Goodwood double…

At last an outing, well two actually, for Mario. The first Sunday in August, luckily a lovely sunny day was the Goodwood Breakfast Club – Thoroughbred Sunday and also the Goodwood Road Racing Club (GRRC) open day at Goodwood House. Mario had a pass to park on the grid so we had an early start as we were instructed to be at the circuit by 8am! Rather a struggle after a very busy week and a good night out the previous evening.

 

The circuit wasn’t as busy as I’ve seen it but for once it was a great collection of pre-66 cars rather than looking like Sainsbury’s carpark. We were park up opposite the pits and immediately had a good crowd around us.DSC03719DSC03717DSC03718DSC03720DSC03694 DSC03695 The Fiat Arbarth was lovely, thought the engine would look good in Mario.DSC03697DSC03729Keeping on an Italian theme, my favourite car on the grid was this beautiful Cisitalia, recently back from competing on the Mille Miglia it looked stunning in the sunshine.DSC03700 DSC03701 DSC03703 DSC03704 This Mini might look a little scruffy but it is very very original and has been to our car show. The collection of period accessories is also great.DSC03705DSC03711 This little Fiat 850 Coupe was fab, could see myself nippy to the shops in it but guess it would put Mario’s nose out of joint.DSC03708 DSC03709
DSC03712 DSC03713 DSC03715 DSC03716DSC03723 DSC03725 We’ve decided that Mario looks like an upside down Minion! Might have to dress up sometime.DSC03726
DSC03735 DSC03744 DSC03745 DSC03747After an enjoyable wander around and meeting up with friends for a natter, we left the Breakfast club around 11.30 for the short run up the road to the house. We hadn’t entered this year so we went to the public carpark which was full of lots of lovely cars. The successful entrants were parked around the carriage circle and were as varied as usual.DSC03750 DSC03754 DSC03755 DSC03757 Bella, one of Mario’s girlfriends, was on display and looking fab. The 1955 Fiat 500C Belvedere Estate is really cute and attracted a lot of votes.DSC03759 DSC03760 This AA Badge was quite unusual with the flag on the top.DSC03763 DSC03765 DSC03768This E-type was a very early pre production model, you could tell by the bonnet catches which were on the outside,DSC03784The car I would most like to take home was this fabulous 1954 Studebaker Commander Starliner Hardtope. `Known as the American Car with the European looks, it was awarded a medal by the New York school of fashion in 1953. This was this particular cars first outing in nearly 40 years!
DSC03769 DSC03772DSC03781 We met up and picnicked with a group of GRRC members who we have a monthly meeting with.DSC03778 DSC03780While not brave enough for the Helter Skelter (worried about the embarrassment of getting stuck) we did have a go in the Hall of Mirrors, liked this one which made us look tall and thin.
DSC03789By mid afternoon we were starting to feel rather sleepy and so set off for the lovely drive home back over the downs. It was great to be out in Mario although he still isn’t running right. We have ordered a carburator repair kit so hopefully he will be 100% fit for the Revival which is getting ever closer.

Best laid plans…

…Last weekend we had planned to take Mario to Goodwood breakfast Club and a small car show but it wasn’t to be.

Mario has been poorly since his overexertions at the last Revival. After his last run at Easter ‘Doctor’ James had diagnosed the problem, and after some research we ordered the new parts – a water pump and Head Gasket from a company in Holland. The delivery was expected before the weekend so Mario was taken apart last Thursday and with due efficiency the package arrived on Friday lunchtime. The plan was to fit the new parts on Saturday so we could take Mario to Breakfast Club at Goodwood on Sunday and a small car show on Bank Holiday Monday…DSC06406 IMG_0857James worked on Mario, all day on Saturday, the water pump fitted just fine but once the head and block was cleaned it revealed that when Mario had got hot, the head had distorted slightly and left an area that water would still seep from and so the head would need skimming. Not a major disaster but a set back, as James’ mill wasn’t large enough to do the job and being a bank holiday weekend we wouldn’t be able to get it done elsewhere until after the weekend, hence the change of plans.

