We have been locked-down at home since early March and it is just now starting to be eased, 3 months later. So the old S4 has been locked in the garage gathering dust and looking rather sad and sorry for herself. Now finally I have been able to take her out for a drive and wow she goes really well for an old girl!
I guess that she no longer has all of the starting 350 ish horses now that she has more than 190k kms under her wheels, but she still goes very well indeed. (I have a plan for an engine carbon clean, more to follow). As I drove recently to buy some wine at our favourite winemaker (see https://www.facebook.com/cantineiovine/) I saw a car wash which was open and in operation, so I stopped for a chat with the owners.
Well the Audi was second in the wash queue and for 15 Euro they cleaned her very thoroughly both inside and out, happy days indeed. Here follow a few pics to show just how good she now looks: In the coming few days the wheel centres will be painted and refitted too.
I work part time for a lovely bloke Luigi Cioffi, at Auto Cioffi Ravello. He is a vehicle bodywork genius, he has been repairing cars and vans for the last 50 years and for the last 40 years in his amazing premises at Pontone, near Ravello, which was previously a paper manufacturing factory.
This man and his staff have been working in this premises for some 45 years and the workload has always been heavy, he had many employees in the past all working to repair and repaint cars, vans, motorbikes and almost everything else. Last week we saw a BMW motorbike plus 3 cars repainted and each job is unique, but in general involves changing several parts as well as then repaairing and repainting.
This means that we have a stock of used wheels, tyres, headlights, car panels, doors etc etc etc as you can imagine and we are now trying to put things into some kind of order and to sell some of these parts, to clear some space!! As you can imagine alot of the bits are Fiat, but we have a selection from almost all of the European car brands plus Japanese and almost everything.
If anyone is interested please contact me, we could surely fill a container and we are near to the port of Salerno so we could also export these parts very easily.
You may love or even hate the original Fiat 500, but you cannot deny that they form a part of the European motoring heritage. When Italy came out of the Second World War, the first cheap and mass-produced contribution to getting the Italians mobile again was possibly Piaggio with their little mopeds, and then Fiat with their small cars.
The original 500 was introduced in 1957, see this excellent Wikipedia article for the full story https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_500 and was a truly amazing achievement. Today in 2020 you can still find these cars but accidents, rust and just age have of course taken their toll.
Recently a mate of mine asked me to advertise his 500 for sale, so I put it on Ebay UK as although it is of course left hand drive, there are some UK collectors looking for these fairly rare cars and as few were made in rhd they are prepared to purchase the lhd cars as well.
This all happened at about the time that this terrible virus closed down Italy and of course Europe so John was unable to fly over to see the car and instead asked me for many many photographs, which I supplied. Transport was of course the next problem and I found to my suprise that a freight ship sails from Salerno to the UK every week, and it takes about a week to arrive. We asked for a quote and the price is fairly reasonable, so if our UK mate John decides to go ahead then I will take some pics when we take the little car to meet the rather large ship!!! Watch this space.
I recently started a part time job at a local bodyshop. My mates are convinced that my lady pays him to pay me just to get me out of the house, which of course could be true but I don’t really care cos the experience is amazing.
Mr Cioffi has been plying his trade in the Ravello area for about 45 years and he is still going strong at almost 70. He is one of the few remaining craftsmen true to that name and he has repaired more cars than I have had hot dinners for sure. Now I am starting to understand something of what he does and I help out in the office, collecting and delivering cars and customers as well as visiting scrap yards to collect spares.
His work has changed dramatically over the years, he tells me. In the old days his customers used to keep their cars for many many years and so would come to him every few years for some repairs and even to have a new colour! These days instead most of us keep our cars for a much shorter time so the work is now only repairs. Also, airbags greatly complicate the job these days as a car can be written off if too many air bags have exploded, as the cost of replacement air bags is prohibitive.
I am also now his paint mixer, another really interesting job. But first lets see some photos I have taken recently…
Well I collected my beautiful new Yamaha MT10SP last week in the Midlands from Alf England and I then rode her home to Amalfi. You need a day to ride thro France and another to cover Italy, on a bike you MUST take yer time and allow for weather, tiredness, traffic and all of the other factors that can influence your ride.
I was very lucky with the weather, in the UK it was mainly warm and dry and I only hit a couple of wet patches going from the Midlands across to Cambridge. Then on the Friday I headed up to Nottingham to see family so I then set off from Nottingham at midday Saturday down to Dover and hopped onto the P and O ferry for Dover. I love the ferry as much as I don’t like the tunnel, I always buy an open ticket with P and O and I find their service excellent.
