This event is the third of the trio of AutoItalia magazine organised displays of Italian cars to take place in the year, and has traditionally marked the approach of the end of the summer season of outdoor motoring events. It used to be held in mid September, but has steadily come forward a week a year and for 2010, it has ended up in August. It also moved to a Saturday, which happened to be part of the late August Bank Holiday weekend. It will be interesting to see how the organisers view the success of these changes. My rather unscientific perception is that it significantly decreased both the number of cars on show and the crowds of attendees. And despite the fact that the weather in the days leading up to the event were universally wet soggy and just plain dreadful, that cannot be a factor, as the day dawned bright, sunny, almost cloudless (and a bit nippy). In a way. it was just as well that there were fewer cars, as the grass areas were soft around the edges and literally waterlogged in the middle, so space could have become a premium. It was not, as not even all the hard-standing was utilised. That said, there were plenty of lovely cars to enjoy: some were event regulars, but there were a number of cars that I personally had not seen before, making for a very enjoyable day.
As an Abarthisti, I knew from that Forum who was planning to bring their cars, and also that Abarth UK in the guise of the most local dealer, Research of Nuneaton, would be in attendance. Considering how few of these cars there are in the UK (the numbers are growing steadily, but with only about 100 sales a month, there are still less than a couple of thousand of them around!), we put on a splendid display.
Numerically, there were more Abarth 500s than anything else, which is as you would expect. Close inspection of all the various cars revealed that no two were quite the same, with a mix of standard and Essesse models, at least one example of each of the five body colours, and mixes of the different available decals, wheels, and even the exhaust choices of standard, Essesse, Monza and Milltek. There were several Grande Punto cars, as well. This is a far rarer beast, as only 385 of these came to the UK.Abarth UK had three demo cars: a 500 in the new two tone paint finish, a 500C in the same finish and a Punto Evo in a rather unflattering grey. Looking at these, l am still very happy with the choice I made back in April when I ordered my car!There were a couple of classic Abarths in the display as well. These cars appear so diminutive compared with today’s offerings.ALFA ROMEO
A vast area of the hard-standing was reserved for Alfa, as it was expected that there would be a good turn out, not least because of the continued Centenary celebrations, and indeed there were plenty of cars to see. Most of them were relatively modern, though, with the oldest being an early 1960s Giulia Spider.
From the 105 series of cars, there were a few of the coupe models, with both the GT Junior and the GTV coupes, and a couple of Spiders in the display.The only ‘Sud based cars were a couple of Sprints, one was an early car in standard trim and there was a brown Veloce model.Similarly, the only Alfetta cars were GTVs. Most interesting was the South African 3.0 model. Between 205 and 240 (no-one quite knows!) of these cars were made in South Africa, and this particular car has very recently arrived in the UK.A well looked after 33, a concours condition Giulietta and a neat, but far from perfect 75 Many of the 145s had been subject to some rather questionnable modifications, but there were some original cars, as well. There was also a rather original 146 model.The surviving 155s mostly went the same way some time ago, but again there were some relatively “unspoiled” cars in attendance, as well.Hard to believe that it is now 15 years since the launch of the 916 series GTV and Spider. Several of these charismatic cars were on show.SZ There were plenty of recent cars, ranging from 156, 147, 166 to the Mito and the very lovely GTThe local dealer had a representative sample of the latest cars on show, so this was another chance to poke around the latest Giulietta, as well as the Mito, Brera and 159. Impressive though the Giulietta is, we could not help noticing that the price tag on the 159 Ti Sportwagon was lower than that of the smaller car.FERRARI
This 599tc was quite spectacular. It turned out that the car now develops over 900bhp, thanks to some very well-thought out engineering changes made to it. The extra power all comes from the addition of two superchargers (hence the “tc” name, denoting twin compressors), which have been squeezed in to either side of the engine. One operates at a far higher speed than the other. These then help to generate a lot more heat, so most of the other changes were associated with the installation of a number of additional radiators, which have been cunningly placed all over the car, including some in the slightly widened front wings. Other changes were largely made in the software for the twin ECUs. The engine block itself was apparently unchanged. The changes took 12 months of engineering and cost over £50,000.
Visually matching this car was a 512TR owned by the same person. Both had been completely retrimmed inside. Whether you like the changes to the appearance, you cannot argue with the engineering thoroughness of what has been done. Some more “regular”, if any Ferrari can be so called, cars were also on show, including these:This car is often seen at events like this. A replica of the 330 Ferrari, the tax disc says “Foreman”. Still lovely to look at regardless of its true pedigree, though!FIAT
Oldest Fiat model on show was an 850 Spider from the mid 1960s.
