PADUA FAIR 2018 TEXT: MIGUEL SÁNCHEZ / PHOTO: SERGIO CALLEJA
Italy has always been defined as being a chaos that, paradoxically, ends up in order. This is seen in its own history. In it dozens of small states ended up forming a single country. Also in the way of expressing of the Italians themselves. Always vociferous and excessively theatrical but with one of the languages of the greatest and most serene literature. Contradictions that we can see in the Auto e Moto d'epoca Fiera Padova. One of the most important classic motor shows in Europe with its 90.000 square meters, 1.600 exhibitors, 115.000 visitors and 5.000 cars exposed.
Here the difficult thing is to select. And if you are thinking of going to this classic salon in Italy, we recommend comfortable shoes. A good shoe already made at your feet to be able to wander calmly through the 11 pavilions where you can find a selection of transalpine jewels without equal. And it is that although we have seen American or German oddities ... The truth is that at the Padua fair they shoot nationally.
Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Abarth ... They are some of the references that you will see the most at this fair. And the best thing is that they are live references. Why if something characterizes the Padova classics show, it is the intense buying and selling between fans. Beyond the great exhibitors and their legendary sports cars, individuals negotiate with popular classics and irons in need of a good restoration.
All of this forms a raucous chaos where you can spend at least two days hanging around non-stop. Going through endless corridors and parking lots, always on the lookout for some oddity. It is true that it does not have the glamor of Retromobile Paris and its great auctions, but what the Padua Fair does have is the charming Italian hubbub. A hubbub where classic motor racing fans in Italy see how lively this sector is there.
In Auto e Moto d'epoca Fiera Padova our partner was Sergio Calleja placeholder image with your goals. We could spend a long time talking about what he contemplated there, but brevity is pressing. So here we leave you with a selection of what was captured by your camera. We announce that if you like Italian cars… You will enjoy!
THE PRE-WAR IS ALFA ROMEO
We are not going to lie to you. If what you are looking for are prewar classics ... Maybe your destiny has to be another. And it is that of the thousands of cars concentrated in the Padua Fair only a few had seen the light before it all fell apart with World War II. Anyway, the bouquet was exemplary, especially if you like the Biscione brand. And it is not easy to see several Alfa Romeo 6Cs together.
We were quite struck by the 6C 1750 Gran Sport… Four-seater! Something very strange in this six-cylinder sports car launched in 1929 with the premise of being either a racing car or a two-seater GT. Very rare among the production of about 2500 units offered by the model. It also highlighted the elegance of a similar model in cream color. Something that being a purist of the color red for Italians ... You do not finish understanding until you fall into the enchantment of his vision.
Like newcomers from the movie The Godfather they were seen by the Padua Fair various 6C 2500 Sport “Freccia d'oro". By the way, we recognized one of them from our frequent visits to the Catawiki. Specifically this one brought to Padova by a Dutch exhibitor and encrypted at about 235.000-300.000 euros. Not a negligible figure for him first Alfa Romeo manufactured after World War II. A myth with the body of Alfa itself, of which less than 700 units were manufactured.
Beyond the Italian brand there were very interesting prewar models like the Singer Nine Le Mans who, in addition, had participated in the race itself. Nowadays this would be unthinkable, because with only 34CV of the Singer… Who would dare to embark on such an adventure of power and resistance? Well, in the mid-30s that courage did exist, and although the Singer Nine Le Mans was not particularly good in the race that gave it its name ... This little boy was made with not a few races of ascent and small rallies.
By the way, one of the prewar Italians that most caught our attention was the 508 "Balilla" Spyder. But we are going to tell you his story together with that of a true "Racing car for connoisseurs". Things from the Padua Fair ...
