The little boat comes home

We are pleased to provide this update from club member Brian Poole on his recent Barchetta purchase as detailed in his previous article.

So I have bought a Barchetta in Warsaw and plan to drive it back to my home in North Staffordshire, a 1200 mile journey. I’ll be honest, after driving it around Warsaw city centre for two weeks and a couple of trips out into the countryside, I was not happy with how it was behaving, I felt a niggling doubt (an understatement) about driving it home. The issue was that the hotter the engine ran the lumpier and less responsive the engine became. In Warsaw I live in a city centre flat, so no garage and no tools. I thought that it was a coolant issue as the temperature gauge was always on a high mark. I borrowed my son’s garage together with the few tools that he had. I flushed out the radiator then changed the thermostat and sender unit, but there was absolutely no improvement to the running of the car.

I needed mechanical help from the Warsaw area; fortunately I could call upon the assistance of good contacts through the Polish Barchetta and Coupé owners groups and my friends in the Warsaw Lambretta club. Individual mechanics and garages were recommended and I was put in touch with a couple of old school mechanics who offered to help the next day. One of them took it for a run and pronounced that the lumpy engine issue was nothing to do with the cooling system. Later they telephoned to say that they had found one of the spark plugs ceramic tops was cracked, and, having fitted a new set of plugs the engine was running nicely. They believed that the actual temperature gauge on the instrument cluster was faulty. Problem solved and my two saviours even commented that they would not hesitate to drive to the UK. I was very reassured.

Hanna and I left Warsaw on the Wednesday in the sunshine with a five hour run across the Polish countryside to where we had a hotel booked on the border for the night. The Polish countryside does have some amazingly large forests in comparison to our tiny woodlands. The Barchetta cruised really well and any doubts that I had had were quickly evaporating.

On Thursday our target was to reach Venlo in Holland and stay there for the night. The weather started nicely but deteriorated into torrential rain as the day went by. Then we suffered our only mechanical issue of the trip; the passenger windscreen wiper stopped working. Journey-wise we did have a two hour stop/wait on the German Autobahn before it closed and we were taken off the autobahn completely. We were left lost and very tired. So somewhere north of Dortmund, and having given up hope of reaching Venlo, we tried to find a hotel for the night close to the main roads. The first two hotels we found were closed; they were being used as migrant accommodation. A security guard did find us a third hotel where only one wing of the hotel was being used for migrants. Seemingly it is not just the UK that has accommodation issues with migrants

Friday morning found us back on the autobahns with a direct drive to Dunkirk, but with some refuelling problems in France. Thankfully the French don’t like buying E5, 98 octane petrol and only the first service station was completely out of fuel. We caught the 4pm ferry and then endured an evening drive up the UK motorway network in the rain. The rear screen was far from ideal. Blinding lights made it difficult to judge distances and speeds of following cars and was a distinct driving hindrance.

In conclusion would I personally buy another car and do it again? I’ve done the bus, train, motorbike, and furniture van continental trips in my younger days, BUT NO! At seventy three years of age I’ll stick to flying and hiring a car while on holiday. Please don’t tell Hanna if we meet on one of the Barchetta runs, but my days of adventure are not stopping just not as epic!

Brian Poole

October 2022