Car won’t start? Have you checked your Earth strap?

Our generally reliable 500 TwinAir from 2012 refused to start after a Christmas break. Nothing. Not even a click when the key was turned.

Having tried one of the small power packs and that failed, we called the RAC.

After an hour of trying to by-pass the fuses, climbing under the car and getting generally very muddy, the RAC admitted defeat and we bump started the car and drove it off to the local Main Dealer.

They ordered a new starter (from Italy) and informed us that the bill would be around £500… We waited. Cue another call whereupon they said it was a corroded starter to chassis earth strap that had suddenly failed.

The above photo is actually from the excellent Fiat Forum and shows the offending item which is really hard to get to – the TwinAir being a great example of tight packaging of a sophisticated engine in a small space.

The cost was about £120 to replace the strap with labour, and subsequent googling showed that this can be an issue, including when people have an intermittent problem of starting sometimes, and not on others.

Car is now back to behaving itself, and we continue to be a fan of the small, and reasonably nippy TwinAir.

Wanted: €50,000 or more…

If you are on the lookout for a genuine Abarth 695SS, you are advised to head for Retromobile in February, and RM Sotheby’s auction.

This particular Abarth 695, one of approximately 1,000 SS examples built, is surely one of the most special. Chassis 1060634 features rock-solid provenance and documentation proving it to be one of roughly 1,000 examples built.

Delivered new to the United States, it spent many years in the state of Georgia and has passed through the hands of just four documented owners.

In addition to its provenance, the car carries several other signs of authenticity, including a proper Abarth chassis stamp in the characteristic font, as well as the remnants of the almost impossible-to-find original factory Abarth sticker, which can be found on the car bonnet, and original paper Abarth sticker of the U.S. importer on the edge of the door.

What’s interesting is to see an Abarth with original badging, which looks different to some that you see (if you ever see them), especially the front panel badge and the one above ‘695’ on the engine cover.

Having undergone a recent mechanical overhaul, including a freshly rebuilt engine with all-original Abarth parts including the original Abarth block and crankshaft, the car is now fitted with a rare and desirable ‘Group 2’ cylinder head.

Offered without reserve, with an estimate of between €50,000 to €60,000, this amazing survivor could be yours at the RM Sotheby’s Retromobile Auction on 5th February 2020 in Paris. More information can be found, and some more photos, here.

Article and photos courtesy of RM Sotheby’s 2020.

December 2019

The Fiat 500 Club UK magazine for December 2019 is now available to members.

Contents: 27th AGM Minutes, SGM Minutes, The Classic Motor Show, NEC Birmingham, London to Brighton Classic Car Rally in an Electric Fiat 500, Twenty years of breakdowns article

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 Classic Motor Show, NEC Birmingham

Here I go again, but fear not it is the last of the Fiat Season ☹.

I was waved off from work around 11.30 Thursday – in the rain which soon stopped so the car was being air dried – I didn’t want to be dripping all over our carpet! I safely arrived at the NEC which was the easy bit done but true to Club form, Zoe came to my aid and was my passenger to the stand and I join the hive of activity polishing cars to within an inch of their lives, then sitting with my foot hovering over the brake as I was pushed up onto ramps, then the front end jacked up onto other ramps.  Rod (Steyr Puch) was a mirror image, with Steve/Mandy (D) mirroring Vikki (F) in the front corners and Derek (Giardiniera) in the middle – what was there not to love??   Laura had really thought of everything, including a very clever handmade Remembrance Poppy for each car.  We got away for 3.30ish and booked into our relevant hotels.  I was well impressed with my room, with the fake French Baroque furniture and a bed big enough for a family of 4!  After a quick unpack (yes, I do that) I nipped into the shopping centre for a nose round, before meeting everyone in the bar – we were all quick to sign up for the loyalty card for 15% off food and drink.  Onto the meal which was not so impressive with huge delays, poor Vikki almost ended up eating alone.  No late-night drinking as it was a 7am breakfast, but did have to have a lesson on the Tassimo for the morning.

Well it was lucky I was up early, it took 20 mins for the Tassimo to give me a smattering of coffee, it was an Expresso, so filled it up with cold water to make it drinkable and went to breakfast.  As the waitress did not know how to use the Loyalty card, she only charged me for a buffet breakfast so that was a good result.  Off to NEC as planned at 7.45 to finalise the stand and nip off to auto-jumble before “Joe Public” arrived, I failed to find it but luckily Vikki and Janet got lost and came across it, so I nipped back, but could not find an old St Christopher bar-badge.

As expected there was great interest in our little babies.  I had a long chat with a lovely fella, Scott, (dubbed Gucci-boy as he has the Limited-Edition Gucci Fiat) he was so enthusiastic I really wanted to get my car out there and then to take him for a run-around!  He is local to me so hopefully we can meet up before events and can be my passenger every now and then until insurance allows him to be a proud owner.   We stayed till closing at 6.30 and got straight on a bus to the carpark and joined the queue to leave the complex.  As it was late we had no time to change, so straight out to eat in the pub next door.  Most retired, but the Shirleys and I had a night-cap in the hotel bar.

