Sun, rain, work, fun and mud… Goodwood Revival 2017

It’s September so it must be the Goodwood Revival. Time for our favourite and busiest weekend of the year.  Mario had been invited back to the taxi rank (our 19th year and Mario’s16th) and with great excitement we’d also been asked to join in the Fiat 500 60th anniversary celebration parade – more of that in the next blog.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon and went to the circuit to sign on for the parade. The drivers club had been transformed into a stretch of the River Thames complete with willow trees and the Richmond Rowing Club. The circuit was very busy with last minute preparations and the Freddy March Spirit of Aviation Party was about to start. We returned to the house for the traditional cricket match and Spitfire display.IMG_1871DSC06739DSC06770DSC06745After getting all our paperwork we settled into our accommodation and then went to the Goodwood Hotel for a lovely supper in the revamped restaurant – Farmer, Butcher, Chef. Using all of the estate’s products the food was superb and the decor interesting, our table was a display case full of agricultural bits and bobs. Fiat 500’s get everywhere, there was one in the hotel lobby! We decided on a relatively early night in preparation for the weekend ahead.IMG_1872IMG_1875Friday morning started rather damply and the day got progressively worse. Even though we were doing the afternoon shift at the taxi rank we were on site early as the Fiat 500 celebration parade was Track Oopening. It was exciting to see the baby Fiats everywhere and Mario felt very ‘at home’ with the Italian theme – we loved the ‘Italian Job’ Bullion Van Coffee Shop!DSC06775IMG_0152IMG_0169As in previous years on the taxi rank Jane drove Mario, James was driving ‘Regie’ the Renault 4cv Convertible and our friend Craig had ‘Kato’ the Subaru 360. The rank was made up of an assortment of classics spanning several decades of motoring including ACs, several Jowett models, old London Cabs, Mercedes, Austins and more. I’m afraid there are very few pictures from the taxi rank this year, when we were working in the afternoons it was very wet and we were kept very busy. On Friday when the racing goes on late we were driving from 1pm till 8.45pm and pretty much continuously during this time between the Circuit, Hotel, Kennels and Goodwood House. The traffic seemed especially bad around the circuit this year and with the appalling weather conditions and the amount of water and mud on the road it was quite a difficult task. However all three cars performed impeccably and we we still completed 100km a day which might not seem much but on one occasion it took 40 minutes to get back from the Kennels to the circuit!

We had to grin at the sight of the new Rolls Royces’ sitting in large deep puddles outside the entrance, unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of the rather odd white and orange version which looked particularly sad. In the late evening the sun could be seen through the clouds and the Goodwood Park looked rather beautiful in the damp.  On Saturday evening even Lord March (Duke of Richmond – as the old Duke had sadly died a few days before the Revival) was also stuck in the traffic in his Ferrari, he waved but didn’t look too happy, I’m sure the traffic situation was looked into very quickly!

Mario didn’t get to drive anyone famous this year, James gave a ride to Super Bike Champ Troy Corser and his ‘regular’ passenger rally hero Rauno Aaltonen.  Mario did give Vlogger Petrol Ped a lift back to the Kennels and we featured on his vlog of the day.DSC06943DSC06798IMG_0163DSC06938IMG_1904

Because of the parade held every morning we were on late taxi shift everyday but actually this worked to our advantage, as we had the best of the weather in the mornings when we had a chance to look around. On Friday we looked round the stalls and met up with some friends and then had a look around the paddock. We saw Dario Franchitti filming for the Revival TV coverage.DSC06802DSC06808DSC06810Fashion is a big part of the Revival and lots of the visitors wear great outfits. Liberty had a great display of vintage outfits as part of the March MotorWorks, I loved the outfit below. For my own outfits, I have gone a bit more sixties and practical because of the amount driving and getting in and out of Mario required – dressing in lightweight coats, trousers and flat shoes but adding interest with elaborate vintage accessories and by designing and printing my own period looking ‘Mario’ fabric for the coats. The coats attract a lot of attention and people love it when they notice ‘Mario’ on the fabric. This years coat went one step further and had special “Mario’ lining as well!DSC06811DSC06870On Saturday and Sunday mornings it was lovely and sunny and we enjoyed just wandering around looking at the cars in the paddocks and the attractions. As usual we didn’t see much if any racing on the track but this doesn’t really bother us as we catch up on TV later. Following is a selection of images from around the Revival…

