A trip to the ‘big city’…

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some pics of the cars I found interesting…

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

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

Goodwood Revival back on the taxi rank…

Finally a month late here is the story of Mario’s weekend at the Goodwood Revival…

Getting ready was all a bit of a panic as we had been really busy, this years new outfit was only finished on the morning of departure but by early afternoon a beautifully clean and shiny Mario was packed up and ready to leave. After all the repairs and work that has been done since last years Revival he was raring to go and we had a lovely sunny trip to Goodwood. We got there in time to see a bit of the drivers cricket match and watch the traditional Spitfire flypast before our sign on and briefing.

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DSC04427 DSC04439 DSC04446 DSC04454 DSC04459 DSC04461 Readers will know that last year we had a few issues with the GRTC (Goodwood Racing Transport Corps) with the cars being overworked but this year a new shift system was introduced, which greatly improved our enjoyment of the weekend. The cars still did in excess of 200km each over the weekend but in a shorter period of time, so we had more off time and were able to see the event and socialise, it worked really well and we had one of the best Revivals in years.

Our first shift didn’t start until Friday lunchtime and it seemed very strange not rushing around to start at 7.30am, in fact we all felt rather lost to start with. Our relaxing morning was interrupted though by the sad news that Kato the Subaru 360 had a terminal breakdown right at the beginning of the weekend, when the gear linkage sheered from the engine. This was totally unexpected and very disappointing for Craig. He ended up having the car recovered home and then he helped run the taxi rank for the weekend but it didn’t seem right missing one of the gang. Mario and Regie the 4cv Renault were parked up for the rest of the morning and we set off to explore. Imagine our excitement when one of the first things we came across, was a General Motors Futurliner bus, having found these fabulous vehicles researching an earlier blog it was amazing to see one in the ‘flesh’.DSC04464 DSC04465 DSC04472DSC04521 There were also some other Fiats around… A lovely 500 in the Shell display, where we also bumped into John Surtess. There was also a cute 500 van running around as a service vehicle.DSC04481 DSC04483DSC04573 At lunchtime we reported to the taxi rank for our first shift. The new system works much better with a dedicated taxi rank with a turning circle and is well organised although it’s still a bit of a shame that the public don’t get a chance to interact with the cars much anymore. We got straight into it with lots of passengers wanting to go to the Kennels and Hotel for lunch. We were kept very busy all afternoon and into the evening not finishing until after 8.30 as there was a dusk race. Mario was very excited to pick up his ‘old mate’ Le Mans superstar Tom Kristensen. We’ve given Tom a lift before and he really is the nicest gentleman, we had great fun with Tom taking ‘selfies’ in the car and then posing with us back at the hotel.DSC04528DSC04503 DSC04511 Saturday morning dawned early with the morning shift, we were mainly doing pick ups at the hotel and Mario was very honoured to take Sir Stirling Moss and wife Suzie to the circuit. I think he enjoyed his ride even though Mario isn’t the easiest car to get in and out of. It was lovely to see Sir Stirling back on good form after the nasty accident he suffered at home a few years ago.DSC04516 DSC04518
DSC04523 DSC04530 People often ask me ‘why to you drive the taxi’s rather than just enjoy the racing’ well driving through the estate on beautiful sunny day with spitfires flying over head is the answer! Mario loves being useful and the whole event just brings a smile to our faces. Ok we don’t get to see all the racing but you can catch up with that on the TV later.DSC04535 DSC04540 DSC04541 DSC04553 DSC04554 The last two years I have had ‘Mario’ fabric printed and made 50 style dresses. This year we decided to go a bit more ‘up to date’ and designed some ‘Mario’ 1960’s style fabric and made a coat – you can’t really see in the picture but I ensure you there are little Mario’s travelling in the swirls of the fabric.DSC04557 These are our friends Walter and Jolie and their gorgeous children who are travelling round the event in style – in James’ old pram, his Dad brought it in 1964 and it was used for the whole family.DSC04572
DSC04577 DSC04582We popped over to the Bonham’s auction as there was a Multipla up for sale, unfortunately we didn’t see it, as it was a ‘drive thru’ auction and we missed it’s lot number. According to the catalogue it was fitted with a Fiat Panda engine and wasn’t in immaculate condition but it still made £22,137 including commission. (look out for a future blog post on values soon)
image This year celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the Birds Eye Fish finger and Captain Birdseye was present with his trawler and lots of fish fingers. They ended up in an awful lot of our photographs!DSC04585 DSC04587 DSC04608 One of the big draws of this years Revival was the coming together of all six of the original Shelby Daytona Cobras, the first time they have all been in the same place, in a recreation of the Sebring pits. Their designer Peter Brock was also in attendance.DSC04631 DSC04632Our good friends from Derbyshire, who for many years have attended the Revival dressed as James Bond and Villains, this year turned up very cleverly attired as ‘Cluedo’ – Reverend Green, Professor Plum, Doctor Black and Colonel Mustard. It was great to have the time to be able to socialise.
DSC04669 On Saturday evening we had a lovely wander around as the sun went down, we looked round the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation which in 2015 was celebrating the Battle of Britain and there were Spitfires and Hurricanes as far as you could see. The roof of the new Aero Club gave a fantastic view over the proceedings as a couple of planes took off to do the party flypast. All the planes stayed until the Tuesday when they took part in the main BoB celebrationsDSC04674 DSC04689 DSC04695DSC04755 This year the entrance to the Drivers Club had been turned into an archaeological dig with dinosaur skeletons being unearthed.DSC04710For the first time the track opening was completed by ‘Gassers’ – stock vehicles turned hot rodders who burn petrol. 20 of these american beasts were on parade and parked around this garage.DSC04735 For a few months now James and I have been involved with a new product called GaugePilot an in-vehicle information system that looks just like a period ‘Speed Pilot’ with functions for rallying, racing or just classics. It was launched at this years Revival and James had a demo model fitted in the 4cv. Rally legend Rauno Aaltonen was very interested when Regie gave him a ride. James also demonstrated the system to some of his driver mates on the GaugePilot stand.IMG_6681DSC04737This year we actually managed to see some cars! On and off the track. We were especially interested in the St Mary’s where our friend Desmond Smail was driving a Mini. Unfortunately on the Saturday – the celebrity part of the two car race – the rotor arm failed on driver Emanuele Pirro which blew their chances.
DSC04654DSC04759 DSC04770DSC04834DSC04855 The 60’s was celebrated across the Revival with the anniversary of the Mini Skirt, James didn’t enjoy it at all! The new ‘Mario’ outfit fitted in really well. We tried on some wonderful Repro 60’s sunglasses, think I will have some made with my prescription for next year.DSC04788 DSC04811 DSC04814IMG_6688So all in all we had a fantastic weekend, Mario worked very hard but still managed to meet and great some of his fans and most importantly came home in one piece. The whole weekend went so quickly – bring on Revival 2016.
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Goodwood Revival through the eyes of the GRTC…