The head before cleaningIMG_0860 Block before cleaningIMG_0861 Cleaned head, you can see the damage bottom rightIMG_0862 New gasketIMG_0863

Breakfast Club was ‘Supercar Sunday’ not a favourite of ours by any means as modern ‘supercars’ really don’t do much for us, Mario hadn’t got a entry pass anyway (can’t understand why as he’s a super little car!) so our main reason for attending was to promote the Haslemere Classic Car Show which we organise. However the forecast was terrible and for once accurate, and Sunday morning was very wet and grey. The posters and fliers, we were hoping to hand out would have got very soggy, so we decided not to go! From Goodwoods pictures it looked like quite a lot of people and cars did brave the horrible conditions and cars such as La Ferrari and the Lamborghini Miura were among the exotica on display. (photo’s from Goodwood forum). From social media after the event it certainly looked as though one Supercar driver didn’t enjoy his day, with pictures posted of a new McLaren in the undergrowth! The drivers over enthusiasm or is there an issue with the McLaren – there have been several reported incidents of them leaving the road without any other vehicles being involved?Goodwood-1 Goodwood-2 Goodwood-3 Goodwood-4Oops

Rather than wasting the day, we took the opportunity of some extra time to continue plotting the route for the Haslemere Show’s tour. 90 pre-75 vehicles are signed up to do a drive of around 55 miles through the beautiful local countryside in the morning before the show. It is difficult to chose the route as we try to find roads we haven’t used before and this is the sixth tour we’ve organised! We also have to find a route that is; interesting; safe – we often find lovely roads but they are too narrow, plus we avoid difficult junctions etc; have a place of interest/refreshments for a halfway stop; the correct distance in a circular route to finish back at the show. We generally go out two or three times trying variations and then have a final run through to make sure all the instructions are clear. The route is written using ‘tulips’ – first used by Dutch rallies in the 1950’s – which are pictorial diagrams showing directions plus written instructions and distances.


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1.Straight on  2.Turn right  3.Second junction at roundabout 4.Turn left at T-juction, pub on left, take next right turn

Example below
1 You have travelled 1.5 miles from previous instruction, 2.5 miles travelled from the start, tulip – straight on past hotel on right
2 Travel another 0.8miles (total 3.3) take a right turn, signposted to Lurgashall Winery, Take Care.
3 Travel another 0.6 miles (total 3.9) Keep left on same road, ignoring a turning on the right.

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The sun came out and the route looked very pretty with lots of wild garlic in bloom and fields of little lambs, hopefully it will be sunny when when run the tour for real in a couple of weeks.

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Monday was a small car show at the Frog and Wicket pub in Eversley near to where our friends live. As we didn’t have Mario to take we just popped over inn the afternoon to see what was going on. The pub was very busy with lots of people enjoying the sunshine and quite a good showing of cars. Our friends had taken their whole collection along to the show – a Daimler, Mini, Jaguar D-type replica and ‘Kato’ the other Subaru 360 which we imported with ‘Nippy’ our 360 and did the Microcar rallies with.DSC01046 DSC01047 DSC01048 DSC01049 DSC01050 DSC01051 DSC01054 DSC01056 DSC01057 DSC01058

On Tuesday morning James was back in the workshop and took Mario’s head to the engineering shop to have it skimmed, 6 thousands of an inch being removed. It’s been previously welded up in a couple of the waterways and the passages need opening out again with a mini grinder to increase the water flow. In the evening he put the engine back together again and so far so good it looks like it’s working, although there now seems to be an issue with the electric fuel pump which seems a bit intermittent, so we are going to try using the original mechanical pump which is still in position and just needs plumbing in to see how that works.IMG_6038

A test drive will now be required to see how everything is working. At least it looks like Mario will make it onto Lion Green for the car show on the 24th, it wouldn’t be the same without him being there…

Memories of vehicles from our past…

It’s been a while since we blogged but it’s a bit of a quiet time car wise, Mario is safely tucked away from the inclement weather and the new season’s events still seem a while away (although it is less 5 weeks to the Goodwood 73rd Members Meeting). Plus we have had most of our spare time taken up with organising the Haslemere Classic Car Show & Tour!

