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 circa and for the last 40 years in his amazing premises at Pontone, near Ravello, which was previously a paper manufacturing plant.
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 repainting.
This means that we have a stock of wheels, tyres, headlights, car panels, etc etc etc as you can imagine and we are now trying to put things into some kind of order and then to sell some of these parts, just 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 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.
Wow, things that would normally take a few days are now taking months, cos here in Italy we are under lockdown and we have been since early March. Here things are taken VERY seriously and if you do not have a valid reason to drive then the Police will stop you and send you home with a fine. Even more so anyone who has a vehicle with foreign plates, cos they are terrified that tourists may arrive and bring the dreaded lurgy.
So when I first bought the S4 all was good, but after only a week she started to run the engine fans all the time and they stayed on even when I parked the car before she was up to operating temperature!! That evening the fans must have run until the car battery was dead and when I charged and then changed the battery the problem continued. So I did some research and found A8parts in the UK and I asked their opinion about the part I needed to change to resolve this disaster.
Well, long story shortish they despatched the ECU (about 100 Quid for a used part) and finally I managed to get the car to my local INDI and onto his ramp. He removed the front bumper and guess what, we found TWO ECUs which appeared identical. So which one do we change?? We decided to change the easiest of the two, the one inside the front bumper, and then restarted the car and YESSSSS the fans did not start up!!!!!
A few pics below and yes, I am a happy bunny!!! So far so good.
So despite the lockdown I have been able to make some very limited progress with the S4. Firstly I replaced the car battery as I noticed that the one on the car was too small (physically it did not fill the battery space, which is on the front bulkhead, as well as charge wise it was only 75Ah whereas the orignal is 95Ah) so I ordered a new Varta. Coincidentally I then discovered that the battery is identical to the one on my Vito van which I had replaced recently, so I managed to get one trade for “only” 130 Euro.
Next problem, the car started to leave the fans running when I switched off the engine, which flattened the battery overnight. Hmmmm. I then discovered, having tried to removed various fuses, that this car has some side radiators as well as the usual front ones so no fuse would stop these fans, I had to disconnect the battery terminal every time I parked the car, hardly ideal.
I got into contact with the nice guys at a8parts in the UK and they agreed that this was likely a failed ECU thingy which, being located under the car, will often fail on these cars ‘cos they are exposed to all the worst of the weather and road grit. So one of those arrived and I hope to get it fitted this week so news to follow, I sure hope that this will sort this problem!!
Next, the wheels. The lovely Audi 18″ alloys were looking a bit tired, not suprising with almost 200k kms under her belt. So I took the 4 wheels up to a local place, they removed the old tyres and rubbed down and painted the wheels in a lovely grey, which is called Gun Metal Grey from the Fiat paint range. In the meantime I ordered 4 new Conti tyres, and this week I had the new tyres fitted onto the new-looking wheels and then refitted them to the car. Phew.
Well I finally managed to start the car up today and take her out of her 10 week garage/prison (covered in dust of course), up to my local car expert. Tomorrow he should fit the ECU to sort out the fans that won’t stop, and then I also gave him a full set of new Brembo discs and pads so I truly hope that I will soon have a great car!!
UPDATE today we managed to fit the ECU and YESSSSSSS the problem seems to be resolved and the fans no longer run all the time, at last!!
As previously reported I recently took delivery of a 2005 B6 Audi S4 with the wonderful V8 engine and the Audi Quattro 4WD system. She has been very well looked after for a 15 year old car and has loads of service stamps and receipts so I could not ask for more, and I think that the dreaded timing chain problem has also been sorted, that is a killer cos to change the chain requires the engine to come out of the car!!
The car arrived just before the dreaded virus lockdown so I have not yet been able to drive the car almost at all, just one very quick motorway trip up to Roma and back to flex her muscles a little. Since then she has been shut in a garage and even walking or cycling the 400m between house and garage has been difficult recently as the Police patrolled the town centre. So I have been visiting the car as and when I can, and I have also taken a few photos just to show what I have been up to.
The car is 15 years old, she looks really good and everything seems to work from the lovely electric sunroof to the satnav to the memory seats (Audi in this case showing very good quality) BUT as she has spent most of her life between Switzerland and the UK then I assumed that the underside of the car would show some signs of the dreaded rust, which cars here in sunny Italy tend not to have until they are much older. Plus I noted that the car battery was not the correct one (much smaller) so that needed changing, and I also saw that the alloy wheels had some road and pavement scars so I planned to have them refurbished and I found a local place that would do that.
When I removed the wheels my theory was proved half right and the wheel arches, suspension, brakes and all did have some signs of corrosion but not as much as I had feared, so far so good. I don’t have a ramp available so I removed the wheels one at a time and put axle stands under the car, while I took the wheels away to be reworked. Some pics follow to show you the work in progress, loads more work to do but this lockdown slows deliveries down to a crawl…….UPDATE pics of my wheels being repainted just added…and a new set of Continental Sport tyres just arrived too!!
I visited the lovely Porsche dealership in Padova in Febuary, have a look at this place /https://dealers.porscheitalia.com/padova/ita/ I was there with a mate who was looking to purchase a Macan S, either a new or almost new ex demo car, and looking to buy on leasing. Well he is a financial guy and so covers the leasing side but he is not really a car man having been given a free company car for almost all of his working life, he asked me to come along to offer some car and moral support.
