After purchasing my shiny red 1973 500L in October I decided it would be wise to join the Fiat 500 Club UK to make the most of owning my precious gem of a car. Much to my surprise within a week of joining Gino Mansi phoned me to enquire if I would be interested in attending with the Regent Street Motor Show with my car. After researching the event on the internet, I realised this was a big deal. The whole of Regent Street, one of the most prestigious shopping streets in London, would be closed to traffic on Saturday 4th November creating the UK’s largest free motor show, how should I refuse? Gino kindly arranged my participant’s vehicle pass with the organiser, which as the deadline loomed arrived less than 24 hours before the start time, causing a degree of anxiety waiting for it.
Although I only live 7 miles from the glittering West End in Forest Hill this would be the longest drive I had undertaken in the car. Driving into central London can be pretty daunting at the best of times let alone in a car built in 1972. Rising early on a wet Saturday morning, my husband Paul, Cooper our little dog and I bundled into the car and commenced the drive to Regent Street. Arriving too early for the allotted entry time of 9:25 I parked up close by and waited, not long after I spotted a number of Fiat 500 in convoy emerging from a side road. I pulled up the starter lever and joined the others as they filtered into the entrance area at Piccadilly Circus. After a short wait for our designated area to become accessible each of the cars were marshalled into position creating a colourful and charming line up of twelve beautiful classic Fiat 500s. Even the rain did little to diminish the eye catching jewel like quality of the cars colours. None of this was lost on the people admiring the cohort with hundreds of photos taken throughout the day and raising lots of smiles and joyous expressions. With such positive reactions from the general public, tourists and motor enthusiasts I considered if this is what owning a classic Fiat 500 generated from people then I joined the right club.
The Fiat 500 Club UK had been specially invited by the organisers to celebrate the model’s 60th anniversary and it was the perfect showcase as the year draws to a close. The Talbot Owners group was the other car club invited, and was joined along the concourse with a large number of historic vehicles many of which would be participating in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run the following morning. The event’s official free programme devoted a full page to the Fiat 500 Club UK and in so doing assisted in spreading the word about the organisation.
Along with experiencing the pleasure our little cars were giving the throngs of passers-by, it was the perfect opportunity for me to meet members of the club. They are a welcoming bunch and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting and bonding over our shared passion. I enjoyed hearing potted histories of ownership and other club happenings. Credit must be given to Felicity who at 4pm had the task of driving her delightful yellow 500L back to Leicestershire in the dark and drizzle. I believe she had driven the furthest to attend and made my 7 mile bimble seem woefully inadequate.
As a brand new member I wanted to share my first club experience. It was a terrific day out and would urge any members who have yet to get involved in any of the club’s activities, to join in without further hesitation. You will receive a warm welcome and have a great time. Thanks again to Gino for inviting me.