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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Simply, the Goodwood revival 2012

Ok, I have been to Goodwood, finally.

This post is about it, and it is not supposed to be a report, or a photo shooting exhibition. There are quite good enough guys out there for that I believe, Sports Car Digest being the top one maybe. You can also enjoy some pictures I have taken at the event browsing my Facebook page, which I am not advertising as I should.

So this post is to tell my story about the Revival. To tell you all, very clearly, that I understood something close to nothing about that before I moved to Chichester last Sunday: now I can admit that. While I was expecting to yawn and sadly hang out around the circuit waiting for the RAC TT to take place, then the Revival came in, right after the entrance, or even before my first step in.

I was getting closer and closer to the main entrance, and I started feeling bad, totally uncomfortable in my Italian-styled modern outfit: the elegance or men and women, the make-up, hair dressing, hats, made me suddenly realize what the Revival actually means. It's a romantic adventure, it's a 360 degrees experience, while it has almost nothing to do with racing per se.

Or maybe not?

I'll be back on the event and what it meant for me in a bit, but I am so excited about the TT RAC and the Roy Salvadori Memorial that I can't wait to tell you more about them.

The TT RAC is simply the best racing event I have ever attended. And this is not only due to the unbelievable quality of the competitors' car, the famous 300 M Pounds line-up. It is all about the spirit. TT RAC Drivers, either being the owners of the cars or not, are heroes. They jump in their multi million cars, and they race. They properly race! attendees can see them drifting, braking, smoking, boiling, bumping into each other and even crashing their 4 wheeled jewels to the final win, to the best lap, the the fastest time. This is truly unbelievable, something I can't properly express in my poor English (and I would struggle in Italian, too!). The aspect I like the most is that attending this kind of event, admiring these heroes, made me think that I totally quote one of my father's top recommendations he shared with me since the first time he brought me to a classic car event: "don't be jealous, don't envoy the owners: there is no point about that; you just have to thank them for not keeping their cars secretly stored in a garage! Just ask them to push on the accelerator, to make some noise, to share their feeling, and be happy about your chance to make their feelings yours. And maybe one day you'll do the same!". That's so true... I was so happy to see them driving like crazy all over the circuit, leaving their cars open to the public in the paddocks, discussing with many passionate people over the event, be, in one word, conscious of the patrimony they could share with the crowd.

The Memorial Salvadori was just a bit less exciting, as the oil left by the GTs during the TT did not seem to allow the drivers to push and drift as much. However, the sunset light was perfect, whether was getting even better, and the noise of the Le Mans cars was terrific.

To be honest, I don't even know who won the competition, as - let me be a bit cheesy here - they were all winners to me.  

Back to the event in this random stream of consciousness, I am still a bit shocked by what I saw. Comparing the Revival with the Italian classic cars event I have been to,I think there is an enormous gap to be filled here. The Revival was, as said, voted to period clothing, flavors and costumes. First thing I noted, men and women were almost equally distributed. I believe that hair dressing and beauty salons help in this regard, and that's exactly the point! the Revival is a family event, anyone can join regardless he/she is a motoring fanatic or not. Even the sponsors contributed to recreate a back to the 40s environment, and I think that's a sign of far-sightedness. The period Tesco by the way, that was amazing, so well done!

Food was great, cars excellent, fun at max level, and whether was, standing at UK standards, acceptable:-).

I a definitely ready to come back to Goodwood soon!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Triumph Italia: british power with an Italian touch

Gentleman drivers,

I have been looking around for quite a while trying to identify a car to talk about here, a model that could reflect the nature of this blog and its author, lost in between an Italian background and the passion for British car making tradition. I think I eventually found one, and that's the Triumph Italia.

To talk about the Italia, I could rely on the information available here and there on the Web, but I rather decided to reach out to one of the owners of the very few Italias ever made, and the even fewer still surviving in Italy. His support has been instrumental to this post, and although I will keep his name confidential, I want to thank him for that. What's important here is that through a valuable contribution like the one from this gentleman I can now tell you a proper story of driving and restoration passion, rather than opting in to a dry, Wikipedia-like report on a car model.

So this is how the #119th chassis of a 1961, steel bodied, Michelotti designed, and Vignale manifactured Triumph Italia looks like:

courtesy of Ugutsinda on Flickr

Isn't she a beauty? I don't know how to define it otherwise.

The Triumph Italia was actually inspired by my very same research for a well balanced mix between "Italian Art, and British sportscar technique" from its creator, the Naples-based Triumph dealership owner Mr. Ruffino. I like the idea of keeping that spirit alive.

 The history of the example featured in this post has very interesting ramifications, too.

The car has been sold new in Livorno Tuscany, and it only had 3 owners, the latest ownership having lasted for 15 years, before being sold to the current gentleman driver who decided to undertake a comprehensive, body-off restoration of the chassis in 2010. 

The Italia was designed by Michelotti along the lines used for the Maserati 3500 and others GT produced on an around the late 50ies, built on  TR3 engine and mechanics. It could then be assumed that the most part of the spares could be easily located in the Land of Sunshine. Well, that was not the case at all. On the contrary, while the British spares could be easily bought or found on the Web, everything relating to chassis and interiors have been defined by the owner as "practically impossible to spot", then everything that could not be purchased, had to be built from scratch starting from a destroyed sample or pictures available on books, manuals, or on the Web. 

And, even more interestingly, guess what part has been elected the most difficult to find on the market? the original ashtray (nothing less), the same that used to be made available on Maserati and Ferrari at the time. It took six months to have it finally installed.

This particular example featured here came with the overdrive, a valuable optional in early 60ies worth more than 150.000 Lire. 
When it comes to driving sensations, the Italian pride arises. The car is reported as being more pleasant to look at than to drive, and so heavy to make it closer to a car made back in the 40ies: the coetaneous Alfas have been described to me as space shuttles in comparison.  Having been myself owner of a TR3, and not being an Alfa lover at all, I tend to quote that I-am-driving-a-truck-rather-than-a-sportscar feeling, and I bet that the 1 ton chassis on a rather tiny car does not help the driving pleasure. It has a massive torque though: the car could be running at 100 km/h at 2.600 rpm: quite astonishing. And finally, the carburetors: some reports from the 60ies still refer to the SU H6 as being so bad that Mr. Ruffino tried to reach out to Ducati, in Modena, to have them modified and reach a satisfactory performance. The owner confirms that, telling us that a sudden change in climate, or a grinding halt, are sufficient to mess up hours of work spent on calibration. 

On the other hand, what's really amazing, is its style. Remember this was a car bough by American customers under the disclaimer that no spares parts, other than the ones present in the Triumph USA network, could be made available to owners. So why buying that car, even more expensive than an original TR? Style. La Dolce Vita. Rarity. Interiors are wholly made in leather and make the passenger compartment look like a high-end living room rather than a cockpit. As said, some details came from the much more expensive Maseratis and Ferraris, too. 
The car has a superb balance granted by the Michelotti's touch, and remains a dream car at still affordable market value, if compared with its rarity and the increasing collectors' interest about this gem of Italian and British history. 