However while looking through some old photo’s I got to thinking about the cars from our past…

As a child my father was car-mad following formula one and rallying but with his own transport had rather dubious taste. He has been a ‘Ford’ man for his entire driving life (and while we’re about it always used Michelin Tyres and Shell Fuel) starting with a Ford Prefect before I was born. After I arrived he moved on to a Ford Anglia, this was crashed into and rolled when I was a baby – asleep in the back, I was handed out through the broken rear window into the arms of a passing woman who nearly dropped me as she thought I was dead! In fact I slept through the whole experience and have just a fleeting memory of a Doctor telling my Mother to keep me awake in the hospital. The Anglia was brought back from the insurance company and repaired but my Mum never liked it again and so it was passed on to my paternal Grandparents who kept it for years and I enjoyed many happy days out in the back.

My Dad progressed through a series of Fords – White Cortinas which I remember on holidays in Cornwall and the endless telling-off’s for filling them with sand and wildlife! He progressed to an Escort Ghia, pictured here in Wales in 1978 with a ‘glamorous’ 15 year old model. In a very 70’s bronze with a black vinyl roof, the personal numberplate came from the previous owner believed to be the actor Terence Rattigan.scan101Dad went on to have a Mid-life Crisis and owned a bright red Ford Capri before settling down to more mundane Orion (which was Stolen) and a Focus. With this rather restricted experience of cars one could wonder how my own love of cars developed but my Mother and maternal Grandfather, who lived with us, more than made up for Dad.

Grandad, who I adored had a very varied selection of what now would be considered ‘desirable’ everyday classics, a Wolsley, Morris Minor, Triumph Dolomite, a gorgeous primrose Yellow Triumph Herald, an Allegro, a Peugeot 104 and a Triumph 1300, which the steering wheel came off while driving down the A3!

My mother who, while I was small, transported me around on the back of her bicycle upgraded to an A30 when I started school, I have very fond memories of piling in the back with, what was probably an illegal number of friends and setting off for days at the seaside, having to park on the flat as the handbrake wasn’t very good. I also recall waking up one morning to find the A30 up on bricks as the wheels had been stolen, and no my parents lived in a ‘good area’. The A30 was upgraded to a white Mini Countryman ‘Snow White’ – room for more kids in the back and then an Anglia Estate, as we got bigger.

By the time I reached 17 I was desperate to learn to drive, I’d already been taught the basics on the old army camp up the road and on the morning of my 17th birthday proudly set off with my Mum in our Fiat 850 – called Tetley as it had 1000 little perforations, if you are old enough you will understand!old-scans085Poor Tetley’s perforations got the better of her and she didn’t last long and I took my test in a Ford Escort 1300GT, the shame of a two Ford family. By this time James and I were an item, he’d been car obsessed since he was born, amazing as his family only saw cars as transport and had to buy a Ladybird book to keep up with his interest. He started big with a Maserati 250F..IMG_4891…but by the time we were dating has ‘progressed to a Gilera Motorbike, this was incredibly noisy and I could hear him arriving from a mile away!IMG_1389

We both had a love of cars and used to visit shows and events. James’ first car was a Mini, this was followed up by an Avenger which he wrote off and a Ford Cortina with a Webasto sunroof and a brown fur interior – you would have thought this would have put me off but it was the early 80’s!

The roll call continued with a Fiesta and then a Renault 5 Gordini, this was a lovely car, fast – I drove at over 100mph for the first time! We took it on holiday to Europe.

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The Gordini was sold to fund the purchase of his first real classic, a 1961 3.8 Mark 2 Jaguar. Again we took it all over the place to lots of shows and it was a lovely car, although it did catch fire once on Hindhead Hill! Pre-mobile by the time somebody had driven to call the fire brigade James had put it out with a blanket, I of course was paranoid that it would blow up like all the cars in the Movies. The Jag was used as a wedding car for our oldest friends wedding in 1988, James as Best Man had to be at the church so he had to intrust the job of driving the bride to church to my Dad, I don’t know who was most relieved to see the car show up James or the groom!scan099

James continued with more Mini’s, some for the road and some for Racing and Sprinting and a 1275GT, rolled by his cousin on one memorable boxing day when they popped out for a ‘quick spin’ returning about three hours later on a tow truck. Plus of course he had numerous cars for rallying which I wrote about in the last post and another bike – a Triumph Bonneville.scan095Scan 13 Scan 19

