I confess that I’d never heard of MITCAR, so was quite surprised to discover that the event has been run every year since 2001, and that each event can attract up to 400 Italian cars. Rather than fixed to one location, the venue is different every year, and for 2011, the meeting was convened at Stoneleigh Abbey. Encouraged by the prospect of meeting up with a number of the Midlands-resident Abarthisti, I decided to go along and see for myself. Here are some of the highlights:
Assembly point for Abarthisti was the BP station on the A45, and with 9 of the Abarth 500 lined up to one side of the it made for quite a striking sight. The local police force seemed to think so, as they came onto the forecourt in their Peugeot 207, and we were sure that they were going to come and talk to us. But no, they lingered a few minutes then drove off.
Adding the Abarths from the Fiat forum and a few later arrivals made for a comprehensive display, with a couple of Grande Puntos and a Punto Evo, though notably, there was not a single black car among the group. The only classic Abarth at the event was this 124 Spider.ALFA ROMEO
Rarity of the day has to be this, believed to the sole surviving Arna in the UK. Fresh from a fastidious restoration, this car was attracting lots of attention. Not because the original car was anything special, as, let’s be honest, the combination of Nissan styling and Alfa electrics was almost certainly the wrong way round (!), but because it was so rare and not something that anyone has seen at any other recent event.
There were no cars from earlier than the 1950s, but plenty of representatives of most model types from that date. One of the rarer cars was this 2600 Sprint Coupe. This Giulia Spider is particularly attractive.There were plenty of the 105 series Giulia GT and later GTV Coupes.Several Spider cars, showing the evolution of this popular sports cars from 1966 until the end of production 30 years later. A pair of Montreals.Half a dozen Alfasuds, mostly from the later part of the model’s life. A line of Alfasud Sprints showed an evolution from the clean lines of the first cars, through the phase when stickers were added to create limited edition models, and the later cars which were “modernised” with the addition of plenty of plastic around the lower body. The owner of this late model Giulietta 2.0 RS spent most of the day cleaning it. It really is immaculate.From the mid 1990s, there were a small number of cars, including a trio of 146s and a few 155s. One SZ was on show. Plenty of 156s, of course.Several 147s, as well, with the GTA well represented, considering how few of these cars were ever sold here.There were several 166s, and I am reminded that I very nearly selected a black 2.0 TS model when the 164 was at the end of its lease. To my mind, it is still a good looking car, and black really suits the shape.The 916 series GTV and Spider became almost an instant classic and these cars are only likely to go up in value. Several different cars were on show, representing many of the different variants and colours that were offered during the model’s production life. There were a number of the elegant Alfetta GT and GTV cars, with the recently imported South African spec 3.0 car occupying not just pride of place in the displays, but also scooping up one of the concours prizes. From recent times, there were plenty of 159s, GTs, Brera and Spider cars, and a good number of the little MiTo. The latest Giulietta is starting to become quite a common sight on our roads, and is as easily recognisable in the dark as the daylight thanks to the unique shape of both its front and rear lights.FERRARI
Attracting the most attention was this 599 GTO. I heard this car arrive long before I actually saw it!
Also from the current range was this 458 Italia. Although this is a lovely looking car, I could not help but feel that I would not choose white for the one that would be in my (large) dream garage. This 550 Maranello would probably find a place in the same dream car garage, and red would suit just fine.A particularly lovely Dino 246 GT Spider. An early 308 GTB, one of the few that was made with a glassfibre body before production changed to metal.F355FIAT
Despite the rarity of the Arna, the prize for most unusual car of the day actually went to this, a Panda Country Club, which the organisers confessed they had never heard of. So, it was not just me. This car was first registered in Andorra, and only came to the UK a couple of years ago.
More familiar to the UK was the Sisley, and there was one of those on display as well, in addition to some front wheel drive carsFrom the second generation of Panda, cars included a Cross model as well as the regular cars.Lone 127 was an example of the limited edition Palio, which was offered in 1979, by which time the design was starting to struggle against newer market rivals. Three X1/9s. one of which was an example of the early UK cars with their distinctive side decals, and the other two from late in the life time of the 1500 models. The 4 Stradas present were all from the sporting end of the range.A single Barchetta.The Bravo/a models suffered a large cull during the scrappage scheme, but some remain.A pair of Stilo Schumacher models. The Fiat Coupe Owners Club had half a dozen cars on show. Far fewer than you would have expected even 12 months ago, so I really do suspect that these cars are starting to wear out. There were a few of the recent Cinquecento and Seicento cars, most of them in Broom Yellow.LAMBORGHINI
Somewhat surprisingly, there were no Lamborghinis at all at the event.
Very few Lancias at the event. This pairing of Beta Spider and Coupe were joined by a Thema Turbo.
Later, a rare Flavia Zagato arrived to join a Series 2 Fulvia CoupeMASERATI
Declared overall Car of the Show was this fabulous 3500 GT.
This Alfasud engined car is a stalwart of Italian shows but despite this, seemed to be attracting plenty of attention, with lots asking “what is that”.
The combination of some lovely Italian machinery and the cameraderie of the Abarthisti and Fiat Forum folk made for an enjoyable day out.