Well, I hope I transmitted my enthusiasm about this contribution. I do believe in the added value of your experience, so please do not hesitate to share with me your stories, your sensations, your classic cars adventures.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Auto d'Epoca su FIAT e la liberalizzazione dei TLD

Cari Gentlemen Driver,

Ho letto con interesse e stupore l'editoriale pubblicato dal Direttore di Auto d'Epoca, dr. Catozzi, sul numero di Luglio Agosto della rivista: uno sfortunato scivolone, a parer mio. 

Credo sia opportuno premettere, per sgombrare il campo da potenziali equivoci, che sono un accanito lettore ed un estimatore di Auto d'Epoca, che reputo di gran lunga il miglior mensile Italiano in circolazione.

courtesy of http://www.behance.net
Il pezzo in questione, però, non mi pare completamente all'altezza della giusta fama del suo autore. L'articolo riguarda l’apertura, annunciata più di un anno fa da ICANN (l’organismo internazionale di amministrazione del Web, ndr), alla liberalizzazione dei TLD - le “desinenze”, all’italiana - i quali potranno formare oggetto di specifica domanda di deposito presso il Registro ed andare ad affiancare i ben noti ed ormai consolidati gTLD (.com, .net ecc.) ed i circa 250 TLD nazionali (.it, .fr) nella composizione di un dominio Web aziendale. 

Il Direttore parla della questione con specifico riguardo al segmento auto ed ai costruttori nazionali, stigmatizzando senza mezzi termini la corsa del Gruppo FIAT all’approvvigionamento di estensioni quali .fiat, .alfa., .alfaromeo: molte società, FIAT compresa, si sono infatti già mosse per dar seguito a quella che è stata definita un’opportunità rivoluzionaria, una delle principali sin dai tempi della creazione della Rete, che ne cambierà per sempre la struttura: la possibilità di acquistare desinenze aziendali e creare nuovi domini istituzionali quali, per restare nel mondo dell’auto, www.[nomeauto].fiat.

Il problema è che il Dr. Catozzi non sembra cogliere a pieno la portata di tale apertura, riducendo la questione a termini meramente economico/finanziari e rischiando a tratti di cadere, a parer mio, nella pura demagogia da crisi 2012 già vista in altre sedi (“in tempi di vacche magre”, “quante auto in più farà mai vendere un dominio .fiat [...]”.

La questione, invece, attiene non soltanto (e sarebbe già sufficiente) alla necessità per un leader mondiale come FIAT di mantenersi al passo con i tempi, e non perdere un vantaggio competitivo che nell’era digitale sarebbe irrecuperabile; in modo altrettanto importante, dal punto di vista giuridico la corsa ai nuovi gTLD è un passo dovuto, strettamente funzionale ad un’oculata gestione aziendale che non può prescindere non solo dalla presenza in Rete, ma anche dalla tutela degli IP asset del Gruppo. E' ad un tempo un saggio investimento ed una pratica difensiva che potrebbe far risparmiare milioni in cause legali e centinaia di ore buttate nel tentativo di bloccare l'utilizzo illecito - anche diffamatorio - e speculativo di quegli stessi TLD da parte di terzi.

Un esempio banale a riconferma di quanto dico? L’aver registrato il dominio www.fiat.it (al pari di ogni altro dominio aziendale) negli anni ’90 credo possa essere considerata senza tema di smentita una pratica fondamentale nel percorso di tutela ed affermazione del brand FIAT. Altri produttori in altri settori non si sono mossi con lo stesso tempismo e si sono amaramente pentiti delle proprie scelte rimanendo invischiati in lunghe e spiacevoli cause legali, o in dispendiose transazioni, per affermare il diritto alla proprietà ed all’uso di un dominio identico al proprio marchio denominativo, pur rinomato. Ora ci affacciamo ad una nuova fase del Web, potenzialmente della medesima portata e con conseguenze ancora più gravi, proprio a causa della crisi, per tutti coloro che perderanno il treno.

fotogramma da campagna FIAT
Credo sia necessario stimolare la competitività dei costruttori di casa nostra, non criticarne l’operato senza la necessaria prudenza e senza aver raccolto le necessarie informazioni. Sarei felice di essere smentito, ma non mi pare che questo percorso sia stato intrapreso da Auto d'Epoca nè che la testata si occupi a fondo di Web e delle sue potenzialità: tanto sembrerebbe potersi desumere dal Sito istituzionale della rivista, le cui news non freschissime sono addirittura ferme a Novembre 2011. 

Monday, 9 July 2012

Gentlemen drivers (?)

Gassman on his Aurelia in "The Easy Life"
It was brought to my attention a very sad story. A story about politeness and manners, strictly linked to the oldtimers world. In a recent regularity, TSD rallying event held in Italy, some friends of mine, members of the crew in charge for the event management, complained about the general attitude of the participants. These guys, most of them being just students working on Saturdays and Sundays to finance their studies, were badly insulted by allegedly gentlemen drivers while giving them directions about the race, its rules and the way they had to behave during the event. 

This brought me back to an event I attended a couple of years ago, with my dad's sweet Fiat 600 Multipla. OK, the car was not a street monster, it was quite slow, but, man, we were supposed to be there to have fun. I have spent two days being brutalized by other participants as I was apparently preventing them to run fast and win over others. I assisted more than once to exhausting complaint sessions driven by participants who did not want to park where they should have theoretically had to, to move their car to facilitate car circulation, to eat in compliance of the dinner or lunch schedule, to drive according to the street rules, and so on and so forth. 

I am closer and closer to define the average regularity rally driver as selfish, rude and over competitive guy. I am actually astonished when I hear that 20-years old ladies were apostrophized as b####es after having kindly been asked a driver to follow the participants' starting order rather than illegally passing them over generating uncontrollable danger. 

That's sad, that's unbelievable and unacceptable especially in a classic car event, where the right spirit should be dominating over the final ranking. 

As manners cannot be taught to adults, I am wondering why the race leaders, including the organizing car club's executives, do not take action upfront, within the race regulation, as well in real time, i.e. during the race, simply disqualifying those gentle(?)men from the competition. Right away. 

Is that something happening so regularly only in Italy, as an unfortunate cultural aspect? Have you experienced or reported any similar circumstance, and how do you take action against that?

Friday, 22 June 2012

Auto Classiche su BritGasoline!