When I was at college James brought me my first classic a 1950’s Austin A35 in Speedwell Blue, I loved it and we went all over the place on A35 club events. On the way back from Longleat we had severe overheating problems and the head gasket had failed, this resulted in us taking the car to Kent to use a friends garage and completely overhauling the engine. This was my introduction to being ‘Mechanics Mate’, being given all the dirty jobs and I still wasn’t put off.old-scans038old-scans190 scan090 scan091 scan092 scan093old-scans047-mid80s scan094I loved the A35 and it was great fun, however I eventually was given a company car and had a new shiny Peugeot 205. This was the first of a series of small Peugeots and I still have a, now rather old, 206GTI as an everyday car today.scan096The convenience of a new car and with our time taken up with houses and jobs the poor A35 was left at my parents and needed rather a lot of work to get it back up to scratch. So in 1994 when we decided to buy Regie a Renault 4CV convertible from the South of France we popped the A35 on the trailer and gave it to some friends in St Paul de Vence, it’s probably still in the garage we popped it into 20 years ago.scan097 scan098We took Regie home and restored him as per our previous post, then around 1996 James popped off mysteriously to France and came home with a Citroen H-van or ‘Grumpy’ truck. I’d been coveting one of these for years but it was a complete surprise when he turned up with one off the ferry at 6am. We had great fun with the truck putting upholstered bench seats in the back so large groups of us could go out and picnic at events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed. We also took the truck on one of the Footman James Retro Runs to Silverstone where we got to do a lap of the track – dressed as french farmers with a Pantomime cow in the back Silverstone had seen nothing like it and we won the C&SC Spirit of the Event award, I believe that the historic lap was captured on video, I’d love to see it if anyone has a copy.retrorun059Unfortunately the Grumpy Truck really needed too much work doing to it and we had neither the time or money so it was used as a ‘shed’ for a number of years until it was eventually sold for spares.

The next classic was  of course Mario followed by Nippy the Subaru 360, both of which are still in the family and have of course Regie and are all here to stay. So who knows what the future will bring, you’ll have to keep reading the blog…
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Historic Rallying, go, go, go…

Mario and his female human are quite happy just bobbling along the country roads but this isn’t quite enough for the male human of the family… James likes to indulge in a little more adventurous pursuit – historic rallying.

The sort of historic or classic rallying he does isn’t the pace note, balls out, off road type, even he considers that a little mad (although he did once compete in and got a class win on the classic RAC stage rally) but endurance events for classic cars that require skill and judgement to navigate a complicated route keeping to very specific speeds on regularity sections to arrive exactly or as near as on time at checkpoints. He mainly takes this a stage further and prefers to do the winter events which involve inclement weather and long and difficult night sections.

The reason for writing this post now is that James is currently in Norway having started the Winter Trial today – six days of tough navigation and driving on snow and ice in Norway. He is navigating for Dutchman Herman Maas in a Volvo Amazon 122s. You can follow their progress on his own blog dickingaroundwitholdcars

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James first started Historic rallying as a driver back at the beginning of the 90’s, his first event sharing the driving on the 1991 Monte Carlo Challenge in an A35 with Terry Langridge which started from Edinburgh, it snowed so much in this country that they didn’t think they’d even get to Dover. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any pictures of this car or their subsequent vehicle in 1993 – a Triumph 2000, maybe I will be able to add them later.

By now James had the ‘bug’ and progressed to a 1958 Hillman Minx series 3 with friend Dominic West. Again the event of choice was the Monte Carlo Challenge which had various starts over the years but always finished on the harbour in Monte Carlo after several tortuous days crossing the snowy alpine passes, the ability to fit snow chains quickly in difficult conditions and not getting stuck being a big part of a successful run. 
old-scans177 scan083old-scans181The Mini was followed by a Mini 850 MK1.MiniJames and Dom then decided to get ‘tough’ and built a Riley special. This was a major project with a pre-war car and was quite a different challenge being exposed to the elements. The build of the car encountered a few problems and they were still finishing it off the day before the Monte start at nearby Brooklands. As Dom was working I went with James to scrutineering, the car hadn’t been driven with a passenger and as we drove up the A3 towards Brooklands sparks started coming out of the floor between my legs! The drive shaft was catching on the floor with the weight of a passenger and so the boys had to modify the car that night before departure, of course they had to break off to have a goodbye pint with our mates.

