Brooklands Auto Italia – April 2014

Of all the Italian car events which take place in the UK during a calendar year -and there are a lot – the one that is held at Brooklands at the start of May is, by some margin, the biggest, and in most people’s eyes, “the best”. 2014 marked the 28th time that the event has been held, and from tentative beginnings, it has grown such that by mid morning the entire and sizeable Brooklands is full of a splendid and diverse array of cars from all the well known Italian marques, and usually a few of the lesser encountered or even plain obscure ones. I’ve attended every year since 2008, and have been able to contribute to the displays with my own car since 2011. A couple of days before the 2014 event, a rather gloomy prognosis from the Met Office changed completely, and they predicted – completely accurately – a day of almost unbroken sunshine, Not only does that make the event more enjoyable, but it acts as the catalyst to encourage a few more people to get in their car and bring it along, and that is surely what happened this year, with record breaking crowds thronging the venue all day. Despite arriving at 8:15 in the morning, and not leaving until almost everyone else had gone, I know that I missed some things, and that was without adjourning to the adjoining Mercedes Test Track to see some of the cars in action at lunchtime (it gave me the chance to photograph what was left with less in the way of crowds), or watching the cars ascend the Test Hill, let alone set foot in the museum. Even so, there are 585 photos in this report, ranging from cars you see every day to ones you used to see every day but which are now rare, and some you may never have seen or even have heard of before. Enjoy!


I knew from my efforts at trying to co-ordinate the Abarthisti presence that there would be lots of Abarths at the event. Even so, I was surprised at quite how many turned up, with in excess of 60 cars, as opposed to the 42 who declared their intentions to attend. Guessing that this would be the case, many owners had decided to arrive spectacularly early to ensure that they got a parking space in the area allotted rather than having to go to the overflow area, so when I arrived at 8:15am, there were already 25 cars present. There were examples of all of the variants of both the 500 (except the limited edition Tributo models) including one of the Assetto Corse and the Punto including the Scorpione of which only 10 were made available to the UK market.

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Local dealer, Thames, had a display of cars, too, which included one of the very nice, but very pricey Tributo Maserati cars. I have still yet to see one of these on the road, though a new owner did sign up with Abarthisti just days after the event, so clearly someone has bought one.

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Daron Brown of TMC Motorsport was showing off the Oakley Design 595 model that was created earlier this year, and which made its debut at the AutoSport show in January. It is for sale for anyone have £40,000 burning a hole in their pocket, but it was really created to show the art of the possible, with the idea that customers may want some of the features of this car, ranging from the Alfa 8C paint (be warned that costs literally thousands!) to the carbon fibre trim or the mechanical changes.

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There were plenty of classic Abarths present, too, including not just the 1000TC cars that are the first cars that people think of when you say “Abarth”, but also some of the pretty Coupe cars.

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Evidence of the significance of this event was provided by the fact that as well as the dealer right hand drive 4C Competizione model (which I never got to photograph, as there were always crowds around it), a second car was made available for the event, by the Alfa factory. This was a left hand drive car, and it proved to be quite a crowd puller as well.

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Fittingly, its larger and older brother, the 8C Competizione arrived mid morning and was able to park alongside, to provide a contrast of the two models.

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Sadly, there were no pre-war Alfa present this time, but with the exception of the rarely seen Arna, 6 and 90, there were examples of just about every model made by Alfa since the 1950s on show. The 1950s cars were included in the main display area in the centre of the event, and Robbie Savage’s lovely 1954 1900 SS Touring was joined by an example of the smaller Giulietta Coupe.

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This Giulietta SS Coupe was in the car park outside the event.

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The 105 series cars are a staple of the Alfa scene, and there were plenty of these lovely machines: Berlina, Coupe and Spider in all four distinct generations.

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The Montreal was originally produced as a concept car for Expo 67 in the city of Montreal, but following massive enthusiasm for the design, it was productionised and made in small quantities in the early 1970s. Many still fear the complexities and costs of keeping one of these cars running, but fortunately, there are plenty of people who ignore such warnings, so we all get to see lovely cars like this.

