Top 20 Italian Cars at Concorso Italiano 2021

Top 20 Italian Cars at Concorso Italiano 2021


Concorso Italiano is a big celebration of all the best cars from Italy. While it got a little too big for a while there, it has had a new corner of the Blackhorse Golf Course on Fort Ord for a couple years now and it seems to have settled in nicely. The car count went from over 1000 (mostly F355s) to right around 550 or 560 cars. That may still sound like a lot, but remember that any one of these cars would make you stop on the street of Your Town USA and gawk.

“I like it better,” said Concorso capo Tom McDowell. “It’s easier to manage the size, much easier to manage at a smaller size. We’re always striving to get the best cars there and have some engaging celebrations.”

This year there were anniversaries for the Countach, Bora, and Pantera, all 50 years young, as well as the 31st anniversary (there was no show last year, remember) of the Diablo. Next year will be even better, McDowell promises.

“We’re going to be celebrating an Italian designer,” he said.

It’s too soon to announce which Italian designer, but we have a year to guess. Now get going on that project car!

The Fiat 850 Familiale minivan was designed as the successor to the cute-and-popular original Multipla. It looks a little like a Ford Econoline van of the era, doesn’t it? It seats seven, same as modern-day minivans, but manages a little character doing it.

1939 Fiat Balilla Millicento C was built just before WWII. It has valve-in-head engine design, and B-pillarless doors, years before the Lancia Appia had them. It seats five. Looks comfortable.

Here’s the Balilla’s interior. Note the “violin” case on the seat.

The Pantera originally sold in the US for around $11,000. An Italian exotic with meaty American V8 power, it was, for many, irresistible. Still is, for many. Featuring your choice of a Ford 302, or 351 Cleveland or Windsor engine, power was an also-meaty 330 hp, more than enough to move the just-over-3000-pound two-seater to 60 in 5.5 seconds, according to our colleagues at Car and Driver in 1971. You can find good examples for under $100,000

This much chrome must at least double the Pantera’s curb weight.

There have been tributes to the Giotto Bizzarrini Breadvan Ferrari before. The original was built on a 1961 250 GT SWB but heavily modified—including the aerodynamic bodywork you see here—in order to to beat Ferrari at Le Mans. That original Breadvan DNFd at Le Sarthe but got class wins at other races. I didn’t find the owner of this one to get details on its construction, but it does look cool.

After the 1971 model year, Lancia dropped the Flavia name and just made these, the Lancia 2000, from 1971 to 1975. Later, in 2011 in Europe, Fiat tried to sell Chrysler 200s under the Flavia name but it was seen as blasphemous and they were all mysteriously struck by lightning. Okay, maybe not but they should have been. These, however, look downright stately.

This one is different than the one above. It’s a 1971 Lancia Flavia 2000 Pininfarina Coupe, one of 10 known to exist in the US. Its front wheels are powered by a 1991-cc flat four that its owner says makes “an intoxicating, raspy exhaust note.”

This particular 1960 Lancia Appia was found in a field by a police officer looking for a murder suspect. True story. Its subsequent restoration was thorough and meticulous. The Appia has a V4, four-in-the-tree manual transmission and rear suicide doors that open to reveal that the car has no B-pillar. It may be the cutest car ever made, but it has wonderfully balanced manners when driven.

Laura Byrd’s 1927 Lancia Lambda Airway sports custom bodywork meant to evoke advances in aviation of the time. The Byrd family has been bringing Lancias to car shows for many years.

The Alfa Romeo Montreal celebrated its 50th anniversary last year but since there was no Concorso last year they celebrated this year instead. The car got its name after its concept version debuted at the Montreal Expo in 1967. The production car had a 197-hp V8 good for 0-60 mph in right around seven seconds and a top speed of 137 mph. Not bad for 50 years ago.

Power in the Alfa Romeo 2600 Touring Spider came from an alloy 2.6-liter dual overhead cam straight-six with three carbs making 145 hp. The stickers on the back of this one are from a rally called the California Melee, designed as a more “affordable” alternative to all those more fashionable car tours with wine, cheese, and Bugattis. But the 2600 could probably roll with all those fancier cars nessun problema.

Here’s another Alfa Romeo 2600 Touring Spider, this one in a little bit better-than-Melee shape. It was found by its owner in a repair shop, “motor apart and missing parts, sitting for seven years.” So the owner found parts all over the world, manufactured parts when he couldn’t find them, repaired the rust and painted the paint. It took three years to rebuild the engine. The result is a beautiful and rare car that looks like it’d be a joy to drive.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Sprint Speciale may look like a concept car, but it was in full production from 1959 to ’66. The first cars got 1.3-liter fours while later Sprints Speciale got 1.6-liters of displacement. It remains a stunning design to this day, one of Alfa’s best.

On the other end of the Alfa Romeo coupe spectrum is this. The Alfa Romeo GTV coupe was built from 1993 to 2004. It had bold styling, some might say risky styling. There was styling going on for sure with this thing. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for us, it was never imported to the US, arriving as it did after Alfa’s abrupt departure from our market. It came with a variety of engines, from a 142-hp 1.8-liter four to a 237-hp V6. It looks like it would be fun to drive. It won a number of awards in Europe in 1995, mostly for design but a few for driving pleasure. Jeremy Clarkson once called it “one of the best sport cars of its time.”

The Lamborghini Countach celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and here are two lovely examples. It’s said that the wing decreases top speed by 10 mph, and it’s not clear whether it in creases downforce by much, but most customers ordered their winged. It sure looks cool. It is truly one of the most outrageous designs ever made by the great Marcello Gandini, and its V12 power only added to its mystique.

Lamborghini Gallardo production ran for 10 years, from 2003 to 2013, and it functioned as the slightly more affordable, V10-powered alternative to the brand’s mighty V12s. There were 33 different models and special editions of the car, whatever it took to keep it fresh and keep sales going. Output of the production models ranged from 500 to 570 hp, enough to get anybody’s attention. You can find examples on the used car market for under 100 grand.

The Lamborghini Aventador took the role of V12 flagship for the brand from the then-10-year-old Murcielago in 2011 and is still going strong today. Strong like bull. Like from 690 to 770 hp. There have been 28 versions of the Aventador, if you count the special editions like the Veneno, Centenario, and Sian, as well as the three models made by outside companies that are based on the Lamborghini V12.

I think she was here last time. Not hard to guess which car she liked best.

This is GTO Engineering’s 250 TR, a meticulous take on the original car. “The team at GTO Engineering has created what they believe to be the ultimate interpretation of two legendary Sixties Ferraris,” it says. “The 250 SWB Revival and 250 TR Revival models are strictly enhanced, improved or rebuilt at the GTO Engineering UK headquarters, using the team’s extensive knowledge, know-how, historical technical drawings and industry insight.” It even has a shop in Los Angeles.

Jim Carpenter’s Italian Design and Racing etched its name on this P4-looking beauty. The replica is on consignment with them. The company is a “father and son team building custom Ferraris to customer’s spec since ’87.”

One more shot of a Pantera or, as the license plate says, “APNTRA.” Caio!

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