX fans together. Despite being held at the end of the second week of July. Although the event was well advertised through the Citroen Car Club and UK Citroen BX Online Clubs, I had no idea if anyone would even turn up for #BX40UK.
Getting to the National Rally
In my usual fashion, just like 2022 and 2021, the CCC National Rally is a focus point for me to get some work done on the BX. This usually starts with a bit of cleaning, then any other quick maintenance tasks that have been picked up. I’d already checked the cooling system (several times) this year, so no disasters like previous years.
Scrub a dub dub
Despite pre-MOT maintenance, Jazz doesn’t get much cleaning over the year. I prefer to drive rather than polish the car. However, the National is a polishing competition for some, and I usually succumb to peer pressure and give Jazz a scrub before setting off. If nothing else, a good wash and seal will protect the paint for a bit.
The usual start is with the AutoGlym polar wash system. Followed by the obligatory social media posts about it having started snowing. What can I say, I’m a simple person and easily amused by horrendous dad jokes.
Fire up the polisher
This year, I’ve broken out the polishing machine as well. I’ve actually bought it to get XPO ship shape and evidently went too soon on the purchase. While the dual-action polisher has been used on XPO’s A-pillar repair, this is the first real action it’s had.
The pictures look far better than the actual results. The Auto Finese products dont give a great result. I certainly get better results from hand application of the AutoGlym. However, I’m aware that I’m rushing the job with just a few hours before we set off down the M6. I clearly need more experience with the Auto Finese products.
And of course, just as good progress is being made, the rain comes. Not a lot, but just enough to stop play for a few hours!
Once the weather cleared and the car dried, a quick once over and the paintwork is looking pretty tidy for a 32-year-old pink banger. However, what I discovered over the next few days is that every time any remaining product gets wet, it reacts and goes white. Complete nightmare.
Registration and Tail Blazer
I’ve recently seen many positive comments and great pictures of owners getting retro plate designs remade. While digging around in the loft, I found part of the original plates from my first BX. So I got in touch with Retro Plates to see if they could remake Jazz’s plate in the style of my first BX.
The old BX plate was snapped so I could only supply part of the original design. But fair play to the team at Retro Plates, they have done a cracking job of making up the plate. The Cubbin and North site on Teehee Lane in Bebington has long since turned to flats. However, this little reminder of my youth makes me smile everytime I see it. Completely worth the money!
One other mod I wanted to finally get installed on the car is something I’ve had knocking about for a few years. The tailblazer cost a fortune, and was posted from Holland, and I still have mixed views on it. Really I want to illuminate the whole thing in a true retro mod style. However, with my current working pattern, it will never get done.
The #BX40UK event gave me an excuse to finally get the genuine Citroen Accessorie installed. So, I released the tailblazer from its packaging and installed it onto the rear of the BX. I’m still a little on the fence about it, but except for one trouble-causer, it generally receives very positive comments.
Of course a birthday party needs some amount of cake. After a little gentle persuasion, I persuaded the chief cake maker in the house to knock up some bicuits. This seemed like a simple enough task, until a BX cookie cutter was demanded!
The particular shortbread biscuit didn’t take the impression of the Citroen BX outline very well. However, it made a great template for colouring in. And man did I do a lot of colouring, with iceing. Annoyingly I didnt get a picture of the finished biscuits. Unfortunatley the only picture is these early versions which look like a cross between Lightning McQueen and Mater.
Fortunately, the drive along almost the whole of the M6 was uneventful. Conditions where a little damp, and slow in patches. But for a Friday evening and the first of the school holidays, the drive was relatively peaceful.
One ‘moment’ I did enjoy was after a quick stop at some services. For numerous reasons, the back end of the BX usually hits the deck within a few minutes of turning the engine off. So I was quite bemused to come back to the car to find the rear still relatively in the end. Closer inspection showed the back end was being held up by the tow bar sitting on the kerb!
