Our 32 Favorite Cars and Motorcycles from Auto e Moto d\u2019Epoca in Italy

Among the small handful of great car events you’ve never heard of, the annual Auto e Moto d’Epoca ranks right up there with Retromobile and Chantilly. You have to see all of them before you die. And when you go, bring a shipping container and lot of money—because you’ll want to buy everything you see.

This year was the 38th running of the Epoca, held over four days at the convention center in Padua. The grounds are sprawling, with indoor, outdoor, and temporary shelter setups to house all the cars, motorcycles, and unbelievably adorable knickknacks you’ll find, most of them for sale (saluting ESSO man? Solid gold model Vespa? String-back driving gloves in every size, shape, and color? All there!)

This year there were 1600 exhibitors spread out over 11 pavilions and a collection of 5000 cars, according to organizers.

“Sales above all expectations and satisfaction is really great,” Google Translate assures us.

“This is the most beautiful fair of the last 10 years,” said Mario Carlo Baccaglini, who organized the vintage cars and motorcycles.

Click on and see if you agree.

The first car you didn’t know you wanted is this little Fiat. Built to compete in FIA Group 4, the Barchetta Chuvolale featured a tubular steel space frame and a twin-cam water-cooled inline four-cylinder called a Tipo229A. The engine had a displacement of 1000 ccs and a compression ratio of 11.5:1, producing a maximum output of 105 hp. A five-speed Hewland gearbox made it even more engaging to drive. While made for racing, these cars can be converted for street use so you can join one of those long-distance rallies.

This is one of three racing Lancias from Italy’s Macaluso Foundation: the Beta Montecarlo, the LC1, and the LC2 you see here, all true motorsport icons of the Eighties dressed in classic Martini Racing livery. This 1983 Lancia LC2 is powered by a Ferrari V8 prepared by Abarth. It came in displacements of 2.5 or 3.0 liters and put out 680 hp, or up to 1000 hp in qualifying trim. The car only weighed 1874 pounds so you can imagine it was a fun driver. It was built to take on the reigning Porsches at the time. It won the pole at the 1000 kms of Monza and the 1000 kms of Imola its first year, won 1000 km of Spa in 1985 and got third at 1000 kms of Monza and took fourth place at the 1000 kms of Mugello the same year.

There was an entire exhibit honoring the Bertone styling house this year, with 16 prototypes in the space of the Italian Historical Automotoclub in Hall 4. “Universo Bertone”consisted of 50 years of work by the famous Turin coachbuilder, from 1967 to the second decade of the 2000s. With the exception of the iconic 1967 Lamborghini Miura S, which was produced in series, the Bertones are all unique models and concept cars: the 1972 Citroën Camargue, the 1984 Chevrolet Ramarro, the 1992 Bertone Bliz, the 2004 Aston Martin Jet2, the 2011 Jaguar B99, and this one, the 1976 Ferrari Rainbow.

The D 50 was designed by the great Vittorio Jano and driven by Fangia to the 1956 world driving championship. It had an eight-cylinder, 2488-cc engine making 260 hp at 8000 rpm. Top speed was 174 mph and it weighed just 1323 pounds. If you ever doubt the bravery of the great grand prix drivers of that era, consider that those long, tall tanks on each side were filled with gas.

The great Phil Hill drove a car just like this to the 1961 world championship. The Ferrari 156 F1 Sharknose had a 1476-cc V6 making 185 hp at 9200 rpm. Top speed was 162 mph. It weighed just 962 pounds.

The Tipo 500 was the class of the field in 1952. In fact, it was the only new car on the grid that year. Alfa Romeo had pulled out of racing and all the other entrants had wheezy, old, hopelessly slow cars. As a result, the only competitive open-wheel racing that year was being done down in Formula 2, so organizers decided to make Formula 2 the spec for 1952’s Formula 1 season. Maybe that’s a vast oversimplification. Nonetheless, the only cars Ferrari had to compete against had names long since lost to obscurity, like Connaught Lea-Francis, Frazer Nash BMW, Simca-Gordini, and Aston Butterworth.

The result, of course, was that Ferrari won everything, and Ferrari driver Alberto Ascari won the first of his back-to-back championships, all thanks to the Ferrari 500.

Another Vittorio Jano design, the 1930 Alfa Romeo P 2 won the very first race of the new Automobile World Championship in 1925. The car won two of the four championship rounds that year. Its 1987-cc eight-cylinder made 175 hp at 5500 rpm, outstanding for the era. And it weighed just 1720 pounds.

