Cavalcade To Cannes. The Great British Film Rally took place between the 7 and 17 of May 1989. Organised by BAFTA and Shell UK in association with the Classic and Historic Motor Club and Shell France.
The procession arrived in Cannes drawing rapturous applause and attention to the British film industry presence there. The venture raised over £35,000 for the Save the Children Fund. The Great British Film Rally was a unique premiere which set itself ambitious goals and achieved them.
Never before had a rally of such magnitude, distance and pedigree been attempted. By its success, the Rally has set a very viable precedent. The Rally was preceded by a comprehensive publicity campaign. French and English posters adorned the route, huge brightly coloured banners welcomed the drivers to Shell petrol stations and other stops, garage attendants and officials cut a dash in GBFR T-shirts, and 40,000 bilingual brochures were distributed throughout the length of the country.
The public turned out in their thousands. Sleepy rustic villages welcomed the contribution made to the traditional May holiday atmosphere by the guttural growl of Lagonda, Aston Martin and Bentley engines. At a number of locations the cars were mustered for display. In Amiens, crowds turned out to wave, cheer and applaud the cars into the Palais des Congres. In the courtyard of Champagne Beaumet, at Epemay, the cars were parked alongside the Chateau owner’s personal collection of vintage cars, together with the original `Spyker’ from the film Genevieve which was brought from a museum in the Netherlands. Interested onlookers smothered the cars (and drivers) outside the Palais des Ducs de Borgogne in Dijon, and children were crowded into the cars for press photography.
At Chateau de Savigny, the cars were assembled amongst the owner’s eccentric collection of vintage motorbikes, Abarth racing cars and retired jet fighter planes. In Lyon, they were allowed to park across the dramatic Place Bellecour. The departure point from Avignon was the famous bridge every school child sings about. In Cannes, the cream of the cars were on view in front of the British Pavilion on La Croisette. Such prominent and privileged vantage points gave the press a field day. FR3, the regional TV channel, filmed at Dijon, Chateau de Savigny and at the Shell service station at Villeurbanne. In Lyon, local TV took the opportunity to film on the Place Bellecour. Radio interviews were given in Epemay, Dijon and Nice; a fifteen-minute interview being recorded by Nice Baie des Anges.
Reporters and photographers turned out at Auxerre, Dijon, Aix-en-Provence, Nice and Cannes, not to mention the press attention the Rally aroused in London and Dover at the outset.
S4C, the Welsh TV channel, sent a film crew to make a 50-minute magazine programme featuring the presenter, Catrin Beard, navigating for Barry Owen in his 1932 Sunbeam. The programme was transmitted in August.
Of the 44 vintage cars taking part, a good proportion have featured in film and TV. The 1920 Willy’s Overlander from Shout at the Devil was shipped in from Malta to take part and the joint eldest car, a 1912 NAG K4, starred in Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines. Michael Caine’s 1931 Alvis in Battle of Britain was the overall competition winner, and, perhaps the most topical car, a 1958 XK150 Jaguar, was last seen being driven around the seamier side of Ladbroke Grove by John Hurt in the film Scandal.
A Legend Of Rock & Road mobile HQ accompanied the Rally in the shape of a 1953 Bristol KSW 5G ECW open top double-decker bus, featured in the TV show Surprise Surprise but more famously known as Paul McCartney’s 1972 Wings Tour Bus. The bus has been supplied by Roger White.
The remainder of the support convoy consisted of six brand-new Jaguar saloon and sports cars, three transit vans, a 11/2 ton lorry and six hire cars for Rally staff.
Throughout France the hospitality received was tremendous. Thanks are due to the mayors, dignitaries, officials and police in the areas the Rally
traversed, as well as to Champagne Beaumet and Hayward Bros., Caves de Bailly, Chateau de Savigny-les-Beaune,
Patriarche Pere et Fils, Maison Prosper Maufoux and Deinhard, Domaine Lacharme et Fils, Caves de Lugny, Chateau de Pizay and the Paul Ricard Circuit, where the drivers were allowed around the world famous race track. Die-cast model Rolls-Royces from the Frankjin Mint Collection were presented as tokens of the Rally’s gratitude on each occasion.
The Rally, however, would have remained a dream without the enthusiastic contribution of supplies and services made by many individuals and companies. They allowed the idea to become a reality.
Special mention must go to Jaguar Cars Limited for the marshalls’ cars, to Steve Broughton of Godfrey Davies of St. Albans for restoring the bus, replete with BAFTA GBFR livery.
Thanks must also go to St. Albans Van Hire for the three new transit vans and to Grip House for supplying the 11/2 ton lorry and its driver. In London, Bermans and Nathans fitted out the participants and organisers in appropriate period costume for the departure and the Forum Hotel, Kensington, accommodated the Rally on the evening before departure. Location Caterers from Pinewood provided breakfast at the Albert Memorial start.
Cavalcade To Cannes Link to YouTube video
Paul McCartney’s 1972 Wings Tour Bus – The Roger White Years.