Interest in the classic car movement is such that more than a few nationwide events are now able to claim a history all of their own. The Brooklands Auto Italia is one such event, as 2011 marked the 25th occasion on which it has taken place. During that time, it has moved from a field location to the incomparable historic setting of Brooklands and the number of vehicles on show has increased massively. Following the construction of a large new hangar like building for the soon to be relocated Cobham Bus Museum, and mindful of the vast entry list, the organisers provided additional display space this year by securing the use of the office car parking area nearest to the site. Although this seemed like a good idea, and from a space point of view, it was, there was a real challenge in getting cars in and out, as there was a rather steep set of make-shift ramps that had been put in place, and when we arrived, they were redesigning and reconstructing the arrangement after more or less every car. Later in the day, I noted a couple of vehicles with particularly limited ground clearance actually having to reverse over this mix of planks of wood and metal plates. It was so much easier at the end of the event simply to drive out at the other end! That little challenge not-withstanding, there was so much to enjoy that it would be very wrong to focus on what seemed like the only negative of the whole day.The positives were the cars, the company, the venue and the weather. A perfect combination, then.
Despite gaining admittance nearly 2 hours before the official opening of the gates to the public, and staying until after the official end of the event, there were still plenty of cars that we failed to see, and still more that eluded the camera. Most disappointing among these was a bright green Lamborghini Miura that was spotted from a distance. Others include a lovely Fiat 130 Berlina, a trio of 128 3Ps, several of the first generation Panda, and countless others. Anyway, there is plenty that is recorded photographically, so feast on these:
It is a measure of the huge enthusiasm for this brand that there were far more Abarths at the show in 2011 than in 2010. Although sales volumes are still pretty small, at around 100 a month, there were at least 30 modern Abarths on display. most of them belonging to members of the Abarthisti forum. From the threads on that forum, I was expecting a good showing, but there were plenty more cars than had been indicated over there, and it was good to catch up with some of the owners and friends from that Other Place.
Abarth has an interesting history, and there were several vehicles from the time before Fiat acquired the brand. Zaniest, without question, was this 1974 conversion of a 500. This is a car that appears quite regularly at Italian events. How the driver keeps the attention of the forces of law and order away when he is on the public road, I do not know!These cars from the 1960s are all ones which make quite regular show appearances, and show how Abarth went from producing tuning kits for the Fiat 500 and 600 through completely modified cars all the way to bespoke racing models.The Fiat 131 formed the basis for a very successful Rally car in the mid 1970s, and to homologate the modifications, a number of road going cars were built. The yellow car looked like it was actually a replica of this, but the orange one, which I have seen before, I believe is one of the originals. I had not seen the white one before at all. Splendid!ALFA-ROMEO
No sign of any pre-war models this year, which was a disappointment only atoned by the sheer variety of more recent cars on show. These included an example of both the 8C Competizione Coupe and Spider, the latter of which is the last remaining unregistered model available. Tempting (even at £175,000!), but I would need to rob a bank (or work for one!) first, to be able to afford it! The 8C Spider was part of a dealer display, which included the latest Giulietta. These cars are now starting to appear quite regularly on Britain’s roads, and there were several more scattered throughout the event.Giulietta has been used as a name on two completely different model types, before. From the first generation, there was a strong showing of Berlina, Coupe and Spider cars. Lovely, all of them.The 116 based car was available from 1977, and the sole example at the event was a model from near the end of production, and is a car well known at events. It looks like the fastidious owner never uses it, yet to judge by the number of times I have seen it, all over the country, he clearly does.It was pleasing to see more Alfasud models than is sometimes the case at events. There were a couple of Sprints, one with the regrettable body kit that came on later cars, and one without. There were