Cari amici e gentlemen driver,
Oggi ho ricevuto la primarecensione del mio blog da parte di un rinomato sito di auto storiche italiano! Auto Classiche ha deciso di raccomandare i miei post al proprio pubblicoe sono sinceramente contento di poter ricambiare, da buon gentleman, il favore. Non si tratta soltanto di riconoscenza tout court: la menzione del mio sito è proposta da un portale che, a parer mio, rappresenta un unicum nel modesto ed embrionale panorama di siti italiani dedicati alle 4 ruote d'epoca. AutoClassiche non è solo il solito sito di piccoli annunci: alla componente classified aggiunge (mi verrebbe da dire, finalmente!) una sezione puramente editoriale, strumentale non solo a poter godere di commenti e pareri tecnici sulle auto storiche, ma anche a cogliere le ultime novità in fatto di eventi, gare, affari ed aste. E’ questo, dico io, il modo per avvicinare il pubblico di larga scala al mondo delle storiche: bisogna cercare di informare e far sognare il lettore, di fargli capire quanto ampio sia lo spettro di possibilità disponibili per sentirsi parte della comunità di appassionati anche senza essere un eccentrico milionario. Un avventore può guardare alle storiche come ad un oggetto riservato ad una chiusa ed inaccessibile lobby: in alcuni casi questo corrisponde a verità, ma Auto Classiche ha la stessa ambizione di Brit Gasoline: far passare il messaggio che con pochi Euro si possa sconfiggere questo pregiudizio, si possa consigliare di farsi largo tra la folla, seguire una gara per strada, accedere a una mostra, conoscere la storia di un particolare esemplare, aprire un libro o leggere un post, apprezzare un restauro. Capire, insomma, la storia di una quattroruote che un giorno, chissà, potremo possedere; non dovesse andare cosὶ, beh, avremo comunque dedicato un po’ di tempo a un sogno. Saremo come chi, appassionato d'arte e cultore del bello, possa legittimamente dirsi tale senza necessariamente possedere un Picasso. Vi sembra poco?

PS: La foto non c'entra nulla, ma l'ho scattata io all'ultimo concorso d'Eleganza di Villa d'Este e ne vado molto fiero :-)

Monday, 23 April 2012

Happy Brit(h)day!

Dear Gentlemen drivers,

On April the 4th it was my birthday (no more silly misspelling I promise :-). I turned 32 and I also reached 1000 users of this blog, quite a good achievement in a quite a memorable day!

To celebrate these overlapping events, I tried to draft a new blog post but I was overwhelmed by the happenings in real life, which sometimes do not let you freely take care of your own passions: my employer, in fact, decided to announce the dismissal of quite a lot of employees around the globe, making me realize all of a sudden how lucky I am now, having a good job during the day and writing a fancy post about British classics by night, and how lost I could have been in a second, if that layoff just hit me, and my family as a consequence.

Of course, I also realized what an unfortunate coincidence that was and how grotesque, absurd and embarrassing it was to have a b-day cake with me in the office premises, ready to be shared with my colleague - which I eventually avoided.

Anyway, that's gone now (or for now?) and I can start going back to my routine with even more enthusiasm than ever. By the way, I just found another weird British Brand to talk about, but that will happen in a separate post later on this week.

This one was just imagined and drafted to the pure sake of sharing with you a bit of my personal life, celebrating with you all, and perhaps trying to stop the clock for a second. Engines will be switched on again very soon.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Rochdale Olympic, a good surprise

Dear fellow Britgasoliners,

I have just discovered something totally new to me. I think I am overall going, slowly but truly, in the direction of focusing my attention on the small, quick, fast 2-seaters built by b-side British manufacturers. After the TVR Grantura in fact, here it comes the Rochdale Olympic. 

Honestly, I had small to none knowledge of this British car since I read about it on Practical Classics this month. However, a quick look at the headlines of the article about that was sufficient to have a crash on her. What caught my eye at first sight was that it looks (as a few authors already noted, I found out later on) pretty much like a mix between a Lotus Elite, a Jag e-type and - unfortunately - a 356 coming with a Zagato-like coachwork. Since 1959 the Olympic came with a full fiberglass monocoque, quite a rarity back in the 60ies when the first exemplary came out from the little factory in Hudson Street, Rochdale. The only other known example of a similar solution could be found on one of the other dream cars of mine, the Lotus Elite.

Wikipedia says it was pretty much a kit car, and that it could be fitted with a 1500 MGA Engine, or a Ford 1600 from the Cortina or even, as of 1961, with the Riley 1.5. I think that could be a good range of opportunities should I (or you) decide to start a restoration project, wouldn't it?

And the price? Ah, that's interesting. Well, romantic enough, a  complete Rochdale kit car could cost you up to 670 GBP back in the days, but even today, the Olympic seems to be a quite affordable, super rare, extremely fascinating and potentially fast and funny entry level car for a collector. I am already scouting the Web to find good bargains, maybe a project car to fit with a fast 1.6 Cortina engine and a good ZF Gearbox. I will probably reach out to the Rochdale Olympic owners' club to know more about the history of the Brand and the initiative of Olympic enthusiasts: they even own the body molds today!

Then, what about you gentlemen? Do you know it or own one? Do you share my love at first sight feeling?

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Consiglio del giorno: la cura dei sedili

Credo che tutti i collezionisti abbiano alcuni piccoli segreti che rendono speciali le proprie vetture. Alcuni di loro conservano gelosamente, oltre alle proprie quattroruote, anche alcuni piccoli segreti che non rivelano mai: conigli che escono dal cilindro solo fra le confortanti mura dei propri garage, al riparo da occhi indiscreti. Mi riferisco, in particolare, alle tecniche di conservazione della propria vettura, quelle che permettono all'auto, dopo aver sonnecchiato in inverno al riparo dalle intemperie, di ritrovare immediatamente il proprio smalto ai primi segnali di sole primaverile.
Oggi vorrei violare almeno in parte questo sottobosco inesplorato, dandovi qualche consiglio su uno degli argomenti a parer mio più sottovalutati: la pulizia e il mantenimento dei sedili in pelle delle nostre classiche.
Come nell'antro delle streghe, i collezionisti si cimentano in pozioni di ogni genere per evitare che sedili vecchi di alcune decadi, e relative pelli, si inchinino al passare del tempo: emollienti di ogni genere, coloranti, costosissimi prodotti rigeneranti appositamente creati, olii naturali. La mia cura si colloca a metà fra tutte queste soluzioni. Ecco alcuni consigli pratici!
Innanzitutto, la cura del sedile non deve subire soluzione di continuità: curare le pelli una volta all'anno non serve a nulla, se non a far pace con la propria coscienza. Grandi escursioni termiche, come quelle che si registrano ai cambi di stagione, mettono a dura prova la pelle, con i risultati drammatici che vedete nell'immagine a lato di un sedile di una E-Type: intervenite, dunque, a scadenza almeno mensile.
Per cominciare, raccomando di stendere per almeno 10 minuti un panno caldo sul sedile da trattare. Usate un canovaccio umido, ma non bagnato, scaldato anche al microonde. Questo trucchetto vi aiuterà a far aprire i pori della pelle ed a far emergere lo sporco che, vostro malgrado, sedimenta negli anfratti più reconditi dei sedili. Usate dunque una spazzola morbida, simile a quella utilizzata per le scarpe di pelle o di camoscio; bagnatela e passatela con decisione e senza paura sul sedile umido. Come detergente da utilizzare con la spazzola, utilizzate del sapone naturale di marsiglia, non aromatizzato.
Quando avrete finito di lavare il sedile con acqua e sapone, fate asciugare, stando attenti a non far seccare eccessivamente la pelle.
A quel punto, utilizzate un conditioner, un emolliente, per restituire vitalità agli olii della pelle. Personalmente non mi fido delle creme tradizionali (per intenderci la Nivea che potete rubare alla vostra fidanzata/moglie/compagna); il mio consiglio qui cade su due prodotti appositi: la crema Meguiars o l'ultima chicca che ho scoperto in Rete grazie a Twitter, un prodotto che rischia di trascendere nella mania ossessivo-compulsiva da perfezionista: il conditioner di Elite Detailer. Questo produttore offre un'ampia gamma di prodotti d'alta gamma per la cura dell'auto e un serie di servizi affascinanti sul ripristino della vernice capace, stando alle immagini ed alle testimonianze, di eliminare i graffi dati dal tempo e dalla pulizia e di dare alla vernice una lucentezza maggiore di quella assicurata dalla fabbrica. Ne parleremo magari in un altro post, ma nel frattempo vi invito a guardare qualche galleria sulla resa finale: incredibile. Buon lavoro a tutti!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