Among the thousands of items classed as “ricambi,” or “parts,” are hundreds of car models like this Maserati. The real car has a 630-hp V6, which would land you in an Italian prison molto rapido. Buy the model and you can still say you bought a Maserati at Auto e Moto, but you avoid the jail time.

Two-time world rally champion Miki Biasion introduced this limited-edition reconstruction of the great Lancia Delta Integrale rally car at Auto y Moto d’Epoca. All eight examples sold out immediately.

“Biasion recently created a very exclusive series of the Delta Integrale,” said gazetta.it. “Eight original specimens updated with modern technology and re-approved but retain all the charm of that legendary car that dominated rallies for many years. This is the Evo 3 that never reached the production stage due to unsustainable costs. Biasion took those specimens to his restoration center, Italia Motor Sport, and put them back on the road.”

Ferrari made the V12-powered supercar 330 from 1963 to 1968. All were powered by the 4.0 L Colombo V12 making around 300 hp, a lot of juice for the mid-‘60s.

In the early ‘60s, the Austin Healey 3000 GT was an incredibly popular car among both club racers and touring aficionados. It would top out at over 100 miles an hour and get to 60 in, well, in 11 seconds which, believe it or not, was quick for the day.

Clockwise from upper left: 1950 MV Augusta 500, 1951 Moto Guzzi 500 Bicilindrico GP, 1956 Gilera 500 4 Cilindri GP, 1969 MV Augusta 500 3 Cilindri GP, MV Augusta GP.

The Zundapp Janus 750 outplayed the similar Isetta by having doors front and rear.

The 1900 was made by Alfa Romeo throughout the 1950s. It had looks, style, remarkable balance, and yet still sat four or five adults inside. It remains a sought-after classic to this day.

This was designed by Sergio Pinin Farina in 1946, back in the days before he became Pininfarina. According to moma.org:

“Designed in 1946 by the Italian car designer and coach builder Pinin Farina (who later changed his name to Pininfarina), the two-seater Cisitalia ‘202’ GT was an aesthetic and technical achievement that transformed postwar automobile body design. Building on aerodynamic studies developed for racing cars, the Cisitalia offers one of the most accomplished examples of coachwork (the automobile’s body) conceived as a single shell. The hood, body, fenders, and headlights are integral to the continuously flowing surface, rather than added on. Before the Cisitalia, the prevailing approach followed by automobile designers when defining a volume and shaping the shell of an automobile was to treat each part of the body as a separate, distinct element—a box to house the passengers, another for the motor, and headlights as appendages.”

That’s kind of a best-guess, that this is a product of Carrozzeria Allemanno. The design house was around from 1928 to 1965, making bodies of its own designs as well as cars for outside manufacturers. Among its customer creations was the Ferrari 166, Alfa 2500, Lancia Aurelia, and Maserati 3500 GT and 5000 GT coupes in limited numbers.

For the record, the Fiat Barchetta came along after the Mazda Miata, but did look closer to the Mazda than anything else, even down to its 1.8-liter engine displacement. The roadster was in production from 1995 to 2006 and sold in Europe. The cars appeared courtesy of the Barchetta Club Italia.

A genuine Italian superstar, Gina Lollabrigida also had good taste in cars. The Mercedes 190 SL was the more affordable sibling to the mighty 300 SL. The 190 got a 1.9-liter four that made 120 hp to the 300 SL’s 275-hp straight-six. It made for an excellent pairing.

Most Fiat Balillas look a little homely, like detuned versions of the vehicle featured in a kid’s book called “Mr. Car Goes To Town.” But the Balilla Sport looks a little like an Alfa Romeo 8c. Most look shorter and stubbier than the angle you see on this one here. While an Aerodinamica Coupe sold for close to a half million dollars, examples like this are under six figures.

No idea what this one is but it looks like it’d be fun to run in the Mille Miglia, as someone apparently did, judging by the stickers.

The classification of this car as a 1933 MG K3 Magnette is just a guess, as no identifying info was provided with any of these photos. If correct, the car would be similar to the one with which Earl Howe won the 1933 Mille Miglia, having underwritten the car’s development to get the car built. All three of the cars financed by Howe were powered by supercharged 124-hp, 1086cc SOHC supercharged six-cylinder engine, according to silodrome.com. In the MG K3 Magnette is a single SU carburetor, four-speed manual pre-selector transmission, front semi-elliptic springs with solid axles, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. The horsepower to capacity ratio on this engine is exceedingly impressive for the era—in fact, many motorcycle manufacturers struggle to get more horsepower than this from similarly sized engines almost 80 years later.