also several of the saloon and hatch models.The Alfa 33 never quite replaced the ‘Sud in the affections of owners, but it is definitely a classic now, and there was an example of the first generation car which had the unfortunate Veloce body kit on it, and there was the restyled second generation car. Don’t forget that the 33 is the biggest selling Alfa of all time!There were a few 145 and 146 hatches, all of them in nice condition. The same comments apply to the 166s that were on show. Production of the Brera and Spider models recently ceased, and although these cars did not appeal to everyone, I can imagine that they will quickly acquire a classic status.That is certainly the case for their predecessors, the 916-series GTV and Spider, and several of these cars were in attendance. The 156 must be heading that way, too. The oldest cars have now had their 13th birthday, and the youngest will be at least 6. There were lots of models on show, including several of the facelfit that did not improve the gorgeous styling, and several GTAs. The 147 will surely go the same way. Only recently superceded, but it is the pre-facelift and the GTA models that are the nicest. The 105-based Spider is already a cult. Lots of these cars, of course, from the early round tail models to the later Kamm tail models and the third and fourth generation iterations as well.There were plenty of the 105 series coupes, as well. These lovely cars are currently experiencing a steady increase in value. Decent ones are now between £15 – 20,000. Not cheap, but so elegant, and they sound so good.Those 105 Coupes were based on this, the Giulia Berlina. This is a late model Nuova Giulia.The Giulia Sprint Speciale was far more costly than the regular cars when new.This Alfetta GTV is a show stalwart. Looks fabulous.Another show regular is this 1900 SS Touring CoupeFew 75s remain, but there were a couple on display.The 155s are starting to become rare, too.The recently superceded GT is a favourite of mine, and there were plenty of these cars on show. This model outsold the Brera by a factor of about 5.One lone 164, a Green Cloverleaf modelI also like the Montreal, and there were a few of these often-feared (for their complexity and cost to rectify) coupes on display.Only a couple of the mental SZ cars, and no sign of the convertible RZ at all. Bringing Alfa right up to date were examples of the Mito and 159.AUTOBIANCHI
Not one, but 2 of the diminutive A112 hatchbacks. One of these had surprised me at Ace Cafe last month, but to see 2 is, well, really unusual.
A regular at events like this, the Bizzarrini GT is a striking looking car.
Surprisingly, there seemed only to be one De Tomaso, but it was one of the rarest of the lot, a Deauville. We were intrigued to see that when the front hinged bonnet lifts, even the bumper swivels out of the way, complete with all the wires attaching the lights. A recipe for electrical challenges, for sure! I heard the owner say that parts of the car were actually assembled in Australia, as he found out when he disassembled it and found the factory plates. That was certainly something I did not know.
There were examples of almost every Ferrari model type from the early 1970s to the present day, though notably, no sign yet of the FF (it has yet to go on sale).250 GT SWB250 GTE330 GTC166 MMEnzo275 GTB
The latest 458 Italia was called upon for “Safety Car” duties, which meant a trip around the adjoining track! There was a red car among the main exhibits as well.Although it is now nearly 25 years old, the F40 is still a real attention getter. This one was no exception, and I must have captured the only minute when it was not thronged with people.
That said, the 246 GT Dino would probably get even more votes for its looks alone. I would also put in a vote for the Daytona, a lovely looking car indeed. From the Testarossa era, there were several cars, and for once not all of them were red (or Miami Vice white).The 308/328 GTB and GTS cars are thought by many to be among the most attractive Ferraris ever made.The 348 begat the F355, and this was a real “sow ears to silk purse” type transformation. The 355 looks great in Berlinetta and Convertible guises.Lots of the 360/430 generation cars, as you would expect. The Mondial was not particularly well liked when new, but gradually, it is finding favour.There were a couple of examples of the Berlinetta Boxer in 365GT BB and BB512 form.
575MThis 365 GT dates from the late 1960s, and is an elegant car. There were 2 of these on show. The 365 GTC/4, dating from the early 1970s.412i
288 GTO456 GTCaliforniaThis car was displayed with a copy of Schumacher’s super licence, but surprisingly little detail about the car itself.FIAT
A huge variety of Fiats, though with no sign of anything earlier than the mid 1950s.