unbelievable item for sale on eBay - Original Grantura Sebring racing car

Dear gentlemen drivers,

This is indeed the find of the day. Perhaps of the year, at least as far as I am concerned.
There is a unique barnfind sale on eBay UK today: an original, untouched and unrestored TVR Grantura, one out of the 3 (!!) manifactured to race at Sebring in 1963. Serious stuff.
According to the post, it still comes with the complete, original documentation certifying its racing specs; fascinating enough, in some pictures you can even spot its original red-and-blue stripes slightly hidden below what it seems to be a subsequent paint. The car is on auction with no reserve, but you can expect it to reach absolute records in eBay car auction battles.
From a collector's perspective, I would consider this TVR restoration as an amazing challenge, an adventure to be told, once concluded, in the World's most exclusive racing events.

Let's fight until the hammered price, fellow UK classics enthusiasts!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Report da Milano Autoclassica

Cari gentlemen driver,
sabato ho provveduto a twittare (@britgasoline) in real time per dar conto della mia visita a Milano AutoClassica. Ieri sera ho anche caricato sul mio profilo Flickr alcune foto che vi potranno dare un'idea di quali fossero le punte di diamante della manifestazione, nel caso ve le foste malauguratamente perse.
In via generale, le note positive sono state molteplici, a cominciare da quell'insediamento di una tappa milanese nell'agenda motoristica annuale che molti appassionati di zona auspicavano. In effetti, era difficile accettare che una città come Milano, dalla indubbia tradizione automobilistica, non potesse contare su una kermesse di zona adatta agli standard che le sono consoni. A dimostrazione delle incredibili potenzialità su cui la manifestazione può contare si è stagliato il divertentissimo Trofeo GTA-GTAM, organizzato in esterna dal CMAE per festeggiare i 30 anni della Scuderia del Portello: ottimo assortimento Alfa, grande impegno dei concorrenti, ed organizzazione impeccabile. Bravi!

Inoltre, restando sul tema - caro a me ed ai lettori di questo Blog - delle Auto Inglesi, credo che la Allard J2X e la Healey Silverstone ritratte qui a lato e su Flickr, portate dal team della Scuderia Tricolore, siano le indiscusse regine della due-giorni milanese. Una nota personale: adoro la mia foto del volante della Jag XK OTS esposta allo stesso stand!

Diversi i Club partecipanti e tra essi permettetemi ancora una volta di citare, da Jag owner e socio, la Scuderia Jaguar Storiche: il Club ha avuto una presenza importante al Salone ed ha accolto tutti i giovani, gli avventori, i soci e gli  appassionati a braccia aperte, portando alcuni veri e propri gioielli a far bella mostra di sè a Milano: c'è dunque modo, in Italia, di vivere una passione cosi delicata a basso costo, con enstusiasmo, tempismo ed impeccabile organizzazione ed ottenere un grande ritorno in termini di immagine, entusiasmo e coinvolgimento dei soci!

Tornando ad AutoClassica, trovo che ci sia ancora molto, moltissimo da fare per portare il Salone Milanese ai livelli di altri meeting leader nella tradizione nazionale come la Fiera di Padova: la presenza di importanti attori sulla scena internazionale (solo RM?) era ridotta all'osso ed AutoClassica è stata di fatto snobbata dagli organizzatori dei grandi eventi internazionali (gare, fiere) che affollano il Veneto ogni ottobre.
La ancor giovane fiera meneghina, verosimilmente, è ancora poco appetibile per gli espositori di qualità che in tempo di crisi devono razionalizzare la propria presenza sul territorio ed ottimizzare le proprie scelte di Marketing: da qui, lo spazio lasciato dai promotori ad alcuni neofiti che hanno portato l'offerta di auto imperdibili ad essere, a parer mio, piuttosto povera. Penso che pochi esperti abbiano trovato un pezzo di cui innamorarsi e per cui fare una follia.
Permettetemi, detto questo, di sottolineare nuovamente che il bacino di appassionati, club, artigiani e collezionisti a cui Milano può far capo sono quasi infinite e con impegno questo evento potrà diventare un momento chiave dell'anno motoristico Italiano. Credo che gli organizzatori possano, per ora, essere soddisfatti del buon afflusso di pubblico e contare sulla passione dei milanesi per lavorare sodo sulle prossime edizioni: in bocca al lupo!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Morgan Website facelift

Morgan Motor Company has rolled out today its brand new Website, which looks simply gorgeous. Very user friendly, easy to navigate and full of giant HD pictures smoothly introducing you to the world of one of the most beloved UK manufacturers. As everyone knows, Morgan is the only producer being able to mix retro-styled cars with futuristic items like the Aero, or the slightly hidden Eva GT (picture), a batmobile concept whose production I am really looking forward for. However, if I had 25k GBP to spend in an already fully equipped garage, I would certainly pick the three-wheeler: absolutely unique and it should be a superb fun to drive, too. As I haven't 25k to burn, but rather some time to be dedicated to my passion, I spent a few minutes on the Car Configurator, which in my opinion is among the most complete and entertaining available online today. Lot of features, options, accessories to be chosen, an incredible variety of colors and any possible Social Media button to share your creation with friends and relatives on any possible website. I started with the Roadster, waiting to build up my Aero as soon as it will be made available, and I am really proud of my green-on-green baby with wooden steering wheel and leather bonnet stripe.

How will yours look like?

Friday, 3 February 2012

Chicca di oggi: nel mondo delle corse... con pochi Euro

un "find of the day" all'italiana, di seguito al mio precedente post dove raccontavo delle inimitabili valigie su misura per bagagliai di alta classe in vendita su vintageseekers. Questa volta voliamo basso: vi invito, infatti, a visitare il sito di Unlap, dove potrete trovare gadget di ogni sorta - rigorosamente a tema automobilistico - conditi con una buona dose di ironia. Io mi sono lanciato sulle icone British e ho trovato una poco impegnativa e super-spiritosa t-shirt che rappresenta Sir Stirling Moss in piena corsa sulla sua Aston Martin, scherzosamente "cartoonizzato". Ho speso 4.00 GBP e credo di aver fatto l'affare dell'anno. Non mi sono lanciato cosi tanto da comprare la versione con il poliziotto che pone a Sir Moss la fatidica domanda: "Who do you think you are, Stirling Moss?", ma sono sicuro di fare comunque un figurone. Se siete sul genere F1, consiglio di svegliarvi la mattina e bere un buon caffè nella ricercatissima Mug della Lotus Renault - in versione Unlap ovviamente - anche in questo caso tutt'altro che seria, amabilmente scanzonata e perfino personalizzabile!
Insomma, credo valesse la pena di farvi sapere che esiste questo piccolo mondo online dove ho trovato una serie di  oggetti semplici e spiritosi, pefetti per un regalo dell'ultimo momento ad altri malati, incorreggibili spendaccioni travolti come noi dalla passione dei motori.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

find of the day - set of Aston Martin fitted luggage

Gentlemen, if you are an Aston Martin's owner, I am sure you will love this set of extremely chic, dandy, AM-fitted luggages advertised on Vintageseekers. If you decide that they are the perfect fit to your daily drive, this basically mean you have a very good taste when it comes to cars. If you simply wish to own a Lady of Gaydon one day, but but you are still waiting for better times to become a gentleman driver, then well, is there any better way to kick off your purchase plans? Also, anything better to convince all the ladies that loving British classic cars is not only about entire days on track, oil leaks and gasoline smell?