There was but one Dino, a red coupe which looked like it needed a certain amount of imminent TLC to save it.Just one 124 Spider, too, this was a late model car. There were three X1/9 cars at the event. The green one is an early left hand drive model, from before the time when the car was imported into the UK, and best exemplifies the simplicity of design of the 1972 original. Two later cars were also in attendance. This 128 3P is an event stalwart.A brace of 131 Mirafiori represented Fiat’s family cars from the early 1980s. The champagne coloured one I recognised from a showing in Bristol last year, but now looks in dire need of something to stop the onset of rust on the lower doors.Slightly later than these cars was the sole Strada, a late model 70, so definitely not from the performance end of the range.The Uno is now a rare sighting, but there were a couple of them on show.The Cinquecento and Seicento captured the heart of many a young enthusiast and these cars have a strong following. Several of them were at the event, many showing more than a few modifications.The latest 500 is also extremely popular. of course, and a few of these were present. There was one example of the Tributo Ferrari car that initially saw service as a Ferrari dealer courtesy car.A large area was allocated for the Fiat Coupe. as the Owners Club is very active, and indeed there were plenty of cars. Surprisingly, the signature colours of broom yellow and sprint blue were completely absent, leaving a mix of the more sober hues on these much loved cars.Three of the little Barchetta sports cars arrived, and we all agreed that something went wrong in Fiat UK’s marketing strategy never to have offered this car in right hand drive.2010 marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Fiat Panda, and a special display of these cars was organised by the members of www.fiatforum.com. A number of early models did indeed stage an appearance, with the added interest of a limited edition Sisley, a Seat Marbella and one of the vans. There were a couple of the current generation model son show, as well, including the 100HP car. Although the Stilo was not really a commercial success, even in its native Italy, it appears already to have achieved minor collectible status, with some of the more unusual variants staging an appearance at many events like this one, and today was no exception. with both the MP Wagon and the 3 door cars, in Schumacher format, on show.There were even a couple of the first generation Croma cars on show.LAMBORGHINI
This rather billious green Gallardo Superleggera was by AutoItalia’s stand and was their contribution to the display. Parked next to it was a yellow Diablo spider.
During the afternoon the only other Lamborghini to attend arrived, a silver Jarama.LANCIA
One of the highlights at the recent Silverstone event was the appearance of a very rare Appia van, and it was here, too. This time I got to talk to the owner, so got some more history from him. It turned out that the van, one of just 1200 or so that was built, had been in a small Italian village until earlier this year, owned by the same man, a wine merchant, who had driven it about 4km a day from when he bought it in 1959 until he retired in 2006. The person who now owns it had been in Italy, staying with a friend and had remarked that he rather fancied a van, at which point his friend had alerted him to the fact that this one was now for sale, and the deal was done. It is in splendid condition and has needed next to no work to be done on it at all.
I also got to talk to the proud owner of a 1966 Fulvia Berlina 2C, who showed me much of the impressive engineering that went into this small family car: everything was just beautifully done, from the way the doors just clicked shut to the piston which supported the boot and bonnet, and we were intrigued by the revolving drum speedo. This car was rescued from a barn in 1997 and has needed quite a lot of restoration work to bring it to the splendid condition in which is now. There were a couple of the Fulvia Coupe models on display, as well.Larger brother to the Fulvia was the Flavia and this early model coupe is a car I had not seen before. I am not sure about the brown wheel hubs, but the overall shape is just so elegant.Of the Beta based cars, there were more Montecarlos than anything else, with several of these attractive but rather challenging sports cars to be seen. There were plenty of Delta based cars, as always, ranging from an HF Turbo to a number of Integrales and this often-displayed replica rally car. More unusual are the three-box versions of the Delta, the Prisma and Dedra and there were both on show.A supercharged version of Lancia’s very pretty Beta coupe, the VolumexA couple of Gamma Coupes made the event. Both were early cars.An early example of Lancia’s supermini, the Y10Lancia’s version of the Type 4 platform, the Thema MASERATI
Oldest Maserati was this gorgeous Sebring which arrived early afternoon, after a 4.5 hour battle, so the owner said, to get the thing to start and to run cleanly. He described this lovely car as the most cantankerous he has ever owned, but what a beauty!
There were a couple of the BiTurbo cars from the late ’80’s/early ’90’sThere were a number of more recent cars, too, including the Quattroporte, 3200/4200GT and the latest GranTurismo.MINARIAn Alfa Romeo 33 based car, a regular at these shows……….. and FINALLY
A few interlopers made it into the display.
Not quite sure why this Triumph Toldeo was sporting flourescent tape to make us think it was a police car.
Not sure how this GT-R sneaked inA late entrance for this Jaguar XK150There was a small meeting of Range Rovers happening at the same time. Most were early cars from the ’70’s, but there were also a few later ones. This, however was easily the most unusual. A six-wheeler with a very non-standard sound track coming from under its bonnetSo, whilst not quite the packed event of previous years, this was still a great day out, and one to mark up in the 2011 calendar once the dates are published.