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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Better late than never… Goodwood MM76

We’ve been promising this for months but the looming Goodwood Revival meet next week reminded me that we had never shared our rather unusual experiences of the 76th Members Meeting.

Taking place back in March, the first major event of the year can obviously be a bit chilly, although we were all lured into a false sense of security with the first ’72’ MM which took place in glorious sunshine back in 2014.

On the Friday before the meeting I was invited to a special talk by the Duke of Richmond, this was exclusively for the founder members of the GRRC and was a fascinating afternoon with the Duke telling great stories about how Motorsport was brought back to Goodwood. It was a beautiful sunny day and the circuit looked magnificent under blue skies with the daffodils gently nodding in the breeze.

However this year the forecast was looking decidedly dodgy for the weekend and as we set off on Saturday morning it was grey and foreboding and very cold. Mario was booked into the Chicane Parking, partly to be on display to his always appreciative public but mainly so we have the most convenient locker, for all those extra layers of clothing and of course the picnic!

This year was going to be even more interesting for us as our friend Adam had his Lola-Chevrolet T142 taking part in the F5000 demonstration. But by mid morning when he was out for his first run, it had started to blizzard and we could hardly see him come down the startline straight from our viewpoint on the top of the pitlane.

The snow eased off after the demo and we were wrapped up exceptionally well, although I looked and felt like a Michelin Man. Taking photos was difficult in thick fur mittens and I couldn’t put my arms down to my side but I wasn’t cold. We spent the rest of the day mooching around the paddocks, watching racing and then in the evening we stayed on for some of the party which had some great entertainment and parades. By the time we came to go home though, poor Mario had a little coating of snow and it was falling lightly all the way back to Haslemere.

The following morning the alarm went at 6am, we were supposed to be at the circuit by 7.30 as Mario had a place in the Members Parade. However I pulled back the curtains to a white landscape. There was no way we were going to be able to move poor Mario and the roads were more or less blocked.

So Mario stayed safely at home. After a couple of hours talking to friends and following FaceBook we managed to get a friend who had James’ ‘truck’ to come and rescue us. Once over the first couple of hills, the snow became much lighter and we were able to get to the circuit just in time for Adam’s demo. the F5000 cars are very powerful and most opted not to go out but Adam was brave or foolish depending how you looked at it and he took to the track with about four4 others and put in a few careful laps for the crowd. The rest of the day went ahead with some good racing, especially the Edwardian Race which was exciting. 

So, considering the conditions we still managed to have a good day and got home without too much trouble although we couldn’t get Mario back to his garage for about three days.

Hopefully the weather will be kinder to us next week, when Mario will be back at Goodwood for his favourite weekend of the year, working as a taxi at the Revival… see you there.

Weird and wonderful No 6 – Gebruder Verga Coupe

Another in our occasional series of interesting things that have popped up on the internet…  This time this spectacular little space age Coupe produced by a small Carrozzeria or bodyshop in Switzerland in the late 50’s but with a rather interesting story which I have tried to piece together from articles online.

The Gebruder Verga Coupe was a special body on a Volkswagen chassis with a rear-mounted air-cooled engine. There doesn’t seem to be much information or history available but it would appear that at least two cars were built, one more unusual with a bubble-top canopy and a fixed head version with Gull wing doors which may be a copy.

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The Carrozzeria Verga was founded in 1830 by Benjamin Verga as a maker of wagons and carriages crafted from wood and iron. The business stayed in the family and in the next century, later generations became skilled coach builders. In 1956 Enrico Verga produced a prototype car  which appeared at a Concours D’Elegance competition in Campione d’Italia near Lugano. It is thought that this was the beautiful and futuristic glass bubble version and it is this car which features on the website of the family business today – there is no information as to what became of the car, maybe it is hidden away in the workshop!

It featured in a German magazine in the 50’s, who commented, that it had a rather strange opening roof, which lifted up in one piece including the circular door disc and was rather clumsy. In several of the original photos below, the roof seems to have been replaced with a curved windscreen, maybe the roof was removable or perhaps this was a modification or even a different version, although it has the same registration.

