Although the Ace Cafe events run throughout the year, October is the last month when you are likely to be able to see the cars that are there in the daylight, and attendance tends to drop dramatically once the clocks have gone back, so hopes were high for Italian night that after a season when few of my visits have been blessed with dry weather, that my luck would be in. A quick perusal of the weather forecast in the days leading up to this Thursday evening suggested that the weather gods were not likely to be smiling much on the event, and so it proved with frequent and often squally showers. At 6pm, with another shower necessitating the taking of shelter under an umbrella or indoors with a warming cup of coffee and just 8 cars in attendance, it looked as if this would be a somewhat quiet and wet end to the season. Gradually, though, more and more people arrived, and so after darkness fell, the forecourt filled up and the noise level inside the Cafe reached levels you rarely here, with every seat taken and a crowd of people at one end of the building. There was nothing particularly exotic in attendance – you never get Ferraris if there is even a remote chance of rain, it seems – and with most cars arriving after dark, photography was difficult, though not quite as hard as I expected for those light coloured cars in the better lit parts of the site.
For the first time in a very long while, Abarth was not the dominant marque. Several of the regulars were saving their long trip down south for the Brooklands event at the weekend, so there were just 4 Abarths and me (in the Audi).
With 12 cars present at one time, the Alfa 155 was definitely the most numerous model of the evening. One of them – a car I’ve not seen before – was a recreation of the successful Touring Car from the 1994 season, and very splendid it looked.
Rarer than the 155 was its pre-predecessor, the 116 series Giulietta. This one would appear to be a sort of grey colour and is a late model. The doors looked like they had 1980s Italian car syndrome, with some serious rust, but the rest of it looked good.
Other Alfas included a mix of machines from a 166 to a couple of 147 GTAs and a Brera.
Perhaps the rarest car of the evening was a second series Strada 130TC. Sadly there are no pictures as it was parked in the centre of the forecourt where there is least light and as it was a dark coloured, my efforts to get a photo just failed.
Another rarity was this fabulous 124 Sport Coupe. A CC model, ie the third generation of this very pretty coupe, this one was for sale. £6000, and quite tempting if only I had somewhere to keep it.
Also a far from common sighting was this Uno Turbo.
Several Coupes arrived long after dark.
There was one, a navy blue MonteCarlo, but this one parked near the Strada and was equally difficult to photo.
Not quite an Italian car, but as it is based on Fiat 127 componentry, there are clear links to Italy, this well cared for Yugo 45 made another appearance, and this time it stayed long enough for me to get some picture.
So, certainly far from the most diverse showing of the year, but far from a waste of a journey, as with enough interesting cars, as well the chance to catch up with a few friends over a couple of mugs of coffee and a hearty plate of Ace Cafe grub, this was a pleasant end to the Ace Cafe season.