Ace Cafe Italian Night – August 2013

In June, my diary was such that I made three visits to the legendary Ace Cafe within four days, but then I have not visited since. Like many people, I missed the July Italian Cars event as it clashed with the Goodwood Moving MotorShow, so I was particularly looking forward to the August meeting, not least because the forecast suggested that after the preceding few days of sun and showers that this was going to be a lovely sunny day. Well, I was right to have looked forward to the event, as it was a lot of fun, but wrong to believe the forecasters, as mid evening a rain shower passed overhead and it was insistent enough that I had to retrieve the umbrella from the car. Luckily it only lasted a few minutes, so no real inhibitor to enjoying the sight of the Italian machines which by 7:30pm had filled the forecourt area and started to overflow into other parking places. Here are the highlights:


For a while it looked as if this was going to be an all Abarth night, as by 6:15pm. this was the only brand represented, with the usual mix of 500s and Puntos, of differing colours, and some familiar faces as well as couple of newcomers among the owners. As ever, it was good to catch up with everyone during the evening.

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With the exception of a rather nice 2000GTV model which somehow evaded my camera, there was nothing particularly unusual from Alfa at the event, though you could argue that finding both a 155 and 156 in burgundy is not exactly that common.

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Other models included some more 155s, and a Brera and a Spider, as well as 916 series GTV and a MiTo.

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There was one Ferrari. A black 430 Spider, whose driver parked it in the centre of the forecourt, and then seemed rather put out that no-one was paying any attention to his car at all, as to a man (and indeed to a woman) everyone seemed far more interested in the vehicle parked next to it, which was worth probably less than 10% of the Ferrari in market value terms. But the point is, 430s are quite common sightings especially in London and this less valuable car is the sort of thing that you probably won’t see again for months, or years. What was it? read on!


First Fiat to arrive, and to break the “so far this looks like an Abarth-only event” was Mike Kitson with his fabulous little 500C Belvedere. This car featured in Classic Cars magazine in December 2012, and Mike has brought it along to Ace a couple of times, but now I note that he is selling it. I did not get to talk to him this time, but have no doubt it will only be leaving his custody as he will have another project in mind. He’s asking £12,995 for it. Top money in terms of metal for the size of vehicle, but it is such a cool little machine, and rare in Belvedere form, that I imagine it will get snapped up.

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Next couple of Fiats on site were a rather neat wine red coloured Bravo and a Multipla, which are not yet rare enough to get anyone exactly excited. But then, what promised to be the star of the evening showed up. Michael Ward, photographer for Auto Italia magazine, encouraged by the prospect of a nice sunny evening, was parking up in his bright blue 128. Boxy this car may be. but its neat lines and advanced engineering compared to the sort of competitors that the UK was producing at the time meant that this was once a popular car, but rust has claimed all bar about 20 in the UK.

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Michael did advise that his would not be the only 128 of the evening, as someone he knows well was bringing a Rally. Sure enough, a few minutes later an even more splendid 128 Rally pulled on site. I think this really was the Top Star of the evening, and the car that deflected all the attention away from that Ferrari.

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But it had competition when a third 128 arrived. Also a 2 door, this was the 1976 facelifted model, in distinctive and very period bright yellow. The owner of the Rally told me that he had tried to buy this one a few years ago (it turns out he also owns one of the extremely rare 128 Estates left in the UK), but the eBay seller, having taken his payment then accepted a later higher bid from someone else. Be that as it may. this car had clearly had a spot of touching up in the gutters, but otherwise was pristine.

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There were plenty of other Fiats, including a Nuova 500, a couple of Seicentos, a 3 door Stilo and a Coupe.

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The two Lamborghinis arrived together, and departed together. We could hear them for some time after they left the site, as by this time ordinary traffic roar had diminished somewhat. A Gallardo is always a crowd puller, but a Diablo will always out do it, and this one did. Even after the cars had been parked up for a good hour, the amount of heat coming out of the back would have been enough to dry your washing!

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First Lancia on site was this Delta Integrale. Always an appealing car, this one looked absolutely mint. A second arrived during the evening.

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The other Lancia cars arrived within minutes of each other, a Beta Spider and a Fulvia Coupe. Cue lots of conversations rueing the fact that Lancia never built the Fulvietta concept!

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As ever, a great evening. Plenty of variety, and some engaging company. What will September bring? I look forward to finding out.

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