Verga-coupe1Verga-coupe3Verga-coupe2Verga-coupe5Verga-coupe6Verga-old-adIt is not known if the second ‘version’ was designed and built by Verga but it has a remarkably similar body shape and styling although it is a fixed head with Gull wing doors. It does have a more intriguing story and is still in existence.

Over the years this car had some rather extensive modifications for not entirely legal reasons. It was used to smuggle auto bits, especially truck ball bearings at a time when customs duties were high. Secret compartments had been installed and the four corners of the body had jacks, which raised it up to reveal the contraband goods. The frame had been reinforced to take the extra weight.

In 1959 the car was seized by the French Police at Arnéguy on the Spainish border. It was confiscated by the state and stored in a warehouse at the La Rochelle Customs School until it was rediscovered quite recently. Eventually it was auctioned by the French Authorities, it was purchased and  has been returned to Switzerland, where I believe it is being restored. Even the journey back wasn’t uneventful as the bonnet blew off on the motorway. Amazingly after an online appeal and the offer of a reward, the bonnet was discovered in a field not far from it’s final destination and returned to the new owner!

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Carrozzeria Verga is still in business today and is run by Simone Verga the Great Grandson of Benjamin.

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Hopefully more information will come to light and the car or cars will be seen again soon.

Classic SUNday at Goodwood Breakfast Club

The sun shone brightly for the 2018 Classic Car Sunday at Goodwood Breakfast Club, the only one we’ve been eligible for this year. Armed with Mario’s pass we set off quite early (for us) and had a lovely drive down. The circuit was packed and we were parked out on the run off area at Madgwick.

There was a good collection of cars in attendance and a good variety. In my opinion it is the best theme and the most tightly controlled, so there isn’t a load of modern stuff you can see in the average supermarket carpark or a bunch of kids fawning over ‘supercars’.

Mario as usual was a star and was immediately surrounded by people, I’m amazed that after nearly twenty years of taking him to Goodwood events that there are still people that have never seen an original Multipla.

We did far too much socialising but did manage to take a few pictures of some of the cars which caught our eye – thinking about this blog they are mainly Fiats and other Italian Classics. Our two favourites of the day were a Fiat Abarth 750 Zagato, the fabulous ‘Double Bubble’ and an early Skoda Octavia, launched in 1959 this was the 8th model since Skoda’s post war nationalisation. While not fast it was well equipped for the time. This one had been brought to the Uk and undergone a restoration, it was rather lovely, only spoilt by the modern number plates.

So with a great display of classics, an impromptu air display and beautiful weather this had been one of the best Breakfast Clubs for a while. It was great to be out in Mario and we took the opportunity for a little run down to the seaside after.

HCCS 2018 – hard work but a great success

I haven’t had time to post anything on here for some time… it’s all down to the classic car show we organise in our home town of Haslemere. For several months I have been involved in planning, booking entrants, sorting stalls, mapping the tour, getting advertising and sponsors, producing the programme and other advertising material so there has been little spare time for anything else. Even poor Mario has been abandoned but he didn’t sulk about it and came out on the day to help transport lots of essential stuff to the site and of course to be on display and meet his fans.

The build up started a couple of days before with collating all the material and putting together packs for the tour entrants. The day before we spent several hours, measuring and marking out the Green, we are very short of space so needed to position everything carefully on the day. Mario was loaded up with a little help from our cat Birkin and with a very special passenger but more on that later.

IMG_2514IMG_2525IMG_2523DSCN8009If you had seen the weather forecast for Sunday 27 May you would have thought that any event would have to be cancelled… I was practically in tears thinking all the hard work we had put in would go to waste but the people of Haslemere must all have been good, as despite the terrible predicted storms, the sun shone down on Lion Green and our 10th Classic Car show took place under glorious blue skies without a drop of rain.

The day started for 90 of our entrants with breakfast before they set off on a tour of around 60 miles, heading South of the town to Midhurst and then through Selham, Graffham and Fittleworth for a stop at the Stag Inn, Balls Cross where new landlords Jane & Mark Squire made them very welcome with coffee and biscuits before they continued via Wisborough Green, Alford and Shillinglee back to Lion Green. The route is devised by  James who puts his rallying experience to good use.