Numerically, the Coupes dominated, and it is good to see so many of these cars still being enjoyed, as they are no longer in the first flush of youth and the costs of keeping them maintained (remember that the 72,000 mile, cam-belt change service requires the engine to be taken out of the 5 cylinder cars!) cannot be trivial.
A Coupe from an earlier era that was surprisingly well represented was the 850. These cars rusted even more quickly than many of their contemporaries, so what was once a popular car long disappeared from our roads. Counting the Abarth version, there were 5 at this show, though! Perhaps rarer still is the 125, and there were 2 of these in attendance. The green one had been at Bristol the previous weekend, and the white one is a car that I had seen here before. Even so, I would guess that this was probably almost a complete UK population of these cars!There were a few more 128s, with a focus on the coupe models. Three of the 128 3Ps were in deep shade, and we never returned to photograph them after the sun moved round, but we did get one of them, another of the inveterate show attendees. It was good also to see this cars precursor, the 128 Coupe, in the very fashionable (for 1972) Positano Yellow. A couple of 131 Mirafiori cars were lined up alongside their Abarth brothers.Stradas are rare, and it is usually the 105TC and 130TC cars that you see, but at this event there was a regular 65CL. Most of the Stilos on show were the limited edition Schumacher car, and as they were all parked up together made quite a striking sight. No Fiat display is complete with a showing of the Nuova 500, and there were plenty of these to look at, including a couple of examples of the Vignale Gamine. There were also lots of the latest cars, including representatives of the 500C and several of the limited edition cars. A smaller showing of the Cinquecento and Seicento cars than in previous years. Are these cars now disappearing from our roads as they head towards 15 – 20 years old? The Unos have mostly all gone, but a couple were at this show.Even first generation Puntos are not the common sight they used to be. Puntos of all three generations were well represented here, though. There were a couple of the 600 model, including one in special Viotti trim. Memorably described once as “a masochist’s delight”, the little 126 has a cult following now, and there were a few of these cars on display. Fewer Dinos than in some years, but still a few of these lovely cars to covetThe X1/9s were mostly hiding in the shadeThe 130 was Fiat’s large car offering in the early 1970s, and sold in small numbers. Coupes appear quite regularly at events like this, and indeed there was one such car on show. There was also a Berlina, which to my chagrin, I failed to photograph. The 127 is now a very rare sighting, thanks to the dreaded tin worm. The Palio version looked pretty good, whereas the CL model behind it looked like it was still mid surgery. First generation Panda celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, although with a long production life, not all the cars are that old. Several of them were on show, but most were in the shadowy part of the banking and therefore are not depicted here.This was perfect weather for an open topped car, and I am sure that those who came in the 124 Spider and its later Pininfarina Europa variant would not disagree with my assertion.A Barchetta would be equally desirable, of course, and there were a few of these, too.Attracting a lot of attention was this lovely 600 Multipla. There was another such car tucked away in the shadows on the banking. Follow on to the 600 Multipla was the 850/900 Familiare model, and then years later, I suppose you could say that the Multipla is a sort of (larger) successor even to that. INNOCENTI
There were a pair of these pretty little Innocenti 950s, a coupe and a convertible. Based on the 1961 Sprite/Midget, these cars were only made in very small numbers. Whilst the bodywork remains a challenge, a previous conversation with the owner informed me that getting the mechanical parts is no problem as the parent cars are well provided for.
Only one Grifo this time, and it is a car I have seen many times before. I would willingly see it many times again, as it is stunning.
The cream coloured Fidia was also in attendance, but seems to have eluded the camera this time.LAMBORGHINI
In previous years, Lamborghini presence at this event has been a bit thin, but that was not the case this year. I missed a photo of the Muira, as it was a late arrival, and although we saw it from the bridge over the banking, by the time we had got down to where it had been parked, it was gone.
