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
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Vintage day in the big city…

Yesterday we decided to have a day out in the ‘big city’. Having worked (and commuted) for twenty years I now work from home so it’s quite a shock to the system to go back. After a remarkably easy drive up which only took just over an hour we parked within walking distance of our destination with no problem, I find it amazing that on a Sunday parking is so easy and free! We strolled over to the Southbank where the Classic Car Boot Sale was being held.10685550_713635338719648_2329346387515021717_n-630x225

At the entrance we saw this lovely VW bus and bumped into an old acquaintance who had previously purchased our old Citroen H Van. He had his lovely Renault Estafette on Display, although it is currently in disguise as an Italian! Having been a fire engine in France for nearly thirty years it was purchased by a film production company in 2012 and transformed into a Ferrari Team Vehicle for the movie Rush. Now ‘probably the most famous Estafette in the world’ it has had it’s interior converted into a camper while retaining it’s film role livery.DSC09122 DSC09123 DSC09125

The Classic Car Boot Sale is put on by Wayne Hemingway’s ‘Vintage’ team who put on ‘Vintage at Goodwood’ several years ago. I was a little disappointed in the number of cars although there was possibly more than you realised as they were tucked away and often covered in goods for sale. A lot of the merchandise was in gazebos rather than with the cars but it was interesting to poke around for a couple of hours.

Unfortunately we didn’t find any vintage ‘must haves’ (well only a fabulous fur coat but that was over £400!), generally the prices I saw seemed quite reasonable, I was quite surprised as I thought the location would have ‘upped’ the prices. It does annoy me though when traders don’t have their goods priced, I’m sure it looses them lots of sales. It was a fun morning and we chatted to some nice people, especially the team who run Eroica Britannia – a vintage cycling event we were hoping to go to but which unfortunately clashes with James’ rally.

There was quite a varied but slightly uninspiring collection of cars, rather worryingly we were both rather drawn to the Austin Allegro, I think in my case mainly down to the rather fabulous ‘Marioesque’ colour! One area had been set aside for food traders, most of these were also cooking and serving out of period vehicles, there were so many Citroen H-Vans that I shouldn’t think there can be many left in France, it’s a shame we got rid of ours as there must now be a good market in supplying them to the catering industry. At least they were all selling interesting food rather than burgers. One lovely example had distressed wood paneling which looked really good.

Unfortunately the day was also very cold and it started to rain just after one so we didn’t want to hang around for too long. The show was on for two days and I think Saturday would possibly have been the better day as the weather was much nicer and I would guess that any real star buys would have been snapped up early on.

Following is a photo record of the morning…DSC09128 DSC09129 DSC09131 DSC09133 DSC09135 DSC09136 DSC09138 DSC09139 DSC09143 DSC09144 DSC09147 DSC09149 DSC09150 DSC09152 DSC09154 DSC09155 DSC09156 DSC09159 DSC09160 DSC09162 DSC09163 DSC09164 DSC09165 DSC09166 DSC09167 DSC09168Once it turned to rain we left the Southbank and walked back to the Imperial War Museum, where we spent an interesting couple of hours wandering around the displays. As this is predominantly a car blog I’ve included a picture of the rather superb Humber Staff Car. I was hopping to see the new exhibition on wartime fashion but as we’d been walking around for several hours I didn’t think I could do it justice to the entrance fee and so left that for another time.IMG_0794 DSC09187

Hoping that the weather will improve for next weekend which is the Goodwood 73 Members Meeting, so look out for a full report early next week.

Memories of vehicles from our past…

It’s been a while since we blogged but it’s a bit of a quiet time car wise, Mario is safely tucked away from the inclement weather and the new season’s events still seem a while away (although it is less 5 weeks to the Goodwood 73rd Members Meeting). Plus we have had most of our spare time taken up with organising the Haslemere Classic Car Show & Tour!

However while looking through some old photo’s I got to thinking about the cars from our past…

As a child my father was car-mad following formula one and rallying but with his own transport had rather dubious taste. He has been a ‘Ford’ man for his entire driving life (and while we’re about it always used Michelin Tyres and Shell Fuel) starting with a Ford Prefect before I was born. After I arrived he moved on to a Ford Anglia, this was crashed into and rolled when I was a baby – asleep in the back, I was handed out through the broken rear window into the arms of a passing woman who nearly dropped me as she thought I was dead! In fact I slept through the whole experience and have just a fleeting memory of a Doctor telling my Mother to keep me awake in the hospital. The Anglia was brought back from the insurance company and repaired but my Mum never liked it again and so it was passed on to my paternal Grandparents who kept it for years and I enjoyed many happy days out in the back.