So in the afternoon I arrived in France and I headed into Calais to fill up the bike at the local Supermarket and I then headed south on the wonderful French motorway system. Luckily I have the new European Telepass so I do not even need to stop at the Pay Stations, great for the motorcyclist as it saves removing gloves and then searching for tickets and or cash or credit cards.
I stopped at Reims where I had booked a night at the excellent Ibis Budget at Thillois, I have stayed many times and the area has eveything you need for a good meal, beer and rest and the hotel car park is secure! I find that a gentle start to a long trip is always a good idea as you need to get to know the bike, so a long slog is never a good idea for the first day.
From Reims the next morning I rode south in increasingly warm weather and the French motorways are sooooo good you can generally cruise at whatever speed you choose. This bike has cruise control so I selected 140k/h to (hopefully) stay out of trouble and headed towards Chamonix. When I got nearer the information signs showed a waiting time of one hour for the Mont Blanc tunnel so I decided not to stop for lunch as I had planned, instead I overtook the hundreds of cars and got through the tunnel quickly, they charge an extortionate 32 Euro for the bike compared to about 45 for my van!!
So I was in Italy and so I could increase my cruising speed as the Italian police are more lenient and in general anything up to 160 seems to be ok, so I headed to a lovely hotel I know in Biella for the night as I was starting to feel quite tired. The Hotel Europa is in the city centre but very quiet and comfortable with an excellent eating house very near.
The next day was a gentle ride south down the motorway, I stopped for lunch in Orte with an old mate and then from Orte down to Amalfi where I arrived at about 4pm, tired but very very happy!! The bike returned an overall 16.5 km/litre (46mpg) which is great, the only problem is the range as she only has 16 litres of petrol so this means a stop every 180/200 kms when she runs onto reserve. WHAT an experience, total ride was about 2400km. A few pics follow:
Here at Autocioffi (see us at www.autocioffi.it) we have a super premises which used to be a paper mill (so it is next to a small river) and we have 3 floors of covered parking space. We generally have about 20 of our own cars here and we have space for at least another 30.
Our 20 ish cars are all up for sale on our website and we also do servicing, tyre fitting, maintenance as well as bodywork repairs and painting so we are fully equipped to look after all makes of cars and vans, and we even collect and return cars in the surrounding area. We are well-known by all of the local hotels so many tourists come here too, if they need any car-type help.
We have recently devised a really cunning scheme. If you plan to visit Italy for an extended length of time (minimum for instance 6 months) and you need wheels, we can help. See our list of cars for sale, we specialise in small Fiat, VW and Renault but we generally have a variety of cars from a 2 seater up to a SUV. The retail prices are all shown. So what can we offer?? You come and see the car and try it, see what you think. Try more than one or two, no problem.
If you find a car you like, you buy it, simple no? Well sure, but here is our proposal. You tell us how long you wanna keep it, you must insure the car, and when you bring the car back to us PROVIDING OF COURSE THE CONDITION IS AS IT WAS then we buy it back, LESS an agreed rental fee. How much? Well that will depend on the value of the car you choose plus the proposed rental period. Contact us for a quote.
Check out Avis and Hertz, of course they will provide a much newer car BUT they will charge you about 1200 Euro per month (category F), and from Ravello you must go and get the car from Salerno. And we can also offer car or motorbike storage here at very reasonable rates too.
Clever idea number two: We have plenty of secure parking spaces where you can leave your car (or motorbike or scooter or whatever) on a daily weekly or even monthly basis. Parking in this area (Ravello/Amalfi) is VERY hard to find as well as expensive, so contact us for a quote!
I had a full week holiday booked in downtown Estepoda, at a lovely resort called Costa Natura, practically on the beach (Costa del Sol) of the Spanish south coast only about 40km up the coast from Gibralter.
We debated which way to travel from Italy and madam chose a flight from Naples to Malaga with Ryanair, cheap as chips. I instead decided that the old bike and I both needed some exercise so I booked the ferry from Roma (Civitavecchia) over to Barcelona, a very boring but motorway-saving 20 hour ferry trip. My trusty Yamaha FJR1300 was prepared for the trip (just a check over really, as she is only 2 years old) and I set off from Amalfi on a very warm Thursday afternoon, destination Roma.
I stayed overnight in the very very hot capital city and the next morning I attended a business meeting on the south of the city. I spent the rest of the day visiting friends and then set off to the port town of Civitavecchia, which is about 80km north west from Roma. I rode very gently as I knew that the ferry was running behind schedule. The 20 hour ferry trip should have started at 10pm to arrive at 8pm the following evening, whereas the delay was said to be several hours. So I found a wonderful Trattoria in the city near to the port for a slow dinner, truly excellent.
