Festival fun – a quick look round the 2017 FoS…

Due to a previous commitments (well OK a party in Devon) we could only make one day of this years Goodwood Festival of Speed. To be fair we weren’t that concerned as these days FoS has become rather modern and Drift cars, Monster trucks and the like don’t interest us. However I wouldn’t want to miss it completely as there are always a few gems hidden away.

The Cartier Style et Luxe is always our favourite and first point of call and although not a classic year there was a class ‘Cheeky Cinquecento’ celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Fiat 500 with some unusual versions.

First up this early first series 479cc Nuova 500, one of the first 15 built it is believed to be the oldest-surviving Nuova 500 in the world! I didn’t realise that the 500 is the only car given exemption from Rome’s ban on older high-emission vehicles entering the city.

My favourite and the car I would most like to take home was this wonderful 1964 Neckar Weinsberg Coupe. One of many 500 derivatives made under license around the world. Made in Germany by NSU, they were made from partly assembled 500 bodies with different panels and rear lights from the Fiat 1100. The rather strange but quirky 1967 Ferves Ranger. Built by Ferrari Veicoli Speciali (FERVES), it was unveiled at the 1966 Turin Motor Show. The compact off-roader was designed to be used in vineyards and olive groves. Less then 50 have survived. A one-off fun car the 1969 Zanzara Zagarto (Mosquito) was designed by Ercole Spada who also designed the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato! The planned limited production series never happened. The logo is fun. You couldn’t have a display of 500’s without the iconic beach car – this 1960 Ghia Fiat 500 Jolly was known as La Spiaggina in Italy. It cost almost twice as much as a standard 500 but was mainly purchased by the rich and famous to use as golf carts and yacht tenders.
A 1968 Fiat Gamine Vignale, the open top roadster often known as a ‘Noddy’ car. 1957 Steyr-Puch 500, made by Austrian company and adapted to suit local demands. A 16bhp flat-twin engine was more suited to the mountainous Austrian roads. This car is chassis number 3, a pre-production prototype. A later developed model the 650TR won the 1966 European Rally Championship. Another car in the Cartier which I rather liked was this impressive Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake. Originally designed for David Brown who wanted more room for his polo equipment for his personal use, customers soon wanted one too., Coachbuilders Radford were commissioned to supply the demand as the factory was too busy. Only 12 were built.On the BMW display was this fantastic 507, built from 1956-59 it was originally a model destined for the USA, it was too expensive and only 252 were made. Owned by celebrities including Elvis and Bernie Ecclestone. I would quite like one but it’s rather out of my price range, well into 6 figures! Each years Festival is defined by the Central Feature. Once again designed by Gerry Judah this years was rather unique as it honoured an individual rather than a brand – Bernie Eccelstone. Celebrating the life and career of Bernie the display represented the different eras of his life as a Driver (Connaught), Manager (Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 72), Team Owner (Brabham BT49), Impresario (Ferrari F2001) and Legend (Mercedes W07 2016).

Unfortunately it was rather overcast on Thursday so it didn’t show the sculpture off to its best but it was still pretty impressive and had some great angles – just would have been nicer with blue sky behind it.

We noticed this rather lovely van in the paddock – A Renault Saviem SG2. Produced from 1965-1982 it was beautifully restored.Finally the new Alpine A110 a lightweight turbocharged sportscar from the legendary French marque. I don’t like new/supercars much but we saw the prototype of this at last years festival and thought it was lovely and had still managed to retain the look of the original Alpine. This model is pretty close to the full production model which will be available in 2018 and was making its world debut although I believe it will cost over £50k so it won’t be joining the family! There wasn’t much action on the track on Thursday as it is the Moving Motorshow day but we had a look round the Paddocks with the normal display of current F1, a special class to celebrate Tom Kristensen’s career and some pre-war vehicles which were interesting. We didn’t have time to get to the rally stage which is normally worth a look. There were lots of supercars and newly launched production models which didn’t interest us but made a lot of 6 year old boys very happy!

So all in all we had a pretty good day, no problems with traffic, just a couple of very light showers and it was pleasantly warm and we met up with several friends. But one or maybe two days is enough these days, it’s all a bit new and corporate for our liking – bring on the Revival and then Mario gets to play.

The sun has got his hat on… and beach cars come out to play.

The sun is finally shining so time for the long awaited post on Beach Cars.

Beach cars are what were essentially small inexpensive production cars that were heavily modified to produce bespoke and individual vehicles. Used initially by the rich and famous in the 50’s and 60’s, as land tenders to their yachts on the Italian or French Riviera. With cutaway roofs and doors, wickerwork seats and fabric sunshades they were only practical as leisure transport and thus confirmed their owner’s status as someone who could afford a car ‘just for fun’.

