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.
No, one was was a small utility vehicle from Pontedera carrying a cost effective Milanese mass transportation device. These Piaggio Ape’s are everywhere in Europe but I actually can’t remember ever seeing one in Adelaide before, let alone one that is road registered. And the Lambretta on its tray was beautifully restored, making a perfect and unique pair.
The second was this Lancia Beta Montecarlo, a car that poses the question of ‘what if’. With the success of the Fiat X1/9, the Montecarlo was dubbed the X/20 and was intended to be the next step up from an X1/9 – a little bit bigger and fitted with a 2.0 Lancia engine. They never really took off and they’ve been largely forgotten due to suffering badly from rust and having some serious brake issues that cause the front’s to easily lock unless the system is thoroughly re-engineered.
Their major claim to fame, however, is that they are the base car used for the all conquering Group B Lancia 037, which in my opinion makes them a pretty cool thing. And this particular example is in fine fettle. The brakes have been re-done with Wilwood calipers all round, a requirement due to the dirty great turbo charger hanging off the mid mounted Lancia 2.0 engine. With a big intercooler and a Megasquirt ECU, this sub 1000kg Montecarlo is putting out around 400hp at the rear wheels. That’s kinda cool.
Perfect is a commonly overused term but not in this case – the Sebring was literally without fault and it would not have looked out of place on the lawns of Pebble Beach. Check out the quilted tan engine bay lining on the firewall!
Any Given Reason was represented at the show by my Dad’s red Alfa Romeo Sprint (and his Fiat X1/9). Since we worked out that there would be six of us attending with our boxer powered Alfa’s, we decided to get together beforehand for a quick photo. Left to right is Adam Savis (33 16V), Josh Savis (33 16V), Josh Woenig (33 series 2), Mike Coles (Sprint), Michael Katsikitis (Sud Ti) and Garry Savis (Sud Ti).
We’ve been planning this photo for a while and to be honest this was the first time in ages that we’ve been able to assemble the full set (Sud, Sprint and 33’s.) There’s still a few more cars out there but the owners were busy, so we think we should be able to line up ten boxer Alfa’s for a photo sometime soon without too much trouble.
Words and photos by Andrew Coles