Catching up with Wheels Day

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

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

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

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


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”


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.

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.

Lovely day for a test drive…

Sunday was a lovely sunny day and was a perfect opportunity to take Mario out and check that the ‘operation‘ had been successful. It was also the Victory Wheelers, 10th anniversary Hayling Reunion at the Funland Amusement Park.HR2015-1We had been to this fun show, located right on the beach before and with some friends intending to go too, it seemed an ideal test run for Mario. We set off on a lovely cross country route via Harting – the route out of Harting over the downs used to be used for a hillclimb competition from 1905 till 1924, it’s pretty steep but Mario seemed to make quite easy work of it. We carried on past Stanstead Park into Havant and on to Hayling Island and Mario was performing well, you didn’t feel you had your foot pushed to the floor with nothing happening as it had been before the head gasket was sorted.IMG_6105 IMG_6107 Just as we reach the Island though, Mario seemed to be reving as I was braking, initially I thought I’d caught my foot on the accelerator but then I lifted all my feet off the pedals and we were still moving forward at speed – interesting in traffic! The accelerator was obviously sticking and it was at the engine end, rather than the pedal. We had to stop for a little fettling and it seemed ok, hopefully it had just been disturbed during the recent work but James will have a further look once we are back in the workshop. We carried on and arrived at the Beach which was heaving with hot rods and customs, we couldn’t get into the main display area or the reserve carpark, so we had to park further along the beach.

In the main show area there was a great display of cars, mainly Hot Rods and American, they looked great against the backdrop of the fairground rides. It might be the last time for this sight, as apparently, the fair is going to close and the land used for flats.DSC01059 DSC01060 DSC01063 DSC01064 DSC01068 DSC01069 DSC01070 DSC01071 We took the opportunity to promote our car show putting fliers on the cars.DSC01075 The ‘humans’ then decided it was lunchtime so we all piled into Mario and went to the western end of the beach for fish and chips in the Coastguard Cafe, followed up by ice creams from Pipperellis. Our friends Nikki and Keith had never been for a ride in Mario and they loved it, although Keith, sitting in the front said he had never sat so close to the road in a car before!DSC01080 DSC01082 DSC01083 DSC01084 DSC01085After lunch we set off for a slightly different cross country route back along picturesque lanes where there were masses of bluebells and wild garlic growing. We stopped off to take some pictures, obviously Mario wanted to join in…DSC01089 DSC01137 DSC01140 DSC01151 DSC01161