By Chris de Fraga
More car polish recently – this time at Wesley College’s St.Kilda Rd Campus – where Italian cars – mostly Alfa Romeos – were on show.
They say you only have to take off the bumpers to turn an Italian car into a race car.
And at the Wesley College Front Turf in St. Kilda Rd this year’s Alfa Spettacolo it proved right.
Everything from the oldest Fiat in Australia to some of the most modern was laid out on the grass for inspection from a 1923 RL to Giuliettas from the late 1950s and early 1960s to rafts of 105s both open and closed.
So many owners have modified their machines it was hard to find two identical cars.
of the fastidious restorations that have been performed. The car Fiat on the left and its companion alongside, with about 15 years between the two designs, are both the result of recent renovations.
And Ferrari chassis welding has picked up judging from the example seen here. They seem no longer concerned at having a glass cover over the engine to obscure ropey welding.
Whereas the V6 four cam Alfa engine with a GTA setup proved spectacular.
For sheer design, Bertone’s Giulietta from 1962 is hard to top – simple, sleek and tasteful. It was modified into the later Giulia models with slight changes, which altered the delicate character of the original.
One of the surprises was the variety of the red colours which were all termed racing red from a dark burgundy – like the first Fiat on display – to a quite tomato color for some of the later sports cars. Even cars from the same year had different interpretations of the colour.
At Holden when they wanted a red they spectrographically analysed the colour which appeared in Holden body colour charts as Maranello Red and it has more tomato-orange than many of the deeper reds. Of course there were Italian food trucks there as well as the usual Rotary sausage sizzles – this time from Albert Park Rotary Club.
The Fiat Dino, with delicious Pinin Farina bodywork, is rare and muscular. It has lasted better than some of its rivals from its late 1960s when its V6 engine built at Fiat to a Ferrari design was required for racing by Ferrari who needed the higher production numbers at Fiat for the racing rules.
The new 4C Alfa Romeo with a soft top was popular. Its engine capacity was about the same as many of the older Alfa Romeos back to the early 1970s but this time it came with plenty of push from a turbocharger. The chassis is oven baked carbon fibre to keep it light and the performance is up there with the faster of modern sports cars.
When the cars were released on the Turin to Aosta autostrada in late autumn in 1968, the coupe version by Bertone was a very hard worked and grumpy example by the time I tried it but the Pininfarina version was a real honey – smooth and satisfyingly fast.