The Fulvia Berline had a 1.3-liter 12-degree V4 engine powering its front wheels. The four-cylinder made as much as 86 hp, depending on setup. The front-wheel drive layout meant no transmission hump on the floorboards, which in turn meant more room for the occupants. While the car is small and the power isn’t massive, owners say it’s well-balanced and fun to drive.

Another Lancia with a V4, but this one driving the rear wheels through a four-on-the-tree manual. The Appia has rear suicide doors which open to reveal the lack of a B-pillar. While this one features a distracting two-tone paint job, most of them have just one color, which accentuates the car’s cuteness. Handling is among the most balanced of anything you’ll ever drive.

The Lancia Appia Convertibile, designed by Giovanni Michelotti, was introduced at the 1957 Turin Motor Show and built up to 1962, according to Wikipedia. Initially a two-seater, it was later revised to accept two rear occasional seats, thus becoming a 2+2 from the summer of 1968. All convertibles were built on an 812.01 chassis; at first based on the second series Appia platform with a 53-hp engine, upgraded in 1959 to the third series platform and 54-hp engine, and finally in 1960 to the more powerful 60-hp engine. From 1957 to 1962, 1584 convertibles were built. These go for about 10 times the sale price of the four-door Berline.

Porsche says the 356 Speedster offers “open-top driving pleasure combined with outstanding driving dynamics.” Speedster variants have been part of the Porsche company history since 1952. It was the US importer Max Hoffmann who convinced Porsche there was a market for its cars in America. He requested an inexpensive Porsche with reduced furnishings costing less than $3000. In autumn 1954, Porsche produced a significantly less expensive version than the 356 America Roadster, which included ‘Speedster’ in the model name for the first time and quickly caused a sensation in the world of motorsports. It combined the sheet steel body of the cabriolet with a raked windscreen, reduced interior equipment, and a rain top. In the US, the 356 1500 Speedster cost just $2995 and became an instant hit in the sunny coastal states.

Another pre-war roadster that ran in the Mille Miglia Storico.

Mecum auctioned one of these in Monterey in 2014: “Fiat had a long history of turning to coachbuilders for special models, and Ghia hand-built several different Jollys, almost all on Nuova 500 and 600 chassis. However, a tiny few, probably under 30, were on the forward control, microvan Multipla platform. These shared a 79-inch wheelbase with the 600, but were 10 inches longer overall, at 142 inches, allowing Ghia to create a second door opening and the fore-and-aft rear compartment unique to the Multipla Jolly. The standard Jolly wicker seats were arranged uniquely in three rows with two forward and the center row rear-facing. Much like a VW Microbus, the driver sits over the front axle and the rear engine means the back does not open.”

The only car made that was actually cuter than the Appia was the Fiat Multipla. Fiat built these original minivans from 1956 to ‘69. Microcarmuseum.com says, “In the years that followed World War II, it became obvious to Fiat management that the future lay in a small car, cheap to manufacture and cheap to buy. Chief technical designer Dante Giacosa set about finding a replacement for the 500 Topolino: Project ‘100.’ Much development and testing resulted in a shape enclosing four people with a minimum of sheet metal, powered by a simple, reliable four-cylinder engine mounted at the rear for cost reasons. The resulting Fiat 600 was one of the great success stories of the 20th century, with some 2.7 million cars produced. The mixed-use station wagon, called 600 Multipla (“All Service”), was introduced a year later, in 1956. The idea was to multiply the serviceability of the 600 for both family motoring and business use.”

When it came time to put the engine in the middle, like its race cars, Ferrari did a nearly perfect job of it. The Dino featured V6 power to make it easier to drive. The car was named after Enzo Ferrari’s son , Alfredo “Dino” Ferrari, who had passed away in 1956. The car was an immediate success, still beloved by tifosi to this day. The Dino 246 GT was an evolution of the Dino 206 GT, with a larger V6 engine and a wheelbase lengthened by 60 mm, according to Ferrari. Apart from the longer body, the design was virtually identical, with just a longer engine cover and a repositioned fuel cap. The car proved commercially very successful, and three series were produced during its life span. When production stopped in 1974, demand was still high. It lead to a long line of mid-engine road cars from the Prancing Horse, right up to the SF90 we have today.

As Italy climbed from the ruins of WWII, neither raw materials nor the money to do anything with them meant the car industry was slow to recover. Thus, the most popular Fiat in the immediate post-war timeframe was the demure and ubiquitous 500, or Cinquecento. The name referred to the displacement of the rear-mounted engine. Small but utilitarian, especially given the very limited parking in large Italian cities like Rome or Milan. The 500 lives on today.


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