A Multipla from American history…

Recently a friend sent us a picture of a Multipla. Not that unusual in a Multipla owning household but this was a rather historical picture.

Our friend had just watched a documentary on BBC 4 ‘Citizen Jane: Battle for the City’ about Jane Jacobs, a journalist, author and activist in New York, who in the 50’s and 60’s was involved in fighting to stop the City Planning Commissioner Robert Moses from running roughshod over the City and demolishing historic neighbourhoods in pursuit of his modernist vision. Jane Jacobs was very concerned about many traditional areas of New York being destroyed by development and the communities that would be lost. The Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village was one of the places due to be destroyed by a planned four lane highway right through the popular meeting place. That plan was thwarted after the community formed a committee led by Shirley Hayes, Stanley Tankel, Jane and neighborhood resident Eleanor Roosevelt, who alongside many local Mothers fought against the plans. The seven-year battle to “Save the Square” was highlighted in Jane’s book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” which sent shockwaves through the architecture and planning worlds.
The famous photo of the Multipla was taken by Claire Tankel, Stanley’s Wife on November 1, 1958 and captures the celebration set up by the Committee after a trial traffic stoppage went into effect. It shows Stanley driving the Fiat through Washington Square with a sign reading “Last Car Thru Washington Square”.

The rest as they say is History and one year later, Washington Square Park was permanently closed to traffic except for emergency vehicles.

The only remaining (and most important) question is… What happened to the Multipla!

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Weird and Wonderful 4 – 1948 Tasco

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No 4 in the series of Weird and Wonderful stuff that has popped up on the internet.

The 1948 Tasco (The American Sportscar Company) is a one off Aluminum prototype with coachwork by Derham. Designed by Gordon Buehrig, chief designer at Duesenberg and an aircraft designer during the war years, the design was heavily influenced by fighter planes, the canopy has a sloped-back windshield and streamlined appearance and the wheels are enclosed in aluminum, like the ones used as landing gear, it also has aircraft style controls. The molded fiberglass front fenders turn with the wheels.

 

The project was backed by a consortium of businessmen who hoped to sell the Tasco to wealthy sportsmen to compete in European-style sports car races held in New York State. It was based on a chassis from a 1947 Mercury, which was modified to accept a new body and was powered by a modified Ford V-8 with 150hp. The one-off Tasco cost a reported $57,000, the production target cost was $7,500 so it wasn’t surprising that the project failed and the car never went beyond the prototype.

The Tasco was the first car in the world with a ‘T top’ roof – the design was patented and Buehrig sued GM when they produced a similar design 20 years later on the Corvette.

 

Unusually for the time, Buehrig used the relatively new vacuum-forming techniques to create small 3D models during various phases of the design development, a process that was later adopted industry-wide.

The Tasco is in the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum.

Sunny Sunday… at Goodwood of course!

The sun generally seems to shine at Goodwood and after a few rather horrible weeks weather wise, last Sunday proved to be no exception. We set off fairly early for us but not for most Breakfast Club participants – Brunch Club would be much more our thing! It was a lovely morning and the great thing about driving Mario is the open road in front, just don’t look behind, especially when going up Goodwood Hill…We had a pass for circuit access and were soon parked up with the usual crowd gathered around. The theme was Classic Sunday and is our favourite Breakfast Club of the year. It was very busy with a good and varied collection of vehicles.This Opel had been opened since new. James was pleased to see this what appeared to be an Original Jaguar C-type, he was pleasantly surprised about the lack of ‘Kit Cars’ in attendance, far less than other breakfast clubs.Mario found a distant cousin in this rather lovely Fiat 500 Giardiniera, hopefully we’ll be seeing it again in the Fiat 500 Parade at the Revival. Having restored a Mini Moke for a client a few years ago, James was very interested in this prototype Moke, very rare and unusual in makes the production More look positively luxurious!We loved this cute Fiat 850 Coupe which brought back ‘happy’ memories of the standard 850 that Jane learnt to drive in – called ‘Tetley’ as it had 1000 little perforations, you need to be a certain age to understand that or a connoisseur of TV adverts! The picture is on the morning of Jane’s 17th birthday and the start of her first driving lesson. A rather colourful section of the displayAfter Breakfast Club we drove up to Goodwood House for the GRRC Open Day. This great ‘action’ shot of Mario was taken by fellow member Helen Sanders.
The open day consists of a friendly, public judged Concours. It was won, slightly surprisingly by a 2017 Aston Martin which to be honest I didn’t pay much attention to and didn’t take any photos off. My choice of the day was between two entries…