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There were no Alfetta Berlina models present this time, but a few of the Coupe derivative were on show, including one of the rare South African AutoDelta 3.5 models.

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While wandering around the event early in the day, I thought I saw quite a few AlfaSud models arrived, but this was either wishful thinking, or if it was indeed true then most of them must have made an early exit before I got to them with the camera, as I only came across a couple of Berlina models and a couple of lovely pre-facelift Sprint models as well as one of the last Sprints made.

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The 33 was barely represented at all, with just this one well known car, as it stages frequent appearances at events like this, joined by another Cloverleaf, from the middle of the model’s 12 year production run.

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It is surprising how many 75s you see at events these days. Never a big seller when new, and not particularly well regarded at the time, either, this car has aged well, and is popular, perhaps as the last (for now) rear wheel drive Alfa. There were a fair few, all nicely presented, at this event.

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The same comments apply to its successor, the 155. The only difference is that the later models with the wider track and quick ratio steering were actually pretty good, and the testers said so at the time. Trouble was, the reputational damage had been done with the earlier versions and at the time Alfa’s reputation was still one of rust and electrical maladies. A decent number have survived, though.

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The striking SZ was here, of course, though there were only a couple of them, and none of the rarer RZ open topped models.

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I was really delighted to see quite a number of 164s at this event, especially as in contrast to a lot of previous occasions when the cars on show have been a bit scabby, all the ones here were really nicely presented. Daryl Staddon was here with the lovely Q4 Cloverleaf that he bought early in the year and which he had shown at the BIAMF event in Bristol a couple of weeks previously. He told me that he had been out of the country during the week, and the car had been parked up at Heathrow, and he was simply making his way home! There were a number of other versions to enjoy, too.

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There were quite a few 145 and 146 cars present. Many were not entirely convinced by the styling of these when they were new (I was not among the disbelievers), though anyone who drove a 145 Cloverleaf or 146 Ti probably needed no convincing on the fact that they were fun to drive. They were not always that reliable, especially as they aged (as one Chris Harris found out!), but now the survivors have been sorted, they make an interesting modern classic.

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Reliability was not an issue with the 916 series GTV and Spider, as these cars were well built. I note that the 1996 GTV which I had for a while has disappeared off the roads according to the DVLA, but only in the last few months, but there are still plenty of these cars around. An article in the April 2014 Classic and Sports Car will surely have encouraged at least a few people to go and buy one of these whilst they are still very cheap, as prices are bound to head upwards.

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It won’t be long before the 156 reaches it 20th birthday. I still remember the excitement of seeing my first one, all taped up, in Frankfurt a matter of days before it was officially revealed, and then the joys of owning a V6 model, the keys for which had more or less to be forcibly removed from me. This car still looks great, especially, in my opinion, in the way it first appeared before either of the two facelifts were applied, and even without the GTA bodykit.

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Another car which looked better before its facelift was the 147. This was a really pretty car which looked good, and then someone ruined the nose with the slanty headlights. Sadly, the GTA model had a short production life. These still look stunning now, and will surely increase in value when more people realise just what an impressive machine it really was.

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In contrast, I always thought that the new nose of the facelifted 166 was an improvement. There were only this pair of pre-facelifts car at the event that I recall seeing, though.

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The GT has been out of production for a few years now, and is one of those cars which has almost immediately achieved “modern classic” status, and who can be surprised with a car that looks this good.

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I was never quite such a fan of the Brera and Spider, and the ones I drove were a mild disappointment, largely stemming from the fact that they were extremely heavy and the engines had lost most of their Alfa-ness. Of course the V6 ones really had, as they used the powerplant jointly developed with GM.

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The 159 suffered in some of the same ways. I drove a couple when they were new, and though they were nice, they never felt quite Alfa-enough. There is no doubting the fact that it was one of the best looking cars in its class at the time, and it still looks good now.

