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