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

crazy hammer prices. Trend or speculation?

Yesterday, I retweeted a report from a wealth manager interviewed by Classic And Sports Car, who was sharing some thoughts on classic cars investment returns. I was happy to have a general confirmation of the opinion I summarised in an earlier post in this blog (in Italian), where I was saying that truly rare & expensive cars are definitely becoming less and less accessible due to the globalisation on the market, a totally new access to information on available cars, the presence of more and more professional traders and brokers, and the obvious lack items to be traded, due to the mere fact that production of goods classified as classic cars stopped years ago. At the same time, recurring peaks in classic cars evaluations can be seen especially - or only - when it comes to multi-million item for sale. Average car are still average, increasing value is often to be reconciled against a number of factors, including the cost to keep the car and its value in good shape. Most of the increasing evaluation of classic cars are de facto imposed by the leading auctioneers, who are always able to find incredible examples of fine motor cars to be sold (eg, last but not least, the stunning 250 GTO going on sale at Amelia Island) and find the right set of interested bidders. This trend is called, in one word, speculation, and it is a well known phenomenon in several fields, and heavily regulated on all the markets where huge capitals can be exchanged, but in the Classic Car one. I am a liberal, and I agree that market makes the price, but we need to talk about these trends critically, avoiding to think about them as the result of fancy hobbies of rich people.

Generally speaking, When hundreds of thousands of Pounds get exchanged, Authorities should have a say; potentially, the market should be regulated to avoid speculation; even more than that: I am sure that all the Auctioneers take trading extremely seriously, and in most Countries are heavily regulated, but the risk of infiltration is there. I know that in most cases there are severe anti-money laundering regulations preventing uncontrolled cash flow in the so called "High Value Deals" world. Is that enough? Still, regulation is not only worth to prevent criminality, but also to impose or reinstate the delicate equilibrium between offer and demand, when that's lost. And in these days, we are exactly seeing that. That being said, I appreciate there are a number of arguments that can be brought against the idea of regulating classic cars market, the first being that most of the trades still take place on a C2C basis, and private sales cannot be easily monitored.

Let me quote here an abstract from Classic and Sports Car that -sort of- shocked me, just as a matter of example.

As reported in the article I linked above, "A 1955 Aston Martin DB2/4 drop-head coupe bought at auction in 2003 for £58,700 made £227,000 when it came under the hammer again in at Bonhams in May 2011; a return of 287%. The same car had also traded in September 2009 for £181,900; its £227,000 realisation in May 2011 represents a 25% price advance in well under two years".

Isn't this insane? Can a high-value classic car estimation be floating so much? What is the real reason influencing the price? conditions, number of owners, history, or something else, like the mere network of a bidder, making him capable to buy the car with a precise re-selling plan? please shout your opinion, dear followers!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Aston Martin V12 Zagato in produzione

Aston Martin ha dichiarato oggi che la meravigliosa - elegant yet brutal - come romanticamente definita in casa AM, Aston Martin V12 Zagato, presentata l'anno scorso al Concorso d'Eleganza di Villa d'Este con enorme successo di critica, verrà proposta al pubblico in una serie street-legal da 150 esemplari. La vendita sarà anticipata dalla presentazione dell'auto al prossimo Concorso d'Eleganza in Kuwait (15-18 Febbraio 2012), come annunciato sul sito della Casa di Gaydon. Una produzione d'eccezione, d'elite per definizione, ricercata per dovere di soddisfazione della clientela, sportiva per natura. Trovo eccezionalmente interessante che la Zagato e Aston Martin tornino a collaborare a 50 anni dal successo della iconica DB4 GT, tanto sottovalutata agli esordi quanto apprezzata, introvabile, ricercatissima oggi. La rinnovata liaison ripropone lo stesso, perfetto mix di stile, design ed esclusività. La stessa, innata, tensione verso la perfezione. E' ovviamente impossibile non notare che questa nuova avventura commerciale, dal sapore antico, si collochi in un mondo del tutto cambiato, tanto diverso da 50 anni fa da portare la Casa a presentare questo gioiello lontano dal Warwickshire, davanti a chi di gioielli, certamente, se ne intende: i nostri amici medio-orientali le cui risorse economiche abbondano e la cui passione per il made in Europe non ha tardato ad attestarsi anche nel settore automobilistico. Nè bene, nè male: è il mondo di oggi che prevede un mercato globalizzato ed una ovvia e mirata attenzione commerciale verso i luoghi e le persone che oltre ad ammirare il risultato dell'eccellenza europea possono anche finanziarla. Possiamo forse ipotizzare che gli sceicchi e gli emiri abbiano maggiore voglia di esibire un pezzo da collezione piuttosto che godere delle performance di un'AM in produzione super-limitata, o intuirne i delicati equilibri estetici, ma si tratta di un pregiudizio tutto da verificare. Di fatto, questi stessi capitali creano eventi di settore fenomenali e sorreggono l'industria che ci permette da ultimo di rifarci gli occhi (e le orecchie, se mi permettete la forzatura) al passaggio di una AM V12. Speriamo che ci siano altre occasioni di mostrare la nostra eccellenza: tante Villa d'Este, tante Mille Miglia, tanti Goodwood che possano farci tornare a competere! Unusquisque faber etc. etc...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

find of the day. "Big Henry" Lagonda for sale

Dear fellow GB car lovers, this is indeed my find of the day, perhaps of the year (too early to say that?). As advertised to "the Flea Market" today, there is a stunning, multi-race winner Lagonda for sale in Belgium. I would hardly comment on a trade advertisement, but this is really a rare purchase opportunity, looking at its conditions and background info, with such an extensive racing history. I would definitely love to own a Lagonda, a widely under-estimated British car manifacturer if you ask me. They are normally quite expensive on the market, also in light of the low number of cars ever produced until 1947, when the brand definitely passed under Aston Martin's ownership. Big Henry then, the ultimate choice if you can afford that: unique charm, fascinating mix of colours, racing spirit, powerful engine, and a bat-mobile look. Who could be asking for anything more? It is currently available for sale on the LMB Racing (Belgian Lagonda expert, according to the reports) website. Price on request, as it should be.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

racing pictures competition on Sports Car Digest

Ladies & gentlemen,
I strongly encourage you to have a look at the picture contest just started and promoted on SportsCar Digest's official website.
That's a contest aimed to pick the best racing photo taken over 2011. I made my choice, after having been struggling for a good hour. I promise there is a hard competition there. What will yours be?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

History of the most beautiful car ever made live from Villa d'Este

Is there anything more evocative in the world than watching a Marvellous DB4 GT Zagato exhibited in the chic location of Villa d'Este during the famous Concorso d'Eleganza? Yes, there is. And that is, listening to its romantic history straight from the voice of the speaker, the well known professional and surely expert Simon Kidston.This is the - non professional, I am sorry - video I took at the Concorso last summer.

