This was the tenth anniversary for the Bristol Italian Auto Moto Festival, and the fifth that I have attended, and it followed the same format as in previous years. Working closely with the City Council, a number of streets in the commercial centre of the city are closed off, so that approximately 200 cars and bikes can be put on display in a place where everyone can enjoy them. Crowds usually throng the event all day, many of them unaware event that the event was taking place, but pausing to enjoy a display of lots of classic machinery. This year I offered my services as an event marshall, which meant arriving before 7am, with the intent that we would be ready for, and in advance of the display cars. However, several of the keener exhibitors arrived at almost the same time as us, and before we had got all the service vehicles moved out of the way. With a posting at one of the entry gates, I saw many of the cars as they arrived, but even so, when my shift was over and I got to see the rest of the event, there were plenty of surprises and a lot of cars which I had not seen previously at this event. Here are the highlights: ABARTH
Abarthisti brought along 4 modern Abarths, all of them 500s, though with my “normal”, a couple of Esseesse cars and one of the 2010 Dealer Championship cars, there was some variety.
Wessex Garages had a Punto Evo and a 500C in their display. This was the first time I had seen the 500C in that colour combination, and I rather liked it.ALFA-ROMEO
Oldest Alfa was Mike Hirst’s splendid 1929 6C 1750 GS Zagato. This is a local car, and a stalwart at this event. It was one of the day’s prize winners, and who could argue with that, as it is simply splendid
David Roots (Alfaspecial on this forum) brought along his rather splendid machine. Given its lack of weather protection, I am sure no-one was more relieved than him that the rain more or less held off (apart from intermittent drizzle).This Giulietta Sprint must rank as one of the prettiest cars of the 1950s, if not of all timeIt is 50 years since the launch of the 105 series Giulia, and there were a number of the Coupe based models on show, ranging from the prize winning “step front” Giulia Sprint GT to several GTV 1750 and 2000 cars.There were plenty of the Spider model which shared its underpinnings with the GTV cars.A lone Junior Zagato.Also a lone Alfasud, a late model Series 3 car.One of just 240 such cars built, this is an Autodelta 3.0 Alfetta GTV built in South Africa in 1983, at the very end of the production run. .This SZ is an event regular.There was one each of the 145 and 146, both in classic italian racing red and both in lovely condition.The 916 series GTV and Spider are now established classics, and deservedly so, as these charismatic and attractive cars are well regarded. Hard to believe, but the 156 will be 15 years old later this year, and it is 10 years since the GTA model first appeared.There were a number of more recent Alfas, too, ranging from the GT through the 159 to Brera, Spider, MiTo and Giulietta.DE TOMASO
Just one De Tomaso this year, a Pantera GTS. This was, by some margin, the noisiest individual car present, and I happened to be standing right by it as the owner prepared to depart.
Winner of the “best car in show” was this 1958 250GT model. This car is one of two brought over to the UK by Mike Hawthorne, who followed up his success at driving Ferrari on the track with an attempt to sell the road cars. This one sold quickly, but the other one lingered a while. Maranello Concessionaires took over the sale after Hawthorne was killed in 1959.
1969 365 GTCA couple of the oh-so-pretty 246GT Dino cars.400iBB512i512 TRMondial348tb and F355There were several 360 and 430 Modena cars.550 MaranelloFIAT
Two of the very cute 500 Topolinos on show, a 1937 500A and the later 1949 500C. Both were deservedly drawing lots of approbation.