A 1955 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint, a very early example from a pre-series production. It ws originally sold to Swedish GP Driver Joakim Bonnier. A ten year restoration has led to the beautiful car on display.
My other choice was a close relation of Mario – a gorgeous 1959 Fiat Abarth 750GT. Using a 600 floorpan and with Zagato’s lightweight aluminium Coachwork and Abarths’s modified engine and exhaust. The type won its class at Le Mans and the last Mille Miglia in 1957.
James was nostalgic, seeing an Austin Westminster Rally Car – he rallied many times in his (Police) Westminster many years ago, until he overtook a snowplough and crashed into a gate post. The awards were made by Lord March.

So a lovely relaxing day in the sunshine, chatting to old friends and looking at old cars – couldn’t ask for much else, other than a great drive home in Mario.

Festival fun – a quick look round the 2017 FoS…

Due to a previous commitments (well OK a party in Devon) we could only make one day of this years Goodwood Festival of Speed. To be fair we weren’t that concerned as these days FoS has become rather modern and Drift cars, Monster trucks and the like don’t interest us. However I wouldn’t want to miss it completely as there are always a few gems hidden away.

The Cartier Style et Luxe is always our favourite and first point of call and although not a classic year there was a class ‘Cheeky Cinquecento’ celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Fiat 500 with some unusual versions.

First up this early first series 479cc Nuova 500, one of the first 15 built it is believed to be the oldest-surviving Nuova 500 in the world! I didn’t realise that the 500 is the only car given exemption from Rome’s ban on older high-emission vehicles entering the city.

My favourite and the car I would most like to take home was this wonderful 1964 Neckar Weinsberg Coupe. One of many 500 derivatives made under license around the world. Made in Germany by NSU, they were made from partly assembled 500 bodies with different panels and rear lights from the Fiat 1100. The rather strange but quirky 1967 Ferves Ranger. Built by Ferrari Veicoli Speciali (FERVES), it was unveiled at the 1966 Turin Motor Show. The compact off-roader was designed to be used in vineyards and olive groves. Less then 50 have survived. A one-off fun car the 1969 Zanzara Zagarto (Mosquito) was designed by Ercole Spada who also designed the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato! The planned limited production series never happened. The logo is fun. You couldn’t have a display of 500’s without the iconic beach car – this 1960 Ghia Fiat 500 Jolly was known as La Spiaggina in Italy. It cost almost twice as much as a standard 500 but was mainly purchased by the rich and famous to use as golf carts and yacht tenders.
A 1968 Fiat Gamine Vignale, the open top roadster often known as a ‘Noddy’ car. 1957 Steyr-Puch 500, made by Austrian company and adapted to suit local demands. A 16bhp flat-twin engine was more suited to the mountainous Austrian roads. This car is chassis number 3, a pre-production prototype. A later developed model the 650TR won the 1966 European Rally Championship. Another car in the Cartier which I rather liked was this impressive Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake. Originally designed for David Brown who wanted more room for his polo equipment for his personal use, customers soon wanted one too., Coachbuilders Radford were commissioned to supply the demand as the factory was too busy. Only 12 were built.On the BMW display was this fantastic 507, built from 1956-59 it was originally a model destined for the USA, it was too expensive and only 252 were made. Owned by celebrities including Elvis and Bernie Ecclestone. I would quite like one but it’s rather out of my price range, well into 6 figures! Each years Festival is defined by the Central Feature. Once again designed by Gerry Judah this years was rather unique as it honoured an individual rather than a brand – Bernie Eccelstone. Celebrating the life and career of Bernie the display represented the different eras of his life as a Driver (Connaught), Manager (Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 72), Team Owner (Brabham BT49), Impresario (Ferrari F2001) and Legend (Mercedes W07 2016).

