In 1970 I was working in Malta and was looking for a replacement for my Nash Metropolitan car when I saw an advert in Vogue magazine for Aquascutum featuring a Vignale Gamine.
I tracked the car down to Frixos Demetrious’ showrooms in London – a very strange set up – and on my next visit to England bought one. (The price then was £700 which compared with the £769 cost for an M.G. Midget.)
It was love at first drive, which was an epic one from London to Malta. Noddy caused much interest along the route and nearly brought traffic to a halt when I drove round the Arc de Triomphe, very reminiscent of the scene in the Jacques Tati film Traffic.
When I stopped for a night in Calabria the owner of the hotel insisted I drove it into the foyer as he was worried it might be stolen.
After 2 enjoyable weeks “on the road” my little car and I arrived safely in Valetta, it having lived up to the advert which claimed it would be stylish, colourful (I chose bright blue from an array of 60’s hues), parkable, economical (it averaged 55 miles per gallon) and fun.
When Mintoff forced all serving Forces personnel to leave in the 70’s my car was transported back home by boat. Straightened finances for the island caused a change of heart and we were all invited to return. Noddy and I then did another epic trouble-free drive from London to Malta.
Along the line I acquired a second Gamine in bright red (very Noddy like) which I kept in England. When I finally returned to the U.K. I drove my cars on alternate years. They were used everyday until 2018 when new hips – mine not theirs – necessitated buying a new car, inevitably the new Fiat 500!
I still have both cars. Blue Noddy, having had one careful lady owner from new, is now being restored but sadly Red Noddy has been used for some spare parts.
Hopefully I will be back in the driving seat of my little much-loved car, which always makes people smile, next summer.
I was delighted, during a visit to Sorrento last summer, to be allowed to be photographed in an immaculate Red Noddy belonging to the owner of the hotel in which I was staying.
I never expected to be a cover girl at my ripe old age and was delighted to discover myself being just that on the August 2020 Fiat 500 News. What a surprise!