About Mario the Multipla

I am a 1962 Fiat 600D Multipla, I live in Haslemere, Surrey in the South of England. I have lots of adventures and lots of very interesting car friends

The Goodwood 77MM

We said we were back and we’d try to catch up on what has happened over this year… After Mario’s problems on A photographic day out was off the road for a few of months while James did some work on improving the brakes, repairing the seat that got damaged at the Revival and some general tidying up – it’s been nearly 20 years since we finished the restoration and he’s done pretty well but had some wear and tear that need dealing with.

The first major event of the year was the Goodwood Members Meeting The 77MM, held in early April. This year James was away navigating on the Flying Scotsman so I decided that I would leave Mario at home rather than risk being on my own with him in the dark and bad weather. As it was, the weather was kind this year, no snow, dry and sunny and I didn’t need as many layers as previously. Sadly the later date and better weather meant that the daffodils were nearly over.

First a tenuous link to Mario with a few Fiats – I loved the gorgeous 1958 Fiat Abarth 750GT ‘Double Bubble’ Zagato Coupé in the Bonhams auction. Unfortunately the £86,250 the winning bidder paid, put it rather out of my budget! Another all time favourite is the ‘Beast of Turin’, this Fiat S76, land speed record car is a crowd pleaser and is just awesome to see racing, other cars have to overtake to the right to avoid being scorched by the flames – real Wacky Races stuff.

David Coulthard was racing the iconic Gullwing Mercedes and helped to launch the ‘Silver Spitfire’ flying round the World project.

Other ‘celebrities’ included Nick Heidfeld and Mario’s mate ‘Mr LeMans’ Tom Kristensen.

As we work at the Revival, the 77MM weekend gives the opportunity to enjoy an event at leisure and actually see some racing. I had a good time meeting up with friends and being able to wander around with the camera. It was interesting to be out at Madgwick Corner on Saturday as the light faded and the Le Mans Cars took to the track, although it must be the coldest spot on the circuit! The following ‘party’ was great but the later date and hence clock change meant it all happened a bit later and I left before the fireworks.

My favourite race of the meeting is the SF Edge Trophy for Edwardian cars. Fantastic beasts with their drivers rather precariously balanced on their machines are a great spectacle.

Always loads to see and a real variety of cars.

Back soon with more of our year…

Absent without leave…

Firstly another apology, sorry we haven’t blogged since February, no real excuse, just a lack of time… but now we fully intend to get back in the flow. Over the next couple of weeks we will tell you what Mario, Regie and the humans have been up to this year in the motoring world and we have lots of interesting finds to share..

To get started though, yesterday was Halloween and popping up on social media was a fantastic Hearse, a wooden carved Cadillac from 1929, looking like something out of a Disney Cartoon, sort of a spooky version of Cinderella’s pumpkin coach. This got us thinking about the fabulous Multipla Hearse we blogged about in 2012 and so started a trawl through the internet.

One normally thinks of a hearse as a dignified, sensible and probably boring way to make that final journey with a bit of respect but my goodness we found some weird and wacky options…

Other types of Fiat and we think an Alfa, practical in the same style as the Multipla, pretty sensible but with a touch of Italian Bling.

An E-Type Jag for the sporty option

Ornate carving is a popular thing…
Top: a Buick 1929
Middle: a Cunningham 1929.
Bottom group: No idea of the cars or dates below but all look like they starred in Wacky Races. I think these are probably in a Funeral Museum in the USA.

Cadillac’s from late 1930’s early 40’s

60’s space age – a huge Cadillac Fleetwood Eureka

And a Buick, found in Greece and currently undergoing restoration.

If you thought the previous ones were ornate, now have a look at the Asian versions, mini temples decked out in gold.

For the Military funeral or just for enthusiasts the Tank Hearse.

For when you want to combine your funeral with a holiday!

No words… The end.

A photographic day out

After what has been unfortunately months of hibernation, Spring came early at the weekend and Mario finally got an outing!

