Category Archives: Fiat 500 News

NORFOLK NOMAD TOUR – 3RD TO 6TH MAY

29 cars, including 4 moderns, from far and wide converged on Blakeney on Friday afternoon, most with trouble free journeys but there were a couple of tales of derring-do.

Gill and Graham Watkin lost a wheel assembly – never to be seen again – on the M11 in the early hours and arrived with their car on top of the remains of their trailer on top of the recovery truck! The trailer now resides in a Norfolk scrapyard. Tom and Lis made it to Kings Lynn after breaking down three times but were eventually recovered back to Derby getting in bed at midnight only to be up at 4:00 am to have another go in their Abarth and reached Blakeney for breakfast on Saturday!

The programme proper started on Saturday with showers and strong winds forecast and we headed south down the coast for the short trip to the Muckleburgh Collection. This was the first time we could line all the cars up in one place – what a sight!  Muckleburgh is the largest private military collection in the country. The site has a long history dating back to the Spanish Armada in 1588 but it was acquired in the early 80’s and the collection established in 1988. Today there are over 150 tanks, guns and vehicles together with a vast assortment of other memorabilia.       

From here we made the short trip to the charming little town of Holt, where, since my early recces, Holt Town Council had enthusiastically publicised our visit throughout the town with many of the shops adopting an Italian theme. Indeed, the owner of an art gallery next to our allotted parking space had contacted the local Fiat dealer to get them to display a new Collezione outside his shop, put fiat 500 posters in his window and even dressed as an Italian character – what a star! The cars attracted great interest throughout our stay and in the words of the town clerk quoted in the local paper we created a “great vibe”! 

The wind was still storm force, and to our great relief, the skipper of the seal boat trip, which was next on the itinerary, called to say that he thought it would be too dangerous to venture out at Blakeney Point to see the seals. Instead, we took a drive down to Cromer and back along the coast road taking in some dramatic views of the North Sea rollers coming ashore.

Sunday dawned with a calmer and sunnier forecast and this time we headed north up the coast road passing through some delightful villages such as Stiffkey, Holkam and Burnham before turning inland at Brancaster and setting out across country to our coffee stop at the Royal Station at Wolferton.   

A whole article could be written about the Royal Station but suffice it to say that, for many of us, this was the highlight of the weekend. For over one hundred years, Wolferton was probably the most famous rural station in England.  This is where the Royals arrived when they travelled to Sandringham so Kings, Queens, Emperors and Empresses and the high society of the day passed through the station, from Queen Victoria, the Royal families of Europe to Queen Elizabeth the 2nd.  The last train ran in 1969 but Richard Brown, a very generous-hearted Yorkshireman, bought the station in 2001 and has since restored it to its former glory so it now looks as it would have done in the 19th century. This is a fantastic example of the vision and generosity of one man saving a slice of history for future generations.

Our fascinating visit was topped off by our very own pop up tea-room brilliantly provided by Lianna, Richard, Rob, Naomi and Sophia with both an Italian theme and “Brief Encounter” soundtrack. Many thanks to them. 

After a parade lap of Wolferton village for the benefit of the video photographer, it was time to make the short trip to Sandringham. At the very last moment, we were given permission to enter the estate by the Scenic Drive – known locally as the “Duke of Edinburgh’s garden”. This is a lovely one and half mile single track meander through the woods taking us to a specially allocated parking area. By this time the wind had dropped and the sun was shining so lots of people could drool at our cars and we could enjoy looking around the house, gardens, church and museum.

At mid-afternoon we left Sandringham along the magnificent Kings Drive, a two mile tree-lined avenue which took us through Anmer, where William and Kate have their country home. From there we trundled through Burnham Market – a honey pot for tourists – the sight of 30 500s getting everyone waving!

After a brief ice cream stop and look around the harbour at Wells-next-the-sea, we arrived at Morston Quay to board our chartered boat for the re-arranged trip out to Blakeney point to see the seals. Blakeney Point has the largest seal colony in England with over 2,700 pups born in 2017. We certainly saw a few but not that many! The water was relatively calm and the even the “waverers” with no sea legs enjoyed the trip.                      

