"INFLUX: Can you give us an overview of the Bowler and the UK Off Road racing scene? JON CHESTER: The UK Off Road scene is interesting, it’s changing all the time. There are some really active clubs and series "
Bubblecars and Microcars
I’ll be totally honest and say that I didn’t know much about bubblecars before making this film.
In fact, all I really knew was that they were something to with Messerschmitt the plane people, and possibly didn’t have a reverse gear. That was about it, but I’m a firm a believer that a complete lack of knowledge of the subject matter shouldn’t necessarily prevent us from being the right people for the job, so with a gratefully accepted commission, we hastily set about finding out what bubblecars were and where we could find them.
As you might imagine, there are passionate groups of bubblecar and microcar enthusiasts around the world, so what we were after was some kind of gathering with lots of bubblecar people and lots of very small cars all in the same place, preferably in the sunshine somewhere. So, imagine our delight when we found out about a bi-annual rally in Catalonia, which attracts the crème de la crème of European bubblerati that was happening a month before we needed to deliver this ‘bubblecars’ film to the good people of Influx. Boom! Easyjet flights, Airbnb accommodation and hire car at Barcelona airport booked within the space of 10 minutes, and we were sorted and heading to Catalonia for the weekend, under the banner of ‘work’.
The rally was to start and finish in the pretty seaside town of Sitges, better known as being the gay capital of Spain, which made for an interesting mix of tourists the weekend we were there. The sun shone, the cars lined up on the seafront and the very large gathering of very small cars was underway, with people chatting about their respective rides, how small they are, and their apparent lack of reversing capabilities presumably.
What was soon evident though was the fact that very small vehicles deliver very large smiles for copious amounts of people. From the Saturday morning gathering on the seafront, throughout the 40km rally into the hills of Catalonia, before then returning to Sitges for an end of day Concours d’elegance, all you saw was the happy faces of the owners behind the wheels of their micro machines, and the many locals lining the route of the course, waving as the colourful little cars pootled by. We were kindly invited to follow the fun by the rally’s tremendously titled organiser Toni Tacho, so we did just that, although we naturally felt a little incongruous in our gargantuan looking 1.0 VW Polo that we’d hired at the airport.
As the day got hotter so too did the cars, and there were a few casualties by the roadside with little cars that had struggled to make it up some fairly gentle hills, but that’s all part of the fun. In fact, the whole essence of why these little cars are fun is their simplicity. Anybody with a basic understanding of mechanics can work on them and fix them, and they’re like little toys for grown-ups. They don’t have ABS and crumple zones or airbags and catalytic converters, but they are joyous machines that understandably bring a smile to the face as they transport the occupants and onlookers back to a time when motoring was simpler and more carefree and that’s what it’s all about.
Having not known much at all about bubblecars and microcars before we made this film, we still don’t know a huge amount, but we totally understand their attraction. Just spending time with the owners and organisers of these events enables you to understand their appeal very quickly and it’s infectious. We met some lovely people, ate some great food, filmed some pretty little cars in the sunshine and had a thoroughly nice time.
We obviously had to tell our loved ones that it was hard work and not a holiday, but between you and I, that’s not strictly true!
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