Auto Italia Adelaide 2013

DSC_0096Italian 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.

DSC_0107Almost 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?

DSC_0196You 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.

DSC_0121The range of vehicles was wide and examples from all of the maintstream Italian marques were on display, with Fiat’s…

DSC_0125… and Alfa’s naturally making up the bulk of the field.

DSC_0082Gordon Meek from Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealer Belcar solved a complex logistical puzzle to bring a huge range of new models, including the just released Fiat Panda.

DSC_0247Probably the most serious competition car of the show was Guy Standen’s Fiat 124 Coupe tarmac rally car, out of the garage for the first time since lapping Bathurst at speed back at Easter.

DSC_0250It’s good to see that Guy hasn’t touched the stickers since Targa Adelaide last year…

DSC_0400… and he even let Drew have a drive on the way home as subtle motivation for Drew to hurry up and get his own 124 tarmac rally car finished.

DSC_0276As for the highlights of the show, there were three vehicles that stood out to me for different reasons and surprisingly they weren’t the ones from Maranello…

DSC_0261… or even Sant’Agata Bolognese.

DSC_0083No, 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.

DSC_0138The 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.

DSC_0149Their 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.

DSC_0359The absolute highlight of the show, without doubt, was this spectacular blue Maserati Sebring and it unquestionably won the People’s Choice award.

DSC_0163Perfect 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!

DSC_0312The tan and black leather used for the interior was exquisite…

DSC_0315… and it was punctuated by the perfect accessory – leather driving gloves, just a few shades darker than the seats.

DSC_0365Even the stickers were period correct Maserati specific items. Incredible.

DSC_0004Any 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).

DSC_0015We’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.

DSC_0239Auto Italia Adelaide represents a lot of hard work in bringing together the largest collection of Italian cars in Adelaide as possible, and the planning for next year is already underway.

DSC_0223So if you’re an Italian car owner, you have a year to prepare!

Words and photos by Andrew Coles

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  1. Chris SSS November 16, 2013 Reply


    This event looked great !!

    When is / was it though ?

    I live at Rostrevor, so could (have) easily attend(ed) ......

    * Chris *

    Date: Sat, 16 Nov 2013 06:55:35 +0000 To:

    • Andrew Coles November 27, 2013 Reply

      Hey Chris... sorry for the long reply! Unfortunately the event has already occurred, and took place on Sunday November 3. It will be taking place again next year at about the same time of year. I should have an event calendar up for next year, and the exact date when announced will be in that. Cheers, Andrew

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