About Bob

Beagles & Bikes, two of my favorite things. Beagles are cool (we have two). Snoopy is the coolest beagle, and Joe Cool is the Steve McQueen of beagles. He just exudes cool. But my passion - traveling locally, regionally and anywhere in the country by motorbike, takes the cake. There is no better way to see the sights, smell the smells, and immerse oneself in the ways of life of the different areas you travel through. People approach you out of genuine curiosity: Where are you from? Where are you going? How long have you been traveling? Why a motorbike? By motorbike, people open up, invite you into their lives. Sports cars, particularly convertible Roadsters, generate the same kind of curiosity. And if The Beagles come along in their own sidecar, or convertible sports car, tails wagging and goggles and scarves billowing in the breeze,what conversations do you think would ensue........?

The Cars of Italy at Euro Auto Fest

Italy. Just saying the name conjures up idyllic images in my brain: my grandparents living their lives in a small village before emigrating to America, espresso cafes in the courtyards, delicious food and wine, passionate and emotional people, the Italian Grand Prix and the Mille Miglia.

Then, there are the motorcycles. Cagiva, Bimota, Aprilia, Ducati, Moto Guzzi, Laverda. The scooters of Lambretta and of course, Vespa, bringing forth the image of Audrey Hepburn riding one in the classic film, Roman Holiday. As a motorcyclist, my excitement shifts into overdrive whenever I come in contact with an Italian motorbike, vintage or modern. I’m still working on procuring that Moto Guzzi for the garage.

But today it’s all about cars. Italian cars. Beautiful Italian works of art. I mentioned the passion and emotion of the Italian people, and they put that passion and emotion into all the cars and motorbikes they build.

So here we are, Roo and I, at the Euro Auto Festival in our hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, about to enter the world of Italian automobiles. Italy is the featured country this year, and The Cars of Italy section of Euro Auto Fest is where these beautiful vehicles are displayed.

The Italian flag flies at the entrance to Cars of Italy

There are a number of Italian marques on display here: Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, Maserati, Lamborghini. But by far, the one marque taking up the most real estate on the fairway, and drawing the largest crowds, was none other than Ferrari.

The prancing horse is probably the most recognized Italian automobile badge by the general population. Show it to someone off the street and chances are they will say “Oh, yeah. I know that. That’s the car Magnum P. I. drives, right?” Right you are.

That’s not bubbled paint. It was raining on and off all day.

Probably every Ferrari you see on the road will be painted red (mostly because you won’t see that many!). Most all of them here are painted red as well. However, recently, Ferrari came out with a new color for Enzo’s creation: Ferrari Blue. Up to this point, I had only seen photos of this interesting color. I didn’t quite know what to think of it being on a Ferrari, until I saw one here at Euro Auto Fest. It works! And it is gorgeous!

The Ferrari on the right is the new Portofino Roadster, in Ferrari Blue

I call this “Fishing in a Ferrari”, an upscale take on the dating scene. Who needs on-line dating?

These are cars I can honestly say I will never own. Never. Even the Portofino, Ferrari’s “entry level” car, sits north of 250,000 large. Never say never just doesn’t stand a chance here. It is said, to own a Ferrari is a privilege. That is a privilege I will never have. Sigh. I am content to looking at these automobiles for what they are; beautiful works of Italian art. Let’s look at the gallery:

Next up on our list of Italian marvels is Fiat. Fiat had some wonderfully styled cars back in the day. I never owned one, but a high school buddy had the original 124 Spider two seat roadster. We had so much fun in that car, and it drove pretty well….when it ran. Back then, Fiat was plagued with reliability issues, so much so that the company name became an acronym for the phrase Fix IAgain Tony. But hey, it was the ’70’s. I don’t think there were many reliable cars made then!

Fiat 124 Spider 1970’s style

Next to the Spyder sat another throwback in the Fiat time machine, the Fiat X19. Wow! This thing makes my MX-5 look absolutely HUGE! The X19 looks like it sports 10 inch wheels! But this car had and still does have a cult following. Cute though.

Fiat X19 featuring the ever-leaking Targa top and teeny tiny wheels

Today, Fiat is back in the car business and making inroads to the U.S. market. Gaining popularity here in the States is Fiat’s answer to the crossover craze; The Fiat 500 and 500 Abarth (upgrade package).

