Old ideas never die…

The ‘new’ Multipla is launched

3 years after the ‘first new’ Multipla was discontinued and fifty years after ‘Mario’, Fiat have announced a replacement. Basically like Mario a ‘stretched’  500.  The ‘Living’ or MPW as it will be known in the UK is 200mm longer than the 500 to allow for a third row of seats which fold flat into the floor (5 + 2) to give either 7 seats or additional luggage space. The base level Minivan will have a tiny 900cc engine. Offically launched  on the 4th July, significant as the original 500 was launched on 4th July 1957 and the new 500 on 4th July 2007. It will go on sale in Italy in September.

New cars aren’t our thing but interesting that the concept hasn’t changed – take your ‘small’ tiny engined car and stretch it to make it practical for people and luggage  – just like Mario.
side-MPW

BAS521-9


rear MPW
interior-MPW

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Goodbye to 2012, hello 2013…

Mario has been a little slack in blogging this last few weeks but to be honest it’s been so wet he hasn’t been inclined to venture out of his snug little garage, now he’s fifty he has to think of his health and try to stay warm and dry! Hopefully the weather will improve soon and it won’t be too long before we go on a little outing, it’ll only be a couple of months until the breakfast club 2013 season starts up and then we’ll be counting down to the Haslemere Classic Car Show which Mario’s ‘human’s’ organise at the end of May.

Of course not all Multipla’s stay indoors in cold weatherwinter-multiplahere’s one competing on one of the Winter Marathons, not really Jane’s thing but James will be off on the Winter Trial in a couple of weeks with Herman in the 1967 Volvo 122S. The event starts on the 20th January check out their progress on the Winter Trial website.

Finally we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our blog readers – according to WordPress stats, Mario’s blog has been viewed 2800 times this year and amazingly by people from 79 countries! So we’d like to wish you all a very happy New Year and here’s to a great year of classic motoring in 2013.

Love Mario (and Jane & James) xx

A really practical little car…

Mario is a very practical little car. He can take 6 people or lots of luggage.

The Fiat 600D Multipla was a car considered to be ahead of its time and is the precursor of modern MPVs. Dante Giacosa, the leading design engineer for Fiat 1946-70, had designed the tiny Fiat 600 Saloon as a replacement for the popular Fiat Topalino as Italy’s ‘People’s Car’. However there was a problem as Italians had large families and they couldn’t produce an estate version because of the rear engine. Giacosa came up with a simple but ingenious solution to stretch the 600 creating a load area between the wheels. The front seats were moved forward over the wheels and a universally jointed steering column and uprated suspension increased the space and load capacity and the Multipla was born. The first real MPV with six seats, of which the rear four fold completely flat into the floor to create a load area of 1.7sqm in a vehicle just over 3.5m long – only 50cm longer than a Mini. The two wide doors hinged at the same pillar allow for good access to the load/passenger area and all in a vehicle powered by a tiny 767cc engine.

They also produced a version with two bench seats and luggage space behind and a taxi version with luggage space beside the driver.

From the promotional material for the Multipla… “The Multipla was advertised as the 600 all service with increased accommodation and a greater variety of uses. It is the 600 for 6, 6 people, 6 seats.

It is the dual purpose 600. When the rear seats are not occupied, their squabs can be folded down, thus forming a platform which provides a large loading space for luggage, goods and various articles.

The car offers greater opportunities for family use and can be put to many practical uses in every field of activity: commerce, industry, handicrafts and farming. It is useful for to shopkeepers and wholesale Firms; in town and country life and for sporting purposes.”

Mario started life in Rome. We know that previously the car was owned by a plumber, who made good use of the space for his plumbing equipment but could still take his family out at the weekend. We continue to make use of the versatile space by taking friends out and transporting our luggage to Goodwood and Jane’s glass stall to events. The seats are quick and easy to fold into the floor which gives us a large flat area to put chairs, tables and picnics in the summer and of course Mario is used as a taxi at the Revival where he can carry up to five guests.

A day at McLaren F1…

Last saturday Mario (along with his friend Kato the Subaru 360) was invited to take part in the McLaren Employees Motorshow. The day at the spectacular McLaren Technology Centre near Woking was held during the F1 season summer break and was an excuse for staff to show off their interesting cars and specially invited others, to their family and friends and raise some money for Help for Heroes.

There was quite an interesting collection of cars including hotrods and americana, race machinery, including one guys collection of Lola’s, bikes and classics plus some modern sports cars, a smattering of McLarens road cars and even a couple of powerboats. The Bloodhound Land Speed Record team were also their with their mock up of the vehicle due to attempt the 1000mph on land challenge. Mario’s humans were especially keen on a couple of lovely Opals, the Manta would be a lovely everyday practical classic.

We were allowed in the Technology Centre to see the collection of McLaren race cars and the very impressive display of trophies although you wouldn’t want a lot of them on your mantlepiece, for something that is given as a prize for winning a significant world event some of them are very tacky looking and the use of sponsors logo’s as awards should definitely be banned – the Santander ‘flame’ trophies look especially poor!

We thought that we should keep quiet about Mario’s ‘relationship’ with Adrian Newey – ex McLaren designer and now at arch enemy Red Bull, funnily enough there didn’t seem to be any sign of the energy drink as refreshments! drain who we often see at the Goodwood Revival has always expressed his appreciation of the Multipla’s innovative design for it’s time.

Unfortunately there was no photography allowed inside the centre. You could see some of the workshop areas behind glass walls and they were completely pristine as was the whole of the building, McLaren are renowned for their precision and attention to detail which was certainly apparent wherever you looked down to the pens in the meeting room all being placed at exactly the same angle at every place. The actual building is very beautiful being long and low, constructed of glass and situated on the edge of an infinity lake, the surroundings are very natural with lots of wild planting.