There was a whole row of the classic Nuova 500 cars, with a lone 600 at the end of the display.Two 850 Coupes were among my favourite cars of the day. The red car, an early model, had still been a shell in primer as recently as last Tuesday. As presented today, it was not quite perfect, but pretty close. Very lovely. As was the second series 1969 model.A late model 124 Spider and an X1/9 represented Fiat’s sports cars from the 1970s and early 1980s.A lone 131 Supermirafiori.Absolutely stunning was this, the Strada Cabrio. This is also a recently completed restoration, and a fantastic job has been done. This car was selected to win the prize for best Bertone bodied car of the day.There was a rare regular Strada, a 75 Automatic, in the very period colour of pale blue.Another rare automatic was this Uno Selecta. The owner of this one has another one, so two of the thirteen Selectas believed to be left in the UK.First generation Panda.The Fiat Coupe is a popular event stalwart and there were a good few of these cars on display.A trio of Barchettas, though they ended up in different parts of the display site. Among the more recent cars were a second generation Punto and a regular 500LAMBORGHINI
Just one, an Islero. This rather smooth looking coupe surprised everyone when the engine is fired, as it is at that point that it really does remind you that it is a wild Lamborghini.
Oldest Lancia was this 1936 Augusta. When launched, this was the smallest Lancia there had been, but it still benefitted from the rigorous standards of engineering and quality that typefied the marque until the 1970s.
Bigger brother to the Augusta was this, the Aprilia. This is a much loved and used 1937 model, which the owner declared is overdue a full restoration.This 1960 Appia Coupe spent the majority of its life in South Africa, and only arrived in the UK after its 40th birthday. Previous owners include Martin Buckley, a self-confessed Lancia addict. Not that many of these cars were ever made, and it is believed that there are just 3 in the UK.Equally lovely is this Flaminia Coupe. This car, one of just 37 right hand drive models made, started out in Jersey, arriving on the mainland in 1973, hence the L registration plate. Very lovely.Yet another delectable Lancia was this Series 3 Fulvia Coupe. Just fabulous! It was joined by a replica rally 1600HF model, which arrived on a trailer.There was also an example of the Zagato bodied Fulvia.There were a couple of Stratos cars. As far as I know, both were replicas, but they were both very well done.2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the Beta, and there were examples of all the different body styles in which the car was offered, except the three-box Trevi. The Series 2 Berlina is a car that I have seen at many events in the past, and still looks very good. The various Coupe, HPE and Spider models were all individual examples that I don’t recall seeing before, at least not recently.There were a couple of the Montecarlo sports cars as well.The Delta is now definitely seen as a “classic”, and I have to say it was a real pleasure to hear these cars in action as they paused at “my” entry gate, with a wonderful burble from their 5 cylinder turbo engines.A single version of the three-box car based on the Delta, the Prisma, was also on show.The only Thema present was one of the facelifted cars.MASERATI
A couple of Meraks, both of which were gorgeous.
The only example from the Biturbo era was this 425 saloon.Plenty of more recent Maseratis including 3200, 4200, Quattroporte., Granturismo and Grancabrio.BIKES
As in previous years, there were nearly as many Bikes as there were cars. Featured marque was the MV Agusta, and there were several of these along with Moto Guzzi, Benelli, Ducati and a vast number of classic Lambretta Scooters presented by the Bristol Mods who made a particularly striking sight as ever.
The event was perhaps not quite as busy as in previous years, and having seen the list of cars that had entered, it looked like quite a significant number simply did not show up on the day, which was a pity, as there were plenty of other interesting machines listed. As it turned out, the weather was never worse than slightly drizzly, although it was bitingly cold, but in all other respects, this was a fun day. Combining marshalling duty with my efforts as a photographer and reported worked well, and there was plenty of time to catch up with an Abarthisti friend who was not displaying his own car. Most of the time the marshall job was easy, though we did have to get firm with a few people over the closure of the road, and there there was some added activity at the end of the day when a passer-by stopped by us, and asked us to call an ambulance. He had a history of heart trouble and (so it turned out) he was suffering from an acute angina attack. Once we persuaded the emergency service to come (not easy!), the paramedics arrived within a couple of minutes. One of them turned out to be a real enthusiast, who had been to the display earlier in the day before his shift started. With the medical services on hand, and the display cars all departed, it only took a few minutes to wrap up, say my farewells to the fellow marshalls and head home for a welcome sit down (I’d been on my feet for 10 hours!). A good event, and one to look forward to in 2013.