Jabbeke Golden Jubilee 2002


Fifty years ago Rover made a world speed record for the passenger cars. But this car had no piston engine, instead driven by a gas turbine. The car was named JET 1 and driven by Spen King. The speed was over 150 mph or 240 kph, and was put in all record books.
Now fifty years later, a Rover enthusiast thought that a Golden Jubilee of the JET 1 would be something to remember, because it was a milestone in car history. So George Hamill decided to build an replica of JET 1. He also made a tour to Belgium where the record was made at Jabbeke, between Gent and Oostende, fifty years later in the same week.
A Rover P4 was modified, roof chopped off, rear doors replaced with sheet metal, windscreen deleted and a sleek two door convertible of the original design was the result. George with his friend Richard did the work to this replica. First they had taken hundreds of photos of the original JET 1 in Science Museum in London or Rovers own Heritage Museum at Gaydon. Like all car nuts, time is the limiting factor, burning midnight oil was not uncommon for this duo.
The Jabbeke Jet Tour succeded to collect quite a few cars to this weekend. Two cars from Sweden (Arbrink P6, Arnholm new 75) and two from France together with a team of British Rovers attended. P4 of the 50's, P6 of the 60-70's and SD1 from 70-80's with a lone Alfa Romeo, an Italian touch to Rovers. Not to forget George's P4 Pininfarina cabriolet from 1952 and a British made equivalent, The Mulliner, from 1954. A black P6 Estoura, one of the limited numbers of station wagons built by Rover, made the list complete.
Friday afternoon a meeting point in De Haan, a seaside resort started to collect cars from all directions. Later a visit to Damme, a café where an afternoon tea or rather beer, or drinks for the passengers was taken in the towns small square. No place for the cars, they were parked outside town. Then heading for the two hotels for preparing of the evenings highlight, the largest hotel, looked like a castle from the garden side, was the place.
A splendid four course dinner was on the menue. Champange, to welcome everyone, salmon and white wine entree, steak and red wine main course were served. Finish with strawberries and cream made you more than satisfied. Good idea to bring all together the first evening with this dinner, much better than looking to cars on the road.

The Hotel Lodewijk von Male Gathering in the bar Gathering in the bar George says welcome At the  dinner-table Ian's "show At the  dinner-table

Saturday of preparations

Saturday was open for free excursions, but some liked to go into central Brugge, cultural city of Europe this year. The day was sunny and rather hot, from the Scandinavian point of view. Others went with their cars outside Ypres, to some graveyards from WW1. What a waste of lives there have been in Europe the last century.
In a small town, it was time for lunch, at a larger square we hade plenty of space, but we needed a lot of time also. This café man would take one order a time, then serve it, then next order ond so on. Sandwich lunch (sometimes café man fetched more bread from the bakery, opposite the street), or coffee, ice cream took at least two hours for us. But it was a nice day and no one was in a hurry.
Evening was free to eat were it pleased you, but some were unlucky to wait too long for the main course. An early evening was good if you would be alert for the Sunday morning run with JET 1.

Late dinner  at a pub Late dinner  at a pub George's  Kvack-beer Final preparations of the Jet-car Final preparations of the Jet-car Final preparations of the Jet-car

The Jetcar ready for the Jubilee-run in Jabbeke

The Jet-car The Jet-car The Jet-car The Jet-car The Jet-car The engine Details on the car Details on the car

The Jubilee-run in Jabbeke

Breakfast and checkout before the run to the flyover bridge where JET 1 would pass under. After a while the bridge was full of us, waving to suprised Sunday morning Belgian cars on the road below. Where would the JET 1 turn up first, from west or east?
Then we saw the BRG coloured open car, all cameras and videos were ALMOST ready. The next time by, George flashed his head lights to salute this very special occation in Jabbeke, fifty years later. Other cars let free space around JET 1, so some good photos are expected.
At a petrol station with road cafe, more photos with JET1, car owner and car builder, changed places behind the wheel. Somebody said, when the period typical helmet was put on, you look like 'George Formby', we all understood it was a 'past time' occation we were looking at. Now all would have a dry test behind the wheel, more photos again, looked like a day out with school children. Men never grow up. Then we went to see some friends from New Belgian Rover club, at Wijnendale castle. A walk inside this castle was made, mostly remembered for its historic meetings in hundreds of years. In the rooms figures in correct clothes gave you a hint of life in past times.
In the car park, the lid over the 'rear seat' on JET 1 replica was removed for the first time. A original Rover turbine engine was installed and looked very real, it was. You could imagine what it sounded like when its starter motor revved it up. This was a smaller version of Rover Turbine Ltd. jet engines. The larger version was used at the speed record in 1952, believed output around 200 bhp. This replica had correct instruments, filling all panel space up. It was a masterpiece, like all other visible parts inside and out of this splendidly built replica.
The replica had a Rover V8 engine in the front, which had taken the car from England to Belgium and later home again. Not bad for us to be in the same convoy as JET 1 for three days. Even the numberplate had for this day JET 1.
Then we followed our Belgian friends to a place where two P4's are rebuilt. Some local beer was tasted by everyone liking it in the yard. The visit was ended in a cafe where all was served icecream with cream and strawberris on top. 'Leckert' said a Belgian lady about its taste.
I replied, it is the same word in Swedish. In England you'd say, 'delicious' and it would sum up this splendid weekend in one word.
Thanks George

Jet-run on the Jabbeke-road Jet-run on the Jabbeke-road In solemn Majesty George during the  Jet-car Cheerful  spectators Rovers  lined up Look who's 50!

Text by © Richard Arbrink and Gwenda Fullard
Photos by © The Arnholm Family

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