Fiat 500 Abarth

Back to the Fiat 124 Spider. I mentioned the fun I had driving my buddy’s original version of the Fiat roadster. In 2017, Fiat partnered with Mazda to create the modern 124 Spider. OMG! This is the next Roadster I want when I give up the MX-5. I have sat in it, but have yet to take it for a test drive. Then there are the rumors floating around that Fiat will not be long for these United States. But, the car is gorgeous, is ergonomically correct for me, is a bit larger than the comparable MX-5, and, with affordable performance upgrades, can be made much more powerful. We will see…..

Forty-five years later: The new Fiat 124 Spider

Alfa Romeo is an Italian marque one doesn’t see or hear much about here in the States. Alfa has made some beautiful classic autos in the past, and like Fiat, is trying to make itself known in the U.S. with it’s cross-over Stelvio and Guilia sedan models.

Alfa Romeo’s classic Spyder two seat roadster. Every now and then I will see one on the roads.

Alfa Romeos can be immediately recognized by their triangle grills; some small, some large, but always present on both their classic and modern autos.

Lamborghini. A pure racing pedigree and Supercar icon. You’ll see more Ferrari’s on the road than you will Lamborghini’s, if you ever see one at all. Today, Lambo makes some of the most outlandish Supercars and Hypercars you will ever see.

Lamborghini’s dip into the world of Supercars was the Miura. Some say the Miura started the Supercar genre. Depends who you talk to. But, in my mind, the Miura is the most beautiful car Lamborghini has ever produced.

Lamborghini Miura

The Lamborghini Countach is an awesome vehicle, but to my aesthetic sensibilities, it is too harsh looking, much too angular. But what a very impressive automobile!

Lamborghini Countach

Maserati

I have mixed feelings about Maserati. I have zero interest in their sedans, but then, I have zero interest in sedans generally. The reason being, Maserati sedans look like every other sedan on the road today. Why would I want to spend upwards of 60 to 70 thou for a car that looks like a Buick (complete with quarter panel portholes), or a Kia? But drop Maserati’s coupe or roadster in my driveway, and I’m all in:

They are beautiful, aren’t they?

Now here’s an Italian marque I knew about, but have never seen on the roads. In fact, I believe this is the first time I have ever seen Lancia automobiles in a car show. Always overshadowed by its more popular and flashy brethren. Lancia. The largely forgotten Italian marque (at least here in the States).

The Cars of Italy was a fantastic segment of the Euro Automobile Festival. It did rain on and off all day, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the enthusiast spectators and car owner participants alike. We were looking forward to this show all year, and it did not disappoint.

 

 

 

 

 

Euro Auto Festival – Greenville, South Carolina’s Premier Auto Event

The Euro Auto Festival is the premier auto show in the Upstate of South Carolina. This event is just one notch down from a full fledged Concours d’Elegance event, the very high end collector cars that vie for a Concours prestigious win being the only vehicles missing.

Held on the beautiful greens and fairways of The Preserve at Verdae in our hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, Roo and I are so lucky to be able to drive just four miles to see some of the most astounding automobiles anywhere.

Nothing else need be said about this Lamborghini

The greens and fairways were filled with beautiful automobiles and crowds of people. Every year a particular country’s autos or a particular marque are showcased at the show. This year featured the Cars of Italy. Of course, the particular marque within that broad category that had a large and in charge presence was none other than Ferrari.

There were plenty of other European auto manufacturers here besides those from Italy. But being that the Italians had such a large presence, I decided to give them their own, exclusive post, as it should be. It is their show this year, after all.

In a previous post I mentioned my having had a Triumph Spitfire 1500 Roadster. Well, as we walked around, another old sports car flame came into view, a car that I absolutely loved and had a blast driving. Known affectionately (and literally, in my case) as the “poor man’s Corvette”, a 1973 Opel GT.

Seeing one would be great, but three, and in beautiful shape! 

I had one just like this, right down to the color. These were really fun cars to drive and garnered a lot of attention!

Cute as a bugs ear!

The requisite faux dog peeing on a car tire. Seems to be at least one at every show.

When was the last time you saw a Renault LeCar?

Jaguar had a great lineup of it’s classic and modern cars. Jaguar, in my mind, is the only other auto manufacturer’s cars that you can actually say have some sex appeal, which strikes me as odd, because you know, being British and the upper crust who can afford to buy these cars…… Italian cars, on the other hand just ooze sex appeal. Careful, you might slip……

What would a European auto show be without Triumph, makers of the quintessential two seat roadster?

Austin Healey, another classic British marque

After viewing all the cars that mere mortal enthusiasts are wont to drive, we ventured across the fairway to a seemingly other worldly automotive scene, Automobiles that know no limits of technology, no know limits of cost, know no limits of power, These cars are in your face, over the top, excessive, look at me; don’t you wish you had one creations that bend your mind.