Unfortunately it was rather overcast on Thursday so it didn’t show the sculpture off to its best but it was still pretty impressive and had some great angles – just would have been nicer with blue sky behind it.

We noticed this rather lovely van in the paddock – A Renault Saviem SG2. Produced from 1965-1982 it was beautifully restored.Finally the new Alpine A110 a lightweight turbocharged sportscar from the legendary French marque. I don’t like new/supercars much but we saw the prototype of this at last years festival and thought it was lovely and had still managed to retain the look of the original Alpine. This model is pretty close to the full production model which will be available in 2018 and was making its world debut although I believe it will cost over £50k so it won’t be joining the family! There wasn’t much action on the track on Thursday as it is the Moving Motorshow day but we had a look round the Paddocks with the normal display of current F1, a special class to celebrate Tom Kristensen’s career and some pre-war vehicles which were interesting. We didn’t have time to get to the rally stage which is normally worth a look. There were lots of supercars and newly launched production models which didn’t interest us but made a lot of 6 year old boys very happy!

So all in all we had a pretty good day, no problems with traffic, just a couple of very light showers and it was pleasantly warm and we met up with several friends. But one or maybe two days is enough these days, it’s all a bit new and corporate for our liking – bring on the Revival and then Mario gets to play.

A motoring catch up – 2017 so far…

We’ve been rather lapse with posting so far this year so here is a quick pictorial catch up of what we’ve been up to so far…

London Lisbon
In April James navigated on the London to Lisbon Rally for Michael Moss in the Fiat 2300 which started from Brooklands Museum. The first leg took in roads very near our home, in fact the first regularity finished just a few hundred metres from James’ workshop! Maybe local knowledge helped as they had a great first day. The first coffee stop was at the fantastic workshops of vintage Bentley specialist William Metcalf. After the first day in the UK they took they ferry to France for a further 8 days of intense rallying through France, Spain and Portugal in all conditions from snow to blazing sunshine. They had a great week with a pretty respectable top 20 finish in a car that was rather large for many of the tests.

Haslemere Classic Car Show
At the end of May it was time for the Haslemere Classic Car Show which we organise. This was the ninth year and it grows in popularity every year. Places for the tour and show were ‘sold out’ weeks before the event. We had great gathering of pre-1973 cars, around 90 of which were waved off by the Mayor on our morning tour of about 60 miles with a coffee stop at Lasham Gliding Club. Mario was there in a very useful capacity helping to transport lots of stuff about. He spent the day being admired peeking out between the stands. This year saw the launch of the HCCS Haslemere Hog – a charity event in Haslemere where 60 Pigs have been decorated by different organisations and then sold/auctioned to raise money. RoadHOG is great fun with his illustrations by Derek Matthews and his flying helmet and accessories. Mario even features on one side! A few of his ‘Hoggy’ friends also turned up in a Peugeot pickup to help support the event.

Our two competitions – Best Dressed Car and Crew and People’s choice produced some deserving winners. It was just a shame that after 8 sunny years the show ended a little early with a ‘Monsoon’!


Goodwood Breakfast Club – Soft Top Sunday
Obviously Mario doesn’t have a soft top so Regie had a day out. It was a lovely sunny morning with a good turn out of convertibles at the Circuit. We had a pass and so got to show off at the end of the grid. It was the first time we’d taken Regie out in a while and you forget how much fun he is to drive. RoadHOG who was raffled off at the car show was won by friends of ours who took him along in the back of their Sunbeam which created a lot of interest. Also of interest was one of the 60 new Caterham Seven Sprints, a new car but built in a retro style. It was such a lovely day that we went on down to Bognor.  GRRC Members Drinks – Kennels PhotoBomb
Every month we meet up with local Goodwood Members at the Kennels, it has become quite a tradition at the June meeting to bring our classic/interesting cars along and have a photoshoot in front of the clubhouse. For once it was a lovely summer evening so we had a great ride down in Regie. So that’s us fairly up to date, there are several motoring things coming up including a day at the Festival of Speed tomorrow…