Our final morning dawned with 32 of us heading through the sunshine to Holt to catch the North Norfolk steam train for the short trip to Sheringham and back. Being bank holiday, it was a Thomas the Tank Engine Special so the Fat Controller, Thomas and Percy were entertaining the youngsters. If I had thought about it before we could have made it a “Murder on the Sheringham Express” outing with Gino as Hercule Poirot.

After a delightful return trip through the Norfolk countryside we returned to Holt to say our goodbyes and wend our way home.

I need to say a few thanks you’s – to Rod and Sally who twice helped us on our recce visits, to Sir Michael Savory, the owner of Muckleburgh for letting us display our fleet, to Richard Neech and Elaine Oliver of Holt Town Council for all they did to welcome us and make our visit a great event for the town, and particular thanks also to Richard Brown who opened up his very special Royal Station for us and to the staff at the Blakeney Manor Hotel who couldn’t have really done any more for us and dealt with such a large and sometimes noisy group with aplomb.

But the biggest thanks must go to all who came from far and wide to take part.  Mandy and I really enjoyed planning the weekend for what is a very special group.  Even when there is a navigational glitch and we all seem to be heading in different directions, it all seems to be part of the experience!  It was especially nice to see not just regular faces but new faces and young faces, which must bode well for the future of the club.

On reflection, I think we really had too many cars but I just couldn’t say no, even to those who contacted me just a few days before – the sight in the rear-view mirror on the mile-long straights of a line of 500s as far as you could see was very special and unforgettable.

                                                                     Steve & Mandy Edmonds

Electric Fiat 500

Editor’s note: Following my request in the previous magazine I was pleased to hear from member Andre Abadie who owns an electric 500, here is his article.

I had been in the market for a classic Fiat 500 for several years but couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger as I was concerned about the upkeep and reliability. Additionally, my job is focused on environmental and climate issues and it was challenging for me to justify buying a car with a petrol engine, despite how frugal it may be. I had instead thought about a new electric car but, as I don’t need a car for commuting, it didn’t make sense to invest in that much hardware (and software) for the purposes of running around London at weekends and the odd evening out.

But then, on a whim, I thought I’d see if there was anyone in the market converting classic Fiat 500s into electric vehicles, figuring that someone had to have come up with the very same idea. And sure enough, I found an article on the work that Richard Morgan was doing at Electric Classic Cars in Wales. I contacted Richard and he steered me to his colleagues at Classic Chrome in London who had two demonstration cars on site that I could test drive. Fast forward a few weeks and I was the proud owner of the first of Richard’s electric Fiat 500 conversions, a light blue 1965 Fiat 500F.

There were a few teething problems with the suspension given that I had upgraded to a larger motor and additional 4th Tesla battery which added a fair amount of weight to such a slight frame! But the replacement of the leaf spring with one from a Fiat 126 did the trick. The car has been an absolute pleasure to use for zipping around London (and further afield to parts of Kent and Surrey), and is not shy about outpacing most vehicles from traffic light to traffic light given the added oomph from the upgraded AC 20 96v 65HP motor.

I’m loving the car and being electric has made all the difference for me as it’s easy to maintain and has no regard for the ULEZ in London. Parking in London is a cinch as I just find the nearest available charging station (which are always available) and top up when I’m about town. I’ve entered my Fiat 500F in the London to Brighton Classic Car Rally on June 2nd which will be the only electric vehicle on show. The range of the vehicle is around 100 miles (so I’ll need to recharge in Brighton). I highly recommend anyone to look into the cars that Richard is converting. Kits are available too for those who are more technically savvy.

                                                                                                       Andre Abadie

June 2019 Newsletter

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

Contents: The Final Chapter – National Car Club Awards at NEC; Norfolk Nomad Tour 3rd to 6th May; Norfolk Dissertation; Electric Fiat 500 report

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.

Drive it day: Bicester Scramble 28th April 2019

Perfect place for a perfect day: Drive it at the Bicester Scramble

For those of you who are Club Members, please note you can only book tickets to the Bicester Scramble ‘Drive It Day’ event online, and this needs to be done by 21st April. It promises to be a great event, with plenty to see and other classic and vintage car enthusiasts to meet.