Supercars and Hypercars

These cars are mind-boggling. Knowing they are totally out of reach for Roo and I makes it all the more desirable to seek them out in order to gawk and marvel at the creative genius they exemplify with their beauty, technology, and stratospheric power.

If you are looking for a Concours style, high class auto show in a beautiful setting, and you are a European motorcycle and car enthusiast, it is worth the trip to Greenville to join in the fun, held every year in October. Maybe we’ll see you there in 2019!

Bikes on the Back 9

I have always enjoyed going to motorcycle shows that take place at a golf venue. The atmosphere is different, evoking a sense of elegance, upscale and affluence, real or imagined. Like the Quail Gathering on the West coast, or the Riding Into History event in St. Augustine, FL. Even the bikes seem to have an extra layer of shine and finish to them, as if to say “we deserve to be here.”

My hometown of Greenville, South Carolina is host to such an event. The Euro Auto Festival is held each October at the Preserve at Verdae Golf Club, a beautifully wooded golf venue. As the name implies, it is an event showcasing over one hundred beautiful European automobiles on the golf course (more in a later post), with a large contingent of motorcycles.

Euro is the name of the game here. All European motorcycles on the green from modern sport bikes (Ducati/Triumph), to a vintage scooter (Moto Guzzi), and the usual ’60’s and ’70’s Triumphs and BSA’s in between. A great showing of beauty on two wheels. Enjoy the show.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A British Invasion of Cars, Bikes, and a Beagle

So whats with the Italians? Is this a mob movie? I thought this was a British car show. Well, it is, and The Italian Job is a part of it. But more on that later. How’s this for now?

More befitting the British Invasion. Asheville, North Carolina is host to the British Car Club of Western North Carolina’s big motoring event every October, Autumn in the Mountains British Car Show. British cars of all stripes, vintage and new, fully restored and not, descend on Asheville from all over the southeast and beyond. A mall parking lot is filled with these fantastic vehicles from Britain’s automotive and motorcycling history (see previous post). Roo and I were in heaven, and to make the day even more enjoyable, we came across another Brit car enthusiast: a beagle!

As we made our way into the plethora of British automotive excellence, Roo, Don (a Porsche driving friend), and myself were giving a Morgan the once and twice over, when Roo let out a scream; “It’s a beagle!” and took off running across the parking lot. We lost Roo. We caught up with her later (still with the beagle).

This is Ginger the beagle, and he drives in his dad’s Morgan everywhere!

I have always been drawn to British sports cars, having owned a Triumph Spitfire way back when. So whenever I see a vintage British sports car, it lights a fire in me. As a matter of fact, it was a Brit sports car that got me hooked on this automotive genre when I was 13 years old: a Jaguar XKE convertible roadster.

The car that lit my sports car fire: Jaguar XKE convertible roadster

 Triumph Spitfire 1500

So many gorgeous cars were here, it took us a few hours to negotiate them all. Granted, though, we do like to really look deeply at the cars and talk to the owners, whose stories are usually quite interesting and entertaining. Below are some of the cars we saw, in no particular grouping or order. Enjoy the gallery.

The Italian Job – Mini Cooper S

The Italian Job is a 1969 British comedy film which featured many Italian and British cars. The movie was also remade in the U.S. in 2003 with modern versions of some of the same cars used in the original film. A Lamborghini Muira, Aston Martin DB4, E-Type Jaguars, Alfa Romeo Guilia and Mini Coopers were all showcased in these movies.

The Mini Cooper S, a high performance Mini used in the films is the only Mini  privileged to wear the Italian Job badge.

Motor racing driver John Cooper persuaded the Mini’s creator Sir Alec Issigonis to let him produce a high performance Mini. Sir Alec didn’t believe it would sell. The car was an immediate success. The powerful Cooper S was a big hit, as was the film.

 

There’s The Show, and then, There’s The Bike Show……Brit Bikes in the Carolina Mountains

 

The show was the Autumn in the Mountains British Car Show in Asheville, North Carolina (post forthcoming). But, the show  were the British motorcycles on display. However, I was a bit disappointed at the turnout of bikes. Granted, it was a car show after all, and the motorbikes were the red headed stepchildren at this event. However,  what did show up was excellent: two 1970’s Triumph Bonnevilles, an awesome looking Triumph X-75, a very cool Rat Triumph, and a Norton Commando.But where were the other great marques like BSA, Ariel, Vincent, JAP, and AJS to name a few? They’re out there. Just not here. I’m sure we’ll see them in upcoming vintage bike shows we’ll be attending. Enjoy the Gallery.