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There were plenty of examples of the two volume models in the current range, the MiTo and Giulietta, proving that although current sales of the marque are from the ambitious volumes that were touted around a few years ago, there are still plenty of people who want a modern Alfa and want to get involved in the Italian Car community.

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I really like the diminutive A112 model, a small hatchback which was used by the Fiat Group to test some of the ideas that would later appear in the commercially far more significant Fiat 127. Never officially sold in the UK, these cars are rare even in their native Italy, so it was great when this one, carefully restored over a period of time by its owner, who also has a modern Abarth, made its public debut at the Stanford Hall event last year.

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There was a second A112 on show as well.

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This striking 5300GT is a regular at events like this. It always attracts plenty of attention.

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This is one of those marques which many will never even have heard of. I saw this car drive in, and guessed its identity. The name “Cisitalia” derives from “Compagnia Industriale Sportiva Italia”, a business conglomerate founded in Turin in 1946 and controlled by the wealthy industrialist and sportsman Piero Dusio. The best known version is the stunningly pretty Cisitalia 202 GT of 1946, an example of which hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, as it is widely considered to be a “rolling sculpture. Over the next few years, Cisitalia produced very small quantities of quite an array of different models. This car, a 202 SMM Nuvolari Spider, is one of about 20 that were made. It was designed by Giovanni Savonuzzi, who had designed most of the 202, and initially featured a coupe body, intended to be Cisitalia’s competition car for the 1947 season. The design was executed by Stabilimenti Farina upon both chassis #101 and #102. After two coupes had been finished, a spider version, called the SMM for Spider Mille Miglia, was completed which would adorn all subsequent competition cars bearing the MM designation. At the 1947 Mille Miglia, the Cistitalia spider really proved itself by leading most of the race in the hands of Tazio Nuvolari. Despite facing competitors with engines three times larger, Nuvolari held back the competition until troubles ensued in the rain. In the end, the Cistitalia took second overall and first in class. For this epic effort, subsequent competition spiders were known as 202 SMM Nuvolaris. This one bore several stickers suggesting that it has previously competed in the revived Mille Miglia events.

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Think De Tomaso, and probably it will be the Pantera that comes to mind. There were several of this, the biggest selling De Tomaso, on show.

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Much rarer was the 4 door Deauville. Launched in 1972, the model had a long “production” life, and this is a late model with black plastic bumpers which do not enhance what is otherwise a cleanly styled machine.

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Needless to say, there were lots of Ferrari present, with a whole display area occupied by members of the Surrey Ferrari Owners Club, as well as plenty of cars brought along by individuals, and a quartet of cars that dealer DK Engineering had assembled. Among so many cars it is hard to pick a favourite, but high on that list was the Daytona that DK Engineering had. I’ve always loved these, and not just because it was a winning card in Top Trumps when I was a kid!

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DK Engineering also had this, a 275 GTB/C. Very possibly this was the most valuable car present, though it was not the largest crowd puller, which was parked next to it (and was not a Ferrari).

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They also had a 16M on show.

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I think the days have passed when people were cutting up cars like this, a 250 GT Lusso, so they could build replica GTOs and the like on the chassis, but that certainly was happening, making cars like this even rare than they should be. It would indeed be a crime to destroy cars that are as elegant as these.

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Another car that suffered in the same way was this, the 330 GT.

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The 246 GT Dino is still, to my mind (and I am not alone in thinking this) one of the prettiest Ferrari ever made.

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The 308/328 GTB and GTS cars just look small these days, yet when they were new, no-one really thought of them that way.

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Another really pretty model, slightly older than the Dino, is this, the 275 GTS. I heard the owner saying how he was about to take it to an event in Luxembourg, and then down to Brescia to follow the Mille Miglia. He was then goading one of his friends to use his car and “get some stone chips on it”!> Lovely though cars like these are to look at, the real joy has to be in driving them as well.

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Looking at the 348 and F355 cars, the former, a car that was almost condemned when new, for failing to achieve the levels of visual and on the road desirability of its antecedent, seems to have come into its own. Whilst I would of course prefer the F355, an achingly pretty design, with a glorious sound track from its 5 valves per cylinder V8 engine, both generations of this car, several of which were on show, are very nice.