Mario’s doppelganger…

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Many people have mentioned that there is a new ‘Mario’ on the block… VW launched their concept (likely to become reality) ID Buzz microbus to the world earlier this year. A modern electric version of the VW Microbus taking design cues from the classic T1 and T2 buses. In quite a few of the publicity photos it looks a lot like Mario, the prototype is actually yellow and white/silver but in many pictures it looks just like Mario’s unique colour combination.

One of our followers actually asked if we’d ever given the VW design team a ride at Goodwood. Maybe Mario should charge a consultants fee.

The VW design boss Oliver Stefani told Auto Express, “The ID Buzz fits so well to what the VW brand stands for: it’s emotional, it has functionality, it makes your life easier.” You could say the same about Mario!

Here’s a couple of videos and a few pics… what do you think?

Coming soon a report on what we’ve been up to so far this summer.

A date at the docks…

Slightly different type of post but it does contain old boats…

Last year, after the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, I discovered that my Great Grandfather had been one of the Victims on the Queen Mary. Shortly after, on one of our regular trips to Southsea, we went to the Navy Memorial on the front and found his name – Edward Coombes.  It was quite strange, as at the time, about a month after the anniversary there was just one tribute at the memorial and it must have been someone he would have known, as Edward Coombes was a Chief Stoker on the Queen Mary. Ever since then we have been planning to go to the Historic Dockyard and visit the new museum telling the story of the 36 hours of Jutland. We finally managed to get there a couple of weeks ago.

36 hours: Jutland 1916 was very interesting and I learnt a lot about what happened. The Battle, which has been controversial over the years, with both sides claiming victory, was actually quite pivotal in the war and although the battle wasn’t a great success as such with huge loss of life and ships, the resulting containment of the German Fleet and blocking of the trade channels helped us to win WWI.

I found my Great Grandfather on the interactive system, I now need to get my Mum to find a photo of him to upload. The Battle on May 31/June 1st 1916 was the largest naval battle of the first World War and took place in the North Sea off the coast of Denmark.

The first shots of the battle were fired at 14.28 and the Queen Mary was one of the early victims of the battle being hit at 16.25. Both forward magazines exploded and she sunk immediately with the loss of all but nine of her 1275 man crew. It was very strange but moving to see all this and know that a family member had been killed but quite comforting to know that as a stoker in the engine room he would certainly have known nothing of what happened. There was very little left or recovered from the wreck and in the whole exhibition the only exhibit from the ship was just a solitary bolt, which in the force of the explosion had landed on the deck of another boat.

Edward Coombes was lost 17 years before my Mother was born and so I have heard very little about him. In total 9823 (6784 British) men lost their lives at Jutland. There is an amazing memorial underway using granite slabs representing the hulls of ships all positioned to make a map of the battle and eventually, they will be surrounded by 9823 stone figures to represent every man lost. This will be on my wish list of places to visit in the future – maybe a Scandinavian holiday in Regie!

We bought annual passes to the dockland and so we also took the opportunity to visit the Boathouse 4. The boathouse is one of the few surviving examples of 1930s military architecture in the UK. It was originally the workshop for building and repairing a large fleet of small boats used by the Navy including many landing craft which took part in D-Day. Today it is used for restoration projects and boatbuilding skills training. There were some interesting small boats on display including this steam boat. This was a tender used by Queen Victoria on the Isle of WightThe launch James Bond used to escape Spectre assassins in From Russia With LoveCockleshell Heroes canoes – used in Operation Frankton a commando raid on shipping in WW2, the plan was for canoes to paddle by night to occupied Bordeaux and attach limpet mines to cargo ships. Only 2 out of 10 men survived but Churchill said that the mission shortened the war by 6 months
Boathouse 4 also has a lovely new restaurant and bar so we thought it rude not to sample a special edition HMS Victory Navy Strength Gin, distilled on the Isle of Wight.

