Iain Gallow's trip to Italy, 2018
I’ve had my Midget for 25 years and my friend Stuart has had several Midgets over the years too, but neither of us has done more than around a 150 mile trip in them.
So instead of the annual gentleman's motorcycle tour and after taking part in “Rust to Rome” last year we decided an adventure for the Midgets was in order. I’ve been waiting for my engine to expire for years but it’s never given up, however, a rebuild was definitely sensible before doing some proper miles. Despite planning months in advance, the engine only went in the week before departure and clutch and carburettor problems were fixed the night before we left. Bizarrely, Stuart also had engine woes, and did two engine swaps leading up to the trip, and only had a running car the night before me.
So, both cars set off unproven on the way to the ferry near Newcastle. My temperature gauge wasn’t reading and by the time we got to Edinburgh the cooling system would get a decent test as we got stuck in traffic for the Highland Show. I needn’t have worried...it would be the fuel gauge that would let me down. Blocking the traffic near the entrance to the show didn’t go down well, but thankfully the police made room for me to get off the road and I had fuel in the boot.
All good after the crossing and down through Holland, where we changed the running in oil in a service station car park. On through Belgium and we finished the first day in Echternach, Luxembourg.
We travelled mostly on smaller roads out of Luxembourg and down into France, stopping at a wartime fort in Bettviller, then on through the Moselle region for a stop in Strasbourg at night. Unfortunately the cars were broken into that night in the campsite...which was the first time ever that I’ve left my sat nav in it. So that was the preplanned routes out the window and a waste of 2 hours in a Police station as Stuart baked in the sun whilst guarding the cars.
We travelled down through the Black Forest and into Switzerland, stopping for a couple of nights in Meiringen. We used Meiringen as a base to cover some of the Alpine passes, but it has a lovely gorge walk nearby at Aareschluct, and the famous Reichenbach falls above the town. Just don’t be too tight to take the cable car and walk directly up the hillside, trust me!
From Meiringen we crossed Switzerland to Zernez and on over the border to Livigno. The journey back through the mountains on a train from Susch was of course much quicker than over the top on the passes, and we didn’t get held up by a group of Ferrari FF’s as we had on the way down! True.
Out of Switzerland, through Lichtenstein, the edge of Austria and back into Switzerland along the shore of Lake Konstanz saw us end the day in Konstanz itself. It’s a lovely town with the German border running through the middle of it. Switzerland had been as beautiful as ever, but it felt particularly expensive this year.
Stuart’s car had been running a little rough the previous day, but it felt better when we left Konstanz to head North through Germany towards our stop for the night in Rudesheim am Rhein. To get some miles covered we hit the autobahn, happily sitting at 70 odd most of the time and maybe closer to 90 at one point. After stopping for a quick break we’d got about a mile down the road when Stuart came on the radio saying his temperature gauge was off the scale.
Sadly, that’s where his Midget trip ended, on the hard shoulder with a blown head gasket and severely roasted engine. Thankfully breakdown cover meant his car would be repatriated and he had a hire car for the final few days of the holiday.
Overall, I covered almost exactly 2000 miles and the car didn’t miss a beat. I fitted green stuff pads before leaving but I found my brakes faded quite quickly in the mountains. I’ll fit Goodridge hoses and drilled discs and see how it feels. The folding bikes we took were great to have, and worth sacrificing space for. I think I’d be happier with a permanent luggage rack than the clamp on one I used, or perhaps a tow bar and a Bak Rak. We took lots of spares just in case, but maybe we’d cut back a little next time.....