The Midget And Sprite Club. Serving the Spridget since 1983
Many events are held throughout the year, at home and abroad.
The Alpine Miglia 2017 was to be a joint effort between Oliver Wilkinson & Georges Guggenheim of Spridget CH and myself.
The run up to the Tour was quite eventful with Mike Guest (Midget), Gregg & Anita Phillips & John Clark (Frogeyes respectively) having to drop out for various reasons. Then Peter Wilkinson’s 1500 Midget engine failed with but a few weeks till the ‘Off’. Peter decided to fly to Switzerland and co-pilot son Oliver Wilkinson’s 1098 Midget. Then Robin Bendall’s 1500 Midget decided to blow a head gasket with only two weeks to go. What else could go wrong? Oh! With a week to go until the start John & Jayne Le Mar’s, Midget, wiper motor fails: he will need windscreen wipers if we encounter snow on the mountains.
Then on the Sunday with only five days to the start of the Tour Oliver Wilkinson tells me:
“George & I took his (Midget 1098) engine out two weeks ago one evening, his mechanic looked at the clutch plate & it was sent away to be checked, we installed the engine last Saturday, he took it for a test drive on the Tuesday, did 250km and all was great. I was at a car show today, and saw Georges, and he said that yesterday the clutch would not release properly, or there is a slight delay in the clutch releasing, and the revs stay high? He is asking his mechanic tomorrow? My (Midget 1098) lever shock, front left, lost oil today so have to remove that one evening this week and see whats going on there (shouldn’t take too long, hopefully do it tomorrow, hopefully just a case of making a new gasket, if not I can cannibalise one off the project car if need be)”.
Meanwhile a phone call reveals Dave Chalk trying to eliminate rear wheel brake binding on his IOW Frogeye. What else could go wrong?
The ‘tide turned’ as in the few days left until departure participants ‘checked-in’ informing me that one-by-one repairs had been effected. Leaving it to the ‘eleventh hour’ Notts & Derby Rep Ian Cooke asked if he could come as a passenger. A few quick phone calls and it was arranged for Ian to join Kevin Fryer, at Kevin’s home in Middx (Kevin being the nearest to Notts & Derby Area), on the morning of departure and ‘car-hop’ for the duration of the Tour.
What weather would the Tour encounter? The long-range weather forecast showed rain at Sedrun then as the time for departure neared it changed to sun, back to rain, then severe temperature drop. Will we, or wont we, encounter snow on the Alps? A ‘round robin’ was sent out for all to check ‘antifreeze’ levels in car cooling systems and a note to self to take some core plugs just in case anyone has a problem. What clothes does one pack with the forecast ever changing?
The start date arrived as Dave Chalk (IOW 1275 5-spd Super Sprite) describes: Alan & I left M2 Service Area at 0545hrs for the run to Dover Docks where we met the ‘crew’. A flat calm crossing with fine sunshine saw all tops off as we crossed the French countryside keeping to minor roads. A couple of light showers soon passed and the need for food and toilet called us to stop in Auchonvilliers where we met Avril Williams at her WW1 Field Hospital B & B with its original trenches in the rear garden. We passed numerous historic battle areas and called in at Thiepval War memorial before heading on towards darkening skies and thunderclaps. More lovely driving roads seemed to skirt the ever present rain clouds ’til we neared Laon when the heavens opened. Quick look around the Medieval pave’ streets before Campanile meal and a good chat.
Day two and Ian Cooke’s (Ian car hopped as a passenger) report: The second day dawned brightly in Laon, so after a hearty breakfast down came the hoods. Today my outlook on the world was somewhat lower as Robin’s Tifosi Rana Midget 1500 5-spd sports very much lower seats than Kevin’s 1275 5-spd Midget in which I was a passenger yesterday. Driving up to the centre of Laon and parking in front of the Town Hall we then took a leisurely stroll around the town and around the Cathedral where Kevin spotted a Pipestrelle bat clinging to the stonework inside. Coffees overlooking the square before the lovely drive to the Champagne country and a pit-stop at the historic Reims pit buildings where the cars & drivers posed for photos. The Grape-pickers were out in force as we passed the Vineyards surrounding Reims & Epernay on our quest to find food in the sleepy villages along the way. Eventually a cafe’ serving only cold beers. So suitably refreshed we continued in bright sunshine until a black cloud forced a stop to put up hoods only 3km from our day’s destination in St-Dizier. Food and more drink followed into the evening.