DSCN8031DSCN8018K_100070K_100060IMG_2814IMG_2795IMG_2791IMG_2788IMG_2834IMG_2837IMG_2855IMG_2866K_100307K_100330K_100218Back in Haslemere, we had been busy setting up over 50 quality stalls selling craft work, local produce, art and a great selection of food and drink, cream teas and entertainment from George’s Coastline Jazz Band. The tour cars arrived back and were joined by the show cars to fill the green, parked brilliantly by the local 1268 (Haslemere) Squadron ATC. We did lose some of the 230 pre-booked cars, as lots of them travel a long distance to attend and the weather elsewhere wasn’t as kind, so we weren’t as full as planned but the Green still had around 200 beautiful pre-1978 classics.

The cars made a wonderful display covering nearly 100 years of motoring, with entrants of all eras, styles and sizes from the smallest microcar to huge American cruisers. Many had been in families for years while others were new acquisitions but all were their owner’s pride and joy. Simon Dodd took this great Drone picture showing the Green filling up.

DJI_0006IMG_2870IMG_2872IMG_2878IMG_2886DSC07696DSCN8136DSCN8204DSCN8230Crews are encouraged to dress in period to match their vehicles and Adrian Hardwick of Keats Estate and Letting Agents, the shows supporters, judged the entrants and choose the worthy winners. After some discussion the ‘style’ award  went to Dr David Nancekievill from Haslemere with his immaculate prize winning Daimler V8 250, beautifully attired wife Janet and some amazing period accessories.

DSCN8283DSCN8266DSCN8265DSCN8262Runners up were Alec Fry from Midhurst in an Austin A30 and Ivor Tanner from Ifold in a Riley 1.5.

DSCN8323DSCN8300DSCN8269DSCN8243We also have a ‘People’s Choice’ competition where show visitors vote for the car they would most like to take home. The overwhelming winner was Dave Melton from Haslemere in his newly restored Daimler Dart SP250 MK1, the Dart has gone from a total wreck to show standard in under a year and Dave has had the show as a target throughout the restoration. Runners up were Stewart Copps from Portsmouth in an MG PA which has undergone a family restoration over 50 years and Gary Bartlett from Winchester in his Immaculate Ford Capri MK1 1600GT.

DSCN8326Finally another reason why I have been so busy was our contribution to the Haslemere Hares – a community arts project which raises lots of money for local charity. The car show had sponsored a hare (in 2017 we had a Haslemere Hog) and this year I pained him. The theme was ‘the wind in your HARE’ a celebration of open top classic motoring. James started by modifying the ears so they looked like they were going back in the wind, then I hand painted his jacket, a decoupage local map bottom and ears, then original HCCS designed fabric scarf and a cloth cap. I was very pleased with the result. He will now be on display in Haslemere for the summer and then sold/auctioned.

DSCN8349So after all the panics and hours of work it was all over in a jiffy. Everybody seemed to have a good time and it is nice to give something back to our town and community. We never did get the threatened storms but you could see them on the horizon when we got home.

DSCN8399So that’s HCCS over for another year, once I’ve finished sorting all the photo’s updating the website and so on I will get back to updating the blog more regularly, we’ve still got adventures to tell about Members Meeting and the snow plus lots of exciting stuff coming up…

Thanks to Steve Flynn, Liz McDonald, Adam Simmonds, James Lynch for additional photos. All images are ©HCCS and can only be used with permission.

Sunshine for Drive-it-Day

DSCN6765Drive-it-Day is organised by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs to encourage owners in the UK to use their historic vehicles and celebrate the UK’s transport heritage. Local groups run their individual events under the federations banner. The day is held as close as possible to the anniversary of the Royal Automobile Club One Thousand Mile Trial which started on 23 April 1900, when 65 vehicles left Hyde Park Corner in London for an epic trip around Great Britain.

James goes to a car club MPH2 and had been asked by the club Chairman Tony, to come up with an event for the group on Drive-it-day. So on Sunday 22 April which was a lovely sunny day, we met up with the group at the Lythe Hill Hotel. After a coffee on the terrace, James sent the cars off at two minute intervals, each team was given a copy map on which a route was marked with arrows and a sheet with photos of landmarks such as signs, post boxes etc. Navigators had to guide the driver round the route through some lovely country lanes and villages, while keeping a keen eye out for the landmarks which they had to take their own photo of. The route was around 40 miles, mainly in the South Downs National Park and in the MPH2 (Midhurst, Petworth, Haslemere) area.

