I should spend more time in little Italian towns.
I’m having trouble finding verifiable information on this gorgeous little barchetta. Previous sellers have said she has LeMans and Mille Miglia provenance, but I’m not finding it immediately and we’ve all known sellers that were prone to exaggeration. Usually when I can’t dig up much information on a car, I don’t post about it. But one thing about this little machine is immediately certifiable—she’s gorgeous. So despite the lack of concrete information on it, I couldn’t help but share it with you.
More photos in this Google Plus gallery.
This is what passion looks like. It’s not uncommon to know someone that has a few old cars and a bit of memorabilia locked away in a garage. But when someone opens their garage up as a museum; starts a club to share their passion with the world; and gets their cars out and seen as much as possible—that’s the kind of passion and sense of community that I have a deep respect for. Bruno Dorigo’s Abarth collection is impressive, but it’s his passion that is truly enviable.
Let’s dig back in to the scores of photos that Gary Mason sent in from his teenage years spent in Italy in the 1950s. Among them are these magnificent snapshots from a decidedly less documented location than Monza or along the Brescia-Rome route. The Asiago Hillclimb in the mountains of Northern Italy is exactly the kind of event I love seeing imagery from. This looks very much like a locally organized race for local racers—no glitz required.
Of course in classic hillclimb fashion, it’s the variety that makes these amazing shots come together so beautifully. Everything from open-wheeled formula junior cars and little sub-1000cc barchettas to big Ferraris and proto-econobox Fiats (albeit tuned by Abarth) are all well represented here. What an incredible afternoon it must have been for Gary, nestled in among the other fans atop this little wall above a switchback.
Click on through to more of Gary’s photos in our Gary Mason Archives. Another huge “thank you” to Gary Mason for sending these in. More to come.
Wow. Just wow.
Those mountain vistas! I’ve grown so used to seeing wide runoff areas and flat(ish) topography that when I see these images of the Dolomite Mountains captured in the 1950 running of the Coppa d’Oro Dolomiti, I’m just dumbstruck. We always imaging switchback mountain roads and winding valley tarmac as perfect sportscar roads for a Sunday afternoon drive. It’s a shame that so few events still have this kind of scenery to look forward to. Even events like Pike’s Peak or the more mountainous legs of the WRC don’t seem to have peaks quite as sharp and romantic as the Dolomites. Of course, the Coppa d’Oro Dolomiti still runs (sort of) today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for bringing back these decidedly less forgiving runoff areas. But even more than small town street racing, I think the loss of this kind of combination of beautiful racing machines and breathtaking mountain roads is a tremendous loss.
Just look at that shot of the 26-year-old Sergio Sighinolfi piloting the #123 Stanguellini 1100. He won his class, finished fourth overall, and beat the previous class course record by over four minutes. Those are just statistics. The fact that he did it in this kind of environment with this level of enchanting beauty and horrific danger around him is heroic. In just the same way, it’s one thing to DNF on the local track, it’s quite another to DNF in the Dolomites. That Supremo Montanari didn’t make to the finish in his outdated #111 Ermini-powered Stanguellini Sport Nazionale doesn’t make his running any less heroic. Twisting along these mountain roads and keeping your foot down is enough to earn my respect.
Am I forgetting about any contemporary events that are run in these kinds of environments? Let me know. I probably need to get more into hillclimbs.
Maybe it’s not quite the same as watching Enzo race his own Ferrari, or Henry race his own Ford, or Ferdinand race his own Porsche, but there’s something romantic about this footage of Berardo Taraschi piloting a car of his own make through the streets of Brindisi. Berardo took the win for the event, running the 69km race through the seaside town on Italy’s heel in just over 40 minutes: a 102 km/hr average isn’t bad at all for a 750cc powered Giaur.
With so little information out on the web about the Brindisi race, it makes me all the sadder that I can’t understand more than a few words of the commentary the goes along with this video. But I think I hear mention of the legendary Anna Maria Peduzzi as a participant in the race as well. I can’t remember ever seeing any footage of her in the car before. Is she driving the ’52 Stanguellini we wrote about in 2010? What a treat!
As always, if it’s little, Italian, and beautiful, Cliff has you covered.
Expectations and reality have this way of clashing spectacularly. I always have a dream, a fantastic notion of what something might be like. Then I’ll discover that the actuality of it is far more simple; far more ordinary.
This, though, is one of the thankful exceptions. This space is exactly what I imagine when I think of the etceterini workshops. Seeing a few gorgeous Stanguellinis in various stages of completion only makes the point that much more clear: This was no production line factory. This was hot-rodding.
The rough-hewn post and beam construction of the Stanguellini workshop is in many ways a perfect metaphor for this era of Italian sportscar manufacture. Its cleanliness and bare walls suggest practical engineering and luxurious, uncluttered design. The mottled walls and old stumps to panelbeat against remind us that it was no more sophisticated than a repurposed barn. I think one of the things that draws me to the barchettas of this period was that they so exemplify this perfect marriage of the engineer and the artisan in ways that larger manufacturers struggled to hang on to. They’ve got soul.
Thanks, Wheels of Italy.