Words & pictures: Nathan Chadwick
A feast of Italian motoring was served up under sunny English skies as the annual Festival Italia took over Brands Hatch in Kent, with everything from Fiats to Ferraris and from Lancias to Lamborghinis, and everything in between on show. The on-track action saw races from the Pirelli Ferrari Formula Classic and HRDC Classic Alfa Challenge, and on-track displays from historic Abarths and classic Formula One cars, including an ex-Michael Schumacher 1992 Benetton B192 and an ex-Riccardo Patrese 1990 Benetton B190.
Clubs representing Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Abarth, Fiat, Lamborghini and more brought along sizeable contingents of cars, with around 750 lining the side of the track. We’ve put together a few slides of some of the highlights.
The Ferrari Owners’ Club of Great Britain brought out a varied selection of new and modern classic Maranello machines. While there were a plethora of 430s, 458s, 488s and 360s, F355s were notable by their absence. Flat-12 gems in the form of three 512TRs and a couple of Testarossas, plus a 512BB, were hard to ignore, though a brace of 360 Challenges fought for attention. Elsewhere, an SF90 without the rhinoplasty-style nose colouring looked seductive and a one-of-799 Ferrari F12tdf stuck out in the Drivers Union section of the show. Other highlights included a 550 Maranello in a rare metallic green, plus a one-of-499 F430 Spider 16M.
The Alfa Romeo Owners Club usually brings along a big selection, and this year was no different. The pick of the more modern cars was a fight between the 8C Spider and the Giulia GTAm, while those of a more classic persuasion could choose between the curves of a Giulietta Spider or the controversial SZ.
The HRDC’s Classic Alfa Challenge brings a wide variety of cars, from Giulia GTAms to Alfasuds, though our favourites included the 1969 1750 Spider belonging to Antony Ross and the South African-built Giulietta TI that started life as a runaround for the family, before being turned into a racing car in the 1970s. After a spell in storage it continued racing throughout the 1980s, notching spa Pre-57 CSCC championship in 1989. It was brought back to life in the mid-2000s and went on to win historic racing across Europe, and is known via his Instagram name, RogerTheAlfa.
Looking stunning in matching colours were the GTV 2000 and Giulietta run by Alex Jupe Motorsport for clients. “The Giulietta was a racing car in the 1990s, but was then bought by a guy who wanted to use it for track days,” said Alex. “That never happened. We got hold of it in the winter of 2020 and 2021, and prepped it again. The GTV was built up as a racing car for a client, and the livery is derived from a GTV raced in those colours in 1976; they also had the livery on Giuliettas of the same era.”
Other highlights included an early De Tