Story by Sean Smith
Story by Graham Gauld
Photos courtesy of Gabriele Fabbri
In the story about the recent event in Riccione, I made a number of references to our host, Gabriele Fabbri. We sat and talked about his own racing career in Italian events and I later mentioned his name to an Italian historian who had never heard of him. Then the penny dropped. [Read more…] about Gabriele Fabbri and His Cars
Story by Pete Vack
It was noted, some time ago, that there was a disproportionate number of Fiat-based Abarth cars in the United States, sitting broken or unused in garages, driveways and because most Abarths were small enough to fit, in a large outdoor sheds common to so many backyards.
There were, it seemed, ample antique Allemanos tucked away under tarps and willow trees, sitting askance with the ground side of the rear wheels pointed inwards, relieved of the weight of the rear engine.
Story and photos by Jonathan Sharp
The Silver Flag Hillclimb is a relatively new classic racing venue, held in the small and charming town of Vernasca, in the Province of Piacenza in the Italian region Emilia-Romagna. So for the second year straight, on the weekend of June 17-19 we flew from London to Milan for this unusual event.
Photos and story by Graham Gauld
Avignon in the south of France is a medieval city famous for the fact that Pope Clement VI actually bought the town in 1348 from its Italian owner, Joanna the first of Naples. Clement then made Avignon the home of the next six Popes of the Roman Catholic Church.
OK that’s your ancient history lesson is over for the day. Now onto more recent history. Avignon also hosted its annual Historic Car festival which is an impressive event that covers no fewer than 13 individual halls on the Exhibition site. It makes Retromobile with its two halls almost look small! Mind you, most of the halls contain small stands selling everything from head gaskets for 1952 Simcas to every known 1/43rd scale motor truck car or racing car ever built. It is a kind of fans-fest on steroids.
Story and Photos by Jonathan Sharp
The Silver Flag Hillclimb is a relatively new classic racing venue, held in the small and charming town of Vernasca, in the Province of Piacenza in the Italian region Emilia-Romagna. The affair sounded like our kind of event, so on the weekend of June 19-21, we flew from London to Milan, rented a car from Malpensa, a Skoda Yeti which of course quickly got the nickname “Spaghetti Yeti.”
We drove about 120km south down the Autostrada Del Sole and we stayed at an Agriturismo place called Casa Dell Abbondanza (the house of abundance) which was about a mile and a half from the main road. The farm was about 6kms from the event but there was no sound of humanity, just deafening bird songs and dozens of fireflies at night. Organic breakfast was served with products made on the farm each day.
In town we ate at the local Trattoria Da Liugi which served good hearty local fair at very reasonable prices. Lunch of freshly sliced salami, Gnocchi for dinner, and Gutturnio Classico Superiore red wine to wash it down – ah, Vernasca.
Saturday morning we walked the paddocks. Abarths, GTs, GTAMs, TZ1s and 2s, 8Vs, Oscas, Morettis, Gianni, Giaur, Griffo, Oselli plus of course Alfa, Fiat, Lancia, Maserati and a smattering of Ferrari for good measure. We spent the afternoon up on the hill enjoying the feeling that this could be the Targa Florio or the Mille Miglia.
This was just a warmup for the main events which took place on Sunday. In the next two segments, we’ve arranged the cars as photographed in action at the hillclimb by alphabetical order.
Story and Photos by Jonathan Sharp
Sunday morning we went back to the hill to view a different corner. Sunday lunch was a Pannini stuffed with freshly sliced prosciutto and a birra alla spina in the village square of Vernasca, surrounded by the competitor’s cars. While we ate, we contemplated the near perfectly circle front wheel arches on the Pininfarina-penned P4/5 in front of us.
The current event at Vernasca is based on a series of 17 hillclimbs sponsored by the Automobile Club of Piancenza, held between 1953 and 1972. This means the event is open to cars built up to 1972, so the turnout is more varied than that of the Mille Miglia. The Organizing Committee reserves the right to accept or deny an application, but here are the qualifiers for entry: 1) Racing history of the car in its heyday 2) Rarity 3) Race results in historic cars events 4) Arrival date of entry form.
In this segment we present the cars in alphabetical order from Alfa to Ferrari. Note that not all the cars entered were photographed and owner’s names are not always supplied or known.
