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 It Again 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.
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!
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.