Auto Italia at Stanford Hall – June 2011

Brooklands may well be the venue with all the historical associations and interest, but of the locations where Auto Italia magazine hold their popular Italian car evens, many would contend that Stanford Hall is the “best” of all. Certainly there is far more space than at Brooklands or Gaydon, so it is much easier for the organisers to allocate an area to a particular marque and with no track or hill climb as a lunchtime diversion causing many of the cars to be moved, and then not to end up back where they started, most people drive in, park up and only move the car when they depart during the afternoon. Even ignoring the attractions of the stately home in whose grounds the event takes place, there os plenty to entertain the attendee for a whole day, with groupings of different marques and a concours area in front of the house for those who are particularly fastidious in keeping their car clean and well presented. Much of the country experienced a wet and soggy day, but the worst that Stanford Hall had to contend with were a couple of spots of rain during the mid afternoon, making for a particularly agreeable day out.

Although the modern Abarth is still quite a rare sighting on the roads of the UK (approx 2500 have been sold since the relaunch of the marque 3 years ago), the owners on Abarthisti always show plenty of interest in meeting up, and this event was no exception, with tales of a trip to Alton Towers and camping the day before regaled by some. With over 40 cars in attendance in the official Abarth allocated area, and one parked up with the Fiat Forum  and a few more joining the modern Cinquecentos and Seicentos, this marque was one of the best represented of all at the event.

Chris, one of the Abarthisti moderators was kept busy for much of the morning trying to ensure that when further cars arrived, they did not park up in the area just before my car, which was allocated to the yet to arrive Fiat Coupes, but at the other end oft the line of cars. When a Stilo joined the line there was some debate as to whether he should be allowed even in the legitimate parking area, but it was decided that although this car represented something of an abuse of the badge, as it was called a Stilo Abarth, it could join in. This was one of the later cars with a conventional manual gearbox.
Abarth UK support events such as this, bringing a trailer full of merchandise, and relying on the support of the local dealer to bring the cars. In this case, it was Rockingham Cars of Corby, who had assembled an example of each of the models in the range, including a 695 Tributo Ferrari.
Classic Abarths were not forgotten, with three cars all on show in the concours area. All are familiar vehicles at events like this, and all three were trailered to the event, but even do they made for a splendid sight.  
At around 4pm, the Abarth stunt plane staged an appearance and performed some quite incredible acrobatics. It turned out that this was the third such display of the day for the pilot who clearly has a very strong constitution, as what he put that plane through would take its toll on anyone were they to do it once, let alone three times!

Numerically, there were more Alfa Romeo than any other marque at the event, which is what you would expect. There was a good spread of models, though it is slightly surprising that no cars were older than the 1960s, and most were far more recent.

From the 105 series Giulia range, there were a couple of Berlinas, several of the Coupe models, and a 1600 Spider

The Duetto/Spider is a popular car and there were examples of each of the four variants of this car
No AlfaSuds, and only examples of the Alfetta in GTV form to represent the 1970s
A lone 33, from the second generation of these cars after the facelift had been applied.
This was the only 116 series Giulietta at the event, and it is a show stalwart, always immaculately turned out. Today was no exception.
Only one SZ, which is surprising as sometimes there can be a whole row of these brutes on show at such events.
From the current range were several MiTo and a couple of the latest Giulietta
This 8C Competizione was in the concours area, though someone had clearly not understood that this should have meant that the car ought to be clean. Even so, this is a fabulous motor car
Last year, I recall that the Ferrari area was full to overflowing, whereas this year, there were probably only half as many cars. When the first and only couple of spots of rain came, most Ferraris were packed up and they departed, which was rather a shame. As with Alfa, there were no particularly rare, or older cars, with nothing earlier than the mid 1970s on show.

Attracting most attention from this marque was the Enzo, which had a few people gathered around it almost all the time.

The 458 Italias were also popular, with one car parked next to the Enzo and one in prime position  
308/328 GTB/GTS
308 Dino GT4
Fiats were presented by the Fiat Forum, separate gatherings for the Cinquecento owners and the Coupe owners, as well as constituting the bulk of the cars in the Torque Italia display. A couple of the nicest cars were in the concours area, and few were better than this, a late model 124 Sport Coupe.

