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

Catching up on 2019… Part 2

To think we were worried that we were so behind and hadn’t got round to posting last years events… it was just as well as we would have nothing to post in 2020!

Typically when we’ve had a spell of such beautiful weather, we haven’t been allowed to get out and about due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Poor Mario has been safe and sound but not used since the Revival last year. Regie had swopped garage with a clients car to make space for James to work on a long-term project and James has been (luckily) been incredibly busy and so hasn’t had time to get them checked over and on the road.

So we are going back to this time last year and the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2019

The Cartier Style et Luxe is always one of our favourite areas of the FoS, we were excited to see that one of the classes in 2019 was ‘a sting in the tail – 70 years of Abarth‘ and there were some fantastic entrants, all of which would have made great garage mates for Mario!

First up was the Abarth 750 Sperimentali ‘Goccia’. Design for Vignale by Giovanni Michelotti in 1957, this car featured in the first of our ‘Cars we love but can’t have’ series in 2016 and it was very exciting to see it at Goodwood.

Next up was this 1957 Fiat Abarth 750 GT Spider by Zagato. A topless derivative of the acclaimed ‘Double Bubble’ GT Coupe, just six examples were built.

The Best in Show prize went to this 1950, Abarth 250 Monza.

Below are some more pics from the Cartier Lawn and a couple of the judges – Model David Gandy and David Linley (Earl of Snowdon). The Interior of the Avions Voisin was extrordinary and led to a project which we will write about very soon!

We went to the Festival on the Thursday which is the quieter day and on the Saturday evening we went to the Kennels to watch the Festival Ball fireworks which as always were spectacular.

We went back on Sunday when unfortunately in the morning it was rather damp. It was interesting to be beyond the start line to watch the Formula one cars get ready to go up the hill. A great assortment of cars from past and present and drivers from the great Jackie Stewart, through my Hero Damon Hill – those eyes staring from his helmet brought back memories – to modern day drivers such as Daniel Riccardo and the new British hopeful Lando Norris.

We had a good couple of days mooching around, othing things we found interesting included seeing Mario’s Doppelganger the concept VW electric bus, some interesting stuff in the FutureZone and the classic Renault Riffard Tank World Speed Record car from 1956 which was built on a 4cv chassis like Regie and has just been restored by Renault and was on it’s first public outing. The central feature as always was awesome, celebrating Aston Martin and there was an impressive outdoor fireworks display and parade of iconic Astons to celebrate.

The Hill Climb Shootout took place on the Sunday and is always exciting. The quickest car up the hill was electric – the Volkswagen ID.R driven by Romain Dumas with a time of 42.32 secs, getting pretty close to the twenty year record of 41.6 held by Nick Heidfeld in a McLaren MP4/13. Romain did beat the time in practice on Saturday with a run of 39.9 seconds!

So that was the FoS, we will try to be back soon with the rest of what happened in 2019.

Weird and wonderful No7 – Renault 4cv ‘Labourdette’

Another in our occasional series of interesting things that have popped up on the internet…

Regular readers will be familiar with Mario’s ‘brother’ Regie the Renault 4cv, so we are always interested when something about 4cv’s catch our eye on the internet. Like Fiats, there were many different derivatives of the 4cv with unusual bodies but the one we spotted today really stood out.

Yes this strange quirky looking car is based on a 4cv. The 4cv Labourdette Vutotal was unveiled by the French President at the Paris Salon in 1949 or 50 where its design and styling were considered progressive. The Labourdette’s were a french family involved in coachbuilding and then very early car design. The Grandson, was visionary body-builder Jean-Henri Labourdette born in 1888 and who became well known for his bold transformations of prestige vehicles such as Bugatti and Rolls Royce.

The company had developed a glued frameless windscreen and front door glass which eliminated the A-frame, this ‘Vutotal’ (total view) design was patented in 1935 and appeared in many prototypes but never in a production vehicle. After the war Labourdette didn’t really resume their coachbuilding business but Jean-Henri devoted his time to research and inventions. He eventually retired to Grasse, near Nice, which by coincidence is where we found Regie.

The 4cv Vutotal was a three seater convertible with the single backseat turned through 90º and the famous panoramic windows. The headlights were built in under glass. It proved too revolutionary and never went into production.

Two years later Labourdette went on to make a more conventional convertible version of the 4cv. Only two doors but the front end is the same as the production model and you can see the famous star wheels which were fitted on the early cars. This was two years before Renault produced their own factory built convertible which they only made under 500 of, in 1954. Regie is actually, an after market convertible, made post factory to order, similar to what Crayford Conversions did to many Fords in the 60s and 70’s.

The 4cv convertible on a postcard believed to be shot outside the Labourdette’s house in Paris.
The Labourdette 4cv Convertible on track in 1952, believed to be at the Grand Prix de La Baule.

Catching up on 2019… Part 1

As we are so behind, here is the first part of a brief catch up of what we got up to classic motoring in 2019.

The Haslemere Classic Car Show

After the Goodwood Members Meeting it was all go organising the car show we hold in our local town. We have been running this in our community for 11 years (we are currently underway with the 12th). We have around 250 cars attend of which nearly a hundred do a 60 mile tour in the morning in our beautiful local countryside. Mario of course is in attendance, he is in fact extremely useful in transporting stuff to and from the show, including ‘Houndtooth’ our Haslemere Hound, for the discerning Gentleman driver which the humans painted as part of a community arts project.

London to Lisbon

James went off navigating on Hero’s London to Lisbon Rally in a Fiat 2300. This event starts fairly near us at Brooklands and so Jane has an opportunity to go to start and a couple of the stops on the first day before the competitors get the overnight ferry.

The Wander – Jane’s first go at navigating a ‘proper’ event

Organised by some of James’ rally chums this is a fun one day event from Petersfield to Devizes, the long way with some fairly hard challenges along the route. This was my first time at managing maps and clocks but a good time was had and I didn’t make an idiot of herself. While it would have been lovely for Mario to have made his debut it was decided that he was probably a bit slow to keep up and so ‘brother’ Regie was drafted in for the day. Great fun was had, James didn’t get cross, I didn’t cry and Regie run perfectly! We look forward to taking part again.

Part 2 at the Festival of Speed to follow shortly…

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.