Category Archives: Fiat 500 News

At last!

The day we had all been looking forward to……. the chance to drive our cars and go to an event!! The ‘Clear your mind drive and pizza’ at the Sharnbrook Hotel.

We all met at a car park near Great Denham and each parked 2m apart. Lovely to see everyone but still strange to have to keep our distance to chat.      

One person who was originally booked to attend was Felicity (& Tinker, her dog) but due to further lockdown measures in Leicester, she was not allowed to leave the city!!

A lovely scenic drive (thanks to Amy for planning this) through some very picturesque villages, great to be back in convoy – 9 classic 500’s and 1 new model.

Arriving at Sharnbrook we were marshalled into place by our host Ciro and then we had more time to catch up with people.         

Pre-ordered and pre-paid pizza and soft drinks were then delivered to us and we sat at socially distanced picnic tables – the most enjoyable Al fresco dining experience.

All too soon it was time to leave but everyone certainly enjoyed themselves. Thank you to Ciro for suggesting the event for car clubs and to Laura for organising our get together. Let’s hope there will be some more events to attend before the end of the year.

Christine Anderson

A (very) amateur mechanic

I was on another Fiat website recently where a thread was asking what tools were included in their car’s toolkit, which got me thinking (having little else to do!)…

When I first became interested in cars most came with reasonably comprehensive quality tool sets (think Jaguar, MG etc), and most fastenings were Whitworth & BSF. Both used the same size spanners, albeit one size different. My spanner set consisted of Williams spanners, comfortable, well made & quite a thick profile.

Moving on and a change of allegiance to Rootes required a new spanner set in AF sizes. Rootes bean counters dictated that bolts in general be dropped one thread size smaller. I also found that the engineering, although pretty basic, was simple, logical & easy to work on with 4 spanners (3/8”, 7/16”, 1/2” & 9/16”) covering most fixings. Some special tools were needed for major work but a 1/2” drive Elora socket set proved to be a useful purchase.

Fast forward a few years, maturity(?) and available finances produced a Peugeot 205GTi. A magic flying machine but gone is the easy access to anything and the increasing use of mastics, single use plastic fastenings & clips. Hidden locations didn’t help & necessitated a set of removal tools.

Of course, a set of metric spanners was now needed together with On Board Diagnostic Readers & computers. It’s now becoming nigh on impossible to fix problems without needing a visit to the local dealer.
Now retired it’s back to the future & I’ve free time to indulge in a 1964 500D. Quite surprisingly the official toolkit comprises 2 open ended spanners, a wheel nut spanner, screwdriver, plug spanner, pliers, in its own plastic box I found to be perfectly adequate. A couple of BA spanners for the electrics & a test light cover the essentials. Obviously, life is easier with a few extra sockets for the more adventurous jobs.

Now I’ve learnt over the years that quality counts and you get what you pay for. I was disappointed to find that now I could afford Britool tools they had been sold off to Draper/Stanley eventually to become a 2nd string to ridiculously expensive Facom with a certain loss of quality. Searching the internet tool shops I’ve managed to buy the original n.o.s spanners I wanted and have never regretted the extra cost; after all combination spanners double as both open ended and rings and all the main sizes needed are 8, 10, 13, 15, 17 & 19mm. Add some 3/8” sockets and Bob’s yer uncle.

Once upon a time a bolt was just a bolt which fitted a certain size of spanner. Now we are confronted with an increasingly large range of fastenings including hexagonal, socket, spline, cross, Philips, Pozi, et al; all of which confusingly require a different spanner type.

Thank goodness for simplicity of FIAT 500’s for “a simple life”.

Derek Baty

August 2020

Contents: At last!!   ….post Covid event; My first Fiat 500, including ignition technical tip; Reminisces of a (very) amateur mechanic; A bit of nostalgia; We’re all going on a summer holiday..(sometime?)

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.

Our Fiat 500 Giardiniera

My fondest memory of going out in our beloved Fiat 500 Giardiniera is when my dad and I attended a microcar rally in September 2019. The ride was usual for a classic car – windy, quite loud and absolutely amazing. The day was strangely nice for the time of year and the open top allowed the sun to come into the car, illuminating the interior and highlighting its austere beauty.

My first memory of the rally was driving to the visitor’s entrance, where we were told our car should be in the main event. We immediately jumped at the opportunity and drove around to the display car park. We were right on the edge of the rally but our car was quite prominent and afterwards, I found a photo of it on Google, which was cool. We walked around the other cars and it was intriguing to find out about them and what makes a microcar (it’s because it has an engine of 500cc or less, so the Giardiniera was only just eligible for microcar status, because its 500cc) and the cars there were quirky and the sort you would never usually see, like the Peel P50, made infamous by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear.

Despite the huge array of weird and wonderful cars surrounding me, there were no other Giardinieras there, which made me slightly sad because I love Giardinieras but many people have never heard of or know anything about them and this was a place I’d hoped we may find someone else who loved them like we do.

Despite this, I also felt proud to own such a rare and unusual car, in a place where the Reliant Robin was common and even bland in comparison to some of the other cars.

