Catching up on 2019… Part 2

To think we were worried that we were so behind and hadn’t got round to posting last years events… it was just as well as we would have nothing to post in 2020!

Typically when we’ve had a spell of such beautiful weather, we haven’t been allowed to get out and about due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Poor Mario has been safe and sound but not used since the Revival last year. Regie had swopped garage with a clients car to make space for James to work on a long-term project and James has been (luckily) been incredibly busy and so hasn’t had time to get them checked over and on the road.

So we are going back to this time last year and the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2019

The Cartier Style et Luxe is always one of our favourite areas of the FoS, we were excited to see that one of the classes in 2019 was ‘a sting in the tail – 70 years of Abarth‘ and there were some fantastic entrants, all of which would have made great garage mates for Mario!

First up was the Abarth 750 Sperimentali ‘Goccia’. Design for Vignale by Giovanni Michelotti in 1957, this car featured in the first of our ‘Cars we love but can’t have’ series in 2016 and it was very exciting to see it at Goodwood.

Next up was this 1957 Fiat Abarth 750 GT Spider by Zagato. A topless derivative of the acclaimed ‘Double Bubble’ GT Coupe, just six examples were built.

The Best in Show prize went to this 1950, Abarth 250 Monza.

Below are some more pics from the Cartier Lawn and a couple of the judges – Model David Gandy and David Linley (Earl of Snowdon). The Interior of the Avions Voisin was extrordinary and led to a project which we will write about very soon!

We went to the Festival on the Thursday which is the quieter day and on the Saturday evening we went to the Kennels to watch the Festival Ball fireworks which as always were spectacular.

We went back on Sunday when unfortunately in the morning it was rather damp. It was interesting to be beyond the start line to watch the Formula one cars get ready to go up the hill. A great assortment of cars from past and present and drivers from the great Jackie Stewart, through my Hero Damon Hill – those eyes staring from his helmet brought back memories – to modern day drivers such as Daniel Riccardo and the new British hopeful Lando Norris.

We had a good couple of days mooching around, othing things we found interesting included seeing Mario’s Doppelganger the concept VW electric bus, some interesting stuff in the FutureZone and the classic Renault Riffard Tank World Speed Record car from 1956 which was built on a 4cv chassis like Regie and has just been restored by Renault and was on it’s first public outing. The central feature as always was awesome, celebrating Aston Martin and there was an impressive outdoor fireworks display and parade of iconic Astons to celebrate.

The Hill Climb Shootout took place on the Sunday and is always exciting. The quickest car up the hill was electric – the Volkswagen ID.R driven by Romain Dumas with a time of 42.32 secs, getting pretty close to the twenty year record of 41.6 held by Nick Heidfeld in a McLaren MP4/13. Romain did beat the time in practice on Saturday with a run of 39.9 seconds!

So that was the FoS, we will try to be back soon with the rest of what happened in 2019.

Weird and wonderful No 6 – Gebruder Verga Coupe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mario’s doppelganger…

Video

Many people have mentioned that there is a new ‘Mario’ on the block… VW launched their concept (likely to become reality) ID Buzz microbus to the world earlier this year. A modern electric version of the VW Microbus taking design cues from the classic T1 and T2 buses. In quite a few of the publicity photos it looks a lot like Mario, the prototype is actually yellow and white/silver but in many pictures it looks just like Mario’s unique colour combination.

One of our followers actually asked if we’d ever given the VW design team a ride at Goodwood. Maybe Mario should charge a consultants fee.

The VW design boss Oliver Stefani told Auto Express, “The ID Buzz fits so well to what the VW brand stands for: it’s emotional, it has functionality, it makes your life easier.” You could say the same about Mario!

Here’s a couple of videos and a few pics… what do you think?

Coming soon a report on what we’ve been up to so far this summer.