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It was with the 360 Modena and F430 generation that Ferrari sales really took off, and not surprisingly, there were plenty of these cars at the event.

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The 458 Italia is still not as common sight on our roads, probably because the price is far higher than those attached to its predecessor. Sales have swung in favour of the Spider version, as expected. There examples of the Coupe as well.

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The Testarossa generation was represented by these cars.

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There were surprisingly few of the 599 models present, as these are usually more in evidence.

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There were not many of its predecessor, the 550/575 either.

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Four seater Ferrari never seem quite to attract the same level of interest and enthusiasm, as the two seaters, and yet, to mind, the different models that Ferrari have produced have been just as lovely to look at, and to listen to. There were examples of each of the recent ones on show: 400i and 412i, 456 GT and the 612 Scaglietti.

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The F40 remains a magnet for attention, and there were a few of these cars on show.

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Unlike the (undepicted F50 which seemed to stay for literally just a few minutes) once this Enzo arrived in the late morning, it did then stay put for the rest of the day.

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There was only one example of the latest F12 Berlinetta, one of the trade stands.

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Oldest Fiat on show was this gorgeous 1934 Balila Sport. Based on the humble 508, mainstay of the Fiat range at the time, the Balila was successful in motorsport events when new, and now, it is a viable entry for things like the Mille Miglia.

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The 500 “Topolino” first appeared in 1936. It was revived after the war and then facelifted to produce this, the 500C, a still very cute little car indeed.

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A trio of convertibles were tucked away right at the end of the banking. They comprised a 1200 Spider and a couple of 1500s.

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There were lots of the Nuova 500 model on show, including the Giardiniera estate models. These cars always attract lots of interest.

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The 850 was a popular car when new, with many being bought as a second car. The Coupe was particularly popular, as it was stylish and yet affordable. Rust has claimed almost all of them, but a few remain, and it was nice to see the rare Saloon as well as duo of Coupes here, and the Spider.

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The 124 was Fiat’s family car from 1966 until the mid 1970s, but these days you hardly ever see the saloon or estate models. That was the case here, too, with none at the event. But there were some lovely Coupe models, showing how the design evolved from the simple and elegant cars of 1967 to the twin headlight third generation cars with far more potent 1.8 twin cam engines.

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The 124 Spider underwent a similar evolution, but thanks to strong demand from America stayed in production far longer, lasting until the early 1990s.

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This duo of Dino models were among my favourites of the day. I did see a black Coupe come on site, but never saw it again, sadly. The market has woken up to the delights of the Dino Spider and prices have risen a lot in recent years. The Coupe, which many think is even nicer, is bound to follow.

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The 130 Coupe remains a very elegant, and very undervalued car. This was a very nice example.

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One of the rarest cars of the day has to be this, a humble 128 Estate. There are not that many 128s of any type left, thanks to the dreaded tin worm, but the Estate is the rarest of the lot. A left hand drive car, this one has clearly survived thanks to spending most of its life somewhere where rust was not an issue. It looked to be in splendid condition. I did hear lots of people reminisce on how they had once owned one, as 128s were indeed popular cars in their day.

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Also from the 128 family were these 3P models. A hatchback design that replaced the short lived Coupe model, a very small number of these cars remain. These two were both presented in a limited edition guise.

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Almost as rare as that 128 Estate was this, a first generation 131 Mirafiori. Fiat’s answer to the Cortina, this boxy saloon and estate were sold in some very bright colours when launched in 1975, of which this orange was one of the nicest.

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There were other examples of the 131, from later in the model’s life, showing how the purity of the design was lost with increasing amounts of plastic on the front and back. That said, the Abarth Rally version remained unaffected by these changes.

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The 127 is not a car you see very often, either. This is an example of the limited edition Palio model that was produced in 1979.

