Bristol Italian Auto Moto Festival (BIAMF) – April 2009

Once again, a joint initiative between the Bristol Italian Auto Club and Bristol City Council saw the closure of some of the streets in the old commercial centre of the city, so that a large number of Italian cars and bikes could be displayed. Just like last year, the weather decided to co-operate, and apart from a very brief mid-afternoon shower, the sun was kind enough to shine, adding to the enjoyment. There were a lot of people there – and to listen to their conversations, only a few were using the street as a thoroughfare and hence were surprised by what they found. It would seem that everyone else knew full well that there was a special display to enjoy. Many of the cars on show were ones which I recognised from previous events, but it was still good to see them again, and in more than a few cases to learn something more about their history.


This year, the “featured marque” was Lancia, and one of the reasons for this was to celebrate 30 years since the launch of the original Delta.  As you might expect, most of the display cars were Integrales, as the survival rate of these is quite high, but there was also an example of the “bread and butter” 1500 model.

Never officially imported to the UK, a number of the second generation model made it here and three of these were included in the show.
Oldest Lancia was this Aprilia dating from the 1930s, and one of the most technically advanced cars on the market at the time.
Among my favourites of the whole display were the three Appia models. These cars were produced from 1954 until the early 1960s, and were fearsomely expensive for a small car with an 1100cc V4 engine. They were exquisitely engineered though. An example of each of the three series was on show.
I saw this splendid Flaminia Coupe Touring Superleggera at Goodwood just a few weeks ago and chatted to its owner. He was nowhere to be seen, but his car was!
Lancia’s first front wheel drive car was the Flavia, launched in 1960, and this is an early coupe model.
Smaller car in the range was the Fulvia, of which the gorgeous Coupe is now the best known, and several of these were on show.
By this  time, Fiat had taken over and the first product to appear after the 1969 acquisition was the Beta. The story of this car and the rust scandal has been told many times. It does mean that survivors, especially of the Berlina, are few and far between. This Series 2 car, I learned today, had sat unused in a London garage for 14 years and was acquired by its current owner when the previous owner had to be admitted to a care home and his relatives found the car covered in dust in an underground garage.
The Gamma, launched in 1976, also achieved notoriety, but for mechanical reasons, associated with overheating problems and the engine’s dislike of turning at full lock when cold. This Coupe is one of the last cars produced.
Follow on was the Thema, and several of these were on show, including an example of the 8.32, which was a Ferrari engined super-saloon.
One of the last cars that Lancia sold in the UK was this, the Dedra.
From the current range, there was an Ypsilon.
There were several of the hugely successful Stratos rally cars to see, and in their various liveries in which they were painted, made for a colourful sight.
Oldest car at the event was this fabulous 1929 6C 1750. I believe this is a locally owned car, which is why it is a regular at these events.

I’ve seen this 1954 1900 SS Superleggera before, but when a car looks like this, it hardly matters how many times you’ve seen it before!
A Giulia 1600 Berlina and a Spider from the mid 1960s.
The 105-series GTV cars remain very popular, and deservedly so, too. One of the prettiest coupes of the 1960s, without question.
There were a few of the long-running Spider cars, showing the different styling variants that appeared in the 4 generations of this model.
A rare survivor of the 1977 – 86 Giulietta range, this was a late car, by which time the rather individual and clean styling had been “improved” with some dubious plastic
Several 145s were on show. These cars are now getting quite rare on UK roads, but then it occurred to me that  even the youngest will be nearly 10 years old now.
Also now a rare sight is the 155 and there was this 2.0 Twin Spark car to remind us of how the once much derided Tipo-based car was transformed by some serious re-engineering and the image improved by the subsequent BTCC win in 1994.
There were several of the 1995 – 2005 GTV/Spider cars on show. I love seeing these, as they remind me of the GTV I ran for 18 months from 1999.
A couple of 147 GTAs
From the current range, there were a few Brera and Spider cars  
Three of the now well-regarded SZ and RZ cars were on show.
These cars seemed to be rather more scattered around the event this time.

There was a good turn out of Fiat Coupes, but most of them seem to have been subjected to body kits and other additions of questionable taste.

Much rarer was this, a third generation 131 Mirafiori. This 1982 1400cc car had done just 30,000 miles, and although not quite perfect inside, I doubt there is a better example left in the UK.
I saw somewhere recently that there are only about 6 examples of the once popular 128 3P left in  the UK, so it was great to see one here.
Several of the first generation Panda were here this time.
There were several examples of the “Nuova 500”, including a rare example of the Giardiniera estate car.
No surprise that the new 500 was much in evidence. There were also a few other recent models, including a couple of Barchettas and a second generation Punto  
There were 3 Dinos: one coupe and 2 spiders. I still love these cars.
A number of different Ferraris, as you would expect, and almost all of them painted in red. One was in bright yellow, though, and very striking it was, too:

Rarest Lamborghinis were the 2 Islero cars.

The other display cars were much more recent, with 2 different Gallardo cars
A long line of 3200/4200 Coupe and Spider cars made for an impressive sight.

There were a few examples of the long running Biturbo-based cars, including the rare 4 door 425, as well as some late Ghibli cars
Oldest Maserati on show was this Merak.
ITALIAN – Sort of!
There were a few cars which were included in the display by virtue of their connection with an Italian styling house. 2 of them were the Zagato-styled Bristol 412, which seems to have eluded my camera. This very rare Jowett Jupiter Touring is also a car I had not seen before. Just splendid.

And finally……….. one of the rarest cars of the lot:

Unquestionably one of the rarest cars there, was this. One of just 17 cars ever produced. The car seemed surprisingly well known, though there were a lot of people who relied on the badge to tell them what it was.

An excellent event, especially considering that it was free of charge and on my door-step.

2009-11-29 04:29:10

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