We loved this Ecuire Ecosse D-type with a matching J40 Pedal Car for the Settrington Cup.DSC06841The Red Bull P38 Lightning US WW2 fighter plane was superb, I just caught a glimpse of it’s unique twin boom shape in the air but couldn’t grab the camera in time.DSC06849DSC06852 (1)DSC06866DSC06874DSC06880DSC06882DSC06888DSC06897We had a ride on the ghost train which was tremendous vintage kitsch, all damp string and illuminated skeletons. The hand that grabbed your shoulder made you jump though!DSC06910DSC06912DSC06915DSC07005DSC07010DSC07017DSC07037So all in all a pretty good weekend, the cars ended up pretty grubby but with no mechanical problems so all came home safely.IMG_1924IMG_1925

Coming soon… all the fun of the Fiat 600 celebrations at Goodwood.

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The Road to Wembley 1966 – Goodwood Revival 2016

Better late than never, finally here we are looking back on the 2016 Goodwood Revival.

The Revival is Mario’s favourite weekend of the year and definitely his hardest. We were back again as part of the GRTC Goodwood revival Transport Corps working as period taxi’s to help keep the event working successfully. Our task is to move people between the circuit, Lavant Corner, the Kennels, Goodwood House and the Hotel. Mario was all spruced up for the event and wearing his rather splendid new roof rack.dsc01398The weekend started with the annual drivers cricket match at the house which always has a great collection of classics including this wonderful Autobianchi. It also has one of the best flying displays of the weekend.dsc01399dsc01400dsc01401dsc01403dsc01404dsc01429dsc01434

For the second year running we were working a new shift pattern which would allow us more time to enjoy the event. I don’t think this means that Mario works any less, just that it is crammed into a smaller time frame. The hours we were driving – on Friday we did 1pm until 8.45pm we just didn’t stop and over the weekend travelled around 300km. Mario was very well behaved this year and didn’t put a foot wrong, although he did need some work after the event to replace failed lights and part of the suspension!, it’s fun doing the taxi’s but it is hard on the cars and the drivers! Most people loved having the chance to ride in Mario and really enjoyed the experience although one rather grumpy lunch passenger did say that they “used to have cars ‘like these’ before they could afford a proper one” – rather rude we thought!dsc01550dsc01553dsc01554

The extra time for us, failed to materialise though, as we we had been invited with Mario’s ‘brother’ Regie the Renault 4cv, to take part in the daily ‘Road to Wembley’ parade which took up most of the mornings. It was fun though to go round the track and gave us an opportunity to take friends on a special trip. We had to decorate Regie for the occasion with scarfs, rosettes, World Cup Willie, Union Jacks plus replica programmes, tickets and of course wooden rattles to wave.