A few hours drive and we all made it to Abbots Rippon, and gathered with some of the usual faces. For those in the know, we usually set up a ‘social corner’ at all CCC events. Typically we opt to be not too far from the bar to save disturbing those trying to sleep if and when the last orders are called. I always feel a little sorry for those that don’t realise . . .
After a long overdue natter with friends into that late evening, I was surprised just how early some of ‘event’ the team were up and at it. Bringing a sun shelter instead of a tent probably didn’t help some with sleeping.
After a decent brew and a bit of running around, the nerve centre of the #BX40UK operation was set up. Over the weekend, this tiny tent would be a storage and distribution centre, a sun shelter and a ‘biblical rain’ shelter. After looking through some old photos, I think this is the 8th CCC event this gazebo has been to since it was purchased in 2008.
Every BX in its place
With some amazing car wrangling, we soon managed to get a collection of BX’s lined up in alphabetical, and thus age, order. This was no mean feat given the ‘conditions’ we had to work in and the tendency for BX owners to arrive, jump out the car and wander off!
Come lunch (ish) time, and we broke into the #BX40UK cookies. Alongside the ‘BX’ cookies, we also had a couple of these ’40’ biscuits based on the official Citroen BX 40th design. It was no surprise to find they didn’t last long around my youngest.
The Little Details
These sorts of gatherings don’t organise themselves, and while I was happy to help on the day, I take no credit for the many little details. The CCC magazine BX column is hosted by myself, Kitch and Sara. However, for this deadline, all the deliveries came from Mr Kitch. From mugs to bunting, handouts to in-car info sheets, the organisation of the parking, the display banners, the parts amnesty area, getting the right registration cars to turn up on the right day. All of this and more were organised by our very own YouTube star and purveyor of the UpnDown channel. Thanks for a cracking 40th Kitch!
As the afternoon faded away, day guests tootled off home, and barbeques were fired up. As is tradition, ‘Anthony BBQ man’ (that’s honestly how he’s saved in my phone) put on yet another fire-wielding and BBQ grilling spectacle. Normally, this descends into many hours of drinking. What happens at the national stays at the national, doesn’t it Matt!
However, this year, being the faces of the BX community, we felt we best join the quiz. And I am SO glad we did! What an absolute comedy of an event. The host was truly amazing, with multiple pub quiz rounds I’ve never seen before. The uniqueness of the quiz made for a brilliant evening of entertainment.
Despite doing very well in the ‘What’s that chocolate’ and the ‘Bag Fondling’ rounds, the BX LOSERS (we expected to do far worse) came in an honourable second place. I suspect we may have done a little better without the ‘James Bond’ round, given our ages, but I’d say we did ourselves proud.
Bedtime was a little later, but I managed to push on until 1am. The reduced amount of setup did help, although the gusts of wind did have me worried for the gazebo!
Sunday, the morning after
While the Sunday should have been much of the same, it was a whole lot more. Without giving spoliers, the #BX40UK event just kept building and building.
A similar alphabet presentation of the BX through its UK sales years was arranged. However sunday features a different mix of cars. Quite how Kitch managed to get all of that organised, I’ll never know.
Overdue Catch-ups and Technical Nattering
The event was generally a busy old weekend, but staying for three days did have some advantages. Chats with some of the more regulars were enjoyed as usual. Some of the catchups were long overdue like ‘LukeT’ and ‘Caffiend’, and some where first-time face-to-face meets like Sara. I do find it remarkable to recognise I’ve known many of the BX community for longer than I’ve not known them. A few I’ve known long than my wife.
One aspect of these big gatherings that I do enjoy is the real-world catch-up that bleeds directly from the digital world. Be it following up on ‘saintjamesy89’ exhaust install from the BXClub.co.uk forum, or the latest gossip from the BXClub UK Facebook group. They make a great starting point for breaking the ice.
