Barcelona-Sitges is undoubtedly the most charismatic and international rally of all those held in Spain. The uniqueness of the event is based on several parameters, but there are mainly three: the opportunity to see older cars than normal, the elaborate period costumes and the journey through the roads of the winding coasts of Garraf.
This year, and for the first time since the glorious 50th edition held in 2008, we have noticed an improvement in the quantity and quality of those enrolled.
In that fiftieth edition, around 200 participants were reached but, inexplicably, in the following years a worrying decrease in their level began.
Foreigners, who until 2008 flocked in reasonable numbers - and sometimes in droves - suddenly disappeared.
Spanish collectors who had been attending for about 20 years were not going after the 50th edition either ... Overall, the rally started a decline that was tried to make up for by raising the participation age.
Traditionally, only vehicles from up to 1924 were accepted, with some exception towards modernity if they were significant models, but in the 51st edition the limit suddenly went up to be around 1930, and some cars from up to 1935 were accepted.
Obviously this eventuality made the event lose some "grace", since fewer and fewer vehicles were seen prior to World War I, with their gold and backfire engines.
Last year a low level of participation was reached that could surely be described as a sad record downward, and when most of the fans feared the worst, finally this year it seems that things have come back.
Quality on the rise
Last Saturday, March 29, the reception of participants took place at the Illa Diagonal center in Barcelona, in which 64 cars were counted -according to the organization- and as many motorcycles before 1940, a novelty after fifty years .
In the closed park you could see old acquaintances who had not been exhibited in this dean event in Spain for a long time, although a car from until 1935 was still hidden, which broke a bit with what one supposes that one will see in this rally.
We hope that the organization will do its best in this regard in subsequent years and that in the 60th edition, for which there are only 4 years left, we will not see cars later than -at least- 1930.
By countries, this year, Spanish participation continued to predominate, although some French arrived again and even an Italian participant with a worn out Fiat Zero in practically original condition.
The oldest participant title this year went to a 2 Panhard-Levassor U1907, in close conflict with the beautiful 1909 Renault AX with wicker bodywork and three-digit Barcelona number plates.
The brand with the most registrations was Ford, how could it be otherwise. Of course, with a "cheat": there were four Ford T's prior to 1925, while the rest were a large number of Ford A's from 1928 to 1931, cars that years ago were not allowed to participate officially.
The other two brands with the greatest presence were Citroën and Fiat, in this order ... just as they happened in reality on Spanish roads in the 20s. In addition, from both manufacturers there were repeated models among which you could see what "wins "Or" loses "a car depending on whether it is properly restored or not.
The comparison between some Citroën 5cv was painful due to the state of paint and details such as drivers or tires, but the most flagrant case was the presence of two Fiat 509s from the mid-20s, exactly the same, except for their condition.
One beautifully restored with respect to the original, with a very vintage color and plenty of good details that included its old Barcelona license plate painted with a brush. On the other hand, there was no where to take the other unit due to the metallic paint - in a car from the 20s! - or the fake gold based on paint, among others.
Otherwise, the level of participating cars appears to have increased. Apart from the already classic 6-cylinder Mors, the Barcelona City Council's Renault 10cv DM or the Rochet Schneider with a female passage, some novelties could be seen such as a large Lincoln V8 from the early 20's or a nice Delage DI in colors perhaps too daring for your time.
THE HISPANIC-SWITZERLAND AND THE COMPETITION
Another brand that cannot be absent from Barcelona-Sitges is Hispano Suiza. This year things have not disappointed and you could see no less than six copies of various models.
For starters, four different 16 HP 4-cylinder units, all from around 1916. By bodies, three of them were phaeton 4-door convertible and one roadster.
As a curiosity, one of the phaetons wears a "replica" bodywork made by Talleres Vert from Girona in the 60s. Guess what it is? The only clue we give is that it is certainly not the one in the next photo.
Continuing with the 4-cylinder models, there was a beautiful T-48 from 1928 in a wonderful original condition without restoring, and also with a four-door saloon body from the Hispano-Suiza house itself.
To finish with the Hispanics, another classic of this rally: A 49-cylinder T-6 from 1926 with a convertible 4-door phaeton body of dubious originality.
And it is that as it begins to happen abroad, sometimes the originality attracts more attention than a perfect restoration. Within this honorable group of preserved cars was the imposing Talbot 11 Six from 1928, another car that has been participating in the Catalan test for years.
The most direct competition of our Hispano-Suiza was also very well represented, since among those registered there were 5 Rolls Royces of different models and periods, some too "modern" for what is customary in this rally.
As highlights, the big yellow Silver-Ghost from 1919, and especially the small 20-25 HP from 1925 with old Barcelona registration. The latter, however, deserves a criticism for the garish vanilla and orange colors applied in its restoration.
Regarding the development of the event, on Sunday March 30, contrary to what usually happens on this first weekend of spring, the day dawned cloudy and windy. It is what is known in the area as a raised, who also accompanied the long-suffering participants throughout the tour.
For this reason, there were some cars present on the 29th that were not there on the 30th, but even so, the majority were those who ignored the inclement weather and took the exit from the Plaza de Sant Jaume in Barcelona heading to the coastal town from Sitges where it was still raining miserably.
It is fair to thank the participants who, despite the bad weather, dressed in traditional period dresses and took their precious machines for a walk under the heavy downpour.
Not everyone would expose unique cars like the Elizalde underwater or in original condition like the Hispano-Suiza T-48 underwater! Anyway, let's hope that next year the good line started this year will continue… And that the weather will be sunny and calm again.
* We thank the organizer and the complete Visit Sitges tourist portal
(visitsitges.com) the transfer of the photographic material of this chronicle