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I counted at least a dozen different examples of the X1/9. What was nice was that these encompassed everything from the launch edition cars with the distinctive black hatching down the sides, through to the regular 1300 and 1500 cars, the limited edition Lido, and the late model VS and Gran Finale cars.

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Most of the Strada models that you see these days are the sporty ones, and there were indeed some nice 105TC and 130TC Abarth models here, but there was also a second series 70CL, which the owner told me had been generating a lot of interest.

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Fiat have struggled almost whenever they have tried to make large cars, even though the products have generally not been bad. The first cars to bear the Croma name were decent enough products, sharing much with the Alfa 164, Lancia Thema and Saab 9000, and yet the car did not sell well when new, and so are very rare now. This was a nice first generation pre-facelift car in top of the range Turbo ie format.

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Uno is widely credited with being one of those cars that “saved Fiat”. A huge success right from the initial June 1983 launch, several million were made. Sadly, almost as many million have been scrapped, so even in its native Italy, you just don’t see them very often now. An array of different models were on show here, including some rare limited edition cars.

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The Coupe was only sold in the UK between 1995 and 1999, and since then it has enjoyed “instant classic” status, with an enthusiastic following for this striking Chris Bangle design. There were a good number of the cars on show, here, with most of the different colours that were offered in evidence.

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The Cinquecento and later Seicento have a keen following as these cars are not just small, but mechanically quite simple, so easy to fix, cost peanuts to run and have a cheeky charm that recaptures much of what made the earlier 500s so popular.

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It was nice to see a number of Barchetta at the event. To my mind this car looks even better than the MGF and Mazda MX5, its main rivals, and yet it remains largely unknown and forgotten. One day people will wake up to it, and prices will rise.

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There were loads of Panda cars, in all three generations. Having just spend a few days in Tuscany, I can confirm that the first generation model is very much alive and well, seen all over the place there, so it was good to see that there are still plenty being enjoyed here, too.

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Punto has now been on sale for 20 years, with three generations offered in that time. There were lots of these models on show, including the rare Cabrio version of the first generation car.

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Scrappage took out an awful lot of the Bravo/Brava generation of cars, so it was good to see that there are still some survivors. When it was new, it was my favourite mid-sized rental car, massively nicer to drive than the egregious Ford Escort of the day. I was also a fan of the Marea. There were no saloons on show, though I did see one within minutes of leaving the event, but there were several of the very practical Weekend models on display.

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The Stilo never really hit the mark. Fiat tried to inject some Golf like attributes into their C-segment offering, and in so doing, lost some of the brio that so characterised their previous products, whilst not achieving the same levels of quality as the Golf. The three door models are now the ones that you see, with a few of them on show here.

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The second generation Croma was another “miss”. Sharing much under the skin with Vauxhall/Opel’s Signum, this was actually a roomy car that was splendid as a long distance cruiser. It did look rather dull initially, though a revised front end did make it look better, but to no avail, it quietly disappeared from sale not long after.

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For some reason, the Bravo – allegedly still on sale, though no-one seems to know or care – just never captured anyone’s interest, and a good looking car which actually drives very nicely has languished at the bottom of the sales charts, struggling even more than the Stilo did.

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No such problem for the latest 500, which has been a huge success, and remains so 7 years after going on sale.

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Latest Fiat is the 500L, and whilst few would declare it as a beauty, it is certainly very practical, as I found out when I recently rented one.

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Based on the second generation Austin-Healey Sprite, these pretty coupe and spider cars were made in small quantities in the early 1960s. One collector had an example of the C in each of the three colours of the Italian flag and a Spider, and then surprised everyone by announcing he was going to sell them all. They were on offer for a while, and he had hoped to sell the collection as a quartet, but I noticed that in fact someone bought one of the C models a while back. It was nice to see some of these cars at this event.

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The Grifo is one of those cars which I knew in my childhood only because I had the Corgi model of it. It is only now at events like this that you actually get to see one. Or rather, two, as that is how many were present.

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Pre-dating the Grifo was the Rivolta, the first car that Iso made.

