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Friday the 13th lady – but what’s the Fiat doing there?

Friday the 13th lady – but what’s the Fiat doing there?
A Fiat 131 Mirafiori is not the first car that springs to our minds when suitable transport for a modern-day Dracula is discussed. We were thinking Rolls-Royce Phantom. Ghost, Wraith or Spirit perhaps. There is also the Lotus Esprit or Lamborghini Diablo. While slightly more suitable to you reader, you’ll find the spooky Phantom Corsair or the Fiat 8V Démon Rouge perhaps appropriate.

Why ask in the first place? Well, today is Friday the 13th: a date that is commonly considered to be unlucky and linked to anything uncanny. Count Dracula is a major player in this field, the eerie character created by Bram Stoker, loosely based upon traditional Transylvanian folklore. But why on earth choose that theme for a publicity photograph for the 1974 Fiat 131 Mirafiori? We have no idea at all, and couldn’t find any link. Apart from Italy, the car was built in a record 13 (woohoo!) more countries, among them Turkey, Poland, Egypt, Zambia and Malaysia. But Transylvania – a region in north-western Romania – is not among them.

What we did find is that in 1974 the Transfăgărășan highway, or DN7C, was built right through the Transylvanian mountains. According to some it is the most spectacular road in the world. It did make travelling to this remote part of Europe a lot easier then it must have been in Bram Stoker’s days… Perhaps that was reason enough to explore things with the then-brand new Fiat? Hey, and if you do come across a lady in a Dracula cape then, there’s no way you would not want to immortalize that, right? But is this location Transylvania anyway? Location scouts, come in. No doubt this vampirella is our special Friday Lady for today, though.

(Words Jeroen Booij, picture Fiat PR)

Friday, 13 October 2017

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Spares partner

Spares partner
What do you do when spares for your beloved classic car are getting harder to find? There are several options. You can sacrifice the weekend by going to an autojumble, spend hours in muddy fields and hope you’ll find that obsolete part you need so hard for a couple of pounds/dollars/euros (giving you a tremendous amount of self-esteem). You can also surf the web just as long until you found the part in question - often in a remote part of the world - have it send over to you, hope it is indeed the correct bit and use that (slightly less self-esteemish, but still pretty good). You can also order a brand new part with one of the many specialized companies who remanufacture and sell rare parts for classics now (not quite so good).

But there is a fourth way. You can simply overcome all the trouble above by buying a second (donor) vehicle and keep that in case anything goes wrong. We have seen it more often (last May we bumped into one), and we saw another last weekend. The tank of our project car needed welding, which is not an everyday job for an everyday welder. Eventually we found a craftsman of the old type who was happy to take care of it. His workshop was one that exists no longer in everyday motoring life, more that of a classic blacksmith with proof of his old fashioned welding abilities in every corner. There was no doubt that this man had nothing up with modern stuff in the widest sense. And thus drove a Peugeot 304 pick-up as an everyday car. Not the one in his front garden, which was slowly being overgrown with ivy and seen here. That was the donor vehicle, just in case anything broke on his daily driver... Love it.

(Words and photograph Jeroen Booij)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

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The BMW Condor mystery

The BMW Condor mystery
From Samos over to Sylt – another European island, but slightly further up north. Reader Andre van de Loo came across a photograph that was taken on the German isle and would like to learn a bit more about the car that’s on it. Andre: “Although the car is no longer a mystery - it is a (the? - ed.) 1958 BMW Condor. But its background is. Someone send me the photo of this mystery car in Wenningstedt on the German Island of Sylt (below) and I managed to find a matching front-end view of the same car (above). However, I have no background information on who built this car, or where it was built. I would appreciate any information your readers can supply on this car.”

To be honest we didn’t know the BMW Condor ourselves and are now intrigued by it, too. Was it a coachbuilder of fame who created this rather outrageous car? Spohn? Rometsch? Autenrieth? Or was it a handyman who built it in his private garage? And what would be the base of it? 500-series, or perhaps even pre-war? The registration ‘BI’ is from Bielefeld in North-Rhine-Westphalia, but that didn’t bring us any further…


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

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Mayflower could do with some Silk oil

Sad Mayflower
We were contacted by David Barker who spotted a sad Triumph Mayflower on the island of Samos. David wrote: "This Triumph Mayflower has been standing at the side of the road in Samos (Greece) for the last twelve years or longer, sadly it is gradually deteriorating. If anyone is brave enough to rescue it, I think I could find out who owns it through my contacts over there." Well, that would be nice, wouldn't it? It must be a rare car in Greece, or not?

We found some more (and better) pictures of the same car here. We also recall a holiday at Crete where we saw several classics, among them an Alvis TD on British plates that was stranded along the road a long long time ago, judging by the layers of dust on its gracious body. But then, this was decades ago already... The last time we saw a Mayflower on these pages it was in slightly less dry circumstances..! 

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

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