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Once we’d set everybody on their way, we slipped off to collect Mario so he didn’t miss out on Drive-it-Day. We obviously couldn’t take part as we knew the route but had a lovely sunny ‘bobble’ along the country lanes at meet up with everyone at the halfway point.DSCN6866

We had a lovely lunchstop at one of our regular pubs The Stag at Balls Cross, Jane and Mark the new landlords did us proud with a reserved car park, delicious buffet lunch and glorious sunshine so we could all sit outside while James checked off the mornings photographic efforts.DSCN6802It was soon time for the 14 teams to leave for part two. The cars a mixture of classic and modern included several Jaguar E-types and a Mark 2, a Triumph Stag, Rolls Royce, MG, and a Sunbeam Talbot. By now everybody had got the hang of it and set off with enthusiasm.

Mario had a gentle meander back to The Lythe Hill, stopping off for a woodland photo shoot on route and to look at some cute lambs.

DSCN6819DSCN6825DSCN6854 Once all the cars had finished, everyone gathered for a drink on the hotel terrace and the final round up of results. All seemed to have had an enjoyable day, some with better observation than others! All of the photo’s had been spotted by at least one of the competitors so it would seem that the difficulty level was about right. One team, new members Peter and Jan won, dropping just 5 points over the whole day.DSCN6872

So all in all a lovely Spring outing, on route we spotted loads of other classics on the road,  some taking part in other organised events. Our classics are there to be driven and Drive-it-Day just encourages this and lets people see just how many historic vehicles are out there still and what an important part they still play in the economy.

Mario certainly enjoyed being out in the sunshine – a total contrast to his last trip out in March at the Goodwood Members Meeting. We will post about this very soon but it’s taken a while to sort the all the photos…

All aboard the Skiway…

After a few days stuck home with the snow, this popped up on social media and caught me eye and I thought it would make a perfect topical post…

Timberland Lodge

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Situated 6000 feet up Mount Hood in Oregon, the historic Timberline Lodge was built in 1937 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project to provide jobs after the Great Depression. It is famous for hosting year-round skiing and also for being used as the exterior of the ‘Overlook Hotel’ in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film The Shining.

While interesting it wasn’t the Hotel that caught my eye but the fact that it was once the home of the longest stretch of arial tram in the world. The Skiway ran for three miles connecting the town of Government Camp at 2,100 feet to Timberland Lodge. The ‘Cloudliner’ which ran on the route was converted from a school bus suspended from a cable supported by 38 steel towers up to 72 feet tall, which could transport 36 people seated and 14 standing. Most mountain tramways are pulled by a moving cable but unusually on the Skiway, each set of wheels was separately powered by a 185hp bottom-mounted engine and these pulled the bus up the mountain on the traction cables anchored at both ends.

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When it opened a one-way fare was 75 cents, the lower terminal in Government Camp had a restaurant and snack bar, gift shop, ski shop and guest lounge. The tram entered the terminal on the building’s third floor where the loading/unloading platforms were located. At Timberline Lodge there was no terminal building and passengers had to get on and off at an open-air platform.

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The project cost over $2 million to construct and opened in 1951. However it suffered mechanical problems, was slow and could only make a couple of trips an hour so by the mid 50’s when the road up the mountain was improved it made the Skiway redundant and it was deconstructed ten years after opening.

Watch a video of the Skiway in action.

 

Mario is now keeping his fingers crossed that the snow stays away and it warms up in the next couple of weeks before the Goodwood Members Meeting. We’ll be taking part in the Members Parade on Sunday morning and will be parked in the Chicane Parking on Saturday so watch this space.

Multipla’s to the rescue…

The fact, that Fiat 600D Multipla’s were used as Taxis (in Rome and Croydon), is quite well documented and they were modified to use as a funeral hearse. But it would appear that they also played a part in other public services.