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Making its first appearance on UK soil was this, “il drago ruggente”, or “the roaring dragon”. Powered by a staggering 27-litre Isotta Fraschini V12 engine from a Caproni – an Italian heavy bomber, this aero-engined leviathan, widely known as ‘il drago ruggente’ (the roaring dragon), is built on a 1924 Delage chassis and, thanks to owner Glenn Billqvist, made the journey from Sweden for the event. No matter where you were on site, you could tell when this monster was fired up, firstly because of the noise, and secondly as a huge cloud of smoke engulfed everything in the vicinity.

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By the time I got to the area where the Lamborghini were parked, quite a lot of them seemed to have departed, so although there were still some nice Raging Bull badged cars to see, I fear I missed out on some others. The Countach may now be around 40 years old, but it is still a massive crowd-puller, with its striking looks. No longer the wide machine we thought it was when new, it is also very low compared to modern super cars.

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There were several of the Gallardo models, which is fitting given that Lamborghini have made more of these cars than anything else.

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Of the earlier “cheaper” cars, there were both a Silhouette and a Jalpa.

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From the current range, there was also an Aventador.

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Oldest car at the show was this fabulous Lambda. Launched in 1922, the Lambda was a very advanced design, pioneering many new features which became common place on subsequent products from almost all manufacturers.

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Equally advanced was this, the late 1930s Aprilia.

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The Aurelia was an exquisitely engineered 1950s design that came in Berlina, GT and open-topped versions. The Coupe models, badged GT, indeed the first cars to bear this iconic badging, are the ones you see most frequently.

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Replacement for the Aurelia was the Flaminia. As was common at the time, a number of Italian coachbuilders produced their own designs on the Lancia chassis, and some very pretty cars resulted., This is a Touring bodied Coupe.

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Smallest Lancia of the 1950s was the Appia, and this is a Series 2 car, with the revised rear end, but before the full width grille was added.

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The Fulvia was Lancia’s smaller car offering in the 1960s and early 1970s. It is the stunningly pretty Coupe version which is best remembered these days, and there were plenty of these to enjoy.

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Pre-dating the Fulvia by three years was the Flavia, a mid-sized front wheel drive design that started out as a 1.5 litre saloon. It was not long before larger engines and different body styles were offered. This is a Farina designed Coupe.

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The larger Flavia mutated into the 2000 range in the 1970s. These were costly cars when new and so they were never a common sight, and they are especially rare now, so I was delighted to see this lovely 2000 HF Coupe. It is yet another very elegant Pininfarina design.

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The only Gamma at the event was the rarer Berlina model. I am pretty sure that this is one of many owned by Andy Collins, though I did not see him at the event. He certainly has several of these charismatic cars in his collection.

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More surprising was the almost complete absence of the Beta model. There are usually several Coupe and HPE cars at events like this, but they were conspicuous by their absence, leaving just a body-kitted Spider and a Montecarlo to present this range.

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A vast array of first generation Delta models were on show. Almost all of them were the 4WD cars, most of which were the Integrale cars. Survival rate of these models is quite decent, though they are far from cheap to buy or to keep running, but there are so many enthusiasts for this car that you can be sure that they are likely to remain evident at events like this for a long time to come.

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Although the Dedra was offered to UK buyers before Lancia exited the market, the Station Wagon never made it here, so it was good to see this one.

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With Maserati celebrating its centenary this year, there are bound to be impressive displays of this Modenese marque’s cars at events throughout the year. That said, there are always plenty of Maseratis at Brooklands, regardless of whether it is centenary year or not, so there was nothing particularly special, but there were still plenty of nice cars to look at. My favourite of them all was probably the very graceful Khamsin, a very fast and elegant Sports GT made in small quantities in the mid to late 1970s.

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Contemporary with the Khamsin was the “entry level” Maserati of the era, the Merak, and there were a couple of these to see.

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During the 1980s and 1990s, Maserati concentrated on the BiTurbo range of cars. A bewildering array of different models were produced, and whilst some of them were really not up to par, some of them, especially the later models were really rather special. My favourite of the lot was the Shamal, a high end Coupe. There was a lovely aubergine coloured version on show here.

