I have just written about the car my mother didn’t get, so now I will write about the car she did get, and still drives today almost 40 years after – I present to you, Frederik. (Remember all photos can be clicked into large size)
Frederik is a rare Fiat 508C Balila from 1939, in fact he is the bigger brother to the Topolino, which is a Fiat 500 from 1937. Big brother because of his size, the Fiat 500 is quite small.
My dad found him in a barn at the local farmer, he was a toy-car for the farmer’s son. Dad asked what he should give for him, and the farmer said that he could just find another car for his son to play with. Dad gave him a green Opel Olympia from 1956 instead. As dad says, today it would also have been a fine vintage car.
Dad dragged the Fiat home, messed a bit around with him and drove him the same evening.
The first evening dad found a coin with our King Frederik, therefore, the car is named Frederik, and the coin is glued to the heater.
Dad repaired the brakes, except the parking brake, which is a transmission brake, and it went right through the appraisement. Later dad heard that the previous owner had been stopped by the police and had had the license plates taken because of the parking brake - this proves that the police aren't experts in all areas! Well, it was surveyed, but dad didn't have the papers, only a customs certificate. We waited impatiently, and immediately on their arrival we went on holiday, although we hadn't driven it before - except some shorts tours down the street.
At the holiday dad found the engine too small, so he re-built the gear box so 1st and 2nd gear could syncronize. Later he put a Simca engine with 5 main bearings at the original gear box. When it was worn he replaced it with another engine alike. But dad loves speed so one day he simply had to built a Volvo B18 engine with overdrive, racing cam and double carburetor into it:
One of his great amusements was to race from the youngster in Copenhagen, they always got very surprised seeing the sweet old car racing from them.
But although you love your car it rusts, especially when you drive year round, since we use so much salt during Danish Winters. So dad has cast new mudguards of fibre glass by using the old mudguards as moulds. You cannot find any kinds of spareparts for such an old car, so you have to be creative and make everything yourself. Dad has also repaired it in the middle of a tramcar roundabout in the Netherlands. He borrowed some tools at a small garage nearby. Do you think people stared!? :)
Frederik has got a new "living room" four times.
Mum worked as a domestic helper for many years and drove Frederik daily. Dad has calculated that she has driven 1.5 million kilometres just for work. The neighbours and her colleagues thought it always drove, but they didn't know that dad repaired it during the night so it was ready for the next day. It wasn't always much sleep dad got.
When I went to school we made a trip to Copenhagen (the Capital of Denmark) a few times a year, it was very exciting for the farmer kids to go to the big city. The parents volunteered as drivers, but no one would drive with mum and Frederik since the wind blew in through the doors. It is almost impossible to get rubber lists for the doors, but we didn't mind - we were used to it. We loved its soul more than its comfort.
Frederik got a huge overhaul about 15 years ago, he also got a "new" Nissan 1700 ccm diesel engine. The diesel engine is front-wheel driven, so dad has reversed and changed the rear-wheel drive and built an electrical Volvo overdrive onto it.Dad had it appraised with the new engine and changed it to mum's name and gave it to her as a gift with a huge bow and a tiny little card. He had realized that he never would finish the Ladybug.
I regret if I have misunderstood some technical details. The story is told by dad and written by me, so if anything sounds like nonsense, I'll gladly ask him for details. A few issues might also be due to translation.