The car was good but the lack of time for preparation was their downfall and they suffered several problems culminating in a wheel falling off. This finished their rally and as they were stuck in a very rural part of France with poor communications they were lucky to be taken in by some friendly locals who put them up for a couple of days – apparently it was like the episode of Ello Ello when two ‘airmen’ appeared in the kitchen. We are still in touch with these kind people to this day.old-scans175 old-scans183 old-scans211 old-scans212 scan082By the end of the 90’s James had a new partnership with Keith Webster and they competed in several Monte Carlo Challenges firstly in a grey Westminster and then in the Wolsey ‘4001BB’ which was fitted up to look like a period Police Car and they competed in full period Police uniforms.This was nearly to get them into trouble, when the local Police in Aix le Bains thought they were real policemen and invited them for a tour of the local police station, including the cells! James and Keith had great success in 4001BB and in 2003 were holding a top ten place until they made the fatal error of ‘overtaking the snowplough’, a little further down the slippery road the car slid into a rather substantial gate post – something they have never been allowed to forget!old-scans179133966_10150111135556800_7521332_o old-scans176
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Booking Sir Sirling Moss in Monte Carlo

DSCN1587 Dom navigated the 2003 Monte for another friend of ours Peter Rowley in his Mark 2 Jag.DSCN1606 DSCN1616 DSCN1627
DSCN1636 DSCN1640132186_10150111135756800_959460_oSo for 2004 the duo swopped to Keiths TR.
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DSCN2816 DSCN2819Several years before this in the Summer of 1999, James had his first go at navigating a full rally – the Summer Classic Marathon to Biarritz for George Melvile in his Alvis. He was rather surprised that he enjoyed the challenge of ‘the maps’ more than driving and it was to be the start of several successful partnerships, he is now lucky enough as part of his job to be asked to navigate on various events and now rarely drives. He is in the very rare position of having class wins as both driver and navigator on the Monte Carlo Challenge.Alvis

Over the years James has navigated on many varied events – Classic Marathon, The Winter Challenge, The Classic Malts, The Emerald Isle, The Meachem, The Flying Scotsman and with Herman on many Winter Trials, all over the Uk and both West and Eastern Europe.DSCN0306 DSCN0308 DSCN0316DSCN5347 DSCN5348 DSCN5356 DSCN5394 DSCN5397 DSCN5418 DSCN5423DSCN3296DSCN2597 DSCN5287DSCN2864 scan081

One of the more demanding events is Le Jog a four day event in December from Lands End to John O’Groats with very little sleep and often very inclement British Weather. Many of these have been navigating for Roy Williams in the Bigley Special, a Riley 12/4. One year they managed to roll the car, were back on the road in under half an hour and still won the class.54150_10150100639416800_7577383_o 57142_10150100639371800_141769_o 78190_10150100639541800_4524060_o 132687_10150100639491800_5716112_oHe has been involved in several rolls and incidents over the years, luckily with only damaged pride and most often with the car being able to carry on with the event. 54017_10150100623736800_6351442_o PorscheThis post is getting rather long now and I’ve realised how many ‘holidays’ (he calls it networking’) James has been on over the years! I hope he has a good, safe and successful week in Norway, do look at his blog to see how they are getting on. Hopefully they will do well, the only downside is the rather lovely trophies he gets to bring home!171066_10150135614026800_999594_o

 

 

 

 

 

The Renault Fiftie…

In a previous post we reported on taking Regie the Renault in 1996 to the 50th anniversary celebrations for the Renault 4cv. Well Renault also choose to celebrate this significant date in their history in another way, by producing a ‘modern’ version of the 4cv – The Renault Fiftie which was ‘launched’ at the 1996 Geneva Motorshow.Renault-Fiftie-posterRenault-Fiftie-4cvRenault-Fiftie-drawingRenault-Fiftie-interior-drawingDSCN4201DSC02714