Late last year, Kevin and Helen, a couple of members of the ‘Independent Goodwood Photographers Association’ FaceBook Group sent us a message with photos of a Fiat Multipla and 600 ‘Police’ cars which they had just seen in Rome, in the entrance to a police station on Piazza del Popolo. They were both used by the Carabinieri Corps (Italy’s 4th Military service) in 1957 and used for 10 years with the territorial unit for crowd control.

 

This of course caught our interest and a google revealed a hidden police museum in Rome – Museo delle Auto della Polizia di Stato, A bit of googling revealed these images of a Multipla and a 500 in the museum. They seem to be marked ‘Polizia’ but assume it was still the Carabinieri due to the military green paint work. If anyone knows differently please let us know!

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Couldn’t find any period images of Police vehicles other than this rather unusual one of an rmed office out of the roof, wonder if this was from a movie rather than real life. The others are what appear to be Police 500/600 but of course could just be reproductions. It seems really hard to turn up information in Italian unless you are fluent enough to be able to search in Italian!

I did find this model of a Multipla so maybe they were used by the Polizia Municiple as well. It is thought that Multipla’s may have been used as they were able to get down the small streets easily.

I had to include this, modern day policing in a New Fiat 500.

I then of course started looking at the other ‘Emergency Services’. I had a bit more luck with Ambulances with several old pictures cropping up of the Multipla or the 600t van being used by the Italian ‘Green Cross’ a public assistance organisation. Several brochures popped up from a company called Corrozzeria Coriasco (Who also produced the boat car) who produced special Autoambulanza versions between 1956 and 1962, again I believe because they could get down narrow Italian streets and through traffic quickly.


The main difference with the 600t version seems to be the doors, with the Multipla having access via the rear with a standard side door and the 600t having double opening side doors. Although both had space for a stretcher and two people in the back.

There is a beautiful restored example of the Multipla at the headquarters of the Red Cross of Bergamo, which was actually in service in the city in the 1960s.


Finally the Fire Service where I basically drew a blank, other than a couple of models which may be fictional. This post has really tested our research capabilities and we would love to know if anyone has any more information about the Multipla being used for ‘Service’/emergency vehicles. As well as the language barrier it would seem that particularly in the past, Italy didn’t have national organisations for the emergency services but many different private and voluntary organisations with different names.

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The most photographed car at Goodwood Revival?

We are members of a FaceBook Group – ‘The Independent Goodwood Photographers Guild’, set up as a friendly group by some friends of ours the idea was just to share photographs of events at Goodwood. The group has grown and now has 600 members, a mixture of amateur and professional photographers, who share a wide variety of styles, skills and areas of interest. It is a vibrant and friendly group with a shared love of Goodwood.

When we knew we were going  to be in the Fiat 500 60th anniversary parade at this years Revival, we rather cheekily set them a challenge – who’ll get the best picture of Mario at the Revival with the idea that the best one(s) would feature in Mario’s blog of the event. The images shared were so varied that we couldn’t pick a winner and we decided that they deserved their own blog so here it is…

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Clive Reid caught us on duty in the taxi rank

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Guy Ward – poor Mario looks rather low to the ground 6up on Sunday

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Guy Ward

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Marjorie Dowling caught us lining up for the parade on Saturday

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Mario doesn’t offer the most elegant exit – Martin Hoare

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Great view of the grid on Sunday morning – Martin Hoare

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Cleaners on the grid on Sunday morning – Martin Hoare

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Ready for the off – Martin Hoare

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Rear View – Mike Dabell

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Waiting to go on track – Mike Dabell

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Thought the Theme was Italian! – Mike Dabell

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Insider viewpoint – Mike Dabell

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Empty taxi rank – Mike Dabell

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Heading for the flag – Phil Johnson

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Leaving the track – Phil Johnson

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Phil Johnson

©Simon-Martin-mariothemultipla

Simon Martin

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The Chicane – Stephen Mosley

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Steve Burt

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A huddle of Fiats – Tony Birr

Thank you to all the photographers for sharing their images. Please note that these images have been generously shared by the members just to appear here, the copyright of the images belongs to the individual photographs so please don’t use them anywhere else without express permission from the photographer.