DSC02693Mario, brother Regie the 4cv Renault, Kato the Subaru 360 and humans ‘work’ the Goodwood Revival as part of the Goodwood Revival Transport Corps, otherwise known as the GRTC. This band of merry volunteers turn up every year with their pre 66 vehicles and help to keep the event running smoothly and the public entertained.

The group includes stationery display vehicles, mods & rockers and the police, who do the track opening, the jeeps, who operate from the gate and get equipment for the race teams from the competitors parking to the circuit and the period taxi fleet of which we are a part. The taxi rank is home to an assortment of cars, original London taxi’s, vehicles from the Vauxhall Historic Collection, AC’s, Humber Super Snipe, Triumphs and so forth. Most of the drivers have been doing it for a number of years and so it has the atmosphere of a ‘school reunion’ with everyone catching up on what’s happened since last year.DSC02696 DSC02719 DSC02724 DSC02806 DSC02818DSC02875 DSC02879

Being a Revival taxi driver is not for the faint hearted, long days, having your picture taken a ‘million’ times, telling the cars story and driving around/between the circuit, house, hotel and the Kennels, this year we completed over 200kms each!DSC02713DSC02714DSC02969

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We also have to keep ‘working’ no matter what the conditions and this year on Friday evening and Sunday after about 3.30pm the weather was disgusting! It’s not easy driving the old cars in these conditions, certainly on Mario the lights and wipers aren’t good and he gets all steamed up especially when filled with soggy passengers! We’d used RainEx on the outside which does help but in the future an application of Anti-Fog would be worth doing. We do have an advantage though when the weather is inclement as at least we have somewhere dry to sit. The roads especially at the entrances to the car parks were very muddy and slippery and visitors just ‘wanting to get home’ became a bit of a hazard. A lot of the visitors are very considerate to the ‘working’ vehicles but some are very unhelpful and don’t let us into queuing traffic etc, if only they realised that we might be trying to get a driver to a race on time! DSC02861 DSC02860 DSC02858 DSC02855 DSC02853 DSC02848

The best thing about being in the GRTC is all the interesting people you get to meet from celebrities, drivers, ViP guests, staff and members, they are all enjoying themselves and so are keen to chat about they and we have been doing. They are often surprised that the cars are our own and that we are volunteers but we always point out that Goodwood look after us well.

As always we had our share of ‘celebs’, our regular passenger Adrian Newey, F1 designer for Red Bull managed to get a lift in each of the three ‘little’ cars, as always he was most charming and for once wasn’t our last passenger of the day!IMG_3541

Ex Works Mini Rally driver Rauno Altonen had a ride in Mario and the Renault. Rauno who had driven a Mini in the St Mary’s and a Jaguar E-Type in the RAC TT Celebration wasn’t interested in talking about what he’d been doing, he just wanted to talk about our cars! When James dropped him back at the hotel he spent an enjoyable time discussing the engine and the modifications and maintenance that James had done. We also both took Stuart Graham who raced bikes (winning the TT in the 60’s) and Saloon cars in the 70’s, he also didn’t talk about his experiences in a Galaxie in the St Mary’s and a Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray in the TT but was fascinated about the cars. All the drivers celebrity and gentlemen alike are absolutely charming and very appreciative of the service we provide for them. IMG_3540

James picked up Sir Stirling and Susie Moss, he has rallied with them in the past so always likes the opportunity for a natter and David Richards, ex driver, runner of Pro-drive and now owner of Aston Martin. Cheeky driver Rae Davis even managed to ‘sweet talk’ us into running him into Chichester on Sunday evening when he couldn’t get a ‘real’ taxi!IMG_3558

All in all we had another brilliant weekend, the ‘little’ cars performed really well and hopefully did their bit to support the event and they certainly brought a smile to the face of many Revival goers. Fingers crossed we get an invite back for next year.