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Replacement for these cars were the 3200GT and later 4200 models. Stunningly pretty to look at, these cars boasted much improved build quality and more robust mechanical and electrical components, meaning that these are not the worry to run that the BiTurbo cars are. Several of these in Coupe and Spider guise were on show.

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With the launch in recent months of a new Quattroporte, there have now been six distinct generations of four door Maserati. All are splendid, of course. Not every generation was represented here, as there were none of the rare second type (only 13 were ever made), or the third, fourth or sixth.

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I know at least person who completely disagrees with me on this one, as he is not a fan, but I do like the GranTurismo and GranCabrio. Shock news came a few days after this event, when Marchionne revealed his master plan for the entire Fiat Group, that these cars will cease production later this year, with a replacement four years away.

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One reason for that is so Maserati can concentrate on the saloons, of which the new Ghibli will be the volume (it’s a relative term!) seller. There was one of these cars present this year. By next year, I have no doubt that there will be far more.

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Another marque that many will not have heard of, Moretti was an Italian coachbuilder who offered a bewildering array of models, mostly based on Fiat cars from the 1950s through to the 1970s. There were two cars at this event, the smaller of which was once owned by event organiser Phil Ward. It is based on the Fiat 850 Coupe, and so is rear engined, which might explain why there is quite a large rump to it. It does make occasional appearances at events these days.

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The second one has recently reached the UK having been found in Malta. A 900, this one will undergo a restoration/finishing exercise, if only the new owner can find the rare parts he needs like bumpers.

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There were two Zonda present. Sadly, I only saw one of them, which was the one that DK Engineering brought along, as the other one, a silver car, clearly did not stay for very long. This one attracted steady crowds around it for most of the day, which is hardly a surprise, as you really don’t see Pagani very often.

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Parked up among the Ferraris was this Brooke 260 Double R. The Brooke first appeared in the mid-’90s, not long after the Light Car Company’s Rocket, and was clearly influenced by the Gordon Murray/Chris Craft design. However, the Brooke sat its passengers side-by-side rather than in tandem, and was powered by a longitudinally mounted Ford Cosworth engine rather than a transverse motorbike engine. It showed potential, being small, light and low-slung, but it was clearly under-developed and soon faded from sight. Just half a dozen were sold. The project then went quiet until rights to the project were bought by a new team in 2002. New owner, James Booker and technical development engineer James Rose (ex-MG Rover) then spent  two years labouring away at their base in Honiton, Devon, getting the Brooke to a state where they felt it could be sold again. This proved to be far bigger a job than they anticipated, with not a single component ending up interchangeable with the original. All that was carried over was the layout and the styling – the features that attracted the new owners to the car in the first place.

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This splendid old Dennis bus from 1914 was out on display. It always attracts lots of interest, even though I doubt anyone present at the event (or alive, even) will remember these being in service now.

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We did not have the time to do a complete inspection of the car parks where all the non-Italian cars were to be found, but in wandering back to Piers Roache’s car, we did spot quite a few interesting cars worthy of inclusion here.

To see one VW-Porsche 914 in the UK is rare, but to see 4 in one day is almost unprecedented. Two of those present had Belgian plates on them, so although they were not parked together I suspect they may have come as a joint effort.

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Other nice cars there included a Porsche 911 GT3 and a “Pagoda” Mercedes 280 SL.

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This Aston-Martin DB4 was in the car park at Mercedes-Benz World.

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Needless to say, this was a hugely enjoyable day. The fabulous weather certainly helped, but even without that benefit, the vast array of interesting cars, the friendliness of so many owners, and of course the cameraderie of both my Abarthisti friends (many of whom I did not get much change to talk to, for which I apologise now!) and the long-suffering Messrs Grazier, Roache and Barnes who kept losing me as I was distracted by yet another rare car and photo opportunity made this what is likely to be one of the highlights of the 2014 Season.

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