Millennium-meeting Champagne (23/12/08 )


The hotel room was reserved since I went to the Reims classic car exhibition in Spring 2001, very reasssuring to start the trip. Saturday 22 Sep , dawn was misty, the Sabra top was up and lights, heater blower needed… is this amps meter showing charge or discharge?

A phone call to Jef and Els learned that they were way ahead of me, at the border and that it was misty too there.

I have chosen the most direct way from where I live, much more to the east than Jef and André, following smaller roads. After some 70 kms the mist disappeared and the sun started shining, the start of a beautiful week end.

France and its nice Ardennes villages, a bit of a remote region though, saw the Sabra speeding towards Reims. 200 kms, 140, 86, and then , Reims exit "Parc des Expositions, Hotel Mercure".  I turned into the parking lot and saw several men and women chatting while watching a row of funny little cars with a strange design. The Sabra international meeting had started. 

Tony and Jaki, the founding fathers of this millenium in 01 meeting, … how nice to see you back, the Belgian old faithful, Jef and Els , André and Carine, old faithful Mercedes brought them, one day , the Sabra will.
André has already test driven it, but felt the long trip to Reims was a bit too much for the old lady , who had been at rest for so many years.  He will have to teach her being alive and kicking again.

A Sabra cannot be an  it, it is definitely a she.

The 2 "rally beasts" , Geoff's convertible Sabre and June and Adrian's Gt6 looked as they should, muscled, but kept their feminine refinement.

A two tone blue GT and a silver GT with Luxemburg plates were incredible nice show room examples.  Show room is a very bad word here, they could never have been so splendid when delivered to their first owners in the early 60's.  The plates struck me, they referred to the Sabre and to the GT6, how do you do that in law regulated Luxemburg.

So I met the new guys in the gang , Adrian and June, Robert and Jean and his young son.

Sabra/e meetings tend to grow.  Time for a sandwich lunch, is this English or French, even French hotels adapt to their guests now, we definitively grow into Europe.

And we eat outside on the terrace, hmmm what will the waiter think… foreigners.visit to the Reims Auto Museum in the afternoon.  Nice and funny french cars; we have seen a lot of them in Belgium, but here are some very strange examples of the french genius.  The row of Sabra/es in the Parking lot and a splendid TVR were interesting for the visitors and the owner. We could leave the cars during our stroll through Reims.  A historic city, what I recall is that everyone was chatting in such an friendly way , that the surroundings did not matter. Historic Reims will be for another occasion.Who did I talk to? Els, surely, and Carine , about the studies of her daughter, and Jef , about his new job, and Tony.  

Everyone freshened up, searched and found some nice things in the small bags that can be put in the boot of a Sabra, and gathered for a drink in the bar.  The supper that followed was of high quality, France isn't it, the technical conversation between Geoff , Adrian and Jean on my side of the table was a 4Star one, I could only listen and nodd.

Next morning, breakfast got me sitting together with Robert Brandy and his friend Jean, a remarkable pair of friends; a painter, confined artist with expositions throughout the world and a mechanic, artist too in his skills and a real connoisseur of special cars, pieces of art too; two artists united by a Sabre passion.

Up to the Champagne houses , Taittinger, a nice choice for a visit. We made some nice with the line up of the Sabra/es, the guard enjoyed it, he proved to be an amateur of classics too.

André took some nice pictures for the official record , I will keep my snapshots for  private use only, the visit was fine, amazing how they managed to make the Champagne into a world wide appreciated wine , an astounding marketing success story.  The revolutionary amongst us could stick to the Italian spumante, the Spanish cava, the German sekt, the French Blanquette de Limoux, Crémant de Bourgogne and so many others. When is the next party where I will feel obliged to bring a bottle of Champagne??

Lunch time, restaurant time again, tasteful family restaurant, they had pigs feet, this opportunity I do not miss.  Never mind what my English neighbour will think. A last visit on the program for me is the Reims old Grand Prix Circuit; Relics of the past, the "tribunes", vanished publicity for cars we saw in the museum the day before, rusty petrol company structure.  This is for the real photografer, I do not dare to take a picture. Impressive it is , I hope André takes some photo's.

Time for goodbyes because it is getting late; the others are going to make a drive through the vineyards, but as it is taking us to the south , I will not take part.

On the way home , I fill the tank will some litres of leaded petrol, thus spending my last french francs, next visit it will be the Euro we will use…. Not yet used to the idea.   Save drive home … a memorable weekend.

Thanks Jacques

And the pictures


foto André Delouvroy

(Els and Carine)

left Jean & son, Geoff Cooper, Robert Brandy, Jacques Vandevelde, Jef Neefs, Adrian Stapley.

foto André Delouvroy


Tony & Jaki Heath with a loaned TVR, still working on the Sabre-6; Adrian & June Stapley; Robert Brandy's friend Jean, Robert Brandys showroom-car (silver), Geoff Cooper, Jef & Els Neefs, Jacques Vandevelde.



foto André Delouvroy

fltr sitting André Delouvroy , Els, xx (Jeans' son)

upright: Jacques Vandevelde, Tony Heath, Geoff Cooper, Adrian Stapley June Stapley, Jef Neefs, Robert Brandy, Jaki Heath, Jean ...

and the bottle.

foto André Delouvroy

Adrian Stapley, Robert Brandy 1, Robert Brandy 2, Geoff Cooper.


foto André Delouvroy

frtl: Jacques Vandevelde, Jef Neefs, Geoff Cooper, Robert Brandy.

At the museum:


foto André Delouvroy

At the race-circuit in Rheims.