A trip to the ‘big city’…

LCCSLast weekend we made a rare visit to London to the London Classic Car Show, held in Excel in the Docklands. After a horrible train journey – 90 minutes longer than scheduled into London – which made us very glad we have given up commuting, it was an easy underground and Docklands Light Railway trip to the exhibition centre.

We had been invited as guests of our clients GaugePilot who were exhibiting at the show. GaugePilot is a very sophisticated in-car information system, with multiple applications for Classic, Rally and Race cars. Designed to look just like a 1950’s SpeedPilot, the unit offers several types of rally computer and was recently tested by James on the Winter Trial with great success. James has been working with GaugePilot to develop some of the rally applications and he is an authorised installer.

With up to 25 different gauges giving classic drivers peace of mind, the system constantly monitors the critical outputs of the engine and alerts can be set to allow the driver to stop before expensive damage is occurred. The GP also can also take the drama out of maintenance by storing all maintenance information and alert when routine servicing is due. For track use the system can life monitor critical components and data-logging software allows a driver or mechanic to recall and analyse how an engine has performed and review any triggered alerts.

GaugePilot are a new British company who are attracting a lot of interest. Here’s a picture of Rauno Altonen with GaugePilot when it was fitted in Brother Regie the Renault at Goodwood and in the Volvo on the Winter Trial at night.gp-rauno gp-winter-trialDSC06689

It’s been some years since we have been to a Classic Car show and there were some interesting things to see although a lot of the stands were high end dealers selling beautiful but slightly boring Jags, Porsches and the like.  The USP of the London Show is the ‘Grand Avenue’ a road through the middle of the show where cars are actually driven. This year it was set up as the 6 nations and countries competed for the public vote to who had produced the most iconic cars. I believe that Britain won! It’s quite a nice idea but in an exhibition centre the noise especially the commentary and the music was so loud you couldn’t hear yourself talk during the demonstrations which I imagine the dealers found very irritating.

Here are some pics of the cars I found interesting…

The Japanese section of the 6 nations was the most interesting, with this lovely Honda S800, cute Toyota sports 800, rare Nissan Skyline GTR and an unseen before Daihatsu Compagno Berlina 800. All really interesting and unusual.DSC06664 DSC06665 DSC06666DSC06669 DSC06667 DSC06668DSC06670 DSC06671 There were some lovely little 500’s for sale and although expensive seemed better value than some I’ve seen. I thought the little luggage rack would look good on Mario (or Nippy) but James felt it would cause too much loss of air flow to the engine.DSC06672 DSC06673 DSC06674 Bob Peterson’s recreations are amazing, I had to take a picture of this Birkin Bentley as we called our latest cat Birkin after Sir Tim Birkin (Our older cat is called Bentley)DSC06675 DSC06679 DSC06680 One of my favourite stalls although not motoring related was the City of London Distillery, I love artisan gins and these were very good, made in the City of London, under Blackfriars bridge, the lovely bottle is shaped to look like the dome of St Paul’s. I can feel the need for another trip to London to visit the Distillery.DSC06686 There were a few new cars dotted around including this eye-catching Fiat Abarth.DSC06690 An interesting display of McLaren F1’s with some great information, stories and bits of memorabilia around from the early days of Gordon Murray designing the car.DSC06691 DSC06692 DSC06693 DSC06695 DSC06696 The car I would ‘most like to buy’ was this lovely Fiat Giardiniera but no price tag!DSC06697 DSC06699 DSC06700

So our first ‘car’ event of the year and it’s now less than a month to the Goodwood Members Meeting so 2016 is now officially underway… watch this space, Mario will soon be out to play!


Stretching the market

Mario is described as a ‘stretched’ Fiat 600 and that was literarily what they did when designing it by moving the wheels apart and adding a bit in the middle.

However it would appear that people have been busy making stretched versions of the original and new style Fiat 500’s.

Italian coach builders Castagna Milano who have already made several interesting beach cars based on the new 500 (see earlier blog) and have gone into the American and Middle Eastern markets by developing three versions of a 500 limousine stretched in length to 5.32m, almost two metres longer than the original.

The LimoSun is based on the Fiat 500 convertible. Targeted to beach resorts and the Middle East, the LimoSun passenger area has four seats facing each other. The large openings in the sides and roof can be closed with transparent panels.Castagna-Milano-LimoSun fiat-500-limousine NewFiat500_limousine_3

The LimoCity is a closed version and features a circular sofa couch, mini-bar, electric sliding doors.92A06D35D5D4F9DBB888E85A19FDE8

The LimoCity President starts with a Fiat 500 version made for the U.S. market and is powered by two electric motors capable of reaching 100 mph (160 km/h) with a range of 155 miles.702325A27D82DDAB487257457EB 15246052971885841676

But it would appear that individuals are also getting in on the act and original Fiat 500 Limo conversions are in demand for weddings and hen nights!fiat_500_limousine_mpst6fiat_500_limousine_sgf5wThe Limo above  appears to be a more professional conversion while some others seem to be two vehicles ‘cut and shut’ together.fiat_500_limousine_nvwqbVASTO: 500 LIMOUSINEThis one was built by Augustine Gizzi, 35, a coachbuilder of San Salvo in 11 months is just over 4 meters long and the result of a successful assembly of a Fiat 500′ Giardiniera and a Fiat 500 F.

Not all the conversions have been done recently. This very scruffy and in need of restoration example was converted over thirty years ago in San Diego. It is believed that it was used/owned by Herve Villechaize who played Nick Nack in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun, it was auctioned off either by the studio or by the estate of Mr Villechaize many years ago, after he commited suicide with a rather large hand gun. At one point it was resplendent with gold plated hub caps as can just be seen in the last picture, and also had a rather hideous Rolls Royce Grill fitted. It was last seen on ebay.500limo 500limo4 fiat 500 limo imagesGG2Finally here is a rather cool stretched Fiat Giardiniera seen around Europe with a Fiat 500 trailer and believed to be owned by a Dutchman.oaav60 original OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Many of these stretched vehicles are much longer than Mario but most do not seem to have a significant number of extra seats. James has been saying for years that he would love to go one stretch further and add another set of doors and seats to create a even more ‘stretched’ Mario – maybe one day.