My Dad progressed through a series of Fords – White Cortinas which I remember on holidays in Cornwall and the endless telling-off’s for filling them with sand and wildlife! He progressed to an Escort Ghia, pictured here in Wales in 1978 with a ‘glamorous’ 15 year old model. In a very 70’s bronze with a black vinyl roof, the personal numberplate came from the previous owner believed to be the actor Terence Rattigan.scan101Dad went on to have a Mid-life Crisis and owned a bright red Ford Capri before settling down to more mundane Orion (which was Stolen) and a Focus. With this rather restricted experience of cars one could wonder how my own love of cars developed but my Mother and maternal Grandfather, who lived with us, more than made up for Dad.

Grandad, who I adored had a very varied selection of what now would be considered ‘desirable’ everyday classics, a Wolsley, Morris Minor, Triumph Dolomite, a gorgeous primrose Yellow Triumph Herald, an Allegro, a Peugeot 104 and a Triumph 1300, which the steering wheel came off while driving down the A3!

My mother who, while I was small, transported me around on the back of her bicycle upgraded to an A30 when I started school, I have very fond memories of piling in the back with, what was probably an illegal number of friends and setting off for days at the seaside, having to park on the flat as the handbrake wasn’t very good. I also recall waking up one morning to find the A30 up on bricks as the wheels had been stolen, and no my parents lived in a ‘good area’. The A30 was upgraded to a white Mini Countryman ‘Snow White’ – room for more kids in the back and then an Anglia Estate, as we got bigger.

By the time I reached 17 I was desperate to learn to drive, I’d already been taught the basics on the old army camp up the road and on the morning of my 17th birthday proudly set off with my Mum in our Fiat 850 – called Tetley as it had 1000 little perforations, if you are old enough you will understand!old-scans085Poor Tetley’s perforations got the better of her and she didn’t last long and I took my test in a Ford Escort 1300GT, the shame of a two Ford family. By this time James and I were an item, he’d been car obsessed since he was born, amazing as his family only saw cars as transport and had to buy a Ladybird book to keep up with his interest. He started big with a Maserati 250F..IMG_4891…but by the time we were dating has ‘progressed to a Gilera Motorbike, this was incredibly noisy and I could hear him arriving from a mile away!IMG_1389

We both had a love of cars and used to visit shows and events. James’ first car was a Mini, this was followed up by an Avenger which he wrote off and a Ford Cortina with a Webasto sunroof and a brown fur interior – you would have thought this would have put me off but it was the early 80’s!

The roll call continued with a Fiesta and then a Renault 5 Gordini, this was a lovely car, fast – I drove at over 100mph for the first time! We took it on holiday to Europe.

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The Gordini was sold to fund the purchase of his first real classic, a 1961 3.8 Mark 2 Jaguar. Again we took it all over the place to lots of shows and it was a lovely car, although it did catch fire once on Hindhead Hill! Pre-mobile by the time somebody had driven to call the fire brigade James had put it out with a blanket, I of course was paranoid that it would blow up like all the cars in the Movies. The Jag was used as a wedding car for our oldest friends wedding in 1988, James as Best Man had to be at the church so he had to intrust the job of driving the bride to church to my Dad, I don’t know who was most relieved to see the car show up James or the groom!scan099

James continued with more Mini’s, some for the road and some for Racing and Sprinting and a 1275GT, rolled by his cousin on one memorable boxing day when they popped out for a ‘quick spin’ returning about three hours later on a tow truck. Plus of course he had numerous cars for rallying which I wrote about in the last post and another bike – a Triumph Bonneville.scan095Scan 13 Scan 19

When I was at college James brought me my first classic a 1950’s Austin A35 in Speedwell Blue, I loved it and we went all over the place on A35 club events. On the way back from Longleat we had severe overheating problems and the head gasket had failed, this resulted in us taking the car to Kent to use a friends garage and completely overhauling the engine. This was my introduction to being ‘Mechanics Mate’, being given all the dirty jobs and I still wasn’t put off.old-scans038old-scans190 scan090 scan091 scan092 scan093old-scans047-mid80s scan094I loved the A35 and it was great fun, however I eventually was given a company car and had a new shiny Peugeot 205. This was the first of a series of small Peugeots and I still have a, now rather old, 206GTI as an everyday car today.scan096The convenience of a new car and with our time taken up with houses and jobs the poor A35 was left at my parents and needed rather a lot of work to get it back up to scratch. So in 1994 when we decided to buy Regie a Renault 4CV convertible from the South of France we popped the A35 on the trailer and gave it to some friends in St Paul de Vence, it’s probably still in the garage we popped it into 20 years ago.scan097 scan098We took Regie home and restored him as per our previous post, then around 1996 James popped off mysteriously to France and came home with a Citroen H-van or ‘Grumpy’ truck. I’d been coveting one of these for years but it was a complete surprise when he turned up with one off the ferry at 6am. We had great fun with the truck putting upholstered bench seats in the back so large groups of us could go out and picnic at events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed. We also took the truck on one of the Footman James Retro Runs to Silverstone where we got to do a lap of the track – dressed as french farmers with a Pantomime cow in the back Silverstone had seen nothing like it and we won the C&SC Spirit of the Event award, I believe that the historic lap was captured on video, I’d love to see it if anyone has a copy.retrorun059Unfortunately the Grumpy Truck really needed too much work doing to it and we had neither the time or money so it was used as a ‘shed’ for a number of years until it was eventually sold for spares.