The whole Revival was themed around the 66 Football World Cup final with crowds of supporters, police horses, banners etc and there was a pitch hosting ‘the match’ at the drivers club. The parade was for cars that could have been on the road in 1966, driving to Wembley with English and German fans. It was good fun and even the Marshalls got into the spirit of the day playing football on the side of the track, out at St Mary’s.dsc01360 dsc01391dsc01395 dsc01396 dsc01453dsc01560dsc01467 dsc01470 dsc01474 dsc01483 dsc01488 dsc01490 dsc01494 dsc01499 dsc01502 dsc01504 dsc01508 dsc01510 dsc01511 dsc01515 dsc01524 dsc01527 dsc01532 dsc01537 dsc01541 dsc01542regie-at-goodwood-friday-9-sept-2016 On Saturday the weather was terrible, which made the parade a bit of a washout, roof up and it made you very aware of how bad the conditions were for the competitors with very poor visability.dsc01578 dsc01579 dsc01580 dsc01593 dsc01596 dsc01599 dsc01601 Poor Mario got absolutely filthy working the afternoon shift, the roads surrounding the circuit were dreadful and covered with mud from the carparks.dsc01617 dsc01619 dsc01620dsc01463dsc01610dsc01626 dsc01627 Sunday however was glorious and sunny – proper Goodwood weather. We managed to have a look around the site before and after the parade.dsc01636 dsc01637 dsc01638 dsc01641 dsc01644 A great area was the tunnel linking Piccadilly Circus and Green Park undergrounds, it had been built with great attention to detail (I spent 20 years travelling through Piccadilly Circus) the ‘staff’ were superb and there was even an original ticket machine.dsc01645 dsc01648 dsc01650 dsc01652 dsc01656 dsc01658 dsc01665 The sunshine made Sunday’s parade more fun.dsc01696 dsc01700 dsc01706 dsc01714 dsc01719 dsc01728 dsc01735 dsc01738 dsc01746 dsc01758 dsc01759 dsc01761 dsc01765 The Setterington Cup for Austin A40 Pedal cars is always popular.dsc01778 dsc01783 dsc01788 dsc01799 We even managed to get a quick look round the paddock.dsc01807 dsc01808 dsc01810
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And the Freddy March ‘Spirit of Aviation’dsc01813 dsc01814 dsc01816 dsc01817 dsc01820 dsc01822A brilliant desert display of military vehicles was a special exhibition to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the SAS Regiment in 1941dsc01825 dsc01826dsc01830dsc01832 dsc01834On duty driving between the hotel and circuit through Goodwood Estate gives you a wonderful view of some of the flying displays.dsc01842 dsc01843 dsc01844 dsc01846 dsc01850 dsc01852 dsc01857 dsc01861 dsc01862 dsc01863 dsc01872dsc01840So, we’re sorry for the lack of pictures of the racing or the rest of the stuff going on at the circuit but with working, the parade and the rain, we just didn’t get to see that much else of what was going on. We had a great weekend though with friends old and new and are looking forward already to Revival 2017.

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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All change at the Goodwood Revival Taxi Rank…

Regular readers will know that we have been part of the GRTC (Goodwood Revival Transport Corps) for many years, in fact we have been driving at the Revival since 1999. As the event is supposed to be a complete ‘step back in time’ there are no post 1966 vehicles allowed within the circuit and so a large group of volunteers bring their pre-66 cars along and run a service to support the event. This year as usual I took Mario, James was in ‘Regie’ the Renault 4cv and our friend Craig with ‘Kato’ the Subaru 360 – it’s always fun to see people amazement at how much room there is in the ‘little’ cars.badgeDSC06090DSC06070

When we first started the event was much quieter and we were based on the infield but over the years as the event has grown and evolved and the GRTC with it. Several years ago we were moved from the infield to the outfield and a location alongside the Circuit shop in a staged set with the ‘Glam Cabs’ with us as ‘Speedee Cabs’ from the Carry on Cabby film from 1963. Of course the Glam Cabs just posed and entertained the crowd with their Ford Cortina’s while we did all the work!posterThis was pretty successful and carried on for a number of years but we knew that recently with the huge crowds, good old Health & Safety weren’t happy about working vehicles mixing with the public and with more people needing to be transported, that things were going to change…

This year we were moved to a new ‘taxi rank’ the other side of the main public entrance with our own gate so we didn’t have to drive through the crowds. Using a large tarmac area with a tree in the middle that acted as a roundabout to keep the traffic flowing. We were still just about within the circuit but barriers were erected so the public couldn’t get in to see the cars close up which was a shame, as talking to interested people about Mario, Regie and Kato was always one of the fun things about the event and is what led to this blog and Mario’s Facebook page, as so many people became fans.DSC06081 DSC06083 DSC06088DSC06341 DSC06346