Due to life and it’s demands we hadn’t been to see Mario for quite some time so we really pleased to get an opportunity to get out and about. The poor thing was rather grubby when we uncovered him but amazingly he started on the button and we gave him a quick wash down to remove the worst.

Even after a week or two the brakes often stick so we weren’t that surprised to find they were binding. After some heavy braking they began to free off and we set off on an adventure in the sunshine. After a mile or two just one brake was sticking (and smelling) a bit so we pulled over for James to adjust it slightly. Almost immediately one of Mario’s ‘fans’ going in the opposite direction had turned round to check we were ok.

With the car rolling more freely we set off towards Goodwood. Our destination was Boxgrove a villlage on the edge of the estate where the Independent Goodwood Photographers Guild of which we are members, was holding their annual competition and exhibition. Mario joined a small collection of interesting vehicles outside the hall.

The Guild which was formed a few years ago with the aim of bringing enthusiastic photographers together to share their experiences and photos from Goodwood Events. The group (predominantly on FaceBook) has gone from just being a handful of us to over 1000. The exhibition showed the just under 400 entries to this years competition. Covering 10 classes, of which you could enter seven, the standard was incredibly high. After initial judging the final selections had been sent to the Duke to Richmond to make a final selections and the results were announced at the end of the afternoon.

The afternoon was a good opportunity to meet up with old friends and say hi to a few people we only ‘knew online’ The organising committee had done a great job and were helped by other members providing snacks and drinks and the local Camera Shop and Sony had brought some cameras along to look at.

It was really difficult to select three pictures to vote for in the Amateur Photographer Category. It was quite interesting though that James and myself had picked out the same images and many of these were category prize winners. We didn’t win any awards but enjoyed taking part. Our entered pictures follow – mine first taken on a Nikon ‘Bridge’ camera and then James’ which were all taken on his iPhone.

It was really nice to be out and about in Mario. He still has a few issues with the brakes and clutch so will need a bit of TLC before the summer season kicks in and we hope to tidy up some of the bodywork too but it’s really done well considering that we restored him twenty years ago.

If you are interested in the IGPG check them out on the groups website or apply to join the closed group on Facebook

A look back at the Goodwood Revival 2018

Writing the blog unfortunately keeps getting put down the ever growing ‘to do’ list of tasks but finally here is a predominantly photo report on Mario’s favourite weekend of the year – being part of the Goodwood Transport Corps at the Revival. I can’t believe it was four months ago but a cold January day is the perfect time to look back on the wonderful early Autumn sunshine we experienced last September. After the torrential rain of the 2017 Revival, we had perfect conditions.

Mario was packed up with all the kit and we set off for Goodwood. As we turned into the estate, Mario stopped and wouldn’t start again! I couldn’t believe he’d disgraced himself. Luckily Regie and James weren’t far behind and a quick bit of fettling got him back up and running smoothly – phew. We went straight to see the cricket match and flypast before our briefing and sorting our accommodation before supper. Friday dawned with glorious sunshine. No new outfit this year but a few new accessories including these fab 60’s earrings. We were working all afternoon shifts so we were able to have a good look round in the morning. Highlights were cars from the movies, including The Great Escape, Bullet and Le Mans and we saw Howard from Take That who was racing his Porsche! Goodwood were celebrating British Transport and had a real steam train at the entrance with the fabulous GAG (Goodwood Actors Guild) providing the entertaining passengers and crew.Once we were on duty there was no stopping, taking guests back and forwards to the Hotel, Kennels and House. It was a long afternoon as there was the first race of the meeting which ran into the twilight and so we didn’t finish until really late.
The following morning we discovered that in all the panic of the previous evening getting people back after the end of the race, unfortunately one of Mario’s back seats had broken. The seat couldn’t have been properly locked in and so had twisted, pulling out the captive nut. The only thing to do until it could be repaired properly, was to remove the seat, not so much of a problem as we could still take 4 passengers if one sat in the front.
It was good to have the ‘taxi team’ back together. Most people have been doing it for years, so it’s always a reunion of old friends. We transport many familiar faces too, with ‘customers’ coming back year after year. It’s nice to hear people say that we’ve made their weekend.
2018 was a special year as it was the 20th anniversary of the Revival and the GRRC. There were special events held for members over the weekend. The first was a special grid walk at the start of the Rob Walker Parade. A friend and one of James’ customers had his Facel Vega (previously owned by Rob) on the Grid.  Sunday was another beautiful day. We watched the kids get ready for the Settrington Cup, this is always fun and the kids are very determined and competitive.
Not working mornings meant we had a chance to have a good look round the paddocks. There was a tinge of sadness as we had heard the news that Barry ‘Whizzo’ Williams had passed away, he was a big supporter of Goodwood and motorsport in general, at one of the early Revivals James had taken part in a display event on track with Barry.We always have a lot of fun with the Taxi fleet. Up at the house at the fuel and maintenance yard, they had dressed it as ‘Gatwick’ Airport, this is part of a fun competition between the various departments on the estate for a team photo. On Sunday there was a special anniversary parade with winners from over the years of the event. As founder members we were allowed on the grid before the parade, this was very special and the Duke made a speech thanking Members for their support over the years.

