After attending the first Modified Abarth event at the Coventry Transport Museum in 2016. The long 3 and a half hour one way trip leaving home at the early hours in the morning wasn’t one I was looking forward to doing again. That last half hour on the journey knowing you’re in touching distance combined with a lack of sleep makes you question why you do this in the first place.
The run up to the second event taking place on 2nd July 2017 was one of personal irritation for me. Nothing to do with the actual event I might add, it was more whether if I was wanting to put myself through the long day again. The first event was brilliant but the travelling... not so much. I more or less made the decision not to go on the run up to it. Purposely not requesting a day off for the Monday knowing I wouldn’t be needing it if I was going to be knackered from the trip. Schoolboy error on my part.
Photo Credit: Ross Johnston
During the week the buzz around the Modified Abarth social media channels was all there to see. Various owners from across the country all putting themselves down as attending showing what they would be arriving in on the day. As the days passed in the week building up to it I was having that personal battle of sticking to my guns and not going. But the temptation of knowing what I could possibly miss out on was too much to turn down.
Photo Credit: Ben Au
I remember it vividly, it was at around 11pm the night before I decided, `Right, I’m going` - Nothing like leaving it to the last minute! The Abarth was already prepped as it is and I had to then try and get a couple of hours sleep knowing I was actually going to travel again in the early hours. That dreaded 3am decat Monza noise knowingly it was going to wake up the neighbourhood. But I didn’t care, I was looking forward to the event and catching up with the owners you only may get to see once or twice within the year in person.
The journey down was as straight forward as you would hope it to be. Couple of pit stops to top up on the caffeine and that dreaded last half hour to get through. The approach into the city centre of Coventry on a hot day felt like there was an actual racing event in the streets leading up to the event. Nothing in terms of owners racing each other, but the roar of all of the various exhausts popping and banging their way into the museum took the excitement to a different level.
Photo Credit: Dean Stead Photography
I made it, now the fun begins. The quick marshalling into position by the Modified Abarth team would give me the chance to get sorted and then begin the task of getting the car ready for the show and shine competition on the day. I’m no expert when it comes to detailing but I try my best to have the car looking it’s as good as it can be... Just as long as it doesn’t rain and then that’s a different matter. There was no chance of that happening on this day though. What felt like 35 degrees of raw heat, all of the cars that attended on the day were all gleaming. It was going to be a tough ask as the level of competition was very high which I wouldn’t have expected anything less.
When it comes to the heat, I always go with the view point of `Yeah it’ll be alright, it’s only the sun` - I say this a lot for someone who burns anything above 10 degrees. Knowing I made the mistake of not taking the usual precautions of sun cream. I was going to be regretting it by the end of the day.
Photo Credit: Unknown
I made my way around the event in an attempt to get as much footage as possible. Checking out each individual model of Abarth and seeing all of the personal touches that had gone into each car. Some were kept near standard with small additions here and there… to then the extreme throwing out the rule book and going all out. You’ll be able to see what I mean from the video below. A sea of colour which drew a lot of attention from the general public too.
YouTube: Abarth Club North East
There was one car in particular that I had wanted to check out on the day. I didn’t get the chance to make it to the Abarth Days 2017 event that year. But there was a lot of attention on one car from the event. Not knowing much about it from only getting the chance to see it from behind a phone screen I got to see it in all its glory. The Abarth 500 GTO was here. Completely kitted out in carbon fibre with an endless list of modifications keeping that OEM look about it. After giving it the full 360 keeping a hold of my jaw from hitting the floor, I respectfully had a look through the driver window keeping my distance as I would never touch another car without getting that approval to do so. No sooner as I’m checking out the Bride seats, I hear a voice... "Why don’t you get inside?"
Photo Credit: Ben Au
At this moment I didn’t expect that this first handshake would one of the many turning points in our clubs history. Our current club admin Ben Au introduced himself to me giving me a full run down of his Abarth. Knowing he had probably repeated the rundown of modifications all day, I wasn’t going to take much of his time as there would appear to be a lot of people wanting to speak to him. It was here where he had informed me he lived locally in the North East. Our club had only been established for around 3 weeks at this stage. It was an absolute no brainer to get the seed planted and offer an opportunity for him to be involved with us from the off. The rest you could say is history and we’re still going till this day. Ben’s car is truly one of a kind, a must see for any owner and the go to guy if you’re looking to take your Abarth to crazy figures.
Following this, it was a chance to go and attempt to find a quiet part in the venue (not possible obviously) to get a breather and take it all in from what was a brilliant day. Already very sunburnt, it allowed me to find some shade check in with the club for those back home who couldn’t make it down. Already aware some didn’t make that last minute decision like I did, the response from adding a few photos was met with envy from those who couldn’t make it. Not that I was trying to rub it in at all! – But it would at least ensure if there was going to be another event again like it that we would see more from the North East flying the flag from our region.
Photo Credit: Ben Au
Another Abarth that would draw a lot of attention on the day would come from Laura Croft’s insane interior sound display. One by one would jump in and have their soul prized away from their body due to the serious level of bass included in the audio. Something we’re unlikely to see again unless there is one owner daring to go all in with it. I like many had followed Laura’s journey with her Abarth when she was in ownership of it and she was always ahead of the curve. A great car to represent the Modified Abarth scene leaving those who dared to enter the car knowing they would probably not feel anything like it again.
Photo Credit: Colin Rear
Show & Shine would conclude the event with all owners gathering around the Abarth UK pod that was setup as a meeting point. Displayed outside of it was at the time the brand new Abarth 695 XSR including the Motorbike alongside it. Always nice to see a new model fresh out of the factory. The crowd got together with the Modified Abarth team summarising the list of categories on who would go on to win the prizes on the day. It was no surprise at all to see Ben take the `Best in Show` award. Not being biased but it had my vote from the walk around on the day too. That said, everyone who attended to make it possible were all worthy of winning and it was a credit to the Modified Abarth team for putting it altogether for everyone to enjoy.
Photo Credit: Colin Rear
You can view a different perspective from the event courtesy of Stef ABTV from his YouTube channel. 10 points if you can spot me and 10 more if you see my `then` Abarth!
YouTube: Stef ABTV
The event was 10/10, couldn’t fault it. My only downside was knowing I had another 3 and a half hour journey home to look forward to. But it was totally worth it. I won’t go into detail about the trip home but with being that tired and approaching the North East I was sure I had passed the sign for Durham about 20 times.
Looking back I wonder had I not made the trip down, whether Abarth Club North East would be where it is now…. Who knows?
Photo Credit: Ben Au
If you’re an Abarth owner and haven’t already done so. Please search for Modified Abarth on Facebook and also @ModifiedAbarth on Instagram. The perfect place for all of our modified needs with plenty of experts at hand that can provide their tips and advice if you are thinking of doing modifications to your car.