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!

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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Weird and Wonderful 3 – the Lonestar Meteor

Weird and Wonderful posts come about because something has popped up somewhere online and sparked our interest…pink-meteor-frontYes, I realise it’s a boat but it looks like a car and is certainly weird and wacky!  The development of fibreglass construction in the mid-late fifties allowed boat constructors to incorporate ‘car-like’ features of the time, such as fins, into their designs, the Meteor went further with Crome trim, headlights and the two-tone paintwork popular on American ‘Jet Age’ cars of the time.

Built by Lone Star Boat Manufacturers, a company founded in Texas in 1945 building traditional boats, a fibreglass facility was added in 1952 and by 1954 it was enlarged to allow 31 different models to be offered for sale.lonestar-adlonestar-brochure

In 1956 the Meteor was designed by Bob Hammond for GM, to be displayed at ‘A boat of the Future’ at the National Boat Show. It was so popular that a limited production run began of the four-seater boat with a 40HP motor and went on sale for $1600.

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Jet age fibreglass boats were originally considered to be ‘ugly’ after the classical elegant beauty of traditional wooden boats but are now very collectable and sort after, very few remain.

The Meteor one of the most popular in it’s time has a possible 60 or so examples still in existence. A 60-horsepower 1957 Mercury Mk 75 outboard powers this beautifully restored and very pink example, which I believe is owned by Kevin Mueller of Rockton. It has been display in the FINS: Form without function exhibition at the Peterson Automotive Museum in LA.

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As always when researching these posts I come across more and more info and my search widens, there were other equally weird and wacky boats designed around the same time including the Evinrude ‘Cadillac’ Sea Lark which was designed by great industrial designer Brooks Stevens. Owners often towed their boats with a matching finned Cadillac, you could even buy ‘mudguards’ for your trailer with fins!sealark-trailertrailer-wheelevinrude-lark-1 evinrude-lark-2I also discovered another collaboration between Brooks Stevens and Evinrude but it’s so weird and wacky I think it deserves a small post of it’s own, so watch this space…

Normal service will soon be resumed…

Mario would like to apologise for his absence, just don’t know where time has gone. We’ve had a very busy few weeks…

Starting off with our favourite weekend of the year at the Goodwood Revival, a great time was had as part of the period taxi rank and ‘brother’ Regie the Renault 4cv got to take part in the Daily ‘Road to Wembley’ Parade.dsc01615regie-at-goodwood-friday-9-sept-2016

The following weekend the Humans went on holiday, taking Regie as he’s a bit more practical and goes up hills, important as they were on a classic tour in Wales.dsc02215Mario was out and about again at the October Breakfast Club meet at Goodwood – Italian Sunday.
img_1393And on duty last weekend for an old school friends wedding.dsc02802Watch this space for more on all these events coming (very) soon!

Weird & Wonderful No 2… The Astra-Gnome “Time and Space Car”

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the “love them or hate them” Nash Metropolitan’sNash-Metropolitan-1954So I was very excited to see some images pop up on the internet of Nash’s only ‘Concept Car’ The 1956 Astra-Gnome “Time and Space Car”, a weird and wacky custom development of the Metropolitan. The ‘Astra-Gnome’ made it’s debut on April 28th at the 1956 International Auto Show in New York. It created headlines all over the world and featured on the front cover of Newsweek on September 3rd 1956.publicity1 Publicity2 Publicity3publicity4Autoshow-1956newsweekNewsweek-cover

The Astra-Gnome is a ‘dream car’ designed by Richard Arbib & Company and manufactured by Andrew Mazzara Custom Body Work (New York) on a Nash Metropolitan chassis. The futuristic space age design was created in 4 months with many aesthetic elements borrowed from science fiction of the time. The almost invisible undercarriage gives it a hovercraft or spaceship effect, with a panoramic view from the bubble top and changeable coloured aluminium panels.1956-Astra-Gnome4astra-gnome-street

American Motors commissioned leading industrial designer Richard Arbib, famous for designing the Hamilton asymmetrical watches and boats as well as cars, to design his vision of the future and the result was a vehicle which represented what an automobile would look like in the year 2000. It was never intended to be a production model but to raise awareness of how cars could look in the future.

