Auto Italia and Summertime Classics, Stanford Hall – July 2013

The Auto Italia event at Stanford Hall is one of those organised by Phil Ward and his team of the eponymous magazine, and it has always attracted a good crowd, especially after it was featured in an episode of Top Gear a few years back. It has, however, had one problem which the organisers have struggled to solve, and that is the weather which has in recent years been a real challenge. In an effort to try to do better in that respect, the event was moved from early June to later in the month, only to get caught up in the great “date change” saga which seemed to catch almost everyone when Bernie moved the British Grand Prix from its traditional second weekend in July slot to the last week of June. The Stanford Hall event was moved again, now scheduled for the first weekend in July, and mindful of the fact that the grounds can accommodate a lot more cars than even the busiest years have occupied, the title was changed to “Summer Classics” and an open invitation was extended to non-Italian cars and clubs. As the date got near, it seemed pretty clear that the weather gods had been appeased and that a day of constant sunshine was going to be substituted in the memories of the attendees in place of the awful rain, wind and cold of 2012. That was the Good News, though it did probably tempt a lot of exhibitors and attendees to stay in their gardens, and the fact that there was not just a Grand Prix to watch but also the Men’s Final at Wimbledon meant that in the end there were fewer cars on display than before. That said, there was still plenty to look at, and if you add the attractions of the Abarth stunt plane who performed some amazing acrobatics in the early afternoon, and the numerous friends with whom I could catch up, this was a great and relaxing day out. Here are some of the highlights:


From the response on the Abarthisti web-site, I was expecting a good turn out, and no doubt the weather encouraged even more to come along. I think there were 36 Abarths in the area reserved for the brand, and a couple more that chose to park among the Fiat Forum. As you might expect from the sales figures, there were far more 500 based cars than Puntos, but after 5 years, we did experience a first, with 2 cars that were absolutely identical, and much to everyone’s surprise it was a pair of red Punto Evos which achieved this.  Among the 500s there were a number of the 595 model as well as the 500C and “regular” 500 models like mine.

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Displayed separately in the Concours area was Mike Foster’s lovely 1000TC.

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Ross Alkureyshi’s 124 Sport Spider also had pride of place on the main concours lawn.

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Numerically, there were more Alfa than anything else, which is exactly what you would expect. The majority of the cars were relatively recent, with a good number of MiTo and Giulietta joined by the models which recently ceased production.

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I was pleased to see that there were several 164s on display, most of them later model cars.

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Even nicer were the AlfaSuds, three of which really caught my eye. There was also one lone Sprint.

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Among the Giulia cars was a lovely Berlina and a few Spider models.

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This 1973 2000 Berlina was one of the concours winner, and deservedly so, too.

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There were plenty of the 105 series GT and GTV cars.

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There was also a whole row of Spider models, with examples form all 4 generations of the model.

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There were a couple of Montreals.

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No sign of any Alfetta Berlina, but there were a number of the beautiful GT and GTV Coupe versions.

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This is the only one of the three 116 series Giulietta that I managed to photograph.

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From the mid 1990s were several example of the 145 hatch and the larger 155 saloon.

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The striking SZ was also represented

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The 916 series GTV and Spider are still available for very little money, a situation that surely will not last for much longer before prices rise for this striking design.

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Most valuable Alfa on show was this 8C Competizione. Now several years since this car was first shown, it remains an absolute stunner.

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There were lots of nice cars on show, but this lovely little A112 Abarth was my “car of the day”. I know it is nothing like as exotic as the Ferrari, Lamborghini, Iso and the like, but it just has masses of charm, and this one was particularly nicely presented.

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Attracting a lot of attention was this Enzo which arrived mid morning, and then made an early exit. Parked up right in the middle of the event it was hard to miss!

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Newest models on show were the duo of 458 Spiders, one of which had seen some rather interesting red trim changes to the dash.

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In complete contrast was this splendid 250GT, dating from 1958, when it starred at the London Motor Show.

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There were examples of the 348 ts and its much better replacement, the F355.

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The Mondial Convertible always appealed to me, despite its less than stellar reputation. This would have been the perfect weather to enjoy such a car.

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There are lots of 360 and 430 cars around, so no surprise to see a few of them here.

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I am a huge fan of the 550/575 Maranello, so liked this car a lot.

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The 308/328GTB and GTS cars appear so small now compared to the much wider machines that have supplanted them.

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This 365 GTC/4 is an event stalwart.

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There was just one Testarossa, with some rather unsuitable looking alloys ruining its overall appearance.

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Hats off to the Fiat Forum, who had a very sizeable display of cars this year.

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There was nothing really unusually rare this time, but even so, several cars caught my eye. For starters, there were a pair of Strada Cabrios. These were rare even when new.

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There were also a pair of the regular hatchback models, both of them Abarth 130TC version.

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Slightly older than those was this 131 Supermirafiori.

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This late model Uno 70 SXie was in splendid condition.

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There were a number of first generation Panda.

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The Cinquecento and Seicento owners had their own display area and there were lots of these little cars contained within.

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Among the smallest cars were a number of the Nuova 500.

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This 128 3P sports some rather garish stickers which are absolutely genuine, as this was a limited edition offered to try to clear a backlog of cars in the late 1970s.

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This Dino Spider is a perennial favourite.

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The 600 Multipla was attracting plenty of attention, as these early People Carriers do, where ever they are seen.

