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May 23rd 2007

(Picture by Stuart Pugh)

Story by Paul G. Hanmore

Scroll down for photo gallery.

April 28th, 2007 The Bristol Italian Auto Moto Festival, now in its fifth year, has now grown to be the greatest free celebration of Italian vehicles on two and four wheels in the United Kingdom. The organizers knew we were in for a good day when the event was mentioned on the Friday 27th BBC's tea time Points West programme by the weather man, who promised us extremely favourable meteorological conditions. As the small but enthusiastic band of AROC marshals gathered in the early morning sunshine the omens were good.

Our anticipation rose as 213 cars and over 150 two wheelers streamed into the historic heart of Bristol. The entries came from as far distant as Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium and northern England. Italian music sang out over the public address system, aided by the warm sunshine, endowing the metropolis with cosmopolitan and Neapolitan overtones.

Bristolians and visitors from far and wide turned out in their hoards to mix with the enthusiastic vehicle owners and share this celebration of superb style and engineering.

The streets were blessed with an abundance of Alfas, Ferraris, Lancias, Maseratis, Fiats and Lamborghinis plus a Pagani Zonda, a Stabilimenti Farina Jupiter and a copious selection from the De Tomaso Drivers Club, who were opening the celebrations of their 25th anniversary year. We celebrated our Festival's fifth year by nominating Alfa Romeo as the 'Featured Marque,' which was entirely appropriate since the oldest entry was from Festival regular, Mike Hirst with his appealing 1929 6c 1750 SS and the newest was the latest 2007 model Spider exhibited by the Bristol Alfa Romeo specialists; Alfa Net.

The abundance of amazing Alfa Romeos spanning nine decades of motoring history was a joy to behold. In fact, there were so many that they had to be displayed in themed zones. Modern GTVs and Spiders in one street, earlier generations of Spiders from Giuliettas and Duettos through to S4s in another and Giulias, Giuliettas, SZs, RZs and examples of just about every other model imported since WW11 were liberally spread throughout the heart of the 'Old City.' The 'Featured Marque' display included highly notable Alfa Romeos such as Chris Savill's beguiling Giulia Nuova Super, Franco Macri's pretty Junior Zagato, James Wheeler's recently acquired Matta, Tony Stephens's fascinating Ambulanza, Mark Reynolds's stunningly enhanced V6 Spider, Stuart Pugh's immaculate 156 GTA, Andrew McInerney's sparkling E30 SZ, Ian Williams's enchanting Giulia Bertone GTA replica, Mike Hirst's wonderful 1929 6c 1750 SS, a trio of marvelous Montreals and the superbly beautiful 1900C SS by Touring 2 owned by Robbie Webb from Maidenhead, which deservedly won the 'Best Alfa.' award.

The Lancias were led by a dozen Stratos and Delta Integrale rally cars, most in classic rally livery and David Tipper's 'Best Lancia' award winning 1936 Agusta Berlina. Mike Bryant returned again with his white, ex Rod Stewart, Ferrari Testarossa and Nigel Williams's captivating 275 GTB took the 'Best Ferrari' honours in the face of stiff competition from a hoard of Dinos, Mondials, 308s, 328s, etc spanning the decades up to the present day F430s

Fiat entries reached an all time high with a variety of models ranging from the cute little 500s of the late 1950s to the Coupe Turbos of the new millennium.

The Maseratis, headed by Ray Storey's award winning Ghibli 2.8 V6 Bi-Turbo, stylishly enhanced the Neapolitan ambience of St Stephens Street. The V6 engines of the numerous 3200 and 4200 GT coupes and Spyders gave promise of a tempting automotive peep show beneath their raised bonnets, engaging the attention of all who passed by. Ian Nichols returned with his De Tomaso Pantera for its second appearance, accompanied by many other fine examples of the marque including the intriguing Guara, recipient of the 'Best De Tomaso' accolade. The trio of mouth watering Lamborghinis maintained all who beheld them in constant admiration. The Countach of Ian and Tracey Wilding eventually holding sway with the judges.

