29 Sep MUSEUM MEANDERS 2
Following on from Wayne’s Working Wanderings in the August newsletter, FMM’s curator convinced Chris Routledge to go with him to the small town of Lier, which is about 16 km outside of Antwerp in Belgium, to visit the Abarth Works Museum owned and run by Guy Morenhout. Guy and Wayne had been communicating beforehand and had set up this visit. Guy had visited FMM just after it had opened so it was good opportunity for Wayne to do likewise and visit his museum.
“After a somewhat lengthy drive from Schloss Dyck we arrived in the pleasant little town and set about finding the museum,” explains Wayne. Thanks to ‘Becky’, Chris’ phone navigation app, they drove straight to the museum, only to find it was closed. “I was totally gutted. Travelling all this way after months of waiting and planning and it’s closed! We were just about to go when Chris noticed an elderly gent packing goods into a car at the side of the museum. I approached the old guy and explained my plight in a mixture of English and Afrikaans that Guy had invited me to visit but had obviously forgotten I was coming.
“No problem,” said the old man. “Come in.” He did say his name but it was lost in translation… He led us in through a side door and then simply left us to go off and explore and enjoy.
“I was blown away! There is no way to explain it. Abarth after Abarth – 750TC, 1000TCR, Zagatos, double bubbles, 131 Abarth works rally cars, 1000SPs, 2300 Abarths and on and on. And as if that wasn’t enough, there is floor to ceiling shelving stacked with engines, body parts, wheels, transmissions – you name anything Abarth you will find it, recounts Wayne. “After finally getting over the initial shock I started to enjoy this Aladdin’s Cave of Abarths. Then we walked around a corner and came face to face with Dakar Lada Niva’s, Polski Fiat rally cars, Seat Abarth rally cars, Lancia Monte Carlos and Delta Integrale HF rally cars, also not forgetting all the team back-up vans and estate cars. We must have spent two hours there and I’m positive that we didn’t see everything.
“However, it’s not a museum in the true sense of the word, rather a massive collection that can be viewed on appointment. There are few information boards to read, and if you are not an Abarth fundi you may find your visit very confusing and repetitive as many of the models look similar with no explanation as to their differences. Even I have unanswered questions. As fun as it was to be let loose in this Abarth candy shop, I would love to have had a guide to explain more about these cars that punched so well above their weight in their glory days. It was over all too fast for me, but we had a schedule to keep and had to move on as we still had to visit the Louwman Museum that afternoon, which I will relate in the next newsletter. WH.