All in all, it was one of the best Revivals for a number of years, we did have to work very hard but it is much better in good weather and the shift system allowed us to have time to enjoy the event. We can’t wait to be back in 2019 – Mario already has his contract!

Celebrations past and present…

This weekend we will be at Goodwood as part of the Revival period taxi fleet. This year is the 20th anniversary of the Revival and there will be lots of celebrations happening and on Sunday Mario’s ‘brother’ Regie the Renault 4cv is going to be turning 60 so there is lots to look forward to.

While going through some old files the other day I came across a written report of Regie’s 40th birthday. We organised a special treasure hunt and a picnic at Goodwood with the permission of the estate. So to follow is that report and some pictures of the day. Mario  hadn’t even been thought of then but he’ll be there to enjoy the day this time. We’ll post about this years celebrations and the Revival after the weekend.

Regie’s special day out (Sept 1998)
September 9th 1998 was a very important day. Regie our Bugatti blue 4CV convertible, was going to be forty. It was decided that the occasion couldn’t go unmarked and so Regie would have to have a party.

The date was set for Sunday 13th September, giving us a weeks grace from our return from the South of France, to organise and sort out any health worries with Regie – considering his form on our Previous holiday this was quite possible! Invites were duly sent to all his 4-wheeled friends, with instruction letters for their ‘parents and guardians’. A good response was received but an unfortunate clash with the Paris to Marrakech Rally meant that several of his more athletic friends were otherwise engaged.

The 13th dawned, dry but very cold, this seemed rather good in respect of the previous weeks weather but rather a shock for recent holiday makers. Regie’s ‘Grandparents’ were dispatched with the ‘Grumpy Truck’ (our Citroen H-Van) to the picnic site at Goodwood (as previously agreed with the Earl of March), to set up as the catering unit – they could have made quite a profit selling teas to ramblers before we arrived!

Meanwhile the party-goers, assembled in the car-park of the King’s Arms at Fernhurst, awaiting the arrival of the birthday boy… he turned up to cheers, dressed in a birthday banner and Bugatti blue balloons.

As VIP, Regie was first off, on the treasure hunt, with his ‘mum’ Jane at the wheel and her mate Karen as navigator. Although no route secrets had been divulged, It took place in our local area, which was probably a good thing, as driver and navigator had a lot of gossip to catch up on! The route devised by James, took about a hour, over very scenic country roads, winding through Northchappel, Kirdford, Wisborough Green, Petworth and Duncton, picking up numerical clues on the way. This included counting figures on pub signs, code numbers from fire hydrants and chimneys and the most controversial being the number of post boxes along one lane. Was it five or six? James has been back to check, however, I won’t reopen the argument by saying who was right! but they do say that the judges answer is final.