Goodwood had done a top job in ‘dressing’ the area with a great ‘Speedee’ cabs office and waiting room, a bus and the Glam Cabs just outside, with all the cars parked round the edge of the rank it made quite an impressive sight. The Glam Cab Girls, part of the Goodwood Actors Guild or GAG, did a brilliant job all weekend entertaining the passengers as they arrived and trying to poach Mario and me for their ‘business’. In the early years most of our ‘rides’ had been within the circuit, especially for me taking the press out around the perimeter road but this has also changed, we now go out of the circuit and run between the House, Hotel, Kennels and Lavant, sometimes with drivers and ViP’s but more often taking people to lunch at the Hotel and Kennels, a bit of a shame as we now feel less involved with the event.DSC06222DSC06078DSC06400 DSC06402

The number of taxi’s has swelled a lot this year with a collection of Jowett drivers, traditional London cabs plus a selection of other vintage and classic vehicles as well as the Jeeps based outside the circuit who mainly carrying mechanics and equipment. However there still seemed to be more to do and Mario completed over 300km/200miles an increase of 50% on last year which was already a record run. The new setup worked very smoothly but the downside was that the cars never had a chance to stop and hence cool down between runs, as once you were on the ’roundabout’ you needed to keep moving.

Unfortunately for the first time in 16 years both Mario and Regie came home poorly in fact poor Mario nearly didn’t make it home at all and was running really badly, having got very hot. Unfortunately Mario doesn’t have a temperature gauge, only a light and although that didn’t come on, if it does, it is really too late. James and a GRTC friend Fabian spent a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon taking him apart and looking for the problem without much success, he just couldn’t cope with the extended running and James will have to do some further investigation to get to the route of the problem. Regie had a problem with the radiator, the top is soldered on and as the radiator in the 4cv is attached to the axle, as the car entered and left the rank the suspension articulated over the kerb and split the radiator, as this was on Sunday afternoon there wasn’t much we could do, so Regie had to retire from service after also getting extremely hot.DSC06406 DSC06407

Obviously this was the first year with the new setup and there were some teething problems, we have had a good debrief with Goodwood since we came home and I’m sure things will be sorted and improved before next years event.

Although we didn’t get to meet so many members of the public, we did give rides to some very interesting people who were in turn very interested in the cars and how we had got involved with the GRTC. Mario was a bit low on celebrities this year and we didn’t see many of our ‘regulars’ (several of them weren’t there) but we did see Max Chilton the current F1 driver and his touring car driver brother Tom, they nearly had a ride in Mario but choose to ‘pose’ in a convertible! We gave Darren Turner (former McLaren test driver and current Aston Martin driver in the FIA World Endurance Championship) a ride, Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams and several other owner drivers.DSC06063 DSC06067

Lots of passengers appreciate being able to travel in unique vehicles, in fact one gentleman said he’d be happy to spend the afternoon driving back and forth to the hotel in various cars! Mario also had some lovely comments from his passengers on his website, one saying that the ride was the ‘highlight of the weekend’ and of course we got to see lots of friends from previous years.DSC06347 DSC06348 DSC06349DSC06055 DSC06056 DSC06058 DSC06059DSC06156DSC06158DSC06410DSC06223DSC06224DSC06249DSC06098 DSC06142 DSC06153

Although we were so busy we had a great weekend, in our next blogs we’ll show you some of the things we saw when we managed to get a bit of time off, plus the creation of the 2014 ‘Mario’ frock.

Fame again… the best little taxi

Just a quick ‘bragging’ post as Mario has made the press again. Practical Classics April 2014 issue has a great article about the taxi fleet at the Revival. A couple of their journalists joined the Vauxhall Heritage team and worked as part of the Goodwood Revival Transport Corp (GRTC) with us at the event last September.
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Their article over 6 pages of the issue has lots of pics including ‘Regie’ the 4cv and ‘Kato’ the Subaru 360 and is an interesting view of life in the taxi rank.

