Ace Cafe Italian Night – April 2014

With the arrival of British Summer Time, and indeed some nice spring weather, suddenly there is daylight in the evenings til well past 8pm, which means that the ever popular Ace Cafe meetings burst back into life (though the themed evenings do indeed run all year round). Careful planning made sure that I was able to take full advantage and attend the April 2014 Italian car evening, my first event at Ace for 2014, and indeed since last September. The format remains as before, with any Italian cars welcome to park in the area in front of the legendary Cafe until such time as it is full, and anything else is asked to park on the street. With a dry and part sunny evening in prospect, all that remained was to hope that lots of interesting cars would turn up. As you can see, I would not be disappointed:


After some rather depleted turnouts, it was good to discover that Abarth was the most represented marque of the evening again. This was not a complete surprise, as I had seen declarations of intent to attend from 14 of those 16 cars. That also meant there was plenty of opportunity to catch up with a bunch of Abarthisti friends. And with Will Webb turning up in his newly acquired Punto SuperSport, after a couple of years in the BMW 1 series wilderness, and Graham Johnson celebrating his birthday, as well as plenty of other people with news, it was a good evening. Although there were more 500 and 595 cars present, there were 7 Punto based models as well, which is more than we usually see.

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A late addition to the attendee list was this 695 Tributo Ferrari, one of few of these limited edition cars that has remained in the UK.

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There were surprisingly few Alfa in attendance, but all of the ones that were there were nice. There were three examples of the 105 series Coupes: a couple of 2000 GTVs and a much earlier 1300 GT Junior. This last one was brought along by a dealer, and had only just arrived in the UK having spent most of its life in Southern Italy. Although it had been MOTed, it had not yet been UK registered, and apparently a buyer has already been found. The dealer said he has another similar car in Italy ready to import if anyone is interested.

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I’ve seen this Alfetta GTV before, and it always appeals, though the owner is adamant that he is no plans to sell it.

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Also good to see was this 116 series Giulietta. There aren’t many of these cars in the UK (it was a slow seller when new), and this one looked to be in very good condition.

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This 147 GTA arrived late in the proceedings, but a combination of bright red paint and good lighting where he parked it meant that I could at least get some pictures. It is one of just 4 Selespeed versions that came to the UK.

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Most recent Alfa present was a new Giulietta

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Not often that there is a De Tomaso at this event, so it was great to see one present. No-one can make a subtle entrance or exit in a Pantera, and true to form, the rather quiet and unassuming owner woke everyone up with the amazing noise that comes from the Ford V8 engine that sits a few inches behind the driver’s ears. This particular example was an American spec GTS car, and it had (oh shame!), an automatic gearbox.

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First Ferrari to arrive was a 360 Modena, and whilst nice, it is not exactly a rare car, and after the initial handful of people strolling over to look at it, attention all seemed to be directed elsewhere.

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Not long before dusk, excitement levels suddenly went up more than a little as a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta arrived. This turned out to be the car that its owner had been waiting for last summer when he had turned up in an Italian plated loan car. I am sure it was worth the wait, and he did say that he enjoys it very much, even if it was staggeringly expensive. The paint finish alone cost an extra  £18,000, but the car was sold with a 7 year servicing deal included, so there should not be too many financial surprised during the time he owns it.

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Following closely behind was his “other” Ferrari, a 458 Spider. This also attracted lots of interest, and is indeed a stunning looking car. The red paintwork glowed particularly pleasingly in the combination of dusk and ambient lighting.

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This diminutive 500L was recently brought to the UK from Sicily. Nicely restored mechanically and with a bit of tidying to the body work completed, although it bore “for sale” signs in the window, the owner said that he is having second thoughts about letting it go, as it is such a fun little machine to own and to punt around.

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Also sporting “for sale” signs was this Uno Turbo, a rare survivor from a multi-million selling range that is all but extinct even in its native Italy.

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Nice those these cars were, my favourite Fiat of the evening was this Dino Coupe. An early model with the 2 litre engine, the paintwork is not original (it was white when it left the factory), and it needs some attention to make it pristine, but this is such an elegant car and with a cracking engine. Slowly the market is waking up to these machines and prices are beginning to climb.

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There were several Fiat Coupe models present, as always. In my opinion, and as expressed by several others during the evening, this remains a striking car, nearly 20 years after its debut.

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Only three Lancia turned up. Two of them were Delta models, and these both created lots of interest.

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Final Lancia was the Fulvia Zagato Coupe.

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I understand that the Maserati owners who arrived early in the evening were somewhat put out that they had lost the parking area by the main building to Abarth, as they had several cars among the early arrivals. These included 3200 GT and 4200 Models, the current GranTurismo based cars and a lone example of the last generation Quattroporte.

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This glorious Mexico arrived just after the F12 and 458 Spider, parked up, stayed barely long enough for a cup of coffee and left again. That meant that few people probably even saw it, let alone got the chance to admire one of the rarest cars of the evening.

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Not allowed to park in the main area, as they did not meet the theme requirement, but nice nonetheless were this duo of British sports cars, a Series 2 Sunbeam Alpine and a TVR 350SE.

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I left around 9:30pm, and although quite a few people had gone, there were plenty still enjoying a mild April evening, the sight of some nice Italian cars and some good company. Let’s hope the May meeting is as enjoyable!

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