When I first spotted a Strada Cabrio, I expressed the view that this could well be the sole UK survivor of a car that only sold in small quantities, and then a second model arrived. Are there any more out there?
The hatchback Strada is rare in its own right, with more of the surviving cars being the sporting models, and indeed they were the only ones represented at this event.
Also rare these days is the Uno. Suddenly all these cars seem to have vanished from Europe’s roads, though there were three of them present at this event.
2010 marked the 30th anniversary of the original Panda, and a surprising number of cars emerged at events marking this. Plenty were at this event, too, and it was quite a surprise to see two identical models, both on C plates, in the same colour parked next to each other.
The Cinquecento and Seicento have become deservedly popular not least among the younger driver, as these cars are cheap to buy and run and relatively easy to fix should anything go wrong.
Examples of the antecedents of these cars included a few Nuova 500s and a couple of the 126 model.
There was a lone 127, in Palio trim.
Representing the 128 was this 3P model, another stalwart of shows like this one.
A single 132 and also just one 130, in Coupe form
The Punto has now been around for nearly 20 years and although unmodified examples of the first generation cars have become quite rare, there are still some around. Examples of all three generations of the car were on show.
Fiat have struggled to have the same success in the medium car sector, with Bravo/a and Stilo never quite hitting the mark. The Bravo/a fell victim to scrappage and is now quite a rare sighting, and the Stilo simply never sold in large volume in the first place.
Several X1/9s in attendance, all of them the later 1500 models.
There were also a couple of Barchettas and to complete the display of open topped Fiats, a 124 Spider    
There were a number of Coupes on show, though fewer than perhaps used to be the case at events like this. With the cars now between 12 and 16 years old, I guess that age is starting to take its toll.
The 950 was a pretty Italian body clothing Austin Healey Sprite mechanicals. Coupe and Spider models were available, and although these cars were never officially sold in the UK, there are examples of both body styles in the UK these days, with a Spider being the car on show here.

Three Iso, each a different model: Lele, Fidia and Grifo. All three are regulars at events like this, and all are interesting. The Fidia used to belong to John Lennon, and the Grifo is simply a star for its awesome condition. It was singled out as a concours winner, and deservedly so too.

For some reason, this event is never popular with Lamborghini owners, and with only three cars in attendance, 2011 was no exception. They were a Gallardo, a Murcielago, and (undepicted, not least because it was only there for a short time) an Espada

This Delta S4 was on show in the concours, and was attracting plenty of attention, as you might expect for quite such a striking machine.

There were plenty of “regular” Deltas, too, the majority of which were the Integrale model.
A lone Prisma was a reminder of the fashion in the 1980s for offering a saloon version of the hatchback model in your range.
Another rarity was this Flaminia Coupe.
Not may Fulvias this time, though this Zagato Coupe caught my eye.
The MonteCarlo owners put on a good showing with several of these mid-engined cars on display.
Plenty of variety from the BetaBoyz, with pride of place being allocated to the very rare Trevi.
A comprehensive collection of Maserati with examples of almost all model types that have been offered since the 1960s.

Oldest Maserati was this 300S, which was attracting much attention.

First significant road car was the 3500GT, and there were three such on show.
This model was later developed into the Sebring, and there were a couple of these to look at.
The 5000GT was a very costly car when new, and only 22 were made, making this car rare.
A recent article published by Top Gear suggested that there is but a single Mistral in the UK, and as that is what this car is, then I have to say that I have seen it.
One lone Ghibli, in SS form
There were a couple of Meraks and one example of the more potent Bora
The Khamsin has still not really been fully appreciated for what it is: a beautiful grand tourer, capable of very high performance and with space for two very small people in the back.
Plenty of cars from the Biturbo generation, with representatives of many of the different models that were offered during the lengthy production run of this car, including the particularly potent Shamal.
It was the 3200 and 4200 cars that really saved Maserati and there were plenty of these on show.
The Quattroporte has also sold well, and the modern generation model was complemented by earlier cars bearing the same name.
Finally, there were several of the latest GranTurismo and GranCabrio cars. Only when you compare them even to the 4200GT do you realise what a large car this has now become.
As was the case last year, this was a really good day out. Like everyone else, I went home with face a little more pink than perhaps I was expecting, having spent a whole day outside, looking at some interesting machinery and with ample time to catch up with fellow Abarthisti. A Top Day. Mark your diaries for 2012.
2011-06-12 05:12:54

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