But Mario gets his own little headline ‘The Best Cab?’ and a mention of how popular he is and gives the website a plug – maybe this explains the unexpected surge in blog views a couple of weeks ago!
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All very exciting and makes us hope we get invited back again this year.  In the meantime we have the new 72 Members Meeting at Goodwood to look forward to in a couple of weeks time. Mario has been given a place in the Chicane Paddock so will be on display and people can vote for him as ‘car of the meeting’. It’ll also be a very convenient place to leave the coats!

Stretching the market

Mario is described as a ‘stretched’ Fiat 600 and that was literarily what they did when designing it by moving the wheels apart and adding a bit in the middle.

However it would appear that people have been busy making stretched versions of the original and new style Fiat 500’s.

Italian coach builders Castagna Milano who have already made several interesting beach cars based on the new 500 (see earlier blog) and have gone into the American and Middle Eastern markets by developing three versions of a 500 limousine stretched in length to 5.32m, almost two metres longer than the original.

The LimoSun is based on the Fiat 500 convertible. Targeted to beach resorts and the Middle East, the LimoSun passenger area has four seats facing each other. The large openings in the sides and roof can be closed with transparent panels.Castagna-Milano-LimoSun fiat-500-limousine NewFiat500_limousine_3

The LimoCity is a closed version and features a circular sofa couch, mini-bar, electric sliding doors.92A06D35D5D4F9DBB888E85A19FDE8

The LimoCity President starts with a Fiat 500 version made for the U.S. market and is powered by two electric motors capable of reaching 100 mph (160 km/h) with a range of 155 miles.702325A27D82DDAB487257457EB 15246052971885841676

But it would appear that individuals are also getting in on the act and original Fiat 500 Limo conversions are in demand for weddings and hen nights!fiat_500_limousine_mpst6fiat_500_limousine_sgf5wThe Limo above  appears to be a more professional conversion while some others seem to be two vehicles ‘cut and shut’ together.fiat_500_limousine_nvwqbVASTO: 500 LIMOUSINEThis one was built by Augustine Gizzi, 35, a coachbuilder of San Salvo in 11 months is just over 4 meters long and the result of a successful assembly of a Fiat 500′ Giardiniera and a Fiat 500 F.

Not all the conversions have been done recently. This very scruffy and in need of restoration example was converted over thirty years ago in San Diego. It is believed that it was used/owned by Herve Villechaize who played Nick Nack in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun, it was auctioned off either by the studio or by the estate of Mr Villechaize many years ago, after he commited suicide with a rather large hand gun. At one point it was resplendent with gold plated hub caps as can just be seen in the last picture, and also had a rather hideous Rolls Royce Grill fitted. It was last seen on ebay.500limo 500limo4 fiat 500 limo imagesGG2Finally here is a rather cool stretched Fiat Giardiniera seen around Europe with a Fiat 500 trailer and believed to be owned by a Dutchman.oaav60 original OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Many of these stretched vehicles are much longer than Mario but most do not seem to have a significant number of extra seats. James has been saying for years that he would love to go one stretch further and add another set of doors and seats to create a even more ‘stretched’ Mario – maybe one day.

TV appearance by a very famous taxi…

Following on from his appearance in the Telegraph, Mario was very excited to be contacted by Aurora the company that produce the television coverage and DVD for the Revival. Traditionally the shows presenters Amanda Stretton and Steve Rider arrive at the circuit by an interesting form of transport and this year they wanted Steve to ‘arrive’ in Mario. Obviously with Mario being such a shy and retiring beast he took nano seconds to say yes!

DSC02679 DSC02682 DSC02686We started filming on Thursday evening when the roads were quieter to get some ‘driving’ footage. James stepped in as Steve’s ‘body double’ sitting in the back while we drove back and forth past the Trundle up at the race course. One of the camera crews was positioned at the top of the hill and the other on the sharp bend. Mario, linked to the crew by radio, just had to wait for a suitable gap in the traffic and then cruise smoothly past. The crew didn’t seem concerned that we were shooting on a sunny evening when the forecast for the rest of the weekend wasn’t good, the technology would take over later and when the footage was mixed together it would all look alright we were assured. For continuity I agreed to wear the same hat and fur stole on both days we would be shooting.