We were very excited about this and had hoped to see it at the anniversary celebrations but unfortunately it was on display elsewhere. We did manage to get a look at it, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed the following year and thought it looked even better in the ‘flesh’. We have seen it again since at Retromobile. This was the first of the ‘rebirth classics’ – a new car designed based on a loved classic, it was followed by designs for the new VW Beetle, BMW Mini and of course the Fiat 500. Unfortunately unlike the rest, the Fiftie was never put into manufacture, although the prototype was a fully functioning car. The all new mid-mounted 1.2l engine survived and made it into production in the Twingo and Cleo.Renault-Fiftie-beachCOX19969030406COX19969030702

Designed by Benoit Jacob under the direction of Patrick le Quement, Renault’s vice president of corporate design, the Fiftie was built on a cutting edge carbon fibre and aluminium platform lifted from the Renault Spider. The body work drew heavily on it’s predecessor with a three slat ‘Moustache’ front grill, a pointed front end, curves, rear louvers with the overall shape also bearing a passing resemblance to the 4cv. The prototype was even in yellow in honour of the original little ‘butter pat’ as the early yellow 4cv’s were known. The wheels were inspired by the ‘star’ wheels of the early 4cv complete with the air vents in the rear wheel arch and added to the period look.Renault-Fiftie-retro4Renault-Fiftie-retro Renault-Fiftie-retro2 Renault-Fiftie-retro3Renault-Fiftie-wheel

Inside the design was utilitarian in the spirit of its ancestor with linoleum on the floor and linen and wickerwork upholstery but the dashboard was something much more futuristic with a large screen mounted in the middle of the dashboard that grouped the car’s entertainment, climate control, driver assistance and telephone functions into a single unit. The seats were fixed with the steering wheel and pedals being adjustable. The roof was in four removable panels that could be stored under the rear window so the Fiftie was a decoverable – just like Regie! The design included a wicker picnic basket hidden in the boot.COX19969030810 Renault-Fiftie-interior Renault-Fiftie-interior2 COX19969030814

The contemporary, fun, Fiftie received very good reviews at the time  with people loving the mix of past and future, it’s happy go lucky attitude and cute but dynamic styling but the carbon-fibre body was expensive – the one off was reputed to have cost £3 million and was too costly to put into production and so the Fiftie remains just another one of Renault’s wonderful concept cars. Looking today of the huge success of the ‘retro’ remakes of the Beetle, Fiat 500 and Mini one can’t but help wonder if this was a costly mistake by Renault, especially as nearly 20 years on it still looks up to date. We for one would have loved one! Fiat500-1 mini-2 vw-2

Have a ‘rally’ good time…

Mario’s human (and chief medic!) James has set off to take part in the 2014 Winter Challenge which starts on Sunday from Troyes, South East of Paris and meanders it’s way through the mountainous areas of France to finish in Monte Carlo next Thursday having hopefully completed some of the most famous Cols in rallying history.

James is navigating for Dutchman Herman Mass in a 1967 Volvo 122S. They have been a successful team for a number of years taking part in various Winter Events. Previous years have seen them on the Winter Trial which takes place in January with routes all over Europe from Eastern Holland, through Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Austria and Italy, meaning they’ve often found themselves in very snowy and icy conditions. photo-5 photo-19 photo-22 photo-33 photo-34

It’s not looking like they are going to get such harsh winter conditions on this years Winter Challenge route through France and so James’ position as navigator will be much more important, one wrong slot could make all the difference on the road. James has spent the last couple of weeks busily plotting the route onto his maps, it looks like there will be some rather tricky navigational sections, hopefully they will do well – always a bit of a dilemma, I want them to succeed but you should see some of the trophies they bring home!

You can follow their progress on the official site or James will be writing his own blog – ‘Dickingaroundwitholdcars‘ – where possible.