Photos by Hugues Vanhoolandt
Click to enlarge
Thanking our Image Makers
This month we present the first of our series of photo galleries provided by our long-serving image makers. Over the past 14 years VeloceToday photographers have traveled the globe to bring outstanding event coverage to our readers. We simply don’t know where we would be without them and we all owe them a sincere debt of gratitude.
One of the ways in which we can say thank you is to allow them free reign to present their own selected galleries, albums arranged by some sort of subject matter. These do not have to have anything to do with Italian or French cars, but subjects that nevertheless will excite our readers. However, Hugues Vanhoolandt will kick off the galleries with a well-known Italian theme.
Belgian Hugues Vanhoolandt has been image making for VeloceToday since 2007, and covered every major event from Monterey to Monaco. For his first major gallery, he has gathered up 28 photos of what we call Etceterinis.
The term Etceterini may require some explanation. According to Andrea Curami in the indispensable La Sport e i suoi Artigiani (1937-1965), (The Sport and Its Artisans), there were at least 84 different constructors of small displacement racing cars to compete in the Italian National Championship races. There were many more that were simply listed as Fiat Specials, both in the 750 and 1100 cc classes. Etcetera, from which the word Etceterini is derived, means ‘and so on’ or ‘and the like’. Tacking on the ‘ini’ was a stroke of linguistic brilliance; not only were most of the artisan cars built from Fiat components and therefore somewhat like, all but seven of the 84 constructors had names that ended in a vowel such as “Stanguellini”; hence the ‘ini’. So fitting is the moniker that to try to categorize the cars by any other means seems hopeless. We believe the term was first used by an American enthusiast in California in the late 1980s. For more on this, read “The Essential Etceterini.”
In alphabetical order, with the event and year, Vanhoolandt’s Etceterinis:
By Gino Giugno
9.5 by 6.5 Softbound
560 pages, 700 photos, 150 color
Review by Pete Vack
Of all the myriad of Abarths constructed between 1955 and 1972, among the fastest, most attractive and best handling are the rare Abarth Simcas, born in 1962 as a result of a deal between Carlo Abarth and Enrico Pigozzi, the Italian who established the French Simca firm, spurred on by the Viennese engineer Rudy Hruska, then working for Simca. [Read more…] about Abarth Simca Chronicles
Story and photos by Alessandro Gerelli
A glance at the past at Geneva
Old classic cars are very rarely seen at the Geneva Autos Show. But this year, the number of wonderful old jewels has increased and were very interesting.
In one of the halls there was an exhibition of Le Mans winners and cars from the 20s to today, which attracted the attention of the visitors.
The cars in the show include the first Le Mans winner, a Chenard & Walcker driven by Lagache and Leonard at the speed of 92 km/h, the Ferrari 166MM of Thomson and Chinetti who won the first post WWII edition of the race and many other cars, including the French Matra, Peugeot and Rondeau.
A few more old Alfas were around plus an Ermini and a lovely Abarth 695. [Read more…] about Old at Geneva with Alessandro Gerelli
Story and photos by Graham Gauld
It’s the first week of February, and to many that means Retromobile in Paris. This large motoring extravaganza is the meeting place of those who are in the know and looking for customers for their cars, as well as those who are there to drink in a truly diverse collection of cars, memorabilia and artifacts that never fail to produce some surprising items.
I tend to overlook the big historic car dealer stands with the major items that are generally covered in depth by most of the historic rags. I tend to look in the corners and on some of the smaller stands where you can find some really interesting stuff.
I have known the Stanguellini family for over fifty years, but this was the first occasion I have seen one of the 1100cc Fiat-engined berlinettas produced in the early 1950s. They were built as a short run of cars aimed at racing, with beautifully styled coachwork by Nuccio Bertone. As you can see from the photo it was very stylish for 1951 and at the Coppa Inter Europa that year, four of them took part, Manzini’s car finishing 8th in the 1100cc class. The one on show was on the Belgian Marreyt Classics stand with a price tag a shade over $180,000.
By Brian Winer
A VT contributor recently drove a Fiat 500c but admitted later that the speed was lackluster because he failed to press the “Sport” button. Recently, I rectified that by not only driving a 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth hatchback, but driving the diminutive car on a race track at the limits of the tires, the car, and the driver.
The occasion was the annual Track Days sponsored by the Motor Press Guild. These track tests are a little like speed dating—five minutes to get to know each gal. You tend to like the last one you were with, until the next one. During the busy day, we also were able to test drive the Fiat Abarth’s competition so were able to get some idea of where the new Fiat stood with its peers.