Just signed up with the Gentleman’s Jolly to have a luxothrash along the North Coast 500, Scotland’s answer to Route 66.

Should be a blast!

2017 North Coast 500

So yes, it appears that Richard Hammond really does like the Abarth 124 Spider.

No surprises there then!

It’s on Amazon Prime Video, The Grand Tour Season 1, Episode 11 “Italian Lessons”

Hammond gets the Abarth 124 Spider a little sideways

So with the Spider semi-run-in, a nice day forecast and a model friend, Miss Pixie, staying and shooting with us at ours, it seemed rude not to give the Spider a good clean and then go and take some photos.

We had planned a Thelma & Louise theme to the shoot, but as it turned out it was far too windy for that, sadly, so we opted for getting Ali and Pixie to pose in and around the car anyway. Thank goodness for heated seats too…

As it turned out, the car looked just as beautiful as they did:

It’s arrived – well, a week ago, but I was in Malta on holiday and then away in the Netherlands on business – so I finally managed to pick up the Abarth 124 Spider this morning from MotorVillage Marylebone.

And it’s lovely! Pretty car! A really throaty burble too. Hit the Sport switch and in the wet conditions just as we’d collected it, it was keen to go a little sideways – very controllably. As demanded by friends, we had the theme from the Italian Job playing as we headed down Park Lane and homeward past Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.

It’s now all set up for my gadgets and my stuff is in the stash areas, some of which are hidden from view which is a nice touch.

Planning is already under way for a mountain-based Eurothrash in 2017: with the Alps again like last year in the MX-5 or the Pyrenees like I visited on the ZRX.

So having expressed an interest in buying an Abarth 124 Spider, I signed up to see if I could attend a proper test drive session: not just a quick trip around the block, especially as my local Abarth dealer is based in central London!

I put £1,000 down as a deposit and was told initially that I might be able to get one at the end of September 2016 in my chosen specification: San Marino 1972 Black and not in the Heritage trim (i.e. no matt black bonnet or boot like you see in the promo videos) as I don’t think that metallic and matt blacks would go well together. The option pack that was coming with was the Bose speaker upgrade so I was pleased with that.  A few days later, I was told Abarth UK would be in touch about a proper drive: a track session at Silverstone. That was the good news. The bad news was that they’d also accepted an order for the same car at the same time. The better news was they had another San Marino 1972 Black non-Heritage coming in sometime around the end of October/November with the Bose pack but also with the Visibility pack (rain sensors for wipers, and lights, rear parking sensors, automatic LED headlights and daytime running LEDs), so the price went up but at least I had one lined up, subject to a satisfactory hoon as I was worried about such a little 1,4L engine after the (officially-rated) 2.6L engine in my RX-8 R3.

I was going to be at some friends’ wedding over the weekend of 6/7 August and they managed to fit me on Sunday 7th in the afternoon on their weekend at Silverstone.

After a lap in the LHD version driven by the instructor, we swapped seats and off I went. Within a couple of laps I was drifting the Spider: really controllable and sounding lovely with the Monza exhaust!

This made up my mind so the next question was finalising the finances, including the part-exchange of the RX-8 and transfer of its personalised numberplate, 2000 RM.  I’d also been told that they’d had an updated delivery date of the end of September again for mine as well.

So I went into the dealer, Motor Village Marylebone, to sign the papers and drink their coffee and the deal was done!