A ‘little’ celebration at Goodwood Revival…

IMG_1875In July 1957 Fiat launched the Nuova 500 or Cinquecento. Designed by Dante Giacosa as a replacement for the Topolino it was a cheap and practical town car. Just under 3m long and powered by a 479cc two-cylinder air-cooled engine, the 500 was enormously popular throughout Europe and was in production in various forms until 1975, nearly 4 million were made.

The 2017 Goodwood Revival was celebrating the 60th anniversary of this little classic and that special part of West Sussex became a part of Italy for the weekend.  Mario has been part of the Revival since the early days as a taxi and although he is a variant of the Fiat 600 – the 500’s bigger cousin, he was invited along to play and join in the party.

IMG_1897DSC06794Everyday the track opening parade was dedicated to the Fiat 500 and there were upwards of 120, 500’s, variations and derivatives on track – I believe the biggest parade Goodwood have ever had.

DSC06788For once we were encouraged to use our horn and the exuberance of 120+ made it a very noisy affair. The cars gathered every morning in the gravelled area by the Old Control Tower which was festooned with lights, bunting and Italian washing! Tables with checkered cloths, an Italian bar, pizza, an Italian Job Bullion Van selling coffee and the GAG (Goodwood Actors Guild) in their element as a Mafia Boss, Nonna’s, pretty girls, a white gloved and suited traffic policeman and ‘Mario the Sicilian Lemon Seller’ who we shared much banter with – he thought our ‘Mario’ looked like a Lemon!

In organised chaos we were directed onto the grid and lined up 6 or so across – the grid still stretched back to the track entrance. A mass of colour and excitement with girls standing up out of sunroofs and loads of bodies crammed into the tiny cars. After photo opportunities galore we were led off by a course car and Robert Menghini’s immaculate 1957 Fiat 500N ‘Vettri Fissi’ one of the very first production models  of which only around 25 survive across the world today.

It was probably the slowest parade to ever take place at Goodwood, with many of the cars only having 14bhp but I suspect the most fun, certainly the noisiest and seemed to bring a smile to the early rising spectators already in position around the track.

We did this for three days and it improved everytime. Friday was a little grey and damp and a bit mad as nobody knew what they were doing, Mario had James and Craig as passengers. Saturday was a lovely sunny day, Mario was about five rows from the front. Our day was made when Lord March (Duke of Richmond now) spotted us and came over for a hug and a chat about how long we’d been taxing for and the ‘Mario’ coat, all this appeared on the live feed but unfortunately my Mum missed it! Saturday’s passengers were friends Trevor and Max, they were sitting relaxed and comfortable in the back waiting to leave when James and Craig managed to jump in at the very last second, Craig didn’t even get his seat up and so did the lap sitting on the floor!

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By Sunday we were all well practised and Mario got herded up the access lane by the Marshalls and we ended up on the front row of the grid. As the only 6 seater there we had to have a full contingent of passengers. Our four friends from Derbyshire who we have seen at the Revival for many years, had been offered a trip round and James popped in the front to make up the six. The boys are ex Rugby players and are always amazed at how well they can squeeze in the back of Mario. We might have ruined Goodwood’s little Italy theme as they turned up as the cast from ‘It ain’t half hot Mum’ and performed the ‘Boy’s to Entertain You’ at the front of the grid. We had an amazing time and James used FaceBook live for the entire two laps. Starting at the front we held back and let the majority of the field overtake so we got them all on film. The marshals around the track were all enthusiastically waving their green, white and red flags and there was an amazing buzz around the circuit.

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@Fiat 500 Club

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@Fiat 500 Club

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@Fiat 500 Club

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@Fiat 500 Club

It’s so much fun to be a part of something like this, people seemed genuinely pleased to see all the little cars on track and there was some great coverage online, TV and photographs. We certainly won’t forget Revival 2017 in a hurry.

As you can guess we have loads of pictures of the Fiat Celebrations, thanks to Mike Dabell (one of the Derbyshire lads) for lots of the images which appear in this post.  We challenged members of the FaceBook group, The Independent Goodwood Photographers Guild to take pictures of Mario at the Revival to illustrate this blog but they were so good and so varied that I think they deserve a post on their own… coming soon.