Silent for a good cause

Fellow GB classic enthusiasts! I just spent the last couple of days working on the Web to make this blog more interactive, social, and eventually reachable. No posts dedicated to cars then, but a lot more opportunities to keep in touch. You can now enjoy a full set of pictures - starting with a report from our visit at the Villa d'Este Concorso d'Eleganza, 2011 edition - thanks to the BritGasoline Flickr account. Our personal recommendation would be to start with the videos, while browsing Flickr contents, especially if you have never heard a Birdcage or Jag Lightweight noise. Loud.
You can find us on Twitter, following @britgasoline or simply scrolling down the conversation on the right-hand side of this page, updated as often as materially possible.
You can click on the Facebook "Like" button, still on the right hand side list on this home page.More to come on classics, and less on technologies, though. The Scuderia Jaguar Storiche has kindly agreed to share with us some information on the Club, its members and their respective experiences or expertise as Jag enthusiasts. I will also post on these pages, very soon, a quite complete report of the restoration of our 1-owner-from-new Jag E-Type v12, the one that you can see embedded in  this post and in the picture at the bottom of this page, captured while racing in Bergamo BHGP 2010.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

una gita a Como - a quick tour on Lake Como

Como is my hometown, and it is a fantastic place to ride your oldtimer. There are a couple of stunning view spots that you can enjoy, some of them probably not as known as they should be. Here are some random recommendations for a 2-days break in town, if you don't want to simply follow the Tourism Office's indications available online (note that not every page about the itineraries are available in English).

Book a little boat at Cernobbio's port and enjoy the lake from the water. You can book it for 3 hours for approx 100 Euro and it will be sufficient to take a quick tour of the west coast all along Cernobbio, Moltrasio (the most beautiful village on that side and perhaps of the whole lake), Carate Urio and Laglio, where Clooney lives. If you prefer a guided tour, ask the concierge at Villa D'Este in Cernobbio, the most beautiful hotel in the World according to several rankings and the unforgettable location of the World's most important Concorso d'Eleganza for classic cars (apologies, Pebble Beach). After the tour, treat yourself with an aperitivo or a dinner at the hotel, or a full day ticket at the SPA of the hotel. Just note that rates are in line with the standards of the hotel: fair enough.

Discover your on-the-road side through a drive from Como on the "west Coast" of the lake, again across Cernobbio, Moltrasio, Carate, Laglio, up to Brienno and beyond, until you reach Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo: this amazing Villa hosts one of the biggest botanic garden in Europe, right above the lake. The only replica in existence of the worldwide famous Canova's "amore e psiche" statue is visible in the main hall. On your way up alongside the lake, remember to stick to the old road "Strada Regina Vecchia", a way more romantic than the faster highway uphill, the "Strada Regina Nuova".

For a day/ afternoon in a SPA, choose the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, just next to Villa Carlotta; pool and hot tub right above the lake are nothing less than magic!  It's a 5-stars hotel, but an entrance to the SPA is definitely affordable and that's enough to switch off your brain for a couple of hours. If you're fancy an unforgettable luxury experience, you can also head to the lake east coast, opposite to Cernobbio, at Casta Diva, a 7-stars resort in Blevio.

But, if you are fed up with the grandiose athmosphere of 5-stars hotel, I recommend you spend at least a night at the B&B Gardenia, a glamorous villa located 8-km inland from Como downtown, just recently turned into a guesthouse with spectacular good taste. 

A very good alternative, or simply a second step on your way up north ("alto Lago", locals say), is a visit to Villa Balbianello in Lenno. It has been refurbished by the Italian Environment Protection Fund and I do think that is one of the most beautiful villas in Italy. The holders of the Villa, often booked for international events and weddings, are organizing various events to let any joiners enjoy the stunning view on the lake, among which I would recommend the lakeside concerts normally taking place in August every year.

if you or your partner are into sailing or surfing, you'll need to go to the top north of the lake, in Gera Lario. That' a good excuse for a lunch break at la Tirlindana, in Sala Comacina, just opposite to the Isola Comacina, the only island on Lake Como. The restaurant on the island is definitely touristic, and food quality is not the best you can come across. However, the atmosphere is unique and if you have kids, let let enjoy the owner's storytelling talent: they will shortly know everything about the Ghost living on the Island! Over summer time, on June 24th, if you are lucky enough you can find a boat to rent and head to the Island to enjoy the most important fireworks show of the year, celebrating San Giovanni.

Depending by your mood, you could decide to drop your surf-mates in Gera and keep driving north, where the Alps will ask you to challenge their sides. Let's drift on a couple of hairpins and in an hour or so you will find yourself in some of the most well known ski locations of northern Lombardy.

It may look like Como is all about villas and luxury. I don't really think it is. It is also about culture, sports, nature and, scratching the surface, fun.

The day after, in fact, you can climb the East coast. Roads are tiny and maybe darker than the ones on Cernobbio's side, but at least as funny to test your driving skills. After a worth-to-be-done visit to Bellagio (yes, you are definitely going there, aren't you?) if it is not too hot you can go to Chalet Gabriele, a traditional restaurant of heavy, winter-specific :-) Lombardy cuisine including good polenta and dear or pork meat.

A good alternative to the lake tourism is hiking or trekking on the mountains just above the lake: take a guide to the Sentiero d'Italia (Italy's walk) and start walking from the Mount Bisbino, above Cernobbio. The legend says that you can walk throughout all Italy without leaving that road :-). You can also drive up from Como to Brunate and have a nice walk there, too

Back in Como for a breakfast the day after, don't miss, for any reasons, to stop by at pasticceria Monello in via Manzoni, owned and operated by real Sicilians for crazily good pastries and cannoli.

Italian traditions include a drink before dinner, a classic aperitivo. The best one in town is in Como downtown at Pane e Tulipani.

Generally, there are no special restaurants in the Como area, with probably one unique exception: the the Cantuccio, in the old town of Albavilla, 15 mins drive from Como downtown. Staying downtown Como though, you can head to the Sociale, close to the city theater, or find a good pizza at Riva Cafè, between piazza Volta and the lake side. La Cucina di Elsa in Piazza Volta and the Marketplace are hot spots for quality seafood. The Cantina Frasca in Cernobbio is also very good, with fairly high quality traditional food and a very friendly atmosphere, but don't expect lake view! For a fair-enough trade off between food quality and lake view, go to Crotto dei Platani in Brienno, 20 mins away from Como still along the Lake west coast where Cernobbio is.

