Driving a Vintage Sports Car in Provence – Part 2

After spending two wonderful days with the Speedster, I dropped by ProvenceClassics Thursday evening.  Matt had been working feverishly with his assistant, also named Matt. He had managed to put in the new camshaft, close the valve cover, and switch out the dual Solex for the gruntier Webers.  I was there just  in time for him to fire up the engine and synchronize the carbs which was easy enough in Matt’s very capable hands… By this time, he was all smiles as he got in the car to drive it out of the garage to allow me to take the helm….however he soon coasts to a stop a few car lengths out of the garage and gets out of the car.  By now the grin has all but disappeared and he informs me that the brake servo seems to have lost its function and the brake pedal is touching the floor without doing much else. It was nearing dark and it would take some more diagnostic time as well as time to repair the issue. By now, we were both a bit disappointed, perhaps Matt more than me as he couldn’t fulfill my dream of driving a light tossable Italian car through the ever windy roads of Provence, at least not at this juncture in time.  As a founding member of Scuderia110, probably more than anyone else, I understood that as rare as it may be, situations like this can occur anytime. This is why Richard and Matt with the rest of the crew at ProvenceClassics are doing something pretty amazing and daunting, which is keeping these vintage sports cars more than half century old constantly up and running so other Motörheads like myself can enjoy the beautiful roads of Provence.

At Scuderia110, we also have to deal with the “uncertainty” factors which inevitably comes as a package when it comes to maintaining and repairing our beloved Vintage & Classic Sports cars….  No matter how comprehensive our approach, our cars have humbled us to realize something else can always require attention…. And yet, we wouldn’t have it any other way because it simply comes with the territory of owning and maintaining our glorious road machines… Are we elitist?  maybe… but we are definitely passionate about our hobby and are able to appreciate and enjoy the rewards of ownership while willing to be patient and pay the price, literally, when they break down.

By the way, the Porsche Speedster ran flawlessly on the windy roads as well as on the highways, easily keeping up with traffic and actually felt stronger and more stable the faster it was driven. Perhaps this is the reason why Lancia is the only Italian car in their fleet, and the only car disabled 😊.  Anyways, as a replacement, we were given a beautiful MGB from the mid 60’s, which was perfectly fine with me.

So I spent my third driving day with the MGB exploring through the beautiful villages of Provence.  After lunch, we decided to reach up to the top of Menerbes where there is a quaint wine & truffle store, Maison de la Truffe. After making a few purchases, when we came out of the store, MGB was dead cold on the turn of the key.  All it took was one phone call to Matt at ProvenceClassics to diagnose the problem over the phone. There was a small, red kill switch that my daughter stepped on as she was getting out of the make-do back seat. Once the lever was switched back on, she roared back to glory.

Due to a late dinner, we decided to return the MGB a bit early around 6 pm.  What a pleasant surprise when my wife and I were greeted with… yes you guessed it… the smiling grill of a dark blue Lancia Fulvia, finally all ready for the windy roads of Provence.

Even though my rental time had expired, Matt handed the keys over to me and told me to live out my dreams of driving the Lancia con Brio on the roads of Provence, exactly as had been planned! I have added a few videos of me doing my best impersonation of Walter Rohrl carving through the windy roads of Menerbes. The car was totally stock except for the gruntier Webers. The Fulvia is a front wheel drive, but you would never know by its  marvelous tossability.  My navigator is my wife and though she was tipping side to side as I slalomed through the turns, I thought she did a good job video-recording this epic experience.

I did have to return the car later that night, but like anything amazing and great, you don’t need but a fleeting moment to enjoy the experience, to the fullest.

Kudos to Matt for his perseverance and being so steadfast in getting the Lancia ready for me. I have driven other Fulvias with dual Solex set up but the Webers definitely packed an extra punch in the meaty part of the rev range. Just so that you can also listen to the wonderful induction sound of Lancia while you navigate through the windy roads of Menerbes, you will want to book the next flight to Provence!

Thank You to ProvenceClassics for Job well done and allowing me to live out my dream vacation in the South of France!! Tres Bien!

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