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Steve arrived at the circuit on Saturday morning and the film crew started fitting up Mario with five Go-Pro cameras, three inside to film Jane driving and Steve sitting in the back plus two on the outside to capture Mario on the road. Steve is a lovely chap and after many years presenting sport on the BBC and ITV very professional, he personally owns a Fiat 500 and so was very interested in Mario.

With the cameras fitted and activated we set off to drive around the local roads while Steve gave his opening lines before pulling into the circuit and then coming to a halt at the taxi rank. The crew were waiting for us and after removing the Go-Pro’s set up to film the coming to a halt sequence from several angles within the Taxi Rank.DSC02882DSC02886DSC02889DSC02894DSC02896DSC02897DSC02903DSC02905Due to some technical problems we had to do an extra run with one of the external Go-Pro’s and some more footage of Steve’s introduction with a sound man onboard, in all we were filming for about 3 hours over the two days for a sequence which will be just under a minute of the 45 minute TV programme which was broadcast tonight Thursday 26 September on ITV4 and repeated later on ITV1. It was amazing at the amount of work and effort that went into such a short piece of film and how much footage was destined for the ‘cutting room floor’ but was us it was a new experience and an honour to be part of the programme.

We’ve just watch the programme and we were delighted with how the intro turned up, it’s interesting trying to work out which bits were shot where and how cleverly it has all been fitted together, a great job – the rest of the programme wasn’t bad either!

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.

Goodwood Breakfast Club is back…

The 2013 season has arrived with the first Goodwood Breakfast Club of the year – tax free Sunday for pre 73 classics. Mario had come out of hibernation and was ready to go. Although cold with a rather bitter wind it was dry and bright and we set off for the lovely drive through the Sussex countryside and over the South Downs to the Goodwood Motor Circuit. Not being early risers it was pretty busy when we arrived but we were directed onto the track and managed to get a spot down towards Woodcote Corner.IMG_0115

There was a great turn out of cars and it was great to catch up with old friends and meet a few new ones. After the winter break it is always easy to forget what attention Mario receives, we were soon into the habit of smiling for photos and hearing people shout ‘taxi’. It was also a good opportunity to hand out flyers for our upcoming Classic Car Show and Tour we help organise in Haslemere on 26 May.

DSC07017 A beautiful special bodied Alfa was one of our favourite cars of the day.DSC07018Lovely VolvoDSC07020 and LanciaDSC07021 Another Alfa, the regular body shape but still pretty.DSC07023 We loved this immaculate little NSUDSC07033 Don’t see many ‘little tanks’ on the Goodwood start line

DSC07038 Not everybody spotted this hedgehog mascot on it’s headlightDSC07039 An amusing replica of the ‘Only Fool’s and Horses van, often used for hen nights and weddings!DSC07041 and a friend for Regie, good to see another Renault 4cv on the road locally.DSC07044By the time the meeting was over the sun was coming out and it was turning into a beautiful spring day so we decided to go for a drive, after a quick run round the estate to see the spring lambs and piglets we set off through the lanes to the seaside on the search for an open Chippy! The lanes south of Chichester towards the coast are flat and twist through agricultural land, bobbling (a Mario term) along in the glorious sunshine you began to feel that Summer can’t to that far away.

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DSC07050 DSC07110After successfully finding chips and eating them on an upturned boat at East Whittering we came back via the wonderful A285 towards Petworth, this road climbs and descends the Downs in great sweeping bends and Mario had a great time. In total for his first run of the year he completed 120 trouble free km a great start to the new season.

ps. Mario had some good news this week as he was invited back to the Goodwood Revival to be part of the period transport fleet again, our favourite weekend of the year.

 

 

A really practical little car…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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