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I had quite a long chat with the organiser of the Fiat Coupe Owners Club. He told me that the rarest model, with fewer than 100 left, is the 16 valve Turbo. There are slightly more of the non Turbo 4 cylinder cars, but by far the majority of Coupes – and there are over 1000 left – are the 5 cylinder models.

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The X1/9 Owners had plenty of cars on show, most of them late model cars. I did ask Abarthisti Lloyd Hartley if he had not been tempted to bring his, as it was perfect weather for this little sports car, and the answer was that he really wanted to bring both cars but ultimately had gone for his Punto.

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Newest model in the display was a 500L. It was parked next to a current Panda, and this really emphasise just how big the 500L is, in all dimensions, It is much taller and wider than the Panda which looked really rather petite in comparison.

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Just one Innocent this year, one of the quartet of these Sprite-based sports cars that are all up for sale. The current owner has three IM3 Coupes, in red, green and white as well as this 950 Sports. All are lovely, but I was quite surprised to learn that the Coupes are more valuable as far fewer were built. I’ve not got the £60,000 he wants for the quartet, though if anyone has, they will get some lovely cars which should not be hard to maintain mechanically as they are pure Sprite underneath.

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Just one Iso, a lovely Grifo. This is the very car which appeared at the London Motor Show in 1971. It was singled out for a concours prize, which surprised no-one, as it is really very splendid.

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I was rather hoping for more Lamborghini than actually turned up. One of the most striking, despite its age, was a Countach Anniversary, which the owner managed to manoeuvre into its parking spot with consummate ease.

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This Diablo SV made a dramatic and noisy early arrival.

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The Aventador seemed to be in the custody of a most unlikely looking driver –  a very scruffy looking kid who could barely have been more than 18. He certainly knew what the crowd wanted though, as he blipped the throttle a good few times prior to departing.

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There was just one example of the Gallardo.

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This Uracco was the oldest Lamborghini present.

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By far the most numerous Lancia was the Delta Integrale, with some lovely cars on show.

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Among the Beta models, it was the Spider that dominated. Perhaps fitting, given the weather. There were a couple of Coupes as well.

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I was surprised to find that there were 3 of the relatively unloved Dedra on show.

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There were also three Thema present during the day.

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Oldest Lancia on show were a duo of Flaminia Touring Coupes.

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Parked up among the Lancia, despite its Chrysler badges is the modern Ypsilon. In case you were in any doubt this model was badged “Black and Red”.

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The Maserati Owners Club had held their AGM a month ago, so instead of having all their cars at the event, there were no historic Maserati at all, and just a handful of models from the past 20 years to look at.

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This TVR Trident is one of 4 such cars made between 1964 and 1966. The TVR Tridents are unique in many ways: designed by an Italian/English designer, handmade by Carrozzeria Fissore in Turin and powered by an American Ford Cobra V8. They are also the only TVRs to date to feature a steel/aluminium body work. The idea for the cars goes back to 1963, when TVR boss, Trevor Frost persuaded Carrozzeria Fissore to build two Tridents (no 1 and no 2) on a Grantura/Griffith chassis. They were finished just in time for the 1965 Geneva Motor Show. The Tridents were nothing like a TVR had ever been and in some respect they resembled more an eighties’ 350i Coupe rather than a classic TVR. The ‘wedge’ body work was made of steel with a one-piece aluminium bonnet. Power came from a 4.7 litre Ford Cobra V8, developing 270 bhp, linked to a four speed gearbox. The Italian roots were reflected in the Alfa Romeo rear lights, Fiat front lights and many Alfa Romeo switches inside. The new TVRs got a warm welcome from the motoring press and according to the Daily Mail, the Trident simply was the most beautiful car in the world. When the Geneva show closed its doors, TVR had received orders in excess of £150,000. Inspired by this success, TVR ordered two more Tridents from the Fissore work shops, this time a coupe (no 3) and a convertible (no 4). These two cars were to become test cars in order to make development of the Trident possible. Then in 1965, TVR went bankrupt for the second time. The company was rescued by Martin Lilley, but manufacturing rights to the Tridents passed to a local dealer who started to make his own non-TVR Tridents. Those cars are better known, not leas because there are more of them. This particular car is Coupe number 3 and is the only TVR Trident in the UK, as the other three are either in the USA or Belgium.

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This is an Italia 2000, an Italian bodied version of the Triumph TR3. Just over 300 of these cars were made around 1960, with the prohibitive cost precluding further sales. This one has been in Italy most of its life and is still in need of restoration.

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There were only a few non-Italian cars on show, though they were certainly very varied.

The McLaren MP4 12C was certainly attracting a lot of attention, More, probably, even than the Aventador near to which it was parked.

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Among the American cars on show were a 1957 Chevy Nomad, a couple of Firebirds, a 1973 Buick Riviera, a “square bird” Thunderbird and even a modern Dodge Challenger.

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This Metropolitan was parked up next to the Nomad. Painted in the same colours, it showed the difference between American and quasi American styling mid 1950s style.

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I did like this Audi Quattro.

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Also appealing was a TVR S2 and a Triumph Stag.

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This Capri 2.8i was parked in the concours area.

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Also in the same area was this Triumph Mayflower and an immaculate R107 model Mercedes 420SL.

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Parked up in the general car parking were a number of cars which could have been in the main display, including a Ford Granada 2.8i GhiaX and a second generation Astra GTE

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This was a great day out. Almost too hot at times, but the splendour of the setting, the relaxed and friendly atmosphere and an array of interesting cars to look are just about unbeatable.

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