Midlands Italian Car (MITCAR) – August 2014

Of all the themed events for Italian cars that take place around the country during the year, one of the most enjoyable, and best supported, is the one called MITCAR. That acronym stands for Midlands Italian Car, and although the event is masterminded and run by the East Midlands section of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club, it always attracts a wide variety of cars from quite a distance. The event has run for many years now, and every one has been held at a different venue somewhere in the Midlands. After the 2013 excursion to the very northern extremities of what you might think of as “Midlands”, the location for 2014 was further south, and east, at the splendid Rockingham Castle. As well as admiring the cars on display, the entrance ticket gave attendees the chance to look around this historic building, which dates back to the 11th Century, with the first edifice constructed on the instructions of William the Conqueror. The house has been in continuous occupation of the same family for 450 years, the Watsons, and contains a lot of historical artefacts on show in every room. There is a stunning view of 5 counties from the roof tops above the Long Gallery, and there are extensive grounds which would make a day here rather pleasant even without the cars. But with MITCAR in attendance, there were around 350 cars to savour as well. present there was something for everyone. Whilst a rather wet and very miserable start to the day kept several of the more exotic cars in their garages, you really couldn’t complain about the wonderful cars that were present,  and many people had made a special effort on their presentation too, in the hope of winning one of the informal prizes which were handed out in a small ceremony at 3pm There is also a prize voted on by all attendees, for the “favourite of the day”. Choosing is really hard, and there is the added rider that previous winners cannot claim the prize again. Read on to find what won, and also to see many of those other fabulous cars.


I was delighted to get such a positive response from my fellow Abarthisti, and counted 29 cars present bearing the Scorpion badge. Parked up in a long line, with just about colour that has been offered, apart from the very latest ones which have yet to hit our roads, the cars made for a colourful sight and attracted plenty of attention. 500 based models constituted the majority of the cars present, of course, with a mix of regular and C cars, and plenty of EsseEsse, 595 Turismo and Competizione  cars for attendees to have a look at. And. as always happens, there were plenty of non-owners who wanted to do just that, and to ask questions, and to utter the appreciation.

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One car stood out for the judges, with Jen and Andy Butler winning the Detailing prize for the cleanliness and presentation of their 500C, much to their delight and surprise.

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This was the first time I have seen one of the special 50th Anniversary cars “in the wild”.

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There were not any of the earlier Grande Punto models, but there were several Punto Evos and a couple of the more recent SuperSport cars.

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Winner of that Camshaft Trophy, for the “car of the day” went to this,  the 1957 Alfa Romeo 1900 Super belonging to Quentin Butler from Derby. They don’t come much rarer, it’s the only one in the country and only a handful of this model, Alfa’s first genuinely mass production car, remain in Europe. It was absolutely fabulous and a very worthy winner.

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There were plenty of other Alfas which could easily have taken the prize as well, with my favourites perhaps being the lovely trio of AlfaSud models. I had a nice chat with the proud owner of the very bright yellow Series 2 1.5 Ti model. He confirmed that this was an original (though rarely specified) factory colour, and he wanted one in this hue as his father had one when he was younger. This car was initially dark blue, but it needed a repaint when he bought it, and he decided to recreate the car he had so loved when he was young. It was joined by a couple of Series 3 Ti cars, as well.

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Another rarity these days is the 116 series Giulietta, so I was delighted to see 3 of these, including the very rare 2.0 RS Turbodelta model that appears at events from time to time. The styling of this car was quite controversial when new, with the very short tail drawing plenty of comment, but to look at now, it seems to me even more elegant than it did when new (and I liked it then!).

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There were none of the larger Alfetta Berlina models at the event (they are a rare sighting indeed in the UK), but there were a number of the lovely coupe models, the GT and GTV, including one of the South African 3 litre GTV6 cars.

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Far more numerous was the popular 105 Series Spider, with lots of this ever popular open topped car present, with examples of all 4 different Series of the long running car.

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The Coupe version of this car, variously called GT, GTV, GT Junior and with a bewildering array of different versions offered during a 14 year production life, were also well represented.

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There was also an example of the very rare open topped GTC version. Only around 1000 of these were made, in a period of just over a year, so they are really rather special. And rather lovely.

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The event was supported by a local dealer, Chris Variava of Nottingham, who brought along the stunning 4C as well as the latest Quadrifoglio version of the Giulietta. There were crowds around the 4C all day long, and who can be surprised, as this is a stunning piece of design. I can also tell you that it has real presence on the road, as it came tearing up behind me soon after I left the event, and the noise it made as he powered past me was just amazing.

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Parked up next to this was a stunner from over 50 years ago. Had this car not previously won an award, I am sure it would have stood a good chance to do so, as this Giulietta Spider is just drop dead gorgeous. A second one was to be found in among the other rows of Alfas.

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Alfa only really have 2 different models to sell at present, and there were plenty of both, with a long line of MiTO models proving that there is plenty of enthusiasm for this small car, with its presence among other Alfas now a given.

