Story and Photos by Jonathan Sharp
Saturday the 4th May, 2013. Can it really be 27 years since my fiancé and I parked our Fiat 130 Coupe on a very wet lawn in front of Syon House in Chiswick, London for the first Auto Italia Italian Car Day?
When this year’s press release arrived from Brooklands, that is indeed what it stated; 27 years since the first event and 22 years since it moved to Brooklands. My fiancé and I are now long married, and as the weather was better than what it was 27 years ago, the turnout was huge. I was left with the feeling that there were probably more Italian cars packed into Brooklands than on an average Saturday in Turin.
What I always enjoy about this event is the bread and butter models from my youth that you normally don’t see these days. When was the last time you saw a Fiat 131? This year I followed a lovely 131 Sport through the Campbell Gate and later found it parked with three other 131s; to prove the event is for owners of all Italian cars, what was parked next to them but a Ferrari F40.
The rarest Fiat there had to be Cyril McMullen’s 125 Samantha with bodywork by Vignale. He and his pal Tim Logan from the Northern Ireland Italian Motor Club had brought the car over the water just for this show – and lovely it was too, right hand drive and one of only 26 in total built, so one of the rarest cars there. (If you live in Northern Ireland you may wish to take a look at their web site www.niimc.net and maybe even join the club.)
Continuing the Fiat theme, I kept being drawn back to the light blue and immaculate 3200cc 130 saloon which was parked next to a lovely 2400cc silver Fiat Dino Coupe. It is funny but 27 years after owning a 130 coupe I now prefer the look of the saloon.
When was the last time you saw a 1970’s 126? In front of the Dino was a green Fiat 126 looking as if it had just left the showroom. Up on the Brooklands banking I found a Strada 130 Abarth complete with factory race seats (which means you struggle to get into the back), some 124 Coupes and Spiders and a white 125 saloon. Down on the old finishing straight were several rows of X19s. To the rear of the Vickers hanger was to be found the Lancia Corral containing various Flaminia Coupes, both Touring and Pinin Farina bodied Appias, and a 1935 Pinin Farina Aprilia convertible.
Various Betas and one Zagato Spyder were mixed with a most amazing 2000 saloon, a white B20 Aurelia, a smattering of Monte Carlos, all coachbuilt varieties of the Flavia. Fulvias were abundant, from Saloons to 1.6HFs and even what looked like a race-prepared Gamma Coupe.
I arrived at 10.15 am in my Alfa Romeo 916 GTV and by then they had run out of parking space in the usual designated Alfa parking area, so I was directed to the banking under the member’s bridge to join the overspill Alfa parking area. Five cars down from me and parked next to its so called modern replacement, a Mito, was an original brown Alfa Sud Sprint Veloce complete even to the cream Veloce script down the side. The car looked just like the brochure picture which was being displayed on the dash top for all to see.
Other Alfa highlights included two ES30 SZs, Spiders of various vintage, Alfettas, and 75s, Black and White Garage’s 750 Spider, an orange Montreal, two Sprint Speciales, masses of 105 Giulia coupes and a few saloons. Every variety of modern Alfa was featured and the icing on the cake a replica Disco Volante 3000CM from the 1950s proudly wearing its Goodwood Festival of speed participant sticker. Next to the Alfas, row upon row of modern Abarths, and across the way at the foot of the test hill was a good cross section of classic Abarths from a bright yellow 850TC to a rather cool white 1000 OT Coupe.
Lamborghini owners had grabbed the plot in front of Concorde to display various Murcielagos, Gallardos, Diablos, Jaramas, Espadas and Aventadores but alas no Muiras this year. In front of the club house, finished in red I found Hugh James’ Bizzarrini GT Strada parked next to a Ferrari 288 GTO with a Mangusta behind it, an Iso Lele next to that, a current model Alfa 8C behind the Bizzarrini and to the left of the 8C a De Tomaso Pantera.
Just in front of the Campbell shed was parked a welcome interloper, a silver Monteverdi 375 L and next to it a cream Iso Fidia saloon, complete with a tobacco-colored vinyl roof. I am led to believe that the first owner of this Iso was John Lennon. The Ferrari boys had grabbed the first display area as you entered into the event from the pedestrian entrance. Mainly cars from the 308 period and newer, but I still found a rather nice 275GTB and a nice Burgundy red 365 GTC/4. In addition to all the cars on display you could also indulge in a spot of retail therapy, everything from some of the cars on display, to a bottle of Fernando Alonso’s wine.
During the lunch break, at the adjoining Mercedes-Benz World Site, various owners were able to exercise their pride and joy on the 880 meter test track. Later in the afternoon members were also given the opportunity to try the test hill and judging from the length of queue and the sound of tortured rubber this proved popular. The final bit of fun at the end of the event was to be part of the Turin traffic jam leaving the site, and as luck would have it I was behind the lovely silver Dino Coupe. Maybe I will need to buy a lottery ticket as I now have a Dino Coupe itch which needs to be scratched.