FOR RARE HIM: STANGUELLINI 1100
Just now we have mentioned a FIAT 508 Spyder. The truth is that we love this little guy from 1934 for being one of the model's most captivating preparations. One of many - the Balilla genealogy is encyclopedic - but easily recognizable by its design by Ghia. With three gears - plus reverse gear - and some 30CV of power it was not the peak of competitiveness but ... It served as the basis for a curious sports car.
We speak of Stanguellini 1100 Sport Nazionale. One of the cars of the Modenese company founded in 1935 by which Enzo Ferrari was a rival in racing: Vittorio Stanguellini. Raised to myth by some Italian motor racing fans, this brand is remembered not only for its world speed records or victories in Sebring, Mille Miglia or Targa Florio, but also for its models evolved from FIAT devices.
If perhaps the most famous in this regard was this 1100 Sport Nazionale. A small barchetta with an engine derived from the one used by the FIAT 508 and only 580 kilos on scale. Data that is appreciated when you know that its 4-cylinder in-line did not reach more than 45CV in the first versions and 60 in the 1948 version. The exact number of units conserved is not known, although some figures point to only two. Thus this Stanguellini is one of the best rarities of the Padua Fair.
SPORTS WITH RAGE. NIKI LAUDA AND ABARTH
I don't know what will come to mind when you think of a very angry sports car, but we go to extremes. Or a small utility powered until it has nothing to do with what it was originally ... Or a racing car. They are two very different types of car but just as uncontrollable. At the Padua Fair we had the opportunity to see examples of both types.
Regarding the cars, it was living history to contemplate the Ferrari 312T by Niki Lauda. Mauro Forghieri worked hard with his 3-liter 12-cylinder opposing engine. This arrangement of the engine gave the car a lower point of gravity, something that was appreciated when Niki Lauda drove around 500CV in the curves. Something that he did very well since with this model he was crowned F1 world champion in 1975.
His first world title, which was completed with Ferrari's victory in the Constructors' Championship that same year. A racing myth impossible to go unnoticed. In complementary contrast to this inaccessible icon we could see a lot of Abarth. What are you saying ... What a change, right? But Even if it looks like a 600, you have to have a lot of courage and skill to control an Abarth 695.
The preparation that the Italian developer made from the FIAT 500 is quite a giant slayer. A rally beast that with just one two air-cooled cylinders capable of delivering about 60CV you can snack on more than one powerful sports car when the meager battle negotiates in your favor on twisting roads. Much nerve that requires no little skill on the part of a driver who wants to enjoy this bullet. Of this ... Or of his "twin" what was he 500 Giannini. The vitaminized version that this Roman preparer devised in 1964 from the popular utility. A lot of fun… and cool kaffir!
OF REPLICATIONS AND PROTOTYPES
Prototypes are always the ones that attract the most targets. Striking and unusual, the public plays to see in which production models the solutions already advanced in this or that one go "Ahead of its time". The Padua Fair left us with some of these, highlighting the rude Porsche 924 "After Fire". Really ... It is not exactly a prototype at a mechanical level since everything is based on a 924 but the body is a separate case.
Discarded from production due to its excessive cost, the "After Fire" It was the idea in 1985 of the Italian Fin Metal. The plan was to build about 10 copies of this extravagant-looking Porsche but… You see, everything was left in a single copy with a little worked sheet metal finish. Yes indeed, is still on sale for 17.000 euros. If you want a unique piece difficult to classify ... This is your chance. Watch out for the silver fabric seats! All very Mad Max style "The Warrior of the Highway".
Un Bertone prototype of great resemblance to him FIAT X1 9 it was also captured by the lens of Sergio Calleja, once again attesting to the geometric taste of this designer.
While some cars did not go beyond the prototype phase ... Others are still trying to reproduce after the years. It is the case of three replicas that shone in their own right at the Padua Fair despite not being classic cars as such. Aston Martin set up its own space in which it presented one of the magnificent replicas of the DB4 GT. Another of the creations that From its department of classics, it is committed to reviving, piece by piece, some of the best models of the winged brand.
