Wheels & Waves exhibition

Coventry may be situated as far from the coast as it’s possible to be in the UK,
but from October 20th 2011 to February 26th 2012, the city will play
host to the sights, the sounds and swell of the sea. The Museum of British Surfing and Coventry Transport Museum are staging a major exhibition ‘Wheels & Waves
– a display of vehicles used by British surfers from the 1950s to the
present day, along with surf art, surfboards and memorabilia.

An eclectic range of vehicles has been brought together for this
exhibition, and all have one thing in common – they have all belonged to
surfers; and at some point someone has strapped a surf board to them
and driven to the British seaside to catch some waves. Visitors will
probably know about split-screen VW campers and maybe even Beetles being
used as surfer transportation, but the exhibition also has a few
surprises in store!

The vehicles will be displayed on specially built ‘seaside’ sets –
after entering the exhibition through the surf shack visitors will be
met with sand dunes, surfboards and of course the stars of the show, a
tremendous range of surf vehicles including a 1968 Split-Screen Dodge
Camper, a range of VW Campers and Beetles and some iconic ‘woodies’.

F1 World Champion Damon Hill, one of the Museum of British Surfing’s ambassadors, describes himself as a “racing surfer”.

“As every student of geography knows, there is no point on the
British Isles more than 70 miles form he coast. But that’s a long way to
walk with a surfboard! The contradiction of surfing is that the purest
and most minimal of nature sports needs a car or van as an essential bit
of kit,” he said.

“The appeal of surfing cannot be explained in words. You have to do
it. And now there are millions of surfers, where once there were only a
crazy pioneering few, who went where no man dared go. Surfers are a
little like motorcyclists. They are just outside the mainstream of
society. No shirts and ties allowed. And you need to be able to go when
the surf arrives. At the drop of a hat. Difficult to hold down a proper
job under those rules. Surfer’s cars and vans express this ‘free
spirit’. They are also ‘home’ to the smelly wet suit, melted surf wax
and damp towels. If you haven’t slept in the car on the beach, just to
be first to the surf, you are not a surfer. Customising the van is all
part of the experience. Unless you don’t have time, like me. Did you
know you can get a 9’4” long board into a VW Golf? Well you can. Just!”

The display of vehicles will be complemented by an array of surfing
art, boards, kit and motoring related toys from surfers past and
present, including original surfboards dating back almost a century, on
loan from the Museum of British Surfing.

Four-time British surfing champion and world-renowned big wave surfer Gabe Davies
is also one of the surf museum’s ambassadors; “I think it’s brilliant
that a Museum so far away from the coast is putting on this exhibition.
For as long as there have been surfers in this country, there have also
been surf vehicles – and Brits really have strapped their boards to some
incredible vehicles through the years. The Wheels & Waves
exhibition is a unique way to showcase the ingenuity and humour of the
UK surfing community – and of course their love for their surf-mobiles!”

The full exhibition runs from October 20th, 2011 to February 26th,
2012 and the surf wagon display continues until March 18th, 2012 – click here for opening times & directions.

Photo Graham Sorensen/Museum of British Surfing

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