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The Giuliettas were more scattered around the rest of the Alfa models.

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Recently discontinued models were much in evidence, too, with plenty of 159s, Brera and Spider cars as well as the stunning GT.

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The 916 series GTV and Spider are still available for not much money, but for how much longer, I wonder? These cars are now appreciated for their styling, the noise of the engine, and indeed for being a “proper” Alfa. There were lots of examples present, including some of the facelifted models one with the very rare 3.2 litre V6 engine.

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There were no 146 models, but there were a couple of 145s, the very distinctive “breadvan” shaped mid sized car that Alfa sold in the 1990s.

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Going up a size takes us to a sequence of cars that started with the 75, and went through 155 and 156 and there were plenty of each of these to see, and enjoy.

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Some of those were the famous GTA cars, and if you add them to the 147 GTAs cars present, there were no fewer than 26 GTAs at the event – an impressive tally.

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There were some of the “cooking” 147 hatches, too.

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There were only a couple of the large cars, 164 and 166 on show.

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As well as the regular AlfaSuds, there were a couple of the pretty Sprint cars, including the much loved Trofeo limited edition car belonging to Bryan Alexander, the gent who masterminded and organised this event for many years. and who was presented with a special award in recognition of his contribution to MITCAR and the pleasure it has brought so many people for so many years.

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Final Alfa was one example of the striking SZ, a car sometimes referred to with the nickname “il Mostro” (the monster!).

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There never tend to be that many Ferrari models at this event, but I am sure that had it not rained earlier in the day there would have been more than the three which were all that arrived. Nothing particularly unusual, with a 308 GT4 Dino and a 360 Modena joined later in the day by an F355.

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Second in number only to Alfa, there was lots of variety among the Fiats on show, with plenty of rare cars as well as a good number of more recent and familiar cars. There was another showing for the Argenta Volumex that so attracted me at Stanford Hall. I had another chat with the owner who had found my report and was delighted to discover not only that it featured so prominently in my report, but that unlike many who are somewhat dismissive of the car, I had been so enthusiastic about it. I promised it would feature again, so here are a couple more pictures.

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He had brought along a facelifted first generation Croma, too, which was parked next to the Argenta, and elsewhere in the event was an example of the very first version of the model as well.

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The rain did not deter people from bringing open topped Fiats, with a couple of the rare Strada Cabrios present, one of them belonging to Lisa, an Abarthisti friend who had promised to bring it along to this event. She kept her word!

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There were a couple of the later Punto Cabrio models as well.

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Technically, this 124 Spider is not really a Fiat but the Pininfarina Europa 2000, the name given to the final year’s production of the model, identifiable by the door mirrors being attached to the side windows rather than the doors.

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Although over 8 million of them were built, very few Uno models survive even in Europe, and this was a car I don’t recall seeing before. The camera shows up the challenges of red paint, but otherwise the car looked to be in fine fettle.

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This Strada 130TC is a nice car that its owner brings to events quite frequently.

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The Coupe is a popular modern classic and there were a few of this striking Chris Bangle car on show.

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The X1/9 is a popular classic, too, but there was only one of those in attendance at this event.

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Attracting lots of interest were the duo of Nuova 500s. These little cars are always popular these days, and this pair were no exception.

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There were a couple of the successor to that model, too, the 126. Viewed in the company of more modern vehicles, these cars appear tiny in every dimension.

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There were some nice examples of the first generation Panda, ranging from an early 45 through the facelifted FIRE engined cars to several of the completely classless 4×4 models, including the limited edition Sisley.

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The Stilo never really captured the public’s imagination, but there is some interest in the 3 door models, and a couple of these were on show, including the Schumacher Edition car.

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Modern Fiats included the rather bulbous 500L and the almost forgotten Bravo.

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I’ve saved my favourite Fiat til last, though. Whilst the colour is perhaps not optimum the Dino Coupe is just fabulous in every respect. This could easily have been my pick of the day for that Camshaft Trophy.

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A small collection of Lancia cars were parked up near the entrance, and several of my favourite designs of this once proud marque were represented. Among these was a lone Gamma Coupe, a car whose beauty somewhat exceeded its driving merit, but still a lovely car to behold, and one which can be made reliable given respect and care.

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A couple of Delta models comprised the Integrale and the earlier HF Turbo.

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Among the prettiest cars of the 1960s were the Fulvia Coupes and  there were a pair of these, both of them Series 2 models.

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The Beta Coupe was also a very attractive design and there were a number of these as well as the HPE version.

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This Stratos replica came complete with an Alfa V6 engine. Fabulous!

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There were more Maserati than Ferrari cars on show, all of them from the last 15 years or so. The green 3200GT belonging to Dave Hood was a worthy prize winner. The very elegant Quattroporte featured among them as well.

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I really enjoyed this event. It has the right mixture of informality with plenty to see and a great setting that makes sure that it sticks in the memory long after the drive home. A special thanks to John Griffiths and his team from East Midlands Alfa Owners for all their hard work in pulling the event together.

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