This event was memorable to me because it was the first time I became really interested in cars, especially small cars that were deemed fast if they could beat a Vespa in a drag race. The craziness of them astonished me and really got me interested in how strange and ingenious cars can be.

The trip home was a completely different experience to me, as I realised that even this tiny Giardiniera was a huge feat of engineering and I was so aware that, even if the ride wasn’t perfect, there were huge gaps between the door and frame and the noise of the wind when you go beyond 35mph is unbearable, it’s still an amazing piece of machinery to look at and experience first-hand.

This event was also very special to me because it was the last car event I went to with my dad, the owner of our precious car, before he sadly passed away, meaning I won’t be able to get his insight and knowledge about cars at events again so I have done my best to remember every detail perfectly. He too was enthusiastic about cars, especially Giardinieras so that is how I learnt about them and almost every other car, too.

                                                                                                Billy Smith

Editor’s note:  We welcome Billy to the Fiat 500 club as a junior member – so sorry to hear about the loss of his Dad but pleased that Billy is taking over his Dad’s membership. Hope Billy is able to take this very special car to more events in the future.

My Fiat 500s and the club (from my perspective)

I wrote about my highly modified 1967 Fiat 500 in this magazine in 2018 and since then, have completed the body painting to make it look quite smart (see below). The bonnet is propped open at the rear edge to allow cooling air to exit after passing through the front mounted radiator (hence also the grille below the moustache badge).

The car has a 180bhp Suzuki Hayabusa 1,300cc motorcycle engine and gearbox, mid-mounted behind the driver, which gives it a sizeable turn of speed and a fairly thrilling ride if you use it hard. (0-60 is 4 sec – in 1st gear!). In truth, it’s too much power for such a small, tall and narrow car but great fun.

I was planning to hill climb it but have now shelved that (expensive & dangerous) idea and decided to soften the suspension, tuning it for road use rather than the very hard track setting which I had arrived at previously. It is now firm but compliant and quite ready for Fiat 500 Club events whenever we are allowed to get back to them. Of course, sharing the cabin of the car with a large, powerful, noisy and hot engine does have its drawbacks (even though it is inside an insulated, fire-proof box) but ear plugs and all windows & roof open just about sorts it. However, if it rains, it is a bit like driving a kettle. The bright green paint is the main thing people notice when I drive through villages – it is an extreme and cheerful colour which suits this characterful little car very well. I always drive slowly through villages and towns and it is only on the open road that I let it rip occasionally. Particularly good fun when I find an unsuspecting BMW or Audi 😊.

On track, foot to the floor, scampering round a 1st gear hairpin bend.

However, I have glossed over the main point – now that we have no club tours, events, meetings or shows to go to due to Coronavirus, life has become quite empty. It makes me realise how much I enjoy these events and meeting all the friends and members of our club who turn out for them, both regulars and virgins – the latter instantly turned into the former when they realise how much fun it is. (I think that came out OK.)

I have been using my other Fiat 500, a standard 500R, for as many “essential” journeys as possible. It’s driving this, and the green car above, that always reminds me how much pleasure they give me and also the people I pass driving through villages – young children pointing, smiling, waving, etc. I think uncontrolled laughter is crossing the line so, in cases like this, I usually give them a really hard Paddington stare. If I get in too deep, Frank protects me – he is my Jack Russell co-driver who goes everywhere with me. He much prefers the 500R because 18bhp is much easier to cope with than 180!  He’s not very good with hard cornering but especially braking – ends up in the footwell and, if he’s lucky, still on his bed. Still – could be worse – Amy could take him for a “nice walk”.

Keep safe chaps and I look forward to seeing you all when we’re allowed to mass gather once more.

                                                                                              Colin Smith

June 2020

The June edition of the magazine should now have arrived in the post for all Fiat 500 Club UK members.

Contents: LOCKDOWN EDITION: Italian wedding and more…; CTC 86E owner found!!; Lego model build; Not so much of a Lock-up as a Lockdown; Our Fiat 500 Giardiniera; My Fiat 500s and the Club (from my perspective); It pays to shop around

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.

London Classic Car Show Report

Show report from the London Classic Car Show Olympia London 20-23 February 2020

2020 marked the next chapter in the history of the London Classic Car Show as it moved to the prestigious Olympia London in Kensington. It was previously held at Excel London.

Now in its sixth year, The London Classic Car Show has firmly established itself as the must-attend event for discerning classic car owners, collectors, connoisseurs and enthusiasts. This was the third consecutive year the Fiat 500 Club was invited to display in the Car Club area, this time located on the gallery of this fine Victorian cast iron building with the bonus of natural light flooding in from the vast glass roof.

Our load-in slot was Wednesday evening which involved each of our cars taking an industrial lift to the gallery, a first for all of us. We had been allocated a very long plot which enabled our five cars to have space to show them off to full effect.

Taking centre stage, Laurie’s immaculate cream 1964 500D was transported by trailer from Essex and this was the owners first experience of a Fiat 500 Club event. It is to be hoped that it will not the last as it would be fair to say this car was the highlight of our stand. With only 22,000 miles on the clock and one previous owner it was a lucky “barn find” in 2016 which has been painstakingly restored by Laurie with the assistance of Alto Autocare. Several admirers across the weekend made offers to buy it such was its desirability.

