CROESO I CYMRU (WELCOME TO WALES)

NORTH WALES TOUR – 1ST TO 7TH JUNE

It is barely a year since we became infected with the 500 bug and because our day outings with the club have been so enjoyable, we thought we should try a longer trip. What could be better than returning to North Wales, an area we knew well from our courting days, way back when.

Deciding to spread the journey to the Llanberis base over two days, we met with Chairman Rod, Sally and Zoe and enjoyed a route through Leamington Spa (excellent coffee stop at an Italian restaurant where, as ever, the staff were more interested in the cars than us), Warwick, Redditch, Bromsgrove, Kidderminster to Ludlow where we had an hour exploring this very pleasant town. A very pleasant town it may be but it has the odd not so pleasant person – our suitcase had been nicked from the rear rack when we returned to the cars, which necessitated some emergency underwear purchases!

Once reported to the police, we drove on to Affcot Lodge near Church Stretton to meet with some more members of the tour.

Day 2, and now we were six. We set off in grotty weather but on a delightful route through Shropshire and then, with the weather improving, into Wales through Machynlleth to Dolgellau. It was here that Florence developed a chronic misfire swiftly traced to a faulty condenser by the “Fiat Fiddlers”. Then followed a slightly anxious moment, whilst testing to see if the misfire had been cured by driving up and down a DIY store car park, the throttle stuck full on and I nearly ended up in the Customer Service department!

By now the weather was Mediterranean, Barmouth bridge and beach looked fantastic, so it was lunch with the donkeys…

…and a scenic run via Harlech to Llanberis to meet with the rest of the group at the picturesque Padarn Lake hotel.

In the evening, we met our hosts and organisers for the weekend, Keith and Sian who gave us a warm welcome and ran through the itinerary. Keith turned out to be a man of many parts, but more of that later….

Day 3 – the first day of the tour started with the incredible Electric Mountain. Dinorwig is an amazing pumped storage hydroelectric scheme constructed deep within the mountain. a visit to the slate museum followed and then a lovely drive to Caernarfon and through some glorious north Wales scenery. A compulsory tea stop followed at a dramatic venue high above the Llanberis valley with magnificent views of Snowdon.

Day 4 dawned and the first challenge was the climb over the Llanberis pass – which the 500s all managed in some style.

Our first destination was a copper mine – not for the claustrophobic! And then, what we had all been looking forward to, the highlight of the weekend, a visit to Portmeirion. This was the realisation of a dream by Sir Clough Willams-Ellis who designed and built it in the style of an Italian seaside village between 1925 and 1975.

Keith had managed to get permission for us to take the classic 500’s, three at a time, into the village (normally closed to traffic) for photos and general ogling by all the other visitors. What a fantastic experience for all!

Sadly, for some members who had to support the British economy, they had to head for home, whilst others stayed on for an extra day or two.

That evening our host Keith prepared a fantastic meal for us all – it turns out he is a much-accomplished professional chef, who after some encouragement, gave a demonstration of some of the tricks of his trade after supper. As well as being able to cook a pretty special meal, it just turns out that he is also world bog snorkelling champion (twice) and a cross channel relay swimmer – amongst many other things!

Day 5 and we awoke to wind and rain of biblical proportions, which meant that the one-way train trip up Snowdon that we had booked was in doubt – they told us they needed at least 30 people on board during high winds to keep it on the track! It was a considerable relief to find that it had been cancelled and plan B was a lower level walk to the local waterfall and around Padarn Lake. Steady rain throughout but of course, there is no such thing as bad weather – just the wrong clothing.

Day 6 dawned and we had to start the trip home but, as ever, this was via some dramatic scenery. Some very steep climbs onto the tops, around the beautiful Bala Lake and then on to Llangollen. Our overnight stop was in Bridgnorth, a very interesting place with a funicular railway to the upper town and some great restaurants.

The final day arrived and we said our farewells and enjoyed a trouble-free run back to Northamptonshire.

A very special thank you is due to Keith and Sian for their wonderful itineraries and hospitality, very much appreciated by all. We would also like to thank the whole group who made us most welcome on this, our first trip – we hope of many.

Steve & Mandy Edmonds

August 2017 Newsletter

The Fiat 500 Club UK magazine for August 2017 is now available to members.