Another early night, another 20 min wait for a tiny coffee, I had just given up on it and put a sachet of Nescafe in the mug to turn my back and the machine kicked into life!  I gave amusement at breakfast trying to keep my toe pills under control, whoever invented torpedo pills obviously never tried to control them on a shiny hotel table!  Another busy day, one fella confidently said “why chose your club to join not the Enthusiasts?”, sadly for him he posed the question to me, Laura and Vikki, he did not know what hit him and joined on the spot 😊.  Shah also lives nearish me, so another potential convoy friend.  We were all shocked when we walked out to see a huge queue for the bus and it was pouring with rain, we chose the rain over an hour wait.  Again, no time to recover before dinner at Bella Pasta which was lovely despite being splashed by Zoe’s spaghetti bolognaise!!

Sunday was not so busy but strangely the time went much quicker.  FCB (the kiosk opposite), realised I had been drinking their coffee all weekend and gave me a completed loyalty card and they delivered the freebee as we packed up – good service.   We started to pack up at 5, the show closed at 5.30 to a tremendous sound of engines roaring and hooters hooting, it was incredible.  We worked like ants taking things down, packing boxes and then cars.  I was relieved of my duties at 6 and had a steady drive home, everyone being very courteous to classics and vintages trying to get out.  I was dreading the journey home in the dark but time sped on and so did I, reflecting at such a good end to the season, I was back in good time to a very welcoming Tinker.

                                                                                                       Felicity Greenfield

NEC Classic Motor Show

Don’t forget to book your tickets, it’s not long to go now! We are looking forward to seeing lots of club members new and old.

Come along and see the selection of 500’s on display, the club shop will be there for all your 500 shopping needs and lots of members will be there to chat all things 500!

There is also the option of booking your car parking at the NCP Car Park 5 at Birmingham Airport at a special rate of £9, go to www.ncp.co.uk/prebook using the code Classic19.

Our exclusive discount available for members on adult and family tickets on Saturday and Sunday. Find the club code on the show advert in the August and October issues of Fiat 500 News club magazine and book in advance to save.

www.necclassicmotorshow.com/club-tickets
0871 230 1088

The Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, with Discovery, is the event not to be missed for any classic car owner, collector, enthusiast, car club member or anyone with a passion for classic cars. The show brings together the world’s largest gathering of 300 car and motorcycle clubs with over 3,000 iconic classic and vintage cars and motorbikes on display across seven halls at Birmingham’s NEC.

Visit to Somerset – NMCR

Having been before and found these very interesting Janet and I decided to attend this year’s National Micro Car Rally (NMCR) being held in Somerset.

It was also convenient for accommodation as my sister and husband live near Ilminster which is 10 miles away from the event, which was being held at Steps Farm in the small village of North Newton.

The definition of a micro car is a vehicle with an engine size up to 700cc and no more than 3 cylinders so Fiat 500’s are eligible. Having previously been in one of our 500’s we decided to go in our 1964 Fiat Neckar Weinsberg which is a rare derivative of a 500. The event was well attended with micro cars coming from all over England and even France and Holland.

This being a 4-day event we decided to only go on Saturday, which was a run out day and Sunday which was a static display.

The cars were arranged in various categories and makes.  We were put in the metal category. The 500’s had their own class as did the Messerschmitts, Isettas, Bonds, Trabants, Reliants, Trojans etc.

There was also a plastic class as a lot of Micro cars are made of fibre-glass and other materials. We spent an enjoyable Sunday out on the site catching up with friends we have met over the years.

In the late afternoon the awards were announced and our car was awarded the best metal unusual Micro car and also the last award of Best in Show (People’s choice).

So altogether a most enjoyable event.

                                                                           Roger & Janet Westcott

DELAPRÉ ABBEY – CLASSICS ON THE LAWN SUNDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER 2019

This is the second year that Delapré have held a Classics on the Lawn event and very well attended it was too. A wide selection of over 150 cars with no less than 17 Fiat 500s lined up in a commanding row at the top of the show on what was to turn out to be a lovely sunny day.

The Abbey only opened to the public last year. The site was originally a small Cluniac Nunnery 900 years ago but the Nuns found themselves in the spotlight when the body of Queen Eleanor was laid in the Abbey’s church on the journey back to Westminster Abbey, an event marked by the building of one of the famous “Eleanor crosses”.

Nearly 200 years later, a more violent event would disturb the nunnery’s quiet life – the Battle of Northampton. In July 1460, the armies of York and Lancaster met across the fields near the Abbey in what was to be one of the turning points in the Wars of the Roses.

On December 16th 1538, nearly 400 years of quiet devotion at Delapré Abbey came to an end as Henry VIII laid waste to the churches and monasteries of Britain, evicting nuns and monks, taking their goods and possessions for himself and selling their lands to merchants and gentlemen.

The generations of two families then occupied the Abbey up until the 1940s at which point it fell into the hands of the local authority who decided that they wanted to demolish it to build a housing estate. However, they hadn’t reckoned on some formidable objections from locals and in the end, they agreed to use the Abbey for the county records office so at least the public could enjoy the parkland. When, in the late 1990s’ the records office was re-located, the Abbey was again threatened with destruction.