Botty- Vikki’s gorgeous pale blue 1965 500F – made a welcome return and is becoming a popular fixture at the big events with the Fiat 500 club. Vikki had very cleverly rigged up a digital photo album in the side window with a slide show of photos of the car being transformed from a wreck to a beauty. After spending 30 years in a Hampshire garage patiently waiting for her engine to be rebuilt, Botty found herself on eBay. Restoration work started in April 2016 and was completed in December 2018. The car was also selected to be featured in the official show guide, thus ensuring the classic Fiat 500 and our club was represented amongst all the super marques.

Having been driven from Cambridge on a dark, wet Wednesday evening by a friend of the owner, who had never previously got behind the wheel of a Fiat 500, Paul’s navy blue 1970  500F made it on to the stand in the nick of time before loading bay doors were bolted shut. The car was on the club stand at the LCCS in 2018 and was welcomed back this year. With its cherry red upholstery and matching mohair roof, it is the perfect contrast to the navy bodywork. Its understated good looks received plenty of admiring looks.

The oldest car on the stand was courtesy of James with his 1959 500D which he drove from south east London. The car is a rare right-hand drive model and has many original characteristics of the earlier 500N including the original 500N fitted petrol tank also showing no ashtray in the centre of the dash. Remarkably it has only had 4 previous owners. James has had it in his possession for the last 9 years and regularly displays it at club events.

In contrast the youngest car on the stand was my red 1973 500L, fully restored by Weenie Fiats in 2011 with a nod to Abarth styling. The restoration included a bare metal re-spray in Rosso Corallo, fitting a 650cc engine from a Fiat 126, synchro gears, sporty alloy wheels and disc brakes. It has 38,000 miles on the clock. I had a surprise when the car’s previous owner introduced himself to me at the show, so I got more background history about it.

The show was constantly busy with over 25,000 visitors across the weekend. Compared with the previous two LCCS we found the visiting public to be a highly engaged audience. It was a pleasure to chat to many members of the club who took time to join us on the stand for a chat across weekend.  New members joined up at the stand and along with this, interest in our cars was high with a few visitors commenting owning a Fiat 500 would be their entry point into the world of classic cars. Dante Giacosa got it so right when he designed this car; it has become an icon.

On Sunday, we were told by an attendee our stand was the best in the show which reflected well on all the hard work put in the by the team. I am indebted to Vikki, James, Laurie and Paul for displaying their beautiful cars. Janet, Roger, Paul and Christine for bringing the backdrops and banners and Suzanne and Julian for staffing the stand on Saturday. A second mention for Vikki who was my wing woman on Friday and Sunday, assisting with the constant stream of visitors asking all manner of questions about the cars or sharing fond memories of their experiences with Fiat 500s in the 1960’s and 70’s. One man told me that, as a small child in the late 60’s, his father had one and trips out consisted of his dad driving, his mum in the front seat, his 2 grandparents in the rear with him and his 2 younger siblings on the laps of the adult passengers. Family motoring at its best!

The organisers of London Classic Car Show have now announced it will return to Olympia on 18-22 February 2021.

                       Lisa Bardsley London and SE Events rep

APril 2020

The April edition of the magazine should now have arrived in the post for all Fiat 500 Club UK members.

Contents: London Classic Car Show report 20 – 23 Feb 2020; New Fiat 500 goes electric; New Fiat 500 Hybrid; News about our President; New release from Lego, a Fiat 500 model; Where are you now? CTC 86E

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.

Spotted in Broadway

We don’t normally advertise other companies here, but if you’ve decided to put an orange Fiat 500 in your window, how could we ignore it.

The Broadway Deli is an indpendent delicatassen and cafe in the heart of Broadway in the Cotswolds. If the food is as delicious to eat as the 500 is to look at, I think we’re sold.

Fridge Fiat Front

The Smeg500

Spotted by member Quentin Howell, in a showroom in Regents Street, London, these are actually fridges!!

The Smeg500 is the result of years of hard work between SMEG and FIAT when they merged to create an extraordinary new item for the ‘Fiat 500 Design Collection’.

This quirky item is a fully functioning fridge that has been handmade with genuine original Fiat 500 parts (It even has fully working headlights!). You will find 100litres of storage under the bonnet and it is accessed by two sliding doors. It is A+ rated and has an automatic defrost function.

On enquiring about the price, Quentin was told that they were £8000 each and he comments “Making them almost as expensive as the cars, perhaps even more than some 500’s”

He has decided the that real thing in his garage is better but……

“Not even sure if they are much more use than a big boy’s toy for a beer fridge!!”

                                                                         Quentin Howell

February 2020

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

Contents: Events list for 2020 including adverts for Fiat 500 Club Summer Cotswolds Canter & BBQ, Fiat 500 Derbyshire Discovery Tour; The SMEG500  fridge; Technical data on Front wheel bearings; Technical article – Installing a 126-Air cooled engine and gearbox

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.

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 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.
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


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.