For the most cinephiles, the Porsche Spyder 550 "Little Bastard". The replica of a cursed car. The one in which James Dean ended up in shreds and that, after being sold to pieces from among the saved, these were in cars that also had a bad ending. Call us superstitious, but with this record even the replica could be cursed. Nice job reproducing this car so low that driver Hans Herrman drove one on the 1954 Mille Miglia passing under the barrier crossings.
Anyway, if what you want is a true Porsche rarity with an Italian touch… The Padua Fair did not disappoint. There we could see the replica of the 356 Zagato Coupé from 1959. Several were the units bodied by Zagato in the convertible Speedster version, but only one was the one that ended up roofed. This is not conserved because, shortly after being finished, its bodywork was scrapped as a project in disgrace.
From a year to this part Zagato itself is building 9 Speedster and ... This one from the coupe. Very interesting since this mix between the basic lines of the 356 and the roundness of the forms of the Italian bodybuilder gives a good result. Very much in the style of what would later become the Milanese house works for Aston Martin.
To finish remembering the striking of the Mercedes C111 in the space of the brand itself. Very interesting this prototype belonging to a whole series with which the German house experimented throughout the 70s with new engines and even the possibility of incorporating rotary devices into its range. Due to that character of mechanical experimentation under their bodies, individual surprises can be hidden, but always under this curious retro-futuristic appearance.
YOU DARE? RESTORATION
And you have to dare. Why the restoration of some of the classics offered there is quite an adventure. And well, we are not saying it in a reproachful sense at all… Because what visitors to the Padua Fair tend to like the most is precisely this. The large amount of buying and selling between individuals. Accompanied by a huge range of spare parts -only the extension dedicated to these exceeds that of any fair in Spain- to carry out any restoration.
In this sense we saw a Lancia Flaminia GT Touring most appetizing. If you are passionate about the brand wanting to get into a good job of course. its V6 of about 150CV promises a calm driving at the controls of the successor of the mythical Aurelia. Something that, well restored, can be moved at more than 45.000 euros ...
Oh, and one thing in case you're thinking of going next year. If you are passionate about Alfa Romeos and you want to restore one ... Go buy the ticket. Why the concentration of irons that were once a Giulia in full use is interesting. And, in short, you can find everything. Because already leaving the pure Italian market there was up to a Edsel.
Yes, the Ford subsidiary that only made one model for 2 years. One of the biggest fiascos in the motor industry, which cost the American giant 150 million dollars at the time. Many qualify him as the "Worst car ever" due to its numerous engine failures, noise emission, enormous fuel consumption, steering and combustion failures ... And that is not to mention that in the aesthetic section it did not have too many praise.
About 6000 are preserved. And it is okay, although it does not have the best business card at all, it is still a myth. A "Botch myth" if you want to call it that but a myth in any case. They still go around in Ford about what happened to do things like that, but the truth is that it is very rare to see it. Think about it, it wouldn't be bad to have one. It must be curious, right?
A REFLECTION TO FINISH
This 2018 is going to close with the death of one of the key figures in the restructuring of the FIAT Group, Sergio Marchionne. Even he came to pronounce in a restrictive way regarding the rumors about liquidating Lancia definitively. Obviously in all the new positioning of the group this has taken the worst part, perhaps because of the enormous care that has been put into the resurgence of Alfa Romeo.
As a magazine dedicated to the classics, it is not our field to make predictions for the future, but the truth is that seeing the large concentration of Lancia models at the Padua Fair there is a reflection to be made. Obviously the mere emblem does not make the sales figures add up, but given the history and passion that many fans pour into Lancia it would be worth it if it is not closed.
In this sense, a projection into the future based on the essences could be a good strategy in the style of what was done with Alfa Romeo. However, and while time is giving us answers, for now we can continue to enjoy a great concentration of Fulvias and Delta at the Auto e Moto d'epoca Fiera Padova. Up to a year from now!