For more information, please go to the Events Page on our website here.

Please note, there will be no tickets available on the day.

Information from the organisers follows:

“The former RAF Technical Site springs to life with a unique mix of vehicles brought by enthusiasts from all over the UK to visit this beautiful location. The specialist businesses of Bicester Heritage throw open the doors to their workshops, showrooms and offices, revealing an ever-changing display of magnificent vehicles from every decade.”

Bicester Heritage, Buckingham Road, Bicester, OX26 5HA

From 0900 hrs to 1600 hrs Sunday 28th April 2019.

London Classic Car Show ExCel 14-17th February 2019

The Club was invited to return for a second consecutive year by the event organiser, the Fiat 500 Club had a stand in Car Club Corner at this prestigious indoor show held at London’s ExCel arena. This year the layout was improved, and it was busier than ever with over 20,000 visitors across the weekend.

Four days came and went quickly at the show. From Thursday night’s Preview Evening featuring an array of special presentations from classic car celebrities and movie stars, through to final Grand Avenue parades and live panel discussions. Grand Avenue this year featured Bentley, Citroen, Mini and Ford Capri where 100- and 50-year anniversaries were celebrated. Car clubs were represented by Jensen, Bristol, Marcos, Corvette, Aston Martin among other marques all of whom curated fabulous stands with beautiful examples from their respective members.

On Thursday morning the weather was dry, mild and sunny for our load- in slot at 10am, perfect for driving a classic Fiat into East London. Our allocated floor space only allowed for 4 cars which when manoeuvred into position looked great. This year the cars on display consisted of a 500D, 500F ,500L and 500 Abarth which was a fine array spanning many years of the car and all owned by club members.

Twin brother’s Will and Anthony had their Positano Yellow 500L on display and this was their first experience of showing at an event. Eighteen months ago, they spotted the car in Marche, Italy made a deal with the previous owner and had it transported to the UK. This is a 1971 model with only 54,000km on the clock, it is completely original and unmodified with immaculate paintwork and black vinyl seats. The car had been loving preserved over the years and kept garaged in Italy resulting in a beautiful example. Sad to report after a weekend of being admired the car decided to breakdown in Esher on the journey home during Sunday evening. Guys, welcome to the world of Fiat 500 ownership!

Vikki was the super sub, able to get her baby blue 1965 500F RHD to the show with only 48 hours’ notice after another owner was unable to exhibit due to a last-minute work commitment. With the original engine currently in need of some fettling she decided it was safer to trailer it to the show rather than driving it from Buckinghamshire. Vikki is a long-standing car enthusiast and no stranger to showing her previous modern classics around the country. Since hankering for a classic Fiat 500 from the age of 14, she found one after a long search for a right-hand drive model. She is now the proud owner of ‘Botty’. Since purchasing it in 2016, she and her husband have undertaken a serious overhaul, including a re-spray and new seats. This was her first show with the club and certainly won’t be her last.

Self-confessed Fiat 500 addict and car hoarder James displayed his 1959 RHD 500D which, for the purists is on the cusp of a 500N. Finished in gloss black paint with suicide doors along with wicker picnic basket attached at the back, at 60 years old this was a wonderful example of a 500D. This is a favourite from his collection and is regularly driven around South London.  James has around 16, yes 16, Fiat 500s and derivatives, just when we thought Roger had an extensive collection, it’s now been usurped. James keeps vowing to reduce his hoard and stop adding to it but admits it’s a hard habit to break. He has promised to attend more club events and display other cars from his extensive collection.

The head turner on the stand came courtesy of Carlo’s Fiat 500 Evocation Abarth.  It is the current holder of Car of The Day award bestowed upon it at Festival Italia during August at Brand’s Hatch. Long standing club member Carlo has owned it for 10 years and over the time transformed it into undoubtably the best Fiat Abarth in the UK. Finished in blue /black paint with an Alfa boxer 1.7 engine making 150 bhp and roll cage the car illustrated to visitors how a Fiat 500 could be modified to such a high sports spec. Carlo is very keen to have the car selected and be able to drive in the LCCS Grand Parade next year. The request has been made to the organiser.