Day three from Robin Bendall: Back-up phone call from Vic (champion map reader in Ron Edward’s Frogeye 948 4-spd) received at 0630hrs to ensure I was awake. A hearty breakfast in the Campanile Restaurant plus some ‘undercover’ ham baguettes made for lunch. Probably why the manager originally charged me for two breakfasts! Then a fast run down the Vosges Mountains: great scenery! Found a nice cafe for morning coffee, villagers already on their first drinks! On next stretch my car picked up a stone in the front discs, but fixed kindly by Ian driving my car backwards & forwards at high speed. I think he enjoyed the excuse. Great drive thru’ the mountains, fast twisting curves. At a petrol stop on the motorway I got to sit in a C4 Alfa-Romeo with a 376bhp Ferrari engine: nice motor! We got to Mulhouse and spent the afternoon looking around the French National Motor Museum (Schlumph Collection), amazing museum with 400+ cars. Then on to the Kyriad at Illzach to meet up with French Masc members. Meal & drinks & chat. Thanks for another great day Alan.
Day four - Kevin Fryer Midget 1275 5-spd. The day started on a very positive note with the appearance of Tony’s green Frogeye (948cc 4-spd navigated by son Lloyd) in the car park. Thanks to striking work by Alan to fix the clutch slave cylinder and a mammoth effort from John (Le Mar partnered by Jayne in 1275 5-spd Midget) who drove back and forth (Beaunne - Mulhouse - Beaunne - Mulhouse) to the stricken car and fitted the repaired part. We were now a group of eight soon to be seven as Robin missed the turning for the motorway! He wasn’t to be seen again until the lunchtime stop despite everyone's efforts to redirect him! Mysteriously he arrived at lunch wearing a waistcoat! Anyway we met our Swiss contingent as planned at the Services and headed off. Shortly after Ron & Vic decided to investigate a solo Saga Tour of the Swiss Alpine passes! The morning stint to the lunch stop was a little fraught but lunch, although late, was a delight. The afternoon was a pure delight first over the Sustenpass and then the Oberalpass to the Hotel with just Tony’s Frogeye suffering a little on the climbs but we all made it. Card Frogeye racing with a straw? Not something I thought I would partake in but it really happened - won by Ian.
Day five. Vic Barker. The day was to spend time travelling over the Gothard Pass and then onto Bellinzona and Lucarno. There was a prompt 0900hr start with several additional members, total cars thirteen. The route lead by Georges Guggenheim (1098 Midget - Spridget CH President & joint organiser with Oliver Wilkinson of the Swiss Section.) took us over the Gotthard Pass via the old ‘Cobbled Stone’ route producing some fantastic scenery, waterfalls and some scary hairpin bends. George explained the military importance the pass held in WW2. The convoy then proceeded to Bellinzona which proved longer than anticipated and the view of the castle was from the exterior only. Ron had some problems with his gearchange and our return was via the fourteen mile Gotthard tunnel back to Andermatt: not one to be repeated!
Day Six. Oliver Wilkinson (Midget 1098 & joint organiser with Georges Guggenheim of the Swiss Section and navigated by his father Peter Wilkinson). Prompt departure 0900hrs as we headed off direction Chur, not all cars involved as a few decided to stay behind and check out the local culture. After two hours we stopped for fuel, our cars were causing quite some attention especially when one of our English drivers went around a roundabout the wrong way (twice!). Once we were fuelled and all pointing in the right direction we headed for our lunchtime halt at the ‘Hotel RoemerTurm’(?). Lunch was fantastic with an elevated view overlooking the Walensee. After lunch we went over the Klausenpass, breath-taking views, we reached 1952 meters (6404 ft). After our descent we stopped for coffee then headed back to base camp. A few guys performed a modification on Kevin’s fan, followed by a late meal at the Hotel.
Day seven. Thierry Dupont (President Spridget Fr with Mirrielle). Proposed programme for the day is a short trip to Gotthard Pass with a visit off Military Installations inside the mountain. Departure 0900hrs, after the excellent breakfast at the Kreuzli Hotel, by overcast weather. On the way to the Gotthard Pass we entered the clouds and came out by the top with sunshine. Parking in front of the Military site. Ian, Peter from Germany (in a green 1275 Midget), Mirrielle and I decided enjoying the sunshine and wonderful panorama instead of getting to the cold under the mountain. Before noon Mirrielle and I drove back to Andermatt where we met John & Jayne, Dave & Alan, who arrived by train. We enjoyed lunch together in a typical restaurant. Mirielle, who is a train fanatic, exchanged her place in the Midget with John, and enjoyed the return trip by train. John & I enjoyed the return trip, with hood removed, stopping at Oberalpass beside the lighthouse at Rhein Springs. Wonderful landscape! Descending then towards Sedrun stopping to say “hello” to cows lying and standing beside the road watching passing tourists….like us! Evening event was a Bar-B-Q party organised by Oliver, great location! And everyone has enjoyed it.