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travel

Finally the old S4 leaves the starting blocks, yessssss……

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 travel 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 in Feb 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 even 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 for a new one 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, in the meantime I have purchased some more stuff for the car so we will be fitting them soon I hope…..

Categories
Audi Car service Repairs Transport travel Vintage cars

One or two jobs done and the old girl starts to feel better….updated!

So during the dreaded lockdown I have been able to make 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 side radiators as well as the usual front ones and no fuse would stop these fans, I had to disconnect the battery terminal every time I parked the car, hardly ideal.

So 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. Wow, progress.

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!!

Some work in progress pictures follow:

Here is the electronic thing to be replaced on the car
Categories
Car service Transport travel

What a wonderful experience at Porsche Padova…thanks guys!!

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 as 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 knowledge and moral support.

The premises and this company are owned directly 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!

Categories
Amalfi Coast Car service Repairs Transport travel Vintage cars

Have a look at this lovely little classic car…..

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 get the Italians mobile again was possibly Piaggio with their little mopeds, and then Fiat with their small cars.

The original Fiat 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 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 the car left hand drive, there are many UK collectors looking for these fairly rare cars and as very 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 a potential customer 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.

UPDATE! I eventually submitted the car to Catawiki and she is sold.

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travel

I just bought a new car…..well not toooo old anyway…..

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…..

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Amalfi Coast Car rental Hotels Hotels, villas, appartments and B&B Repairs Scooter Transport travel

We have some great cars for sale here in Ravello and…we can organise storage as well as long-term “rental”…..

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!

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Amalfi Coast Car rental Car service Repairs Transport travel

Car repairs, painting and selling used cars on the Amalfi Coast…

I recently discovered an amazing reality, only a few kilometres from Amalfi about halfway between Amalfi and Ravello. The company is called Auto Cioffi and their web site is www.autocioffi.it and their Facebook page is here https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=auto%20cioffi&epa=SEARCH_BOX.

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.

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Amalfi Coast Car rental Car service Motorcycle and Bicycle Repairs Scooter travel Yamaha and Suzuki

Our new property!!!! Finally we have the keys

We have been searching for a suitable property for about two years, on and off, and we have finally found the property of our dreams!!! Last month we exchanged contracts and took possession of a stunning garage in lovely Polvica, which is one of the 13 small towns which make up the area called Tramonti. The location is perfect for the Amalfi coast, Tramonti is 6 kilometers inland from Maiori, which is them 6 kilometers up the coast from Amalfi.

The properties are actually 2, one very small “house” which is actually a single room with an outside toilet, plus nearby the amazingly modern and large garage. The house was purchased only to enable the purchase of the garage as only a resident is allowed to purchase the garage. The garage is amazing!! It is large and almost new, about 6 metres wide and 8 metres long PLUS it has a bathroom with a shower too. And upstairs on the garage roof there is a garden with a lemon tree plus a kiwi plant, and plenty of space for a BBQ and sunbathing!!!

We have already started to have work carried out by some local builders to ensure that both of the properties are in perfect condition, then I will take some pictures to add to this blog. Great news indeed!!

 

 

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Amalfi Coast Appartments and B&B Car rental Hotels Hotels, villas, appartments and B&B Transport travel

Visit the wonderful Amalfi coast with a guide or just some practical guide-lines

We all know that the Amalfi coast is stunning and well worth a visit. Nothing new there. But the best way to get there? The best way to get around? What to avoid and why? All of these important points and more are not always obvious as the coast is very long, winding and varied and each town along the coast has its own quirks and characteristics.

Here follow a few insider tips and guidelines for you to consider before you visit and/or I am happy to offer more precise guidelines for specific visits:

  1. Avoid August. Period. Unless you love sweltering heat, massive overcrowding and traffic queues then it is better to leave well alone. July is also very hot and slightly less crowded. August swells the 3,000 Amalfi population to 30,000 per day.
  2. Do not bring a car unless you have to. The coast road is very beautiful but also very crowded and narrow. Driving in the area is not easy even out of season, and from May through to October is really slow and hard work. Or get a local to drive you.
  3. From Roma you can take a fast train from Termini station to Salerno station and this takes two hours or a bit less. Then from Salerno station a walk of only about 300 metres takes you to the ferry port.
  4. The wonderful ferry service works from April thro’ to October and covers the entire coast from Salerno to Sorrento. It is not expensive and hops along the coast, the ferry is probably faster than any road transport and you also get to view the coast from the sea as well as enjoy the sea breeze.
  5. Book early, as last minute is very complex and expensive and generally you will find only out of the way places. Folks still book the same room for next year when they leave their favourite hotel, like in the old days!
  6. Be very cautious of the giants like Booking, TripAdvisor and the rest cos they are not reliable on the coast. Simply put these giants cannot get the percentages they want here as the hotels and restaurants are generally full anyway, so often they seem to publish rubbish. Use the direct web sites for better information.
  7. Avoid taxis as they generally charge you a fortune, I guess because there are so few of them. If you have to then ask then to know the fee before you go and you can negotiate. Ask the hotel to book for you for some protection and always ask the fee in advance.

Any other information you require, just ask.

Categories
Amalfi Coast Car service Motorcycle and Bicycle Repairs Transport travel Yamaha and Suzuki

Multi service point on the Amalfi coast

Ok so here is the latest idea. We will soon have our first property in the Amalfi area, in Tramonti which is about 12 km from Amalfi and about 6km inland from Maiori. We should hopefully take possession by June given that there is no purchase chain and we can settle quickly. We have several ideas for this property (which is actually two properties, one tiny “house” and one very large garage):

Storage. The city of Amalfi is tiny and has NO spare space. Property in Amalfi is wildly expensive and limited, every square metre is used for hotels, restaurants, housing and shops given also the physical layout of the town which is confined by the sea in front and the mountain behind which rises up to almost 1,000 metres above sea level.

There are no storage facilities to rent in a radius of 20 or so kilometers from the town. For instance mopeds and motorbikes are used by all of the locals during the good season and then need to be stored over the damp winter months. Car parking is very very expensive, the 2 public car parks cost 2 Euro per hour or 30 Euro per day all year round.

Every activity in the area needs more space to store all sorts of things they need in the season including spares, for instance essential parts or equipment that may be needed during the very busy summer season. An aircon unit will generally fail in August when it is mighty difficult to get a replacement, hence the need to purchase and store one or two reserve units nearby. In August a van will take even 2 hours to arrive from Salerno.

Even routine maintenance for cars or bikes means that you must travel to Salerno or Castellammare, each of which take 40 minutes by car if the traffic is good or 3 times that in the peak season when Amalfi town swells from the 3,000 residents up to 30,000 visitors daily!!

So we have many ideas and options for our new premises, watch this space!