Auto Italia 2017 Report

05 May 2017

By 8.30am, on the corner where the Campbell Circuit meets the base of Test Hill, a sea of Mediterranean exotica had gathered and snaked its way up the slope and back as far as the eye could see. Eager spectators were also arriving via The Heights to see what turned out to be a staggering total of 1,521 vehicles of varying beauty, power, heritage and design, but all with an Italian streak running through them.

The weather remained dry and bright, perfect for the activities planned to keep the 6,100+ visitors entertained. Scores of Ferraris took up their usual spot in and around the Motoring Village, with Maseratis on the Campbell Lawn. More Ferraris and a large contingent from the Lamborghini Club UK and Lamborghini Pangbourne were to be found on the Finishing Straight where the Wellington Hangar once stood. Trade pitches included accessories and finishing products as well as specialists in early memorabilia and rare, out-of-print books and manuals.

Fiats were out in strength this year with a gaggle of Pandas and a Tempra and Tipo 2.0ie on the Banking and 850s, 500s and a Dino Spider or two lurking in between Lancias and Maseratis. At the west end of the Banking the Fiat Forum pitched up, while over on the east side, Fiat Coupé. The Alfa Romeo Club were at the top end of The Heights, with more Alfas in the Paddock; everything from a gutsy 147 GTA to an incredibly stylish Giulietta Sprint Speciale prompted conversations and camera clicks.

Motorcycles and scooters were by the side of the Clubhouse with examples of MV Augusta, Ducati and Moto Guzzi parked up facing Mod-style Lambrettas, whilst the first prize for cute car of the day had to go to a racing green and black Fiat Topolino, complete with tonneau sunshine roof. For sheer rarity, a stunning 1934 black Fiat Balilla made a nice match for the OSCA-Maserati that currently resides in the Jackson Shed in which, on its appearance at the Easter Monday meeting at Goodwood on March 26th 1951, Prince Bira won the Richmond Trophy race for Formula One cars, and set a new lap record. The OSCA was one of the highlights of the track demonstration at Mercedes-Benz World at noon.

Later, spectators lined both sides of Test Hill all the way to the top to watch the ascents. This crowd-pleaser never disappoints, especially when you are just feet away from a Ferrari going bottom to top in a few seconds. Amongst the plumes of smoke and screeching tyres, a brave cyclist on a Ducati was successful in reaching the top without a pause.