Among its many features is a Hamilton “celestial time-zone clock permitting actual flight-type navigation. The acrylic glass bubble canopy also served as a sound chamber for the car’s high fidelity radio and record player. Also included was air conditioning and wrap-around bumper protection to the same height of other car bumpers. The 6-foot (1.83 m) width of the concept car was much greater than comparable cars of the time and allowed for extra interior room, as well as storage and luggage spaces that included six pieces of matched integrated luggage. The company at the time said

“A host of features, are here and now in the Astra-Gnome, but it will only be a matter of time until in some form they appear in future production cars. These features are not concerned with high horsepower or competition car performance, because as product stylists we do not believe the primary task of the appearance designer is a mechanical one.

We believe our job is to create new and exciting shapes, textures and colors in a functional car.  In the Gnome a totally new driving sensation akin to flying has resulted from this kind of esthetic exploration.  The “Space” element in the Astra-Gnome is almost self-explanatory, for the designer of the “personal” car is dealing with a space problem from the very beginning”

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BrochureBrochure2Amazingly the Astra-Gnome was discovered in 1980, sealed up in a New York high-rise office. It has been faithfully restored to perfection and kept and displayed at the Metropolitan Pit Stop in North Hollywood, CA. 1956-Astra-Gnome 1956-astra-gnome2 1956-Astra-Gnome31956-astra-gnome5 Astra-Gnome-badge astra-gnome-badge2There’s a video doing a ‘tour’ of the car, in the museum.

The Astra-Gnome even featured in this fashion feature for Esquire Magazine.
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So here we are in 2016 and unfortunately, that 1950’s ideal of what cars would look like in 2000 never materialised, the roads would certainly look more interesting if they had!

We still have Mario though and he’s busy getting himself and the humans ready for next weeks Goodwood Revival. We will be in attendance as usual with ‘brother’ Regie the Renault 4cv, doing taxi duty all weekend. If you are coming along make sure you say hello. We’ll be reporting all the adventures we have, here in due course.

Weird & Wonderful No 1 – Chevrolet Corvair Futura Concept

The first in what will hopefully be another little series, featuring the weird, wonderful, unique and just a little wacky…

The Chevrolet Corvair Futura Concept

Corvair-concept4Corvair-concept2 Corvair-concept3Corvair-concept5 Corvair-concept6 Corvair-concept-interiorCorvair-concept-interior2When we first saw pictures of this ‘Futura’ concept, I thought it looked a bit like an angular Multipla and certainly had the feel of some of the chopped Multipla Beach Cars. However this isn’t a carefully preserved concept car designed by the factory but is a one off made by an enthusiast.

Not a great deal seems to be known about it. The design, it would appear is based on some drawings produced for Kaiser Aluminum in the late 50’s. To persuade the American Auto Industry to use more aluminium, car designers Frank Hershey and Associates were commissioned to produce a portfolio of aluminium car designs to feature in promotional literature. The designs included a targa-top convertible and a station wagon. The one design that stood out was for The ‘Waimea’ a sort of van cut down to station wagon height. The design was credited to a Rhys Miller.
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So lets jump forward to the mid 90’s when a slightly eccentric gentleman called Harry Larson of Minnesota decided that after restoring 5 cars in wanted to create one. He had a file of the Kaiser Ads from the  60’s, pulled out the Waimea and set about constructing one. He started with a Corvair Greenbrier Sportswagon from 1960. Greenbrier

The Waimea was designed to give the driver as much vision as possible and so had the driver sitting in the middle with centre steering and a fully enclosed glass front area and glass sunroof. The car turned up at shows in Minnesota in the 90’s but then disappeared to be put up for sale on eBay a few years ago. In 2013 it was apparently brought by Wayne Carini from the TV programme Chasing Classic Cars, although it hasn’t featured in any of the programmes that I’ve seen. In 2014 Wayne wrote in an article for Hagerty called Buyer’s Remorse…

“Another car I have mixed feelings about is the Kaiser Aluminum Corvair Futura. It started as a Corvair Greenbrier Sportswagon, but has center steering and an all-new nose with stacked headlamps. When you’re talking about a one-off concept car, there isn’t much you can do with it. They’re rarely fully developed for driving, there are few eligible show classes and they only attract a special kind of buyer. I’m not thrilled about the purchase, because I don’t know what to do with it now that it’s mine.”