No such problem with the Countach, though, as several of these stayed all day. We watched one arrive, and the efforts of the owner to reverse it into a space. He ended up not just with the door open, looking out, but getting his passenger to get out and guide him, too. Did not look easy!
There were both Diablo Coupe and Spider models. Numerically, there were more Gallardos than anything else, with all models from the early cars, through Spiders to the latest SuperLeggera in attendance. Other Lamborghini included a trio of Uraccos and a Jalpa. LANCIA
One of the oldest cars at the event was this lovely 1930s Aprillia.
Even lovelier were this pairing of Aurelia Spyders. These cars are now worth in the order of £350k, whereas the later Convertible, which shares the same basic body style is still available for half that. True they only made 242 of the Spyder, but you’d have to want a curved windscreen an awful lot to pay that sort of premium. Aurelia GTs are not quite that pricey yet, though these cars are headed that way, too! Two of these were also on show, both of which were in classic rally livery.The Appia Van that made its debut at the Silverstone Classic in 2010 was parked up by the main building. There was also a Series 2 Appia Berlina, which was to be found on the approach to the banking, along with all the other Lancias.Several Stratos turned up.There were two of the Flaminia Coupes to admire. Lovely.I am still sad that Lancia did not make the gorgeous Fulvietta Coupe concept that they showed a few years ago. Seeing the car that was inspiration for it is some compensation, though. As well as the regular Coupe, there were a couple of the Zagato models as well. There was also a Fulvia Berlina, a boxy saloon from the 1960s that sold in relatively small numbers in the UK, thanks to its high price.From the Beta family, there were Coupe, HPE and Spider models, as well as several of the mid-engined MonteCarlo cars. Lots of Delta models, mainly HF Turbo and Integrale cars, as you would expect. There was a lone Prisma, the unloved three box saloon version of the first generation Delta, and although it escaped my camera, there was also a Dedra, which had the same relationship to the second generation hatch.After the surprise at seeing a Gamma Berlina in Bristol last weekend, I was amazed to see another one – a different car – at this event. It was parked close to a Coupe, finished in the same shade of azure blue. This seemed to be the only Thema at the event, and there was only the one Y10, too.Is this the only Thesis in the UK? Certainly the first one I have seen on these shores.MASERATI
Most of the attending Maserati were from the past 25 years or so. Just a couple of cars were from the more distant past. First was a 3500GT Coupe, the first real road going model that Maserati sold in any quantity (and even that is a relative term by what had gone before!).
10 years later, and Maserati were selling the Indy, a really lovely looking car.There were plenty of the 3200/4200 generation cars, including one in a particularly unusual pale blue which was not really to my taste. The Quattroporte, on the other hand, is absolutely to my taste! There were a couple of the third generation Gandini styled cars as well.I also like the Shamal, and there were 2 at the event, along with a number of other cars from the BiTurbo generation, which was a time when Maserati introduced so many variants than understanding them all is no mean feat. From the current range, this is an MC Stradale version of the GranTurismo.Representing the 1970s were a couple of the Khamsin 2+2 Coupes. You would want to ride far in the back of one of these!FROM THE TEST HILLTHE CAR PARKSAnd what’s this?
Not exactly an Italian duo, this pairing were parked up outside one of the outbuildings, purely as an advertisement for the adjoining Mercedes-Benz World. Whilst M-B World clearly wanted the custom of the Auto Italia event attendees, it was also clear, as reported by some of the forummers, that they did not want them to park there, and they did have attendants on duty to check where people were really headed.
As to what was on show at Mercedes-Benz World, that is the subject of a separate report.
All in all, this was just a Top Day. The weather was perfect, with not a cloud in sight all day, although those with a pink colouring to their necks, foreheads or even whole face, may disagree. With so many cars on show, the event is getting close to being a victim of its own success, but not quite yet. Look out for the announcement of the 2012 date and clear your diary as soon as you know when it is.