The premises and this company are owned by the Porsche company, as are the 2 largest ones in the country so that they can handle their cars and customers as they wish without relying on the goodwill of an Italian Arfur Daley, so to speak. We were greeted as we entered the lovely premises and asked to sit down in reception with a lovely coffee while they called the sales guy who was going to look after us.
In short we were treated with a great deal of kindness and respect, and taken out in the demo car by a young guy who chatted to us in excellent English and turned out to be a semi pro racing driver so he really showed us how the car went and stopped! AMAZING experience. I of course spent most of the visit drooling over the stunning 911s and telling John that these were real cars, not the bloody van he was looking at, but hey each to his own and he purchased the lovely demo Macan S which made him a very happy bunny.
Beautiful place, folks, cars and experience, thank guys!
Well I have been visiting a lovely town in the north of Italy called Fiorenzuola d’ Arda quite often recently. As it is a very long drive from Roma I have stayed overnight a few times and just look at the lovely hotel I found https://www.mathis.it/en/
The Hotel Mathis is an amazing find! The food is amazing and the service is really something from the old days, friendly and welcoming. All of the staff are really kind and seem to enjoy meeting folks so I was made to feel at home straight away and the beer is great too, as well as the food.
And when I returned very late one night after attending a basketball match and then dinner with the team there was a graduation party in full swing, I was not tired so I stayed up for a couple of beers. And chatting to the hotel owners, a lovely young couple, he then took me to view his collection of motorbikes and here below is a selection wowowowowowow, I could not believe my eyes!!
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…
Here she is, let me introduce you, yes she is an Audi S4 Avant (B6, 2005). I frequently scout Flea Bay and other UK sites searching for LHD UK registered cars. Many come from Spain as the UK has some half a million expats in the south of Spain as the weather and the living is sooooo good I guess, on a UK pension in Spain everyone becomes richer. I have always loved Audi and BMW as well as VW, and this S4 recently caught my eye at a London dealer.
LHD. Tick. Wonderful engine. Tick x 3. FSH tick. Good nick for her age as well as great value for money tick. Interesting. So what else? A V8 4.2 engine in an A4 is a wonderful start as personally I am a big fan of cubes and normal aspiration. For 4 years I owned an A5 with a 3.2 V6 engine and that was fun too, but this sounds almost too good to be true. Full Audi service history with loads of stamps in the service book. Great condition for her age. Goodness.
I phoned and chatted with the seller, London based Transeuropean Carriage Company, see https://www.transeuropean.co.uk/contacts. I chatted with the owner a truly charming fellow, and I bought the car based on his word and the photos of the car on his web site. “A fool and his money” I hear you say??? Well maybe, but lets say so far so good. I firstly studied how to collect her cos I have a trailer plus my trusty van BUT the cost of motorway tolls with a trailer are prohibitive. So Ryanair over and drive back?? Sure but I need to take 3 days off work so….Transeuropean??
I asked them how much to deliver the car and guess what??? The boss drove it down the following week!! I collected her from Roma airport and yes, I am in love again!! WOT a car, amazing, 15 years old but feels and drives like a much younger car. A few more pics follow and a fuller report when I start to get to know her…..
Well, the fiendish plan was to take my beloved 2015 Yamaha TMax scooter plus my sweet 2013 Honda CB500 back to sell in the UK, and to collect my brand-new TMax 530DX which was waiting for me at Alf England (www.alfengland.co.uk). Yamaha have just launched the TMax 560 so many dealers were caught with stock of the 530 and I managed to get a good deal from Martin, he wanted to sell his last one.
Unfortunately the only one left in stock was black which is NOT my chosen colour for cars or bikes, (my old one was white which I much prefer) but beggars and choosers and all, the deal was excellent so I could not resist mainly because my old one did not have ABS which I personally regard as essential for 2 wheelers. You may not notice until its toooo late.
So I set off from Roma on a Saturday morning at about 7am, destination Chamonix for my overnight stop cos I love Chamonix and the Mercure Hotel is lovely, just a few kilometres after the Mont Blanc tunnel. When I arrived at about 5pm the temperature was already sliding below zero so I decided to park the van in the hotel garage for an extra 10 Euro, to avoid having to scrape and de-ice in the morning as I was planning to leave fairly early tho’ not at dawn! Well, I pulled out of the hotel garage at about 6am at minus 8.5 degrees and the climb up to the road was all ice and snow, the van however was great on her wonderful winter tyres. I headed north and as usual in France the motorways were excellent, not too busy and totally clear of ice.
I hit Calais at about 4pm and was put on the next P and O ferry leaving in 30 minutes, I headed up to the Business Lounge for my free newspapers plus tea, coffee or champers and as usual I had two or three coffees and read several newspapers. At Dover I then headed to Cambridge and luckily the traffic was fairly light, I hit the M2/M25/M11 and was soon in Shelford for beers and rest.
So the next morning I headed north to the Midlands to see Martin and the gang….some pictures below!! By the time I returned to Amalfi the red van had covered 5150 kms and averaged almost 11km/l, not bad for an old girl. Great trip, zero oil consumed too cos the van is only running at 2300rpm at 130 kph, very relaxed.