CariniIt isn’t known if Wayne still owns the car or if he has sold it where it has gone. Despite quite a bit of research this was all the info I could find and the only pictures, which appear to come from the original eBay posting.

Cars we love but can’t have… No 3

As Promised in the Soft Top Sunday post we’ve done a bit of research into the ‘Heinz 57′ Wolseley Hornet Convertible.DSC08601

We spotted this great little car at the recent Soft Top Sunday Breakfast Club at Goodwood and were rather intrigued by the fact that it had been made as a competition prize.

Food manufacturers Heinz had run lots of competitions over the years with cars as prizes but in 1966 they run their “Greatest Glow on Earth” soup competition and commissioned Crayford Engineering to produce 57 bespoke Wolseley Hornet Mini Convertibles for prizes. Crawford had already received great acclaim for their new Mini Convertible and it was decided to base the ‘competition special’ on the booted Mini or Wolseley Hornet so that they would be totally unique to the promotion. The competition was judged by Heinz, Crayford and TV personality and food critic Sir Clement Freud.

wolseley_heinzCompetition FormThe 57 prize cars were produced in two colours, Birch Grey or Toga White with red trim. They were fitted out with special accessories including a built-in insulated food cabinet, electric kettle, tartan rug, picnic hamper, radio and an under-dash make up tray, complete with Max Factor cosmetics. All 57 vehicles had consecutive registrations.

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There were over a million entries to the competition. Today 41 of the original 57 survive around the world with it is believed, around half of them on the road.

One of the survivors was on display at the Goodwood Breakfast Club, Soft Top Sunday and still appeared to have most of it’s accessories. It’s a lovely little car and the story makes it so special. Unfortunately we never got to meet the owner and hear it’s personal story.

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DSC08602 DSC08604 DSC08605 DSC08606 DSC08607 DSC08608 DSC08609 DSC08610 DSC08611 DSC08612So, another rare car that we like although this one is a little more affordable. One example sold at Auction in 2013 having been in the original winners family until 2004. It sold for only £17,500.

A busy May Day Holiday…

We’ve had a good but busy May Day Bank Holiday weekend. Saturday was ‘work’ day, Mario and Regie were taken to the Workshop to be fettled and polished. Mario’s brakes were sorted although they are going to need a major overhaul soon. He was also given a good polish in preparation for an special event in a couple of weeks. Regie the Renault had his newly painted wheels fitted, the cream or ‘Landrover Limestone’ as the paint is known, looks very smart and is much better than the silver they were. Unfortunately there are some balancing issues with them so they will have to be professionally balanced to stop the wheel wobble at speed.IMG_1116Regie-wheels

Sunday morning was the first Goodwood Breakfast Club of the season and as it was ‘Soft Top Sunday’ Sunday Regie was the one to go. After all the dismal weather we’ve had recently, it was a glorious if a little chilly morning. We aren’t very good at getting up on Sundays – the rest of the week is so busy – so we didn’t arrive until just after nine and some soft tops were already leaving, wish they did Goodwood afternoon tea and gin club!IMG_1119IMG_1118IMG_1117

An early leaver played into our hands and we were able to sneak into a spot close to the main grid display and closer to the action, there were cars parked all the way between  Madgwick to beyond Woodcote corners plus in the paddocks. Regie was a great display and helped to advertise the Haslemere Classic Car Show we organise at the end of the month. Convertible’s old and new were on display – let the pictures tell the story…
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DSC08617The most interesting thing on display in our opinion was the fantastic little Heinz 57 Wolsley Hornet, it’s story is so good it deserves it’s own post so watch this space…DSC08599

We were one of the last to leave the circuit and took a lovely cross country route to Southsea. Regie misbehaved slightly and we had to have an impromptu stop for a new set of points. We had the points with us but no tools, so luckily we had stopped right by a tool shop. It was a lovely day and great to finally be ‘topless in the sunshine’.DSC08615

On Monday’s bank holiday  it was our local Charter Fair. Haslemere was granted a Charter to hold a weekly market by Elizabeth I in 1596 and still celebrates with a bi-annual Fair. We took Regie and Mario along to promote the car show and had a great afternoon meeting lots of car enthusiasts.Charter FairDSC08619