Luckily the rain held off and Regie managed to complete the run ‘topless’, although hats, gloves and flying jackets were essential for the crew – rather sad in early September. The ‘Grumpy Truck’ was in position under the trees, decked out in red white and blue bunting and more matching balloons. A feast had been prepared, displayedt on black and white chequer cloths and plates. A huge birthday cake (specially made by friend Carol McGovern) was centre stage, complete with a sugar crafted model of Regie on top.

Regie parked up in the middle with the other vehicles forming a semi circle around him as they arrived. The order of arrival however seemed rather different to the start, either due to the swopping around of the drivers and navigators or perhaps one or two unscheduled refreshment stops! – it was Sunday lunchtime after all.

The Champers was cracked open – chosen during a rather excessive tasting session earlier in the year at Le Mans – and the French peasant style buffet tucked into – French bread, cheese and pates, courtesy of our holiday, fortified with lots of chicken and sausages. This was followed up with ‘Grannies’ home-made apple pie.

The champagne and conversation flowed while completing a small quiz, there was some cheating – you all know who you are! The answers were all connected to Regie, France or 1958, if only everybody had realised. Guests also enjoyed reading the board with all Regie’s letters, cards and e-mails from friends both present and absent, it’s amazing how articulate some of these cars are, Regie received messages from all corners of the UK, Germany and even a birthday note from Austrailia, this was from Hugh who we met at the Renault Centenary Weekend and who appears to be the ‘Regie Fan Club down under’!

The afternoon wound up with a prize giving. The Treasure Hunt prize was awarded for the closest combination figure from the questions answered and a guess to the mileage recorded by James in the sweep vehicle. This was won by the Simca with Chris and Ailsa at the wheel. Two prizes were given for ‘furthest travelled’ – the Escort Mexico (Dave Jones) which had come from Oxfordshire and a rather sneaky award to ‘Burlington Bertie’, the boat-tailed Austin 7 Special and his guardians Dave and Mel – they all turned in a van after competing in the Brighton Speed Trials! The Mann’s Lagonda got the ‘most pubs visited on route’ prize, but they were busy very trying to think up an alternative reason to tell the family back home!

And finally the prize for the car Regie ‘most fancied’ had to be awarded to ‘Michelle’, James Polden’s 4CV and a very pretty sight they made posing together with James’ ‘baby’ pedal car.

Everybody began to make their way home, the cold finally beginning to bite, but we think that Regie and his friends had a jolly good time – roll on his 5Oth!

REGIE’S GUESTS INCLUDED:-
• ‘Michelle’, 4CV – James Polden
• Healey Tickford – Clive Willoughby complete with gramophone, musical instruments, rubber chicken and rat
• ‘Josephine’, Lagonda M45 Tourer – The Mann’s
• Alvis Firefly – George Melville
• Escort Mexico – Dave Jones
• ‘The Queen Mary’, Willys Jeepster – Harriet Langridge
• ‘Froggy’, Frogeye Sprite – Terry Langridge
• ‘Elsie’, Escort – Tracy & Andy Rogers
• ‘Eda’, Simca – Chris & Ailsa
• Austin Healey 3000 – Hugh & Eillen Shearer
• Mustang – Adam Simmonds
• Landrover – Sprout and Julie Wade
• Stretched Mini – Geoff & June Theobald (Regie’s Trimmer)
• MG – Ian and Jo Wilson
• ‘Burlington Bertie’, Austin 7 Special – Dave Furnell & Mel
• Jaguar Mkll – Steve & Stuart Albon
• Jaguar – Vic & Denise Sayer

Better late than never… Goodwood MM76

We’ve been promising this for months but the looming Goodwood Revival meet next week reminded me that we had never shared our rather unusual experiences of the 76th Members Meeting.

Taking place back in March, the first major event of the year can obviously be a bit chilly, although we were all lured into a false sense of security with the first ’72’ MM which took place in glorious sunshine back in 2014.