I returned to the port at about 11pm and I joined the long queue of motorcyclists (at the head of the queue as bikes usually get on first) and got chatting with a group of Italian Harley riders. There were 4 Harleys with 6 guys and girls from Terni, lovely bunch. Well we stayed on the dock until 4am and then we finally boarded, in the meantime one of the Harley riders had given up on the holiday and another had returned home for his forgotten ID card. Boarding was a wonderful feeling and the ship finally set sail. We docked at Porto Torres (Sardinia) at some stage and then we finally disembarked in Barcelona at 4am Sunday, only 8 hours late!!!
Thinking that I should travel in the cool of the morning, I headed south and stopped every hour for coffee until dawn, I was cruising at just 100-110 kph until my head fog cleared and until there was light enough to see. I was following my TomTom satnav more or less blind. Well it worked, cos at 4pm ish I arrived at Estepona and found the resort that we had booked, wonderful! I really did not fully appreciate the place as I got the key and went straight to bed until my alarm rang at 11pm, as madam was due to arrive at middnight.
Well the resort was totally wonderful, almost on the beach! We enjoyed the pool, the bar and the restaurant and almost never moved offsite cos it was total relax! We just took a short trip by bike to explore amazing Gibralter one day and then the following Sunday it was time to head back to Barcelona for the ferry home. I washed the bike and checked her over, the tyres just needed a bit of air and the engine oil level was perfect and I set off north at about midday and stopped for the night near Valencia in a wonderful Motel I found by chance, right next to the main road.
The going was fairly tough as the temperature soared up to 40 degrees, but luckily the heat was fairly dry so did not make me sweat TOO much!. The FJR is a big 1300cc 4 cylinder water cooled bike with 140 horses, she performed perfectly as well as consuming ZERO oil in 3000 km and returned excellent fuel consumption too, she is the most comfortable bike I have ever owned and truly great for long distances. I had the two panniers on the back but without much weight so the bike was perfectly stable even at er higher speeds officer.
Luckily on Monday the boat is always on time (Grimaldi told me that when I asked!) so after check in I headed up to find a good bar on the Ramblas and got some food and drink before boarding, and the trip home was excellent. Thanks Spain and thanks Yamaha too!!!
But the web site and the Facebook page really tell very little about the company and their activity. These guys are amazing. The boss Luigi has been working now for 45 years and he is still the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave, as well as the hardest worker, he almost never stops. What do they do?? Kind of everything.
The main activity is car sales and car repairs, so they have usually about 20 to 25 cars in stock to sell. In addition they have a paint shop with a massive computer controlled paint mixing system. Plus an oven for painting the cars which is big enough for the biggest SUVs and which gets up to about 80 degrees C. Plus they also have a Blackhawk Car Straightening System, an amazing machine which enables you to realign a car after a heavy smash and or just to check that a car is straight.
And I have now seen all of this in action!! The main man (Luigi) is truly amazing, his panel beating skills are worthy of a YouTube film, and he employs a guy (Paolo) a full time spray painter with talent. They are an amazing team and Manuela (Luigi’s daughter) is the office lady who coordinates their work and tries to keep them more or less under control.
The results?? Well, these guys offer more or less a complete “servicenolimits” service to car owners in Ravello and along the Amalfi Coast! Luigi’s son Leo has a tyre business next door, so they offer a total car service. They collect a car and fit new tyres, change the oil and filter, repair some body damage and return the car. Stunning. Some photos below.
I have been buying, repairing and riding motorcycles since I was 14, and I still learn something every time I go for a ride. Whilst a car is relatively easy to drive, at least from A to B, a bike is really complex and totally not easy to ride also because it will fall over easily, a car cannot fall over (almost).
My best mate runs one of the best Yamaha dealerships in the UK and other mates run the biggest Yamaha and KTM dealer in Europe, and I visit and chat often with these guys as well as others and I also visit Trade shows most years, EICMA etc. I also work with a bike race school for many years so I have loads of experience of bikes and riding, but I am always learning.
The concentration required to ride a bike is at least 10 times that required to drive a car. If you don’t feel like riding the bike today DONT, cos 80% is fine for a car but not for a bike, you need 100%.
So now I have started my own riding school, based on simple stuff theory and then practice, using my bike for me and you use yours, individual tuition OR at most 2 or 3 riders with similar levels of riding experience and ability. Contact me if you wanna try, and lets improve your riding together. And ps I am not a bike snob, I have a moped, a scooter, a Quad and some bikes so we can use anything on 2 wheels, the technique is more or less the same, SAFETY FIRST.
As Freddy Mercury sang, “Keep yourself alive” and this is our motto. And Stop Press, I have just purchased a lovely Honda CB500 for teaching purposes, pics to follow.