The next classic was  of course Mario followed by Nippy the Subaru 360, both of which are still in the family and have of course Regie and are all here to stay. So who knows what the future will bring, you’ll have to keep reading the blog…
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Where have all the French Classics gone?

No blog updates for a little while as we managed to take short break in Normandy, I was hoping to write about the classics we’d seen and a small museum we went to years ago. Unfortunately there was no sign of the museum in any of the tourist outlets, it was a private collection of an old man so guess it has closed and been dispersed.

What was more disappointing was the lack of classic vehicles on the road, I know it was October but the weather was good. On holiday throughout Europe from the late 80’s onwards we’d would play counting games with points for classics spotted. On one memorable trip around Italy maybe 20 years ago there were so many Fiat 500’s that I was only allowed points if I spotted them first – not easy when you are playing against an eagle-eyed car nut but I had still clocked up over 1000 within the first week!

This trip we hardly saw a classic vehicle on the road or parked in driveways. I didn’t manage to spot a single Renault 4cv or even the later Dauphine. Was this because of changes in regulations or has the increase in value of many of these everyday cars meant that those which have survived are tucked up safe and secure and not used much? Even on a midweek winters day you are likely to see a classic on the British Roads and plenty of people use everyday classics as runabouts, hopefully we were just unlucky and there are plenty out there in the French Countryside.

What we did see…
A garage ‘specialising’ in ‘old vehicles’ but when we went in only a tiny handful in the showroom were for sale and apart from a few along the front most of the others just seemed to be sitting there ‘rotting away’ hopefully they might get restored one day. The collection was mainly Citroen 2cv’s in various states of decay plus a rather nice Volkswagon Kübelwagon, VW Beatles, Mini’s, Renault 4’s, Citroen H-van and a funny little cycle-car.

DSC03788 DSC03790 DSC03791 DSC03792 A tank displayed at Pegasus bridgeDSC03799 A very clean Porsche 911 being professionally photographed at Chateau Breuil Calvados DistilleryDSC04249 A lovely old Citroen truck which i think might be a Citroen C4 Forgone on display outside the Graindorge Cheese FactoryDSC04265 And a lovely Citroen H-Van on the side of the road which looked like it was actually used.DSC04279 And finally a Citroen Mehari in Trouville, appeared to be in regular use and even had a disabled parking badge!DSC04304

The Tour de France in West Sussex…

This year was the 110th anniversary and the 100th running of the Tour de France and Goodwood chose to celebrate this with a daily Peloton of over 70 vintage bikes being ridden around the 2.4 mile circuit followed by an assortment of authentic french support and promotional vehicles creating the noise and excitement of the classic french race. Included in the ‘caravane’ was a tiny three wheeled Vespa with a photographer in the back and some amazing vehicles, many based on Citroen H-vans, among them a castle from Chateau Castelvin, a wine company promotion from the 60’s, a BUTAGAZ bottle, SPAR and Arthur Martin, French domestic appliances.DSC02730DSC02732DSC02735DSC02738DSC02739DSC02741DSC02742

Off  track the vehicles were based in the fictional village square of Aubigny, created for Revival and complete with cafes, bars, French resistance fighters and a bicycle shop.DSC02734DSC02743DSC02744DSC02745DSC02755DSC02756

On Saturday World and Olympic Champion Sir Chris Hoy took to the track on a 20’s bike. Pictured alongside TV presenter Amanda Stretton

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Copyright Goodwood

We were lucky enough to be invited to take part in our 1958 Renault 4cv Decoverable (Regie), the car was decorated with period advertising stickers and some for sponsors of the event. On each day the bikes were directed on track behind the camera cars, we followed on and drove round the track to a great reception from the crowd. Unfortunately some of the riders were quite slow so we were quite a distance from the main peloton but we got a glimpse of the action from the trackside screens. It was fun to do and on Sunday when the conditions were very wet, it gave us some impression of just how bad visibility was for the cars racing that afternoon. It was great to see the marshals who must have been soaking by then still lining the track and waving as we drove past.

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DSC02757DSC02759DSC02769 DSC02773 DSC02775DSC02999DSC03007 DSC03013 DSC03014 DSC03023 DSC03028 DSC03031 DSC03032 DSC03036 DSC03040Coming soon… The great promotional vehicles reminded me of the unique Fiat Multipla ‘Pig’. I’ve been meaning to blog about promo-vehicles for a while and this has spurred me on to get on with it.