Eventually, though, the conversation will turn to more pressing technical matters, like strut top mounts. As can be seen from the multiple videos on the UpnDown YouTube channel, they are a key current topic. The picture above is a remanufactured Chevronics part on the left and one of the last genuine spares from Citroen on the right. Both of which LukeT brought along as a conversation starter. There’s more to be said, but they are identical (save for the paint). Too identical to be mere reproductions?
Forty for 40
A highlight of the event for me, was getting forty BXs to the event on the Sunday. Admittedly, they weren’t all on the field for long, nor all in the same place. However, after multiple counts and counters, there where definitely forty BXs on the field at the same time.
The event had been well publicised within the BX community and Citroen Car Club both digitally and in print. However, we had no idea how many BX’s would make the show. I had longed to get XPO down to Abbots Ripon, but it wasn’t to be. So to get a total of forty BX in the same place at the same time was a huge bonus for me.
Okay, it’s not the 116 we had for the 25th gathering all those years ago, but forty BXs together in the UK is a huge achievement. Surprisingly it was a real mix of old and new owners, too. With many of the stalwart long-term BX owners attending the show, the ranks were swelled up by relatively new owners. Over the last five years, BX sales have certainly been on the increase, as have values and appreciation levels. Long may it continue.
This fantastic brown wonder takes me back to my youth. While it may not be quite the nappy poo brown interior I remember, everything about this BX is brown. From the brown exterior to the brown Harris tweed esq interior, this is a car targetted at a certain type of buyer. I don’t remember ever seeing the two-tone dash on a UK car before. The second glove box was exclusive to the left-hand drive vehicles. Still, the brown on brown made me feel rather nostalgic.
Parts bin special
What started as a throwaway comment from my better half soon turned into a highlight of the show. Picture the situation. We had a parts amnesty corner with a growing number of parts. And we had a gap in the lineup where the E-reg car had unfortunately not arrived. Couple that with the BXclusive team being of a certain age with fond memories of the film “short circuit”, and pretty soon Johnny Five was alive.
The E-reg parts car substitute is much more than a pipe of parts carefully placed by experienced BX owners to the outline of a BX. The “spares” car is the epitome of the BX community. Bringing spares, for free, for the good of the community, and having a giggle in the process. A fantastic nod to 40 years of the BX in the UK.
While I was aware of a crazy chap who had built a BX 4×4 from the ground up, I knew little about it. However, managing to bump into the owner and spend a half hour chatting about the car was eye-opening. While this BX now sported running gear at the back, it didn’t come from the factory like this.
The car is actually a hybrid of at least two cars to make something very unique. And what a cracking job. While many of the parts have come directly from a BX 4×4, the level of fabrication and ingenuity is huge. Now I know some of the details of the build, I’m hugely inspired and now hankering for a BX4x4.
Although the 40 years of BX gathering was expected to bring support from the BX community, the support from outside the usual faces was amazing. From the BX nod in the pub quiz, to Claires amazing spread of BX merch including T-shirts, coasters, T-towels and more.
I’m not entirely sure who put the BX40UK presentation together, but pinned to the back wall of the hall, it was quite the crowd draw. I was made up to find a couple of pictures of my own BX. I also found some of my lost BX favourites. A cracking display to pour over. Thank you to those who contributed.
If this article isn’t getting across just how spectacular 40 BXs in a field might be, then maybe some moving images would help! A friend of this blog, Indecisive Auto, joined the festivities and recorded this lovely walk around.
And if you want something a little more BX-oriented, then this shorter B-roll video is entirely BX-focused with some excellent close-up shots. It’s a great way to celebrate 40 years of BX in the UK.
A great couple of videos from Indecisive Auto, especially if you couldn’t be there in person!
And on to the fiftieth?
Several months later, I have still not come to terms with just how successful the #BX40UK has been. To get so many cars together was a fantastic spectacle, and I can’t wait for Kitch to do it again in ten years’ time. No doubt I’ll still have Jazz, so will look forward to supporting the 50th.