If it happens you find yourself in Como around end of May / beginning of June with your classic lady, let's ping me and we can join together the "Giro Notturno del Lario" (Lake Como night ride), the local classic car competition bringing you all around the lake, on a 160 KMs track divided in several stages and tests disseminated along the whole circuit. More to come in the next posts on this topic!


Monday, 9 January 2012

The trick to make this blog a cool place to visit on the Internet: you

Ladies and Gentlemen, I think I finally decided how I can turn this blog into a proper speakers' corner, as it was in my plans since the beginning.

My simple idea would be to talk more and more about people rather than sticking to events reports: ideally, I would like this little spot to become a nice place on the Internet where everyone can explain how (s)he interacts with the classic cars world. Obviously, some high-profile and under-the-spotlight events like Silverstone Classics or Goodwood will always have visibility here, I just cannot avoid talking about them!

If you are a collector, I would like you to tell me how you chose, bought or restored your car, how you found it, or made it shine again after years of storage at granpa's garage.

Or maybe, your passion has even become a profession: hence, why don't you tell us your story? How you achieved your dream, quit your desk at local Bank and started taking pictures, drawing, writing, or selling and restoring (GB, preferably) cars.

Anyone interested to be the first? a quick & written interview, some pics or videos at your choice and voila, we'll get started! come on, show off a bit :-)

You can find me at brit.gasoline@yahoo.com

Thursday, 5 January 2012

an unknown gem in the Italian classic car racing panorama

Do you want to try something really different? the Bergamo Historic Grand Prix is the answer. I am not a recurring participant yet (I first joined this incredible event only in 2010), I unfortunately missed the 2011 edition, but I still have those days in my mind as it was yesterday and they will hardly blow away. The Bergamo Historic Grand Prix (BHGP) is a proper racing event, not the usual - boring  - parade of ancient supercars. And, on top of everything else, it is run in Bergamo old town, all around the historic wall of the city in an unbelievable scenario. BHGP is a recurring event and it will take place again in May 2012: some of the most important Gentlemen drivers from all over the World are confirming their presence for the 2012 edition which is going to be memorable. They are coming over in this tiny, medieval location in northern Italy with a tangible, increasing enthusiasm to race their pre-1970, sometimes multi-million cars and enjoy the unique taste of a GP that - as Simone, the organizer, loves to say - "would still be part of the F1 World Championship  today, as it was back in 1935, if only it was not just a couple of yards shorter than the minimum lenght required by the F1 Regulation". Well, fair enough: I am pretty sure the crowd who attends the historical GP would in large majority not prefer to watch modern F1 cars rather than the spectacular Lister, XK 120 OTS, Lotus 11, Porsche 904, Ferrari Daytona (ex Steve Mc Queen) that were shown in most of the Editions. If you read Italian, take anyway a look at the romantic history of the GP, from its glorious time to the years of silence, until the exhausts came back in Bergamo in 2004.

When I raced there in 2010, I brought my Jag E Type V12 and, gosh, that was hard, that was an experience! Gentlemen drivers are not there to sit on their... hands; they are definitely willing to test the performance of their jewels. So much that I had to constantly look around during the 2 manches to avoid blocking or slowing down a former F1 car or a Lancia Stratos ex-Works! any fear to damage by mistake those milestones of the automotive history? oh, yes-sir.

My personal best-in-show, just in case you want to know, was the fantastic, perfectly restored, Healey Silverstone owned by Mr. Gagliotto: never seen a better one in my life.

Finally, please let me say that the spirit of the event is inspired by fun, friendship, passion. You can feel that drivers want to show off their skills a bit, ok, but there it is most of all an extremely pleasant chance to meet up with passionate people from all over the Globe, talk about cars, and enjoy time altogether.

If you are considering to join the GP on May 27, 2012, maybe you'll be convinced either by the interactive contents of the BHGP Home Page, or by the pics and videos posted on the official BHGP Facebook Page that I am managing along with the organizers. I can't wait to be back in Bergamo!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Italian classic cars shows in early 2012

Gentlemen, are you planning a trip to the Land of sunshine? if you are, then you'd better think about February. While there is always a chance to take a little break to head to Rome, Venice or Florence and take loads of pictures of Italian pieces of classic art, there are a few occasions to enjoy the Italian genuine passion for oldtimers. But, this is not the case in February: Make Automotoretro (February 10, 11 and 12) in Turin and Autoclassica (17, 18 and 19) in Milan your destinations and satisfy your appetite of Italian taste. Alright, it is maybe not that easy to convince your wife, spouse, girlfriend, lover to spend some days in Italy on February, a little bit too early to enjoy sunshine and seaside. However, this is a great time for skying on the Alps, and the Turin surroundings will not disappoint you from this perspective. Until January 29th, you will even be still on time to visit the exhibition dedicated to Leonardo (life & works, including the auto-portrait) at the Venaria Reale, a deliciously refurbished, fantastic location near Turin, which is definitely worth a visit. In Milan, you may take a few hours to visit the recently renewed Museo del 900, where the italian art masterpieces of last century are stored in a permanent collection.

Back to the engines, Automotoretro in Turin is a well established exhibition, attracting lots of tourists and collectors. However, should I pick only one of the 2, I would go in Milan, trying to attend (rectius, be invited to) the thrillling RM auction, showing up at the parade of the Concours d'elegance, or supporting any driver at the adrenalinic Alfa Romeo GTA tracking competition.

Enjoy Italy, enjoy these early-2012 classic cars happenings

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

looking for a 250k EUR car?

My first post in English is dedicated to a friend of mine, a wealth management advisor who has been luckily instructed to look for a "rare and powerful sport coupe from the 50s / 60s" for a client of his Firm. Budget? quite an incredible range at least for my pockets, merely "fair enough" for my dreams: 250-400k USD.

Well, he reached out to me knowing I am a passionate and a little collector, looking for any tips to start the research. How cool is his job? I started elaborating some thoughts on this & I am reporting them below for you. Enjoy, and feel free to disagree or challenge my conclusions :-).

First of all, I think the choice should be really linked to the style and taste of the buyer. I had no other indications than the ones relating to the budget, which sounds extremely weird to me, having to deal with with a collector ready to put 400 k USD on the table. So, first of all, I would determine what kind of car the investor wants: a car to shock others? a fast vehicle? a car good as an investment, and so on and so forth.

Anyway, in my opinion a good investment around that quotation should be undoubtedly a car eligible to the 1000 Miglia and the other most important races in the world: then, you shouldn't be looking around for a car manufactured after 1957.

If you want to stay on a rare (one-off!) Ferrari, there is an interesting Scaglietti advertised on a French site:

An absolute find and a super investment, maybe slightly above the said budget would be a Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada.

Or, "Powerful" cars may stand for "track/racing" cars, then some ex-works would really make the difference to surprise external observer: think about a Lancia 037 or a Stratos then around the price you mention.