Contents: Welsh Tour, June 2017 reports; Plymouth weekend, June 2017 reports; AGM Agenda

Members can access this issue in the ‘members only’ Magazine section HERE but only if you are registered. If you are a member, but can’t get access you can register for your access code when you are asked for your username (at the bottom of the screen) – please have your valid Membership Number ready. Please note, we do check this before accepting registrations and it could take up to a week to get access approved.

The 25th Anniversary of the Fiat 500 Club UK is a fact!!

We, Tom and Lidwina Verduin as members from the beginning of the club, we did not want to miss this celebration for anything!!

So we booked the ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich and left on Thursday May 4th for the day crossing. It was a surprise to meet some more Dutch Club members on the same ferry and when we arrived at Kettering it was great to be part of the 7 Dutch cars.

We had a great welcome at Wicksteed Park on Friday May 5th and it was so good to see you all!!

Some of us stayed on the campsite at Wicksteed Park. 2 couples (including us) in our camper vans, but there were also 3 tents. Sleeping in a tent at this time of year was rather a cold experience and for some of them it was the first time, but they were strong and survived!!

It was for Felicity and Tinker their very first experience with a tent!! So we helped her to sort it all out and made sure that the tent was put up safely. She did send us some photos afterwards with a special thank you for looking after her and Tinker and including them in our group. She especially enjoyed our “pre-loading” sessions (drink before going out) which we held in our camper van, which was also a good chance to get- and stay warm again!!

A buffet was organised on the Friday evening for those who booked this upfront and there we were able to catch up with most of the English Club members. The food was delicious!

Saturday was scheduled as the main day for the celebration and also a special day for me (Lidwina) as it was my birthday 

How fortunate can you be to celebrate two special occasions at one day!!

Unfortunately, it was a grey morning with a very cold wind and it drizzled. However, nothing could stop us and we started for a very nice tour, split into 4 parts, around the lovely country side.

At every stop, there was a nice welcome with food and drinks. The 1st stop was for coffee/tea and special biscuits at Rockingham Cars Fiat Dealership.

Another high light of this day was the 2nd stop for a lunch in “The Kings Head” Pub in the lovely little village Wadenhoe and the 3rd for tea and cake at the Stanwick Lakes where we had a small walk around the lake(s) as the weather had improved. We could also go for a bike ride, which some of us did.

In the evening – dinner and party!! The food was excellent and after dinner the DJ managed to get a lot of us on the dance floor!! We all had a very good time!!

The next morning we said goodbye to Wicksteed Park and went on our way to Ciro’s Sharnbrook Hotel. The weather was perfect for the barbecue later that day and after that the official closure of this great event took place.

At this occasion we finally were given the opportunity to hand over our present to the jubilee club !! It was good to see how much this was appreciated!!

From there we went to Harwich again. Some for the crossing on that same evening and some (including us) on the Monday.

It was lovely to see you all and we were so lucky that we could join you in your celebration! It was splendidly organized and we can speak for all the Dutch members when we say a big thank you for the great time we had with you!!

We hope it is not too long until we meet up again!! So take care and cheers!!

Guus & Marly Beliën, Frank Derksen & Yvonne van Raay, Jan en Marijke Hopman, Erik & Claudia Morgenrood, Evert & Truus Spukkelhorst, Syds Wiersma & Roelof Smit and Tom & Lidwina Verduin

JUNE 2017 NEWSLETTER

The Fiat 500 Club UK magazine for June 2017 is now available to members.

Contents:

25th Anniversary reports and photos; Stilton Cheese Run  23rd April 2017; Prescott Hill Climb  27th & 28th May 2017; 500D Restoration Part 4; Liege-Brescia-Liege Rally Info for 2018

Members can access this issue in the ‘members only’ Magazine section HERE but only if you are registered. If you are a member, but can’t get access you can register for your access code when you are asked for your username (at the bottom of the screen) – please have your valid Membership Number ready. Please note, we do check this before accepting registrations and it could take up to a week to get access approved.

Silverstone Classic Media Preview Day

It was fabulous to hear that the 2017 Silverstone Classic was adopting the 60th Anniversary of the Fiat 500 as a headline feature. It was even better that we were invited to take our cars to the Media Preview Day at Silverstone on 23rd March.

