Please tell me I’m not the only one to hold on to clothes thinking, “When I lose a bit of weight, that will be perfect”.
In my case, that includes half a wardrobe of vintage clothes I used to wear in the days when I drove classic cars. The obvious route to a bit of cash and some space in my cupboards is eBay, but it’s a soul-sucking experience, and you always lose on the postage. (The post office just lies.).
So a friend and I booked a stall at the Bath Vintage and Antiques Fair, held the first and last Sundays of each month in the old railway station by Sainsbury’s. The next questions was, which car should I book to take all our stuff?
The most stylish way to arrive would obviously be in a classic car, but then I’ve probably have oil under my fingernails, or we’d have to clamber down from a tow-truck. A retro-look car would be great – what a pity the Fiat 500 is so tiny.
But Fiat had an answer – the 500L, designed to give young parents a sliver of style in their plastic soft-play worlds.
It’s certainly roomy; but I was a little disappointed the press car didn’t come with the fully functioning Lavazza espresso machine on its options list. (Or a chocolate dispenser and an ice cream-maker.)
L is for Large, but S for Supersize would have been more accurate. And it’s a bit of a cheat because the L isn’t actually based on the original bambino; it shares underpinnings with larger Fiats. When I first saw it, I wanted to know why wasn’t called the 600, after the classic 600 Multipla of the 1950s and ‘60s? The answer is a victory for the marketing department. Fiat wants to ‘do a Mini’ and create a range using the same seductive name. The next version reach dealerships is the more masculine 500L Trekking released in June (From £17,095) followed by the MPW seven-seater in September.
In my view, the pumped-up Fiat doesn’t delight the eye in the same way as the original, but it has a load more personality than most alternatives, and it retains the bright, retro interior design, particularly in the cheaper Pop and Easy trim. (The posh Lounge is a bit boring inside).
It isn’t as much fun to drive as its archrival Mini Countryman (from £16,545) or the new Renault Captor crossover (from £12,495) either. It’s quiet and comfortable on fast roads, but in town it feels bus-like. The gearchange between first and second is heavy and gets tiring.
When loading for the V&A, we were delighted to find the ‘Cargo Magic Space’ under the floor (which can slide in at different heights) and stashed all our breakables in there.
Then we piled in our trestle table with vintage tableclothes (tick on the list) clothes rail and hangers (tick), three folding chairs (tick) and all our wares (many ticks). All three of us got in with just one seat folded, so we all with had plenty of elbow and legroom for the journey.
We certainly attracted attention as everyone else rolled up in their Citroen C3 Picassos and Lovejoy Volvos. It was early, but already hot, and most people were walking straight past to B&Q to stock up with charcoal.
Then someone mentioned the M word. Murray. It was July 7, and that afternoon that not only was it the Wimbledon men’s final, but the day Andy Murray would face Novak Djokovic in the final.
At two o’clock we could hear the collective sigh of lonely stallholders sticking pins in melting wax dummies of tennis players.
We packed up and got home in time for the second set. Well done, Andy, it was a great win, but my wallet was left decided light and my clothes came back to their crushed home in my wardrobe.
My co-stallholders will never trust me to organise anything ever again, but at least the Fiat 500L did the job with style.
1.6 Multijet 105hp Pop Star
Price £17,490, with options £18,940
Max speed 112mph
0-62mph 11.3 seconds
Official combined 62.8mpg; my actual consumption 50mpg
Comfort pack including lumbar adjustment at £200 is a good investment