James started off taking part in classic rallies more than 25 years ago initially as a driver, in an Austin A35, Mini, Hillman Minx and a pre-war Riley. Lots of fun and lots of adventures were to be had including breaking down in the Riley and being looked after by a family in a very remote part of France, apparently it was like a scene from ‘Ello, Ello’ when the poor husband came home to find two english ‘airmen’ in flying hats and goggles sitting in his kitchen!
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He progressed on to an Austin Westminster Police car with navigator Keith Webster in full period police uniform, which became very well known on the classic circuit or you could say notorious – especially for being given a tour of Aix le Bain police station by the local Chief of Police who thought they were real policeman, amazingly they didn’t get arrested although they had rather naughtily had their picture taken in the cells! Unfortunately after a number of years the well performing Westminster met a rather sticky end, embedded in a gatepost in very icy conditions, luckily James and Keith were both unhurt, other than their pride, although James will never be able to forget the words of advise – ‘Don’t overtake the snow plough!’old-scans176DSCN1587 DSCN1627

After success driving in the early days, once James started his restoration business he started being asked by clients to navigate for them and so he began a second ‘career’ on the maps, which he now prefers to driving. As his interest in vintage cars grew, he started navigating in pre-war open top beasts, generally during the winter, the more inclement the weather the better. Several Le Jogs were undertaken in various pre-war cars plus several more visits to the North on the Flying Scotsman._mg_0116 _mg_0270 _mg_0596 DSCN0306 DSCN0316 DSCN5423 DSCN5426

Now Mario has no intention of becoming a rally car in winter or summer but we have taken his ‘little brother’ Nippy the Subaru 360 on two microcar rallies across Europe. With James driving and Jane as a rather novice navigator we all had a big adventure but that’ll have to wait for the next blog…MM_0226

 

 

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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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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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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6596677713_bc66ae3f67_z Daf-kini.-Bij-de-geboorte-van-prins-Willem-Alexander-werd-de-auto-aangeboden-aan-de-koninklijke-familie.-Foto-DAF-MuseumBMW…
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!

 

‘Brother’ Regie has a day out at Brooklands

Today Mario’s ‘brother’ Regie, a 1958 Renault 4cv Convertible was invited for a day out as part of the Brooklands Double Twelve Press Day. Regular readers will remember that Mario had a great day at the Double Twelve event last June. The event is one of Brooklands biggest weekends of the year and a good selection of cars was invited to be on display around the club house and take journalists on a couple of sample tests and to have a go at judging a concours to give them a taster of what was going to be happening in June.

The weather was fairly kind to us, quite bright and not quite as cold as it has been and really rather pleasant as long as one was wrapped up warmly, Regie isn’t really the best car for this time of year being convertible and having no heater, the engine’s in the back so you don’t even get any engine heat.

DSC06905 A couple of lovely Bentleys – a unique R type fastback special and a 1930 4 1/2.DSC06907

This row were used for journalists to play at being a concours judge – they were given tips for what to look for. The Mini Cooper S won, it was immaculate but has only driven 150 miles since it’s restoration.DSC06909A beautiful Aston Martin and our friends Vauxhall 30/98, both marques are celebrating centenaries this year and will be represented at the Double Twelve.DSC06910A Lagonda and the Bentley Pacey Hassan Special which has just returned to the UK and will be competing in the Double Twelve event.DSC06916 Two AC’s, Brooklands is home to AC Heritage and the original AC’s were built locally and raced at the circuit.DSC06917 A special Mini de Ville, this period mod was done by Radford and was a very rare ‘hatchback’ version with lots of extras.DSC06920 Mike getting ready for his test on the hill climb.DSC06929 DSC06937 This is a ‘recreation’ of the famous Mercedes 300 SLR as driven by Sir Stirling Moss on the 1955 Mille Miglia and had been built using original Mercedes parts.DSC06942 DSC06945 DSC06950 James taking Mario on the second test, a mixture of the speed and agility of the car (very good) and the ability of the driver to remember the route!DSC06967 The Barbara Cartland room in the museum.DSC06976 A beautiful Hare mascot on an Alvis.DSC06984 This wonderful 1920’s Rolls Royce had a hidden ‘toy cupboard’ in the running board. All the ‘little’ boys were fascinated and wanted a play.DSC06997 Your author wrapped up against the cold watching James do the Hill Climb test in Regie, picture by our friend Guy Loveridge.IMG_5359 Regie outside the clubhouse.DSC07011

We had a great day and hope we can take some of the cars back to compete in the Double Twelve Event in June, just need to find a class that they are eligible for. Hopefully Mario isn’t too jealous of Regie’s day out, he’ll get his first outing of the year on Sunday at the first Goodwood Breakfast Club of the year.

A few more pics online.