I duly applied and was accepted and then realised that as we had to be in the International Paddock at The Wing Building soon after 8am, it required a morning call of an ungodly hour for my good lady. There was however a small bonus, it was a revelation to her to find out that there were in fact, two 6 o’clocks in each day!

We duly set off at the crack of sparrows and as my better half doesn’t tend to achieve the power of speech for an hour or so after such an early rise, her navigation instructions were limited to one grunt for right turn, two for left.

Nevertheless, we seamlessly rendezvoused with Chairman Rod, First Lady Sally and First Lieutenant Zoe in a small selection of the Scanes’ ever expanding fleet.

We made it to the display area in the International Paddock on time and over the next half an hour a colour-coded collection of 12 immaculate 500’s assembled, coming from far and wide. Race tracks generally, and Silverstone in particular, can be the coldest places on earth when the wind blows and the old wartime airfield lived up to its reputation with sunny but Arctic conditions throughout the day necessitating frequent visits to the media centre to defrost.

There was, as you would expect, a selection of automotive exotica on display but, as ever, it was our group of cars that attracted the most attention whether it was from the multitude of professional photographers, marshalls, or celebrities (only some of which were recognisable) – everyone seemed to gravitate in our direction and want a photo.

The Press Conference itself was full of razzamatazz trumpeting the event and highlighting our anniversary amongst others. A very acceptable lunch followed as compensation for our being there (as long as you didn’t mind sitting amongst the journos and photographers with all their expensive equipment).

Next up was what we had all been waiting for – the Track Photography Session dedicated to photographing the car clubs being celebrated this year going around the famous track. We started our engines as instructed and proceeded through the garages into the famous pit lane. The sight of a dozen 500’s lined up in this iconic setting was irresistible to the bevy of high-viz clad professional photographers who swarmed around one side of us. On the other side, the drivers who’d been driving exhibition laps came out of their pits to admire the convoy and to talk to some of us.

Soon the Camera Car arrived – in this case a BMW X5 with the tailgate flung open and a photographer hanging out the back. We set off in formation around the famous tarmac with the photographer waving frantically for us to get closer to the Camera Car. Regrettably, nobody seemed to have briefed the driver who didn’t drop below 50mph all the way round creating quite a challenge for us to keep up!

Our brief moment of glory over, we returned to the pits for goodbyes until the next time and the journey home.

If you have been to the Silverstone Classic before, you will know how much fun it is. If you haven’t, then do give it a try if you can and join the Club stand for Friday 28th – Sunday 30th July. It is one of the best classic events on the International calendar and a very appropriate way for our big anniversary to be celebrated.

Steve Edmonds

APRIL 2017 NEWSLETTER

The Fiat 500 Club UK magazine for April 2017 is now available to members.

Contents:

Silverstone Classic Media Preview Day; Automotoretro Show, Turin ; Olivia’s story  –  a business based around Fiat 500’s; Article from member, Roger Sunderland; 500D Restoration Part 3 by member Andrew Halley

Members can access this issue in the ‘members only’ Magazine section HERE but only if you are registered. If you are a member, but can’t get access you can register for your access code when you are asked for your username (at the bottom of the screen) – please have your valid Membership Number ready. Please note, we do check this before accepting registrations and it could take up to a week to get access approved.

Help a 500 (Members only)

We have created a list of some of other members who have offered to help. There are several categories, from being a mechanic, to somewhere to just stop and have a coffee!

Members can access this issue in the ‘members only’ section HERE but only if you are registered. If you are a member, but can’t get access you can register for your access code when you are asked for your username (at the bottom of the screen) – please have your valid Membership Number ready. Please note, we do check this before accepting registrations and it could take up to a week to get access approved.

Get ready for Goodwood!

As many of you know, the Fiat 500 Nuova was launched 60 years ago this year. To celebrate, the World famous Goodwood Revival weekend at the Goodwood race circuit will feature an Italian themed display from 8th-10th September inside the circuit, near the track. This is planned to include as many Fiat 500s of the period as possible.

To be considered for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, please contact Goodwood directly, as this is not being organised via the Club, though we are very pleased to be involved. If you can send details of your car (type i.e. 500N, D, F, L, Giardiniera, Van, Steyr Puch, Autobianchi, etc…), colour, registration number, year of registration, left or right hand drive), and most importantly a photograph by eMail to James Charman at competitors@goodwood.com. Please also include your preferred eMail address, full name and postal address. James will then be in touch shortly with you. Good luck! For more information about Goodwood and the Revival Weekend, please go to https://www.goodwood.com/flagship-events/goodwood-revival/

Meet our new president!

