Monday, May 15, 2006

Italian Cars Day

As I mentioned previously, on Saturday 6th May we hopped in our little Fiat 500 and drove over to one of the most notorious bikers hang-outs in the UK - the Ace Café.

For the uninitiated, the Ace is where all the Rockers used to meet in the 1950s and 60s, up on the outskirts of London, for wild parties and street racing on the North Circular London bypass road. (I initially said the Mods and the Rockers, but as a 500 Club member, John Briggs, rightly pointed out, the Mods weren't welcome!)

Still a very popular haunt for bikers, it has also become home for all motorists of a nostalgic persuasion, and has both classic car and bike days.

We arrived (fashionably) late for the Italian Cars Day and the weather was dreadful, so unfortunately all the Ferraris, Lancias, Maseratis, etc. I was hoping to see didn't show up. Wimps!

But top marks to the Fiat 500 club who turned out in half-decent numbers in spite of the rain. It was lovely to meet everyone and I also discovered we aren't the only ones with a leaky windscreen. As I have long suspected, there is a design flaw allowing water to collect in the corner of the windscreen. Over time the seal fails, then water gets in and corrosion begins, leading to a common failure in the car's ability to not drip water on the passenger's knee!

We also got an excellent tip from the club chairman, Carl. Unclip the roof and open every door, hatch and lid before locking the garage to let everything breathe and give the seals a break while you're not using the car.

The photograph shows Carl's Fiat 500 with rather fetching trailer too. It's made up of half of another (previously rotten) 500 he chopped especially after stripping for spares. (Sadly some of these little Fiats are simply beyond repair, and this is a good, innovative use of what would otherwise have been scrap metal. Bob has one he wants to turn in to a sofa.)

Unfortunately, ours isn't in the picture because we were parked behind (with a gorgeous original Abarth - which had already left before we braved the weather to take photos... more's the pity). And I have to say, we were rather shamed by the immaculate condition of everyone elses Fiats. But at least ours was the only left hand drive there.

We now have to decide if we can be bothered to drive all the way to Beale Park from Epping in a Fiat 500 a week on Monday. It will be a nice day, but it's a pretty long way...

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