Later on more models were developed and some went on to have small production runs. Many were used by expensive hotels and golf clubs as courtesy vehicles. The small numbers produced has resulted in them being as desirable and expensive today.
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Nobody seems to know for sure how the first beach cars came about but this converted Fiat Topolino/Belvedere ‘Mare’, believed to be unique must be a strong contender for the title of ‘first beach car’. Thought to be converted in 1954 when Italian’s could barely afford a bicycle – a fun car to go to the beach in would have been a wild extravagance, only available to a few very wealthy individuals. It is thought that it may have been created by Fiat’s in-house special bodies department, the Carozzeria Speciale and was possibly owned by Fiat Chairman Gianni Agnelli who was certainly wealthy enough and had the influence to have had it made, this also fits in with the development of the beach car in later years.

This car is currently for sale!
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Later in the 50’s, it is known that Gianni Agnelli sent a Fiat 500 to Ghia Carrozzeria, the brief; to cut off the top, remove the doors, and install a folding surrey top and wicker seats. The result was the first Fiat Jolly (Jolly in Italian means Joker).

Agnelli’s car created a lot of attention and soon a limited production run was underway but many were hand made to order and specification. Aristottle Onassis owned three of them, Yul Brenner, John Wayne, Grace Kelly and even Mae West all reportedly owned Jollys and US President Lyndon Johnson used one on his Texas ranch.
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Further models were produced based on first the 500 and then the 600. Considered a success, the model had a production run from 1958 to 1966. It is believed that more than 400 ‘Jolly’s’ were made but the seaside conditions they were kept in meant that fewer than 100 survive worldwide today and each one is pretty much unique.

The cars’ specification included cut-down sides and windshield, a striped and fringed surrey top, and chromed body-pipework. They were available in pink, coral, white, pale yellow and sky blue. Mechanicals were standard Fiat. An “economical” version was available from 1964 to 1966 featuring normal bumpers with no pipework and solid plastic seats embossed with a fake wicker pattern.
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Jolly’s were also made based on the 600 Multipla which had the advantage of another row of seats with the middle row facing backwards1958_Ghia_Fiat_600_Multipla_Jolly_01_1 1958_Ghia_Fiat_600_Multipla_Jolly_02 scan001
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In 1956 Pininfarina designed special version based on the Multipla for the Agnelli family to use in their personal home the Villa Leopolda – The special 600 was called the ‘Eden Roc’ or ‘Marine’ after the promontory overlooking Cap d’Antibes on the Cote d’Azur where the villa is situated. The little Fiat was used to shuttle guests around the 20-acre villa and town. In the late ’60s, this car was taken to Turin and used by Fiat President Prof. Valletta for guests to visit the Fiat factory.

The Eden Roc has a beautiful ‘boat like’ wrap around slatted wood seat and is cut lower than many beach cars. A surviving example is owned by the ‘Cord’ family in America and has been displayed at the world’s great Concours competitions. It has been reported that Henry Ford II also owned this model. The first picture is an original Pininfarina press photo which we found at auto jumble many years ago.scan007

fiat005Fiat Multipla Marine 'Eden Rock' by Pininfarina - 1958_01Fiat Multipla Marine 'Eden Rock' by Pininfarina - 1958_02Fiat Multipla Marine 'Eden Rock' by Pininfarina - 1958_04

A similar car has been used as a ViP course car at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix. We were lucky enough to see it and sit in it. I believe it is known as the Fiat Torpedo Marina, there seems some confusion as to who made it but Felice Mario Boano may have designed it when he had his own company but then he went on to establish the styling department for Fiat and passed the rights to produce the Torpedo to Carrozzeria Savio. There is one in a Paris Museum and one might have been owned by Prince Ranier, possibly the one still being used in Monaco?
scan0021956 Fiat 600 Torpedo marina (Savio)

This is another version designed by Boano/Carrozzeria Savio1958 Fiat 600 Spiaggina (Savio-Boano)

Fissore designer Giovanni Michelotti came up with a remarkable open-topped Multipla prototype called the “Marinella”. Only a handful of the prototypes were made but at least one remains and was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed a few years ago.
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Fissore designed a very similar vehicle, this 1957 Fiat Marionella 600M was shown at the 1957 Turin Salon a one off and hence one of the rarest beach car built on the Multipla Chassis. The unique roof allowed water skis to be carried above the passengers. The car was in Rome for many years before being restored and sold at auction in 2005 for €57,500.
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Vignale also produced several Beach Cars based on Multiplas. This one a Fiat 600 Marina from 1963, rather uniquely has the rear seats facing sideways with a chrome bar to hold the passengers in.
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A Vignale design the Fiat 600 Spiagetta (1956)fiat_600_spiagetta_1