It is a privilege to be invited to take over as President of the Club, and I should take a moment or so to pretend that I’ve got some credentials to justify the appointment.

president-pic

I have a bit of a connection with motoring and motor sport, and the recent events, which I have been involved with, are the hosting of the FIA Awards in Vienna where the new Formula One Champion was crowned. Also I presided over the Historic Motoring Awards at the Guildhall and (for the 28th year) The Autosport Awards at The Grosvenor House. Amazingly, at all these functions, no one has ever spotted the fact that I know very little about cars.

Autosport Awards 2016 (73 minutes, but well worth it…)

But I know what I like, and the wonderful Fiat 500 has figured on my motoring landscape, many times over the last fifty years.

When I was growing up my family didn’t own a car and my elder brother, once he’d passed his test, was the first to get mobile. He bought a grey Fiat 500 for £110, which he was due to take delivery of in Sidcup at six o’clock on the evening of July 30 1966. Amid great excitement I would go with him, once we had finished watching a football match on television. Unfortunately when Weber equalised, the World Cup Final went to extra time and it was only when Kenneth Wolstenholme assured us that ‘it was all over…’ that we were able to rush out of the door and take possession of this life-changing vehicle.

The first impression was that it was a tin-box with two deck chairs inside, it was hot noisy and uncomfortable but it had oodles of character, and it meant a new freedom.

And as I learnt over the next few years, that character could change. When I was eighteen, I went to work for the local newspaper, and the chief photographer was the proud owner of a yellow 500 with a Hillman Imp engine, trick suspension and racing seats; tyres squealing, we were comfortably first at every story that broke in South East London.

Fast-forward thirty-five years, to when I had ingratiated myself into the motor-sport world and was invited by Ron Dennis to host the launch of the first McLaren F1 road car at the Sporting Club in Monaco. It was, and possibly, still is, the most glorious Supercar ever built and at the end of the launch in front of Prince Albert and all the A-list celebs, I was talking to the cars’ designer Gordon Murray. He told me he wouldn’t be driving back to the UK. He then took me around the back of the Sporting Club and showed me the pristine left hand drive Fiat 500 that was his chosen transport.

‘This,’ he said, ‘is the most perfect motor-car ever designed.

Further endorsements followed from many of those I visited while filming the F1 Legends series for SKY; Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, and Jo Ramirez the ex-McLaren F1 manager all have Fiat 500s in various guises in their private car collections.

So I had to have one and in 2001 in response to my wife’s’ request for any kind of open top Italian car for her birthday, I bought a Tuscan Orange 1971 500L from a colleague at the BBC.

We had a lot of fun with it, but then came the need to give it a bit of an overhaul. On the internet we tracked down a self-proclaimed ‘specialist’ who took delivery, and then became a nightmare to make contact with.

The car was passed through a number of hands until we lost track entirely. It was about five years later that we eventually followed the trail to the back of a garage in Peterborough.

The car was reclaimed and passed on to the far better qualified attentions of Amelia and Manj at Weenie Fiats in Swindon, The car came back to us a year ago in top-class condition and they also helped me make contact with the Club.

So, hopefully a few trips and adventures lie ahead with the Club and, at the very least

I am looking forward to meeting members at whatever gathering and functions are on the calendar in 2017.

Steve Rider

FEBRUARY 2017 NEWSLETTER

february-2017-front-cover

 

The Fiat 500 Club UK magazine for December 2016 is now available to members.

Contents:

Minutes of the 24th AGM of the Fiat 500 Club; Article from the Club’s new President, Steve Rider; Our Fiat 500C and 595 Anniversario Abarths by Keith Sneddon; L’amore e Cieco (Love is blind) article by Steve Edmonds; Fiat & Abarth 500 600 Book review

Members can access this issue in the ‘members only’ Magazine section HERE but only if you are registered. If you are a member, but can’t get access you can register for your access code when you are asked for your username (at the bottom of the screen) – please have your valid Membership Number ready. Please note, we do check this before accepting registrations and it could take up to a week to get access approved.