Two-wheeled entries generously flowed form the MV Agusta, Ducati, Laverda, Moto Guzzi, Benelli Aprilia, Morini and Gilera owners clubs. This year the Ducati Desmo Owners Club had arranged a 'Ride In' from the Easton-In-Gordano services on the M5. The route included Brunel's famed Clifton Suspension Bridge and swept along the Hotwells Road, past his equally magnificent SS Great Britain; in dry dock beside the historic Floating Harbour and on, into 'The Centre,' the City's focal point, adorned with decorative fountains. Shoppers and tourists stood in shock and awe as a hundred motorcycles thundered by in over-powering waves.

The Bristol Mods classic Italian Scooter club once again enthusiastically supported the proceedings with their glamorous and colourful machines. Many of the owners had dressed the part in mod sixties apparel, lending a unique character to their display.

For the second year in succession we were again delighted by a visit from the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Bristol; who inspected many of the displays and were greatly impressed by the diversity of the vehicles and the enthusiasm of their owners. The “Ladies and Gentlemen; start your engines” feature, was also much appreciated twice during the day by the crowds, who had the opportunity to hear what the fantastic cars and bikes sound like when the owners have the opportunity let their engines sing.

My heartfelt commiserations go out to the caller who left a message on my mobile phone early in the morning. "Sorry, can't make it. My engine has self-destructed on the M4. Lots of oil and smoke" . And the caller to my home on Sunday morning;
"Hi, what's going on in Bristol today?"
"Er, nothing, it was yesterday,"
"Oh, that explains it…..."
A bit strange, I thought. Next day I received an Email. "You gave me entry number 13. I hoped it wouldn't bring me bad luck so I drove very carefully to Bristol, keeping an eye on the engine temperature and oil light. I left early and arrived with plenty of time to spare, only to find nobody else there. Only then did I find that I should have been there the day before. Please don't give me number 13 again!"
I remembered that I had jokingly written "Sorry" after his number 13 since, in the words of the late Howlin' Wolf: "I aint superstitious…" so I was rather saddened that I may have brought bad luck to this unfortunate soul. Oh, well. In the interests of consistent numbering and good fortune to all Festival entrants, I shall be number 13 in future because as John Lee Hooker sang "They call me Mr Lucky, bad luck can do me no harm."

Grateful thanks must go to Bristol City Council's Markets Division, for their support, help and advice. We are also indebted to the numerous members of the AROC Gloucester & South Section who, together with volunteers from the Bristol & West and sections further a-field, gave essential marshalling support to ensure the success of the Festival.

Giulietta Sprints in St Stephen's Avenue.(Picture by Paul Hanmore)

Mike Hirst's 1929 Alfa Romeo 6c 1750 SS and Robbie Webb's 1900C SS by Touring. (Picture by Paul Hanmore)

Lashings of Lancias in Corn Street. (Picture by Andy Keedwell)

A taste of Italy in St Stephen's Street, Bristol. (Picture by Andy Keedwell)

Bikes and the Riders Ducati stand in Clare Street. (Picture by Paul Hanmore)

Bikes in Clare Street. (Picture by Paul Hanmore)

James Wheeler's Matta and Tony Stephens's Ambulanza. (Picture by Paul Hanmore)

Ian Williams's Giulia Bertoni GTA replica and Stuart Pugh's 156 GTA on Corn Street, outside a pub named after the famous Bristolian who set foot on the American mainland before Christopher Columbus. (Picture by Stuart Pugh)

Bristol's Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress with Jo Hirst and Mike Hirst's 1929 Alfa Romeo 6c 1750 SS. (Picture by Paul Hanmore)

Alfa Romeo Montreals in Corn Street. (Photo by Nigel S. Dobbie)

De Tomasos in Corn Street. (Picture by Paul Hanmore)

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Classic Adelaide 2007

Mugello 2007 Part 2

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Mugello 2007

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