Mario and Kato as always attracted a lot of attention. However it was the hottest day of the year and was rather a long and tiering day as we had to be there by 8.30 am and couldn’t leave until after 5pm. Mario went rather well and seemed to enjoy his ‘blast’ up and down the A3 having to be reined in at times from going too fast, he even overtook at one point but it was a Austin 7!

Athletes use Fiat Multipla’s at the Olympics…

… in Rome 1960

Fiat provided ten 600D Multiplas to be used by the athletes and officials in Rome for the 1960 Olympics.

Backed by CocaCola this example is supposedly one of the ten and was in auction at Coys, Monte Carlo in May 2008 where it was unsold and then at the Nurburgring auction in September 2008 where it sold for the rather low price of €12,500. It was listed as a 1957 example, 3 years before the Olympics so maybe it was a reproduction, the wire wheels don’t look original.

There are several models available which show this yellow and red Coca-Cola design but they are called ‘sound’ trucks.

Unfortunately I can’t seem to find any images of the Multipla’s in use at the event, although there are some of other Fiats (500 and Giardinere) and Lambretta scooters.

Maybe Mario should have had a staring role in London 2012…

 

PS

A bit more research turned up a couple more images…

In the top right image you can actually see the Multipla’s supplied by Fiat in two-tone with the Rome Olympic symbol on the door, we then found an image of another model which backed this up.

 

The pack for the model has a leaflet with it with text in italian, it may give more information or may just be about Abebe Bikila the Gold medal winning marathon runner whose model appears with the Multipla.

This two-tone car is obviously the official Fiat supplied Olympic car while the other may have been used by Coca-cola who sponsored the event and handed out drinks and a music 45rpm single to athletes – so the red and yellow ‘sound’ truck could have been used as a promotional vehicle handing out the singles? Will keep you posted.

 

 

It’s still raining…

The endless rain of this summer has not encouraged Mario to come out of the garage, it’s not that he worries about getting wet but the weather just doesn’t lend itself to the normal summer activities of trips to the seaside and lazy picnics both of which Mario is perfect for.

In fact Mario has gone to stay in a friends garage for a few days to create some needed workshop space, not sure if he was particularly keen on this as for the first time in a long while he’s a little sick – nothing to worry about just a seal let go and let the water out, hopefully all will be put right at the weekend, you never know it might stop raining and we can have a little drive.

In the meantime here are a few pics from the Classic Le Mans held last weekend kindly supplied by friends who attended…

Firstly a Multipla (pic by Christopher Wigdol) in Rome Taxi colours, although we can’t see the registration this is the car which we saw at the Revival last year, you can still see the paddock pass in the windscreen. We thought it was a team support car at Goodwood so maybe the owners were racing here too.

And here’s a couple taken by Steve Flynn. Mario has an older brother ‘Regie’, a Renault 4cv so he was quite excited to these these two. One was competing in the Classic Le Mans, of course in the 50’s Renault competed in the full 24 hour race with both factory and special body 4cv’s and won their class.

The other picture shows a 4cv in Paris Police livery, this is a replica because (anorak on) the original police cars had the front doors cut down so it was possible to fire a gun easily!

A very sunny day at the Haslemere Classic Car Show

My human’s organise the Haslemere Classic Car Show every year on Lion Green, Haslemere. It’s a lovely friendly event with a great vintage atmosphere of a tradition fete. Lots of lovely cars, people dressed up and quality stalls selling crafts, art, local produce, vintage and classic car related products.

The day is in two parts a morning tour round the beautiful local countryside with a stop at a place of interest – this year Tangmere Aviation Museum – and the static show on the green.

This year it was a glorious sunny day. Typically I’m used as a workhorse to transport all the ‘stuff’ to the show and then as my Human’s are too busy organising to go on the tour I have to sit around posing until the cars come back from the tour. As always I gathered quite a crowd, my popularity never ceases to amaze me but at this show I can’t be judged, favouritism and all that! The best dressed car and driver competition had some great entries.

I had my picture taken lots of times but I particularly love these ones taken when stunning forties model Fleur-de-Guerre was trying me out for size!

All in all great day out, to finish here is a pic of my new companions – really for next weekend when we are taking part in the Jubilee Carnival – they had a little advance outing to the Car Show.

And finally my human’s, a bit weary after a long day but happy that the show had gone so well and ready to start organising 2013!

 

Salon Privé

Bit of old news here but as I didn’t have a blog in June I thought I just share with you our trip to Salon Privé. Earlier in the year we were invited to take part in this prestigious Concours D’ Elegance at Syon Park. This is one of the top concours in the country and it was quite an honour to be invited even if we were to be in a class entitled ‘Oddballs’! Our class was made up of rather obscure vehicles including a 1914 Twombly (scooter car) a Fiat Topolino, Tatra and the amazing Dymaxion (more of this to come in another blog), so we spent three days in good company quaffing Champagne and eating lobster while people watching.

The other classes were for much more exclusive offerings – Rolls-Royce, Grand Prix racers, Ferrari 250s and thirties tourers. The overall car of the show was a beautiful Alfa Romeo 6c which Mussolini had given to his mistress. The daily parades were great fun with the crowd enjoying ‘Mario’s’ appearance with lots of calls of ‘Bellissimo’, for the judging parade we ‘kidnapped’ some attractive people to sit in the back drinking champagne to demonstrate the spaciousness of the tiny multipla. Rod Stewart seemed to appriciate it taking pictures of us as we drove past.

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