Italian cars, like their French counterparts, are possibly the most divisive vehicles in all autodom. You either love them or you hate them, and in this argument there are very few fence sitters.
Almost everyone appreciates the svelte lines of a 246 Dino or the downright cuteness of a 500 Bambino but when it comes to actual ownership, it’s only the brave who put their money where their mouth is. Those that are willing to endure dodgy electrics, crummy interiors and rusty metal are treated to superior dynamics, glorious noises and wonderfully tactile controls. Not to mention the fact that every journey in an Italian vehicle (with the possible exception of the new ones) is tinged with just a tiny bit of doubt. How boring would life be if you were always completely certain of reaching your destination?
You either ‘get’ Italian cars or you don’t, and the annual Auto Italia Adelaide show exists to bring as many of these like minded enthusiasts and their vehicles together in once place. In only its second year, the show once again assembled a vast range of Italian marques to the Campbelltown Soccer Club for a sunny Sunday of Italian cars, food and music. Continue reading →
This beautiful Fiat 124 Sport Coupe AC was spotted parked in Henley Beach on Australia Day. To my eyes the 124 AC’s are the cleanest looking of the 124 Coupe’s, sporting classic 60’s Italian GT styling usually reserved for cars requiring a seriously inflated budget. Built from 1967-1969, the AC is the first of 3 slightly different 124 Coupe models (followed by the BC, then CC), and is easily the rarest. Spotting such an original AC in this condition is a rarity even at a show, let alone parked in the street.
The AC featured an early iteration of the famous Fiat alloy twin cam motor, designed by ex Ferrari engineer Aurelio Lampredi. Lampredi came to Fiat after designing the first Ferrari V12, extensively used by that company in their road and race cars throughout the 50’s, and went on to manage the legendary Fiat Abarth racing and rally team throughout its heyday. The AC came with a 1438cc version of the twin cam, however swapping to the 1800 or 2000cc twin cam engines found in later 124’s is both an easy and common modification.
The AC was an extremely modern car for 1967, coming from the factory with a five speed gearbox, 4 wheel disc brakes and a 4 link panhard rod rear suspension for post 1968 models, in addition to the sophisticated twin cam engine. It’s such a shame that they rusted so much, which in the end was due in no part to Fiat engineering, just the forced use of junk soviet steel by the communist government of the time. It’s a pity that there’s hardly any of these around anymore, because they’re just an affordable, gorgeous, almost glamourous car. The world needs more of those.
Sunday just gone was Round 2 of the MSCA Supersprint series. The usual suspects were in attendance, doing what they love to do, with the addition of a few new ones.
I’m just going to start right out with one of the most beautiful cars there, Joe Grilli’s GTA inspired Alfa Guila Sprint GT.
The detailing on this car is just superb, everything has been thought out and the aesthetic and practical implications of every decision have been carefully considered. There’s absolutely nothing on this car that I would do differently. Continue reading →
The annual Fiat Nationals took place at Benalla, Victoria, this past weekend (20-21 January). In what has become an annual pilgrimage for us, we made the 900km trek over in our 1987 Alfa Romeo Sprint and 1979 Fiat X1/9. Yes, that is correct. Every year we drive old Italian cars halfway across the country in the middle of an Aussie summer. Crazy.
The event has been run as a motorkhana and next year will be celebrating it’s 50th running. Historically run around places like Dubbo and Wagga Wagga, 7 years ago the event moved to Bathurst and enjoyed the addition of a speed event for the first time – a hillclimb up the famous Bathurst race track. This was when I started attending and I ended up competing at the Bathurst hillclimb three times. The event then moved to Goulburn and featured a supersprint around the Wakefield Park circuit. Attending both of these locations from Adelaide involved crossing the Hay Plains (not a great deal of fun in summer), so it was with great happiness when I read that the event would be moving to Benalla, Victoria, for 2012. The event would also include a supersprint around the Winton circuit.
So that’s how I found myself behind the wheel of the Alfa last Friday, chasing one of the most amazing dawn sunrises I’ve seen into the distance. It was forecasted to be a hot day and the early morning air was refreshingly balmy as it kissed and caressed the skin. Lights on, windows down, we sped through the darkness with the knowledge that things were going to get quite a bit warmer as soon as that sun rose. Continue reading →
Well, after all the weeks of preparation Classic Targa Adelaide is done and I’m now sitting here writing this as a firm case of the post rally blues takes over from a slight seedyness, a direct result of the official presentation dinner last night. We had an absolutely fantastic event, and the little Fiat surprised a lot of people in the process. As Guy mentioned, the 124 is definitely a Fast And Reliable Tarmac Rally Car. We ended up with a class win, 6th outright in Late Classic handicap, 15th in Supaloc outright and were awarded a Targa Trophy for completing all stages within the trophy time.
Day one, and the first proper day of Classic Targa Adelaide is done and dusted. We had a really good run with no mechanical issues, and even got into the swing of things by the end of the day. We started off with a nice ease into the event courtesy of the Upper Hermitage stage, and then continued next with Anstey’s Hill. Chain of ponds is a fantastic piece of road, however I unfortunately fell off the notes for a few corners on that stage. Back on the notes with a quick blast through the Gumeracha stage, before tackling Kersbrook – another fast stage with big, long, sweeping bends. Heading up Checker Hill tested the little 1800cc Fiat, and we discovered it’s VMax of 180kmh across the finish line. After the lunch stop for a quick sanga on the Gumeracha oval, we tackled the famous Stafford Ridge stage, racing down through the Fox Creek area.
The absolute highlight of the day was the Castambul stage – 17km’s worth that started at the top of Gorge Road, ran all the way down before turning up Corkscrew road, and then turning right down Montacute road. We were pushing hard and everything just worked – the car, the notes, the driving. It felt brilliant. We overtook a big Healey around the inside of a 5 right on Gorge Road, and managed to stay away from the 911 RSR that started 30secs behind us.
We were running around 17 to 23rd outright in stage times throughout the day, and finished up Leg One running 6th outright in Late Classic out of 49 competitors. So now it’s all about forgetting the results and stage times, and keeping it on the black stuff tomorrow!
Day zero of Classic Targa Adelaide is done and dusted after the first two prologue stages. The first prologue was a flat out blast around the back streets of Tanunda. It was over before it began, and I was concentrating so hard on the notes that I don’t really remember a hell of a lot of it. I do remember looking up as we were flat in fourth going down a narrow suburban street and feeling a little weird, like we were doing something horribly illegal.
The second prologue stage was the cannonball run that is Menglers Hill. You reach the top of the hill in the first kilometre, and from there on it’s just a flat out run across the ridge through a series of 8 and 9 rated corners and a few crests. We were flat in 5th for most of it, probably cruising somewhere around 190ish km/h. We don’t have any official results yet, and although the prologue doesn’t count for anything we are fairly happy with how we did – around mid field according to tomorrows starting order.
My main task today was co-driving, not taking photos. However, I managed the odd cheeky shot here and there. Enjoy!