We’ll be making trips back over the year to visit the other attractions and probably sample some more Gin!

Catching up with Wheels Day

Been slack at posting again – too much to do with the car show coming up. So in order to catch up here’s a mainly pictorial post on the annual Wheels Day.

Wheels Day is the annual show organised by the Surrey Street Rodders and has been taking place for over 40 years. Always held on Good Friday the show took place at Rushmoor Arena near Aldershott. There must have been the best part of 1000 cars on display ranging from Hotrods and Customs to Classics. Personally I feel it’s a shame that there are modern souped up cars on display but each to their own I suppose.

Mario had an entry, although we were a little late turning up after celebrating a friends birthday the night before!

Loved the Woody and Buzz hanging off this pick-up
The picture looks red but this was soooo orange! Great Matt paint finish Couldn’t decide about this. Had it just been pulled out of a barn/field or very carefully made to look destressed? Tiny, Baby Airstream – would look great behind Mario! This Cosmotron had been completely handcrafted on a BMW Z3, very comic book, space age.

Magnificent time at Member’s Meeting

Mario had his first outing of the year a couple of weeks ago when we went to the 75th Goodwood Member’s Meeting. Not working this time, Mario had a parking space at the Chicane Parking so he was part of the event and we had a ‘giant’ locker for picnic stuff, refreshments and extra layers of clothing. The event held in mid March is famous for it’s Daffodils and last year all GRRC members were sent a daffodil bulb as a mailer to grow for the meeting. We grew ours in an old Castrol Oil can and they bloomed in perfect time for the event and to be entered into the competition at the meeting. The meeting is a greta change for us after the Revival as we actually get time to look around and watch the racing. MM is far more relaxed, much like the early years of the Revival and much less crowded. It can be quite ‘nippy’ on an airfield in March but we were lucky and it stayed dry all weekend, as the saying goes ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’ so we wrapped up well in lots of layers and stayed snug all weekend. 

The Revival is for cars from the era when racing originally took place at the circuit – 19948-1966 but the member’s Meeting widens that and includes cars from the turn of the century up to the 80’s. Our favourite race of the weekend is ‘the Edwardians’ or the S F Edge Trophy for specials that raced up to 1923. These are amazing, aero engined fire breathing beasts, including the awesome ‘Beast of Turin’ – Duncan Pittaway’s superb 1911 Fiat S76 which e saw racing for the first time.
Saturday was practice and qualifying with a race into the twilight, the Bonham’s auction and then the MM75 party into the night. With a fairground, all sorts of illuminated entertainment and a spectacular fireworks display. Sunday was race day, a chance to poke around the paddock admiring the amazing detail of some of the cars and watch some exciting wheel to wheel action. As well as Mario there were some interesting and varied cars parked around the circuit. We thought the Porsche might have been specially painted for the meeting as it was in the cream and pale blue livery of the MM. Little GRRC hot water bottles were on sale and you could get them filled up at the tea stalls, this was a brilliant idea that certainly helped to keep the hands warm. we also went prepared with toasting forks and crumpets to toast on the fire pits. It was a great social weekend and Mario certainly enjoyed a little spring attention.

W&W 3A – The Heli-bout

As promised, here’s a mini post on another fantastic collaboration between Evinrude and designer Brooks Stevens and it certainly falls into the Weird and Wacky catagory!

helibout-brochure-41Boat manufacturers Evinrude commissioned Brooks Stevens to create something to showcase the 1961 Evinrude 75hp outboard motor which shifted from forward to reverse without having to turn off the engine – the result was the Heli-bout. A working concept, it appeared at the New York and Chicago boat shows. It certainly attracted attention, the blades on the top turned but didn’t lift the boat out of the water, although the company insisted it could be used. After the shows it was initially sold to Brooks Stevens and was exhibited at the Brooks Stevens Museum. It has since been owned by a series of museums and private collectors.

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