On the Friday before the meeting I was invited to a special talk by the Duke of Richmond, this was exclusively for the founder members of the GRRC and was a fascinating afternoon with the Duke telling great stories about how Motorsport was brought back to Goodwood. It was a beautiful sunny day and the circuit looked magnificent under blue skies with the daffodils gently nodding in the breeze.

However this year the forecast was looking decidedly dodgy for the weekend and as we set off on Saturday morning it was grey and foreboding and very cold. Mario was booked into the Chicane Parking, partly to be on display to his always appreciative public but mainly so we have the most convenient locker, for all those extra layers of clothing and of course the picnic!

This year was going to be even more interesting for us as our friend Adam had his Lola-Chevrolet T142 taking part in the F5000 demonstration. But by mid morning when he was out for his first run, it had started to blizzard and we could hardly see him come down the startline straight from our viewpoint on the top of the pitlane.

The snow eased off after the demo and we were wrapped up exceptionally well, although I looked and felt like a Michelin Man. Taking photos was difficult in thick fur mittens and I couldn’t put my arms down to my side but I wasn’t cold. We spent the rest of the day mooching around the paddocks, watching racing and then in the evening we stayed on for some of the party which had some great entertainment and parades. By the time we came to go home though, poor Mario had a little coating of snow and it was falling lightly all the way back to Haslemere.

The following morning the alarm went at 6am, we were supposed to be at the circuit by 7.30 as Mario had a place in the Members Parade. However I pulled back the curtains to a white landscape. There was no way we were going to be able to move poor Mario and the roads were more or less blocked.

So Mario stayed safely at home. After a couple of hours talking to friends and following FaceBook we managed to get a friend who had James’ ‘truck’ to come and rescue us. Once over the first couple of hills, the snow became much lighter and we were able to get to the circuit just in time for Adam’s demo. the F5000 cars are very powerful and most opted not to go out but Adam was brave or foolish depending how you looked at it and he took to the track with about four4 others and put in a few careful laps for the crowd. The rest of the day went ahead with some good racing, especially the Edwardian Race which was exciting. 

So, considering the conditions we still managed to have a good day and got home without too much trouble although we couldn’t get Mario back to his garage for about three days.

Hopefully the weather will be kinder to us next week, when Mario will be back at Goodwood for his favourite weekend of the year, working as a taxi at the Revival… see you there.

Weird and wonderful No 6 – Gebruder Verga Coupe

Another in our occasional series of interesting things that have popped up on the internet…  This time this spectacular little space age Coupe produced by a small Carrozzeria or bodyshop in Switzerland in the late 50’s but with a rather interesting story which I have tried to piece together from articles online.

The Gebruder Verga Coupe was a special body on a Volkswagen chassis with a rear-mounted air-cooled engine. There doesn’t seem to be much information or history available but it would appear that at least two cars were built, one more unusual with a bubble-top canopy and a fixed head version with Gull wing doors which may be a copy.

Verga-coupe4Verga-coupe-gullwing2

The Carrozzeria Verga was founded in 1830 by Benjamin Verga as a maker of wagons and carriages crafted from wood and iron. The business stayed in the family and in the next century, later generations became skilled coach builders. In 1956 Enrico Verga produced a prototype car  which appeared at a Concours D’Elegance competition in Campione d’Italia near Lugano. It is thought that this was the beautiful and futuristic glass bubble version and it is this car which features on the website of the family business today – there is no information as to what became of the car, maybe it is hidden away in the workshop!

It featured in a German magazine in the 50’s, who commented, that it had a rather strange opening roof, which lifted up in one piece including the circular door disc and was rather clumsy. In several of the original photos below, the roof seems to have been replaced with a curved windscreen, maybe the roof was removable or perhaps this was a modification or even a different version, although it has the same registration.