Once again it was the determination of the local people that would help save the Abbey this time, campaigning to restore the building to create a venue that could be enjoyed by all. The Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust was formed and working together with Northampton Borough Council, plans were made and with the Heritage Lottery Fund’s help, a major restoration project began that would see the house transformed and brought back to life.

In 2018, after extensive restoration works costing over £5 million, this much-loved building was finally opened for everyone to enjoy. As exhibitors, we were given a free Abbey tour and there were pleasant walks through the garden and woodland. The café ensured that we were well fed and watered!

It was great to see such a strong club turnout with some new faces and lots of youngsters which seems to be more of a regular feature these days. As ever, we were the stars of the show, due in great part, to the artistic flair of Amy who once again made sure we were perfectly colour coded!

A nice way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon and let’s hope it becomes a regular feature of our calendar.

Mandy Edmonds

October 2019 Newsletter

The Fiat 500 Club UK magazine for October 2019 is now available to members.

Contents: Visit to Somerset – National Micro Car Rally; AGM, SGM and Winter lunch details; Company Limited by Guarantee & Notification of SGM; Delapre Abbey Classics on the lawn, Sunday 1st September 2019

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.

Out and about in Scotland

I have enjoyed a great few months being out and about in Scotland with my wee car.  This year my boyfriend Derek has finished his ‘freshen up’ of his 1971 Fiat 500 Giardiniera so he was able to join me at some events with his own car. Our first outing together was over the Easter bank holiday weekend where we decided to have a run around Stirlingshire and the Trossachs. It was lovely weather and we covered a lot of miles in the cars just driving about and turning a lot of heads when we passed through the towns and villages.  

Our first car show outing was to Bridge of Allan near Stirling. It was a brilliant day out with over 600 cars on display and the sun was out all day, perfect car show weather. It was also nice to meet Paul and his family who is also a club member and decided to visit the show. It was good to have a chat to him and see some photos of his 500. Derek’s car was awarded runner up in best of show which was a lovely surprise as there were so many cars on show. 

Our next trip was to the Scottish Italian day at Hopetoun House near Edinburgh. Unfortunately, the weather was not too good as we woke to grey skies and pouring of rain nevertheless, we decided to head to the show as we are used to the rain!  I was also taking along my Abarth 595 (every day car) as the show was open to all Italian cars regardless of age.  Despite the weather there was a good turnout of cars, we were the only two classic 500’s along with lots of modern Fiats, Alfa Romeo’s and a collection of Italian supercars. It was also good to meet with another club member, Mike and his wife and see photos of their 500.  It rained for most of the day but still had a great time out in the cars.

In June we had a busy few weekends with the cars and covering a lot of miles, including a 120-mile round trip to Lauder in the Scottish Boarders (where it rained) and then up to Tayside to a car show at Errol, then to Dunfermline in Fife. There has been a lot of interest shown by the public for Derek’s car as you don’t see a lot of Giardinieras in Scotland, and he has won a few prizes at the events we have been to.

We have got a few events that we are attending over the next few months with the cars so hopefully we will get some good weather.

                                                                     Shona Campbell

With special thanks!

Well! What can I say to thank everyone for such a wonderful tour? A few breakdowns yes, mainly in Dino, so thank you Craig and Laura for fixing him for me and making sure I got on the ferry home!  A special thanks to Carole at Incentive and Conference for helping me to organise the hotels and some of the trips. Without you my stress levels would have been a lot higher.  You did such a great job for us and made our trip the success it was.  Thank you to Lisa Bardsley for organising everyone at the Jersey Festival of Motoring event. Line up and colour scheme certainly helped Amy’s stress levels.

We met up with some wonderful Jersey members of the club who made us feel very welcome and a big thank you to Chris Forster who made parking at St Aubin’s easy and ensured our enjoyable evening out.  A hugh thank you to Reg for showing us his fabulous fairy garden and making most of us dance to Abba, what a lovely time we had.

We stayed at the Beausite hotel, where their hospitality and service were fantastic. Thank you to all the staff and for putting up with us.

In Guernsey we were grateful, surprised and overwhelmed when we arrived in Port. Paul from Guernsey Old Car Club (GOCC) was there to greet us all and made sure we all got to our hotel safely, especially with all the road closures!  Paul and other group members from the club had organised a great car rally over the Island followed by Sunday lunch and I was presented with a fabulous Fiat 500 picture which is already up and being shown off.               

We all had a fantastic time and can’t thank you enough for arranging everything and making us feel very welcome.  After lunch one of our members, Carlo, and his wife Roslyn invited us back to their beautiful house for afternoon tea. Thank you both for your hospitality and for taking us to see some other interesting areas of Guernsey.  Hope to see you both next year at a 500 UK event.

Thank you everyone who attended, without the support of our members these trips would not be possible.

Lastly a big thank you to my parents (Rod & Sally) for all their help in organising with me and keeping me sane.

                                                                                                             Zoe Scanes