Back to my passion - Her Royal Majesty cars - an evergreen, good for investment and - despite the average price - an "entry level" car (as it is not super rare) for those rich collectors who want to get closer to this world, is an Aston Martin from the DB series, likely a 2/4 as it is a pure icon. Talking about british Icons, a Jag e-Type lightweight may cost less than the given budget, it's rare and extremely powerful and pleasant to drive. As investment, and as an absolute piece of art and design, would be an Healey Silverstone (fits budegt and description: late 40s, fast, luxurious, rare, charming).

For that price, if one is not looking for a single investment, there could be a good chance to think about building up a little collection of rare, stilish, and surprisingly funny cars. Among Italian cars, I would go for a  Lancia Flaminia Zagato (around 80k), an Aurelia B20 GT (good for the Mille Miglia if pre-'57, same price) and I would spice it up with a British touch: an iconinc e-Type or a Jag XK120 OTS. I am sure I would then stuck in the GB for a Lotus Elite S1 (60k Eur), a TVR Griffith (80k Eur), a Lotus 11, 15 or 23 (each and every one of them around 100k EUR. 

So, folks: if you are hanging around, desperately looking to spend a couple of hundred thousands dollars (or other currency of your choice), enjoy your research, I would love to be crowling around for a similar task! (or even be the buyer: unlikely to happen :-)

sotto il materasso, sui mercati o in una storica?

In tempo di crisi, si consolida il fenomeno dell'investimento in un'auto d'epoca, considerato sicuro rispetto alla volatilità dei mercati finanziari.Già il Telegraph ne parlava nel 2010, e molti siti di settore ritornano oggi sul punto. Classic Cars For Sale ha addirittura un digest settimanale che parla dei trend di vendita. Cominciano infine a proliferare i siti di concessionari che, cercando di ricavarsi una nicchia fra gli spietati concorrenti, si propongono come advisor piuttosto che come qualificati restauratori.

Alcune considerazioni su questo fenomeno sono condivisibili, qualche altra meno e altre, a parer mio, non sono state approfondite a sufficienza. Ecco i miei "two cents" sul punto, dalla prospettiva dell'appassionato.

Innanzitutto evitiamo le sentenze che considerano il mondo del collezionismo spacciato proprio in considerazione dell'afflusso nel mondo delle auto di capitali una volta investiti sui mercati finanziari o nell'arte. Non serve essere un esperto per capire che in realtà il mondo delle auto storiche e da collezione è destinato per sua stessa natura all'estinzione, a prescindere dalle future dinamiche di circolazione dei pezzi e del capitale.

Dagli anni '80, infatti, il mondo dell'auto vive sulla produzione di massa, sulla crescita e sulle economie di scala ed i maggiori produttori oggi sostengono che servano almeno 5 milioni di veicoli all'anno su scala globale per sostenere i costi d'impresa. Da qui, le inevitabili concentrazioni aziendali e la sparizione di attori non competitivi, vedi, da ultimo, Saab. Il mondo dell'auto d'epoca si è dunque fermato intorno agli anni 70, ed i collezionisti devono giocare con quanto presente sul piatto a quella data. Le auto successive raggiungeranno i 20 o i 30 anni necessari a diventare una storica, ma non saranno rare, non saranno altrettanto appetibili. Le serie limitate avranno il loro mercato, ma difficilmente lo stesso fascino.

Dunque la scarsità di risorse e lo stallo del mercato, che non puo' per sua stessa natura produrre nuovi pezzi destinati a diventare "da collezione", fanno il prezzo ed avvantaggiano in ultima istanza chi ha maggiore capacità di spesa. Ma stiamo davvero parlando degli investitori? La speculazione e la paura dei mercati è davvero un elemento chiave in questo mondo? A parer mio, no. Piuttosto, risulta fondamentale la diffusione di questa passione nella classe medio-alta, il proliferare di esercenti di settore (restauratori o presunti tali, commercianti professionali, noleggiatori, creatori di eventi) e la globalizzazione della domanda.

Il fenomeno della distrazione dai mercati di capitali investiti sulle auto d'epoca interessa primariamente chi gestisce i grandi patrimoni. Si tratta di chi partecipa alle aste di Bonhams, di RM e compagnia cantando. L'impato è minimo, a parer mio, sul mercato delle "medie", quelle auto, per intenderci, che viaggiano su una quotazione compresa nel ventaglio fra 25.000 e 50.000 Euro e che infatti vivono su valutazioni costanti.

Qualcuno potrebbe obbiettare che le valutazioni di auto tradizionalmente di successo, come la MGA, sono in realtà aumentate di circa il 20-25% in 5 anni (una spider si comprava con 18-20.000 Eur nel 2005, oggi non si compra con meno di 25), ma quasi nessuno considera gli inevitabili costi di manutenzione. Un'auto non è un quadro ed ha bisogno di cure, di costi annui, di interventi di restauro che diventano sempre piu' cari e sempre pi' insidiosi. Un restauro di una MGA, nazional-popolare anche in merito alla ampia disponibilità di ricambi, oggi puo' facilmente doppiare la boa del costo di acquisto; è altrettanto complesso individuare un restauratore, un carrozziere ed un meccanico competente, fra i mille "esperti" o presunti tali, che lavori su preventivi accettabili e che non vanifichi la spesa con la propria incompetenza; Se ci si affida a chi esperto e professionista affermato lo è davvero, e con merito (la cui opera - ben inteso - determina anche il consolidamento della valutazione dell'auto, come Borghi a Milano per le Inglesi), allora bisogna prepararsi a pagarli a tariffe orarie vicine a quelle di un medico. Il trend di crescita nelle valutazioni va dunque decisamente ridimensionato.

Sarà, invece, il mercato delle inarrivabili ad essere sempre piu' inaccessibile, ma chi non ha un patrimonio davvero ingente non ne faccia un cruccio: si tratta, in modo del tutto simile al passato, di un discorso riservato a pochi eletti. Forse gli unici a subirne le conseguenze saranno coloro che fino a 10 anni fa potevano aspirare all'acquisto di un pezzo pregiatissimo, del valore di qualche centinaio di milioni di Lire, ma ora dovranno rinunciare, stretti nella morsa di un mercato allargato alle tasche delle elite straniere. Un esempio? Prendiamo una Ferrari 275 GTB/2: circa 10 anni fa costava intorno ai 150.000 Euro, ora viaggia costantemente sopra il mezzo milione di Euro.

I nuovi investitori, dunque, allargano semplicemente la forbice, disegnando un solco sempre piu' profondo fra i sogni, che per molti diventeranno sempre piu' lontani, e la realtà. Annullano, di fatto, quella che potrebbe essere definita come la classe media, la borghesia delle auto storiche.

L'unico altro riverbero che noto è la lievitazione dei prezzi d'ingresso a questo mondo, che ha un impatto sulle piccole auto entry level. Dimenticatevi, o voi ch'entrate, di possedere una Rover Mini Cooper o una Fiat 500 per 1000 Euro: dovrete sborsarne almeno 5000 per evitare brutte sorprese. Anche qui, nessun dramma: c'è certamente piu' richiesta di piccole auto Inglesi e Italiane soprattutto all'estero, ma non è una questione legata agli investimenti, quanto alla globalizzazione della domanda ed alla scarsità dei pezzi in commercio, come già detto.