Verga-coupe1Verga-coupe3Verga-coupe2Verga-coupe5Verga-coupe6Verga-old-adIt is not known if the second ‘version’ was designed and built by Verga but it has a remarkably similar body shape and styling although it is a fixed head with Gull wing doors. It does have a more intriguing story and is still in existence.

Over the years this car had some rather extensive modifications for not entirely legal reasons. It was used to smuggle auto bits, especially truck ball bearings at a time when customs duties were high. Secret compartments had been installed and the four corners of the body had jacks, which raised it up to reveal the contraband goods. The frame had been reinforced to take the extra weight.

In 1959 the car was seized by the French Police at Arnéguy on the Spainish border. It was confiscated by the state and stored in a warehouse at the La Rochelle Customs School until it was rediscovered quite recently. Eventually it was auctioned by the French Authorities, it was purchased and  has been returned to Switzerland, where I believe it is being restored. Even the journey back wasn’t uneventful as the bonnet blew off on the motorway. Amazingly after an online appeal and the offer of a reward, the bonnet was discovered in a field not far from it’s final destination and returned to the new owner!

Verga-coupe-gullwing1verga-coupe-trailerVerga-coupe-gullwing3

Carrozzeria Verga is still in business today and is run by Simone Verga the Great Grandson of Benjamin.

verga-today

Hopefully more information will come to light and the car or cars will be seen again soon.

Classic SUNday at Goodwood Breakfast Club

The sun shone brightly for the 2018 Classic Car Sunday at Goodwood Breakfast Club, the only one we’ve been eligible for this year. Armed with Mario’s pass we set off quite early (for us) and had a lovely drive down. The circuit was packed and we were parked out on the run off area at Madgwick.

There was a good collection of cars in attendance and a good variety. In my opinion it is the best theme and the most tightly controlled, so there isn’t a load of modern stuff you can see in the average supermarket carpark or a bunch of kids fawning over ‘supercars’.

Mario as usual was a star and was immediately surrounded by people, I’m amazed that after nearly twenty years of taking him to Goodwood events that there are still people that have never seen an original Multipla.

We did far too much socialising but did manage to take a few pictures of some of the cars which caught our eye – thinking about this blog they are mainly Fiats and other Italian Classics. Our two favourites of the day were a Fiat Abarth 750 Zagato, the fabulous ‘Double Bubble’ and an early Skoda Octavia, launched in 1959 this was the 8th model since Skoda’s post war nationalisation. While not fast it was well equipped for the time. This one had been brought to the Uk and undergone a restoration, it was rather lovely, only spoilt by the modern number plates.

So with a great display of classics, an impromptu air display and beautiful weather this had been one of the best Breakfast Clubs for a while. It was great to be out in Mario and we took the opportunity for a little run down to the seaside after.

Fiat Spiaggina – a 60th anniversary special

The Fiat 500 was 60 yesterday (launched on the 4th July 1958) and alongside the celebrations of Fiat 500 owners worldwide there were two new Fiat 500’s to mark the occasion.

Fiat themselves have an anniversary model. A Fiat 500C Spiaggina 58′ edition of the convertible modern 500, in baby blue and ivory with a few tweaks, stripy beach style interior and some retro wheels, cute but not that unusual although it is being limited to ‘1958’ cars, it goes on sale in September.

However it is the prototype 500 Spiaggina or Beach Buggy which is getting all the attention. A modern take on the cut down ‘topless’ Jolly Beach Cars so loved by the celebrities of the day in the late 50’s and early 60’s.

 

Based on a modern 500C, it is coach built by specialists Garage Italia, which is owned by Lapo Elkann the Grandson of Gianni Agnelli. it is fully topless with just one roof bar and with some body strengthening by Pininfarina.

The two seater is a perfect fun summer car. With a waterproofed interior, bench seat and the yacht like corked panelled boat/loading bay, even incorporating a shower!

You can actually order this car with any engine from the current 500 range be built to order but no doubt for a specialist price and whether all the quirky features will remain is another matter.

Of course the question we must ask is… any chance of a modern version of the extended 600 Multipla Spiaggina?