Auto Italia – 5 star rating from NIIMC members

Auto Italia – 5 star rating from NIIMC members

The May Day Bank Holiday weekend saw a small gathering of club members embark on an early morning flight to Gatwick for the annual Auto Italia show, held at the old Brooklands circuit in Weybridge, Surrey. Once the world’s first purpose-built ‘banked’ motor circuits, and site of Britain’s biggest pre-war aircraft manufacturing arena, Brooklands now operates as an expansive museum featuring an eclectic mix of cars, bikes, buses and planes. The museum alone is well worth a visit, with exhibits including the record-breaking 24-litre Napier-Railton, (which still holds the outright lap record on the old banking of 143 mph, set in 1935!), and the first British production Concorde. Incidentally, Brooklands is key to the history of the supersonic airliner as is it not only where the interested British and French manufacturers first met to discuss the Concorde project, but was where a third of every aircraft was made.

However, aside from this, the real reason for the NIIMC being in attendance was the largest all-Italian car and bike show in the UK. As a first timer to Auto Italia, I was not sure what to expect, but it certainly did not disappoint. From Ferrari to Fiat, Lamborghini to DeTomaso, not forgetting Maserati, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and co, the show had it all, including some beautiful bikes such as the Ducati 888 Desmoquattro and MV Agusta 750S. As we wandered around the show, the shear scale became apparent. Italian exotica filled the venue as far as the eye could see.

Some highlights included the Alfa Romeo Montreal (6 in total), Giulia GTAm, Lamborghini Jalpa, two white Countach’s, a dozen Uno Turbo i.e’s, and more Abarth’s than you could shake a stick at. Some exceptionally rare cars were also in attendance including an Alfa Romeo 6C 1750GS which once raced at the circuit in period, a mid-60s Giulia Sprint Speciale and an Abarth 1000otr Bertone prototipo (never even knew it existed).

The static show was of course only part of the attraction. The test hill was open to put the vehicles through their paces on an ever-increasing gradient, whilst the neighbouring Mercedes-Benz World track hosted some demos, although Sean definitely thought the cars could have gone much harder!

The day finished with a quick nosey around the Mercedes collection, and some liquid refreshments, before dinner at a local Italian (just don’t ask about the dancing!). A good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast the next morning before our flight home, helped to round off a fantastic weekend. Now, when do next year’s tickets go on sale?


Aaron McCalmont