Also by Vignale a Fiat Multipla Spiaggia (1956)
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Elio and Emilio Basano were young brothers who started up a small prototype shop in Torino about 1960 In 1962 Pietro Sibona, a master at metal working, left Ghia and became the brothers’ main partner in Carrozzeria Sibona-Basano. In 1964 at the Turin show they exhibited a little beach car based on the Fiat 500 with a moulded plastic body called the Decathlon.decathlon_s

Beach cars continued beyond the 500 and 600. In the late 60’s Giovanni Michelotti in collaboration with yacht designer Phillip Schell went on to design the Fiat Michelotti Shellette Beach Car, based on a Fiat 850 spider with dramatic and areo styling. Only 80 were built, one was used by Jacqueline Onassis on the island of Skorpios. Ten are still known to exist.scan003

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Moretti designed their own cars but due to costs went on to produce several special bodies for Fiats. In 1970 they launched the Fiat 500 Moretti Beach Car known as the MIni Maxi, only 90 where produced. The design was quite different and more ‘Jeep’ like. The company went on to produce similar models based on the Fiat 126 and then the Midi Maxi 127 in 1971.
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Although the small Fiat’s were perfect and popular for conversion to Beach Cars, other manufacturers vehicles also had the same treatment.

Renault…
The Renault 4CV Resort Special. In 1960, fifty (consecutively numbered) 4CVs were dispatched from the Renault Billancourt factory in France to Ghia in Italy to be built as Resort Specials. There was only the single batch of fifty cars built, with all of the finished vehicles originally being sent to the States for sale. Apparently only eleven of them are now thought to have survived.
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The Renault 4 Plein Air is a beach car conversion of a regular Renault 4 R1123 by Sinpar, a Renault subsidiary for special products. Only about 500 R4′s were converted to Plein Airs between 1968 and 1970.
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Sommerautos / Renault Plein Air

Daf…
This beach car was also styled by Giovanni Michelotti and based on a DAF, one was given by the factory to the Dutch Royal family and was used for many years at their Italian Summer Residence.
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Designed by Moretti, this BMW 600 has hardly been used and has recently been restored. It is being auctioned at the end of this month with a guide price of €30-40k. On it’s registration documents it is known as a Isetta Moretti Open Car.
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Isetta Moretti 2 IsettaMini…
In Italy a coach builder called ORO built the Mini Mare on a Innocenti Mini base, only a few were made and one was used as a private tender to Ferdinando Innocenti’s private yacht. The cars retained their roof but lost the doors, fitted with wooden surrounds and wickerwork seats, grille, boot lid and bumpers.
Innocenti Mini Mare 1 Innocenti Mini Mare 1 Innocenti Mini Mare 2img4484pyBack in the UK, BMC built a small number of ‘Beach Wagons’, designed by Chief Stylist Dick Burzi around 16 were made for use in luxe hotels around the world. There were two versions, one on the traditional Mini shape and one with a boot based on the elf/hornet. The third picture shows Alec Issigonis in his design.
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Sir Alec Issiggonis also designed a more rugged version of the Mini in a ‘jeep’ style but it failed to catch on as a military vehicle as was intended, however in the 60’s the Mini Moke caught on as a Beach Buggy and became a popular cult vehicle being used as beach cars all over the world.
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As was the 2cv based Citroen Mehari
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Alfa Romeo
While not strictly fitting the beach car description of a converted small inexpensive car this 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia was converted for Alfa Romeo by Colli into a limousine beach car. Apparently it was used to ferry ViP’s especially the Italian President around the Alfa Romeo factory.
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What was good in the past is still good today…
In very recent years manufacturers have come up with a host of modern Beach Cars based on current small production cars such as the new Fiat 500…DSCN7649DSCN7650DSCN7651DSCN7652DSCN7654226611CASTAGNA500Tender2Summer201001f-610x400CASTAGNA500Tender2Summer201004f

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… and the ‘Portofino’ using a Fiorino Combi small van.fiat-fiorino-portofino-motorauthority-002_100207232_mfiat-van-portofino-01

Even more futuristic is the 2013 Toyota ME.WE concept car.Toyota_ME_WE_001 toyota_me.we_concept_1

Or  Swiss car visionary Frank M Rinderknecht’s concept the Rinspeed Bam Boo, a modern beach car paying homage to the Citroen Mehari. Now Frank says he will show his concept at the Geneva Motor Show. “This open-top vehicle awakens the longing for sun, summer, for lightness and easiness, the desire to be at the beach,”cries his press release. “It is a reminiscence of the Seventies, of the south of France and St. Tropez. One expects to find Brigitte Bardot behind the wheel with playboy Gunther Sachs at her side heading towards Tahiti beach.”
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rinspeed-bamboo-10Note: I’ve really enjoyed putting this post together but it has grown as I’ve been researching it! Information is rather hard to find and the fact that at the time many of the designers were moving between companies and that many of the cars are unique has made it difficult to find out accurate information, especially regarding names, dates and designers. Hopefully most of the info here is correct, if you know differently please let me know!