All the big company men were on hand apart from Sergio Marchionne, but the main event was the performance of magician and illusionist Dynamo, who turned a 500X image into an actual car in front of a huge, gasping crowd.
Amid the hoo-ha, we slightly ignored the 500X itself. It looked distinctly promising, although its somewhat cautious styling did remind me (as Fiat insiders know) that the current 500 hatch is a truly exceptional design among modern cars.
Read our full review on the Fiat 500X SUV
FRIDAY - Memories of our recently departed friend and colleague Ronald ‘Steady’ Barker keep crowding in, perhaps because so much has been written about his life.
The recent sighting of a Ferrari 308 GTB in London’s morning traffic put me in mind of a trip Barker and I once made through France, Belgium and the Netherlands in my own GTB, searching for a particular car. An inveterate buyer of daft motors, Barker at the time owned a Lafitte, an Austin Seven-sized car powered by a three-cylinder radial engine.
Our mission was to find another Lafitte for me to buy – so we could found a UK Lafitte Owners’ Club for which Steady, addicted to puns, had already written the motto: “Lafitte First”. It warms me now to think of two car-obsessed idiots in a Ferrari spending four days of their lives trying to buy a car for no better reason than to fulfil a dopey, home-made mission statement.
In later years, Barker’s main ambition was to outlive his great friend Alex Moulton, and he managed it by about two years. I like to think that somewhere, right now, Steady and Alex are happily reunited, bickering away about sleeve valves and interconnected suspensions.
SATURDAY - My rule on single-model car books is that they’re mostly for zealots, not weekend reading for me, but I made an exception today for a highly detailed tome on the Mercedes-Benz W123, the ubiquitous ‘Berlin taxi’.
The book, written by Martin Buckley and Mark Cosovitch, labels the W123 “the finest saloon car of the 20th century”, a bold claim that encourages you to search 220 pages and 400-odd images for the evidence. The most effective recommendation for this book, however, is the quality of its writers; Cosovitch is a peerless marque expert, Buckley one of the nation’s finest writers on cars. Even if you don’t especially care for the W123, this is a book you’ll enjoy.