Across the weekend the stand was visited by many club members several of whom kindly spent time helping out for a few hours. Displaying at an event such as this is a big undertaking and thanks must go to the team who played a part in making it happen. At this point Paul is award Star Baker for his magnificent carrot and walnut cake, which helped keep up the sugar levels topped up.

Along with showcasing the beauty and charm of Fiat 500s to the visiting car enthusiasts it was a fantastic opportunity to promote the club, sign up new members and sell club items.

It is highly likely the organiser will ask the club to return next year so make a note of 13 – 16th February 2020.

Further details from  www.thelondonclassiccarshow.co.uk.

Lisa Bardsley, London & South East event organiser

National Car Club Awards

We won!

The Fiat 500 Club has won the ‘Outstanding Car Club Run, Rally or Tour’ category in the National Car Club Awards 2019 for the ‘Poppy Returns Home Tour 2018’.

The National Car Club Awards celebrate, recognise and honour the achievements of the nation’s car clubs, the enthusiastic people who run them and the remarkable cars they preserve and cherish. Presented in association with Tourism Ireland, supported by Classic Car Weekly and endorsed by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs.

Poppy Returns Home!

The club was chosen from the shortlist of 7 and presented with the trophy at the awards dinner held at the NEC, Birmingham on March 23rd. More details and photos will be in the next magazine. Congratulations to all involved in the Poppy Returns Home Tour 2018.

My New Year Break(down)

I’ve owned my 1970 Fiat 500L ‘Rizzle’ for 3 years and after never having the experience of a piggy-back ride home I was beginning to think that she was a very unique vehicle indeed. Despite occasional problems with poor running and brake master cylinder failure (causing the brakes to bind), I’d never broken down completely.

I installed an electronic ignition eight months ago (with much amusement from some other members of the club, with quotes such as, ‘let’s see how long it lasts’ and ‘I would stick to points and condenser if I were you’).

I was joining the club on a drive out to ‘Stony Stratford’s New Year’s Day Meet’ and luckily, I decided to have a quick blast a few days before. All started well until three miles in (on the bustling A14) I suddenly lost all power. After a few seconds of disbelief and that ‘please, not here’ feeling I rolled to a stop.

I drive for a living and encounter this kind of thing quite often but it felt much more scary in my own pride and joy, being stranded on the side of a hectic dual carriageway.

After a quick look I couldn’t see anything obvious and decided to call for recovery. I have to say it was just a tad hairy watching big trucks thunder by my car, with just inches to spare. Causing quite a commotion (with the police called to close the lane, whilst recovery took place).

Although I was lucky really, back, tinkering in the garage within an hour, I learnt a few valuable lessons on the day. These include…

• Stand well behind the carriageway barrier.
• I may install hazard warning lights.
• Have a Hi-Viz jacket in the vehicle.

I’m sure there are other safety items to carry such as a warning triangle etc…

Back at base, after a calming cuppa I started to investigate. After discovering I had no spark, I put the points and condenser back and I was back on the road. Revved up and ready for an 80-mile round trip. The ‘Stony Stratford Meet’ was a fantastic start to 2019. Great to see everyone who attended, with much chat about how I’d managed to stay off of the recovery truck for so long and whether I should go back to using electronic ignition or not? The jury’s out on that one!

Richard Simister

April 2019 Newsletter

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

Contents: Love at first sight; MoMA New York displays a classic Fiat 500 at it’s Good Design Exhibition; Electric Fiat 500; Mayor of Sandwich’s Italian Evening 13/2/2019; My New Year Break (Down)!; National Car Club Awards – Fiat 500 Club winners of ‘Outstanding Car Club Run, Rally or Tour’

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.

Stony Stratford Car Show

A bright and sunny January 1st saw seven Fiat 500’s attend the Stony Stratford New Year’s Day classic car show, with one possible new member joining us with a very smart white 500L.

It was a very popular show with the whole town filled to the brim with an amazing array of classic cars.

It turned into a very cold day so after spending time looking around all the cars we managed to find a very welcoming and cosy pub that served delicious bacon butties for lunch.

It was the first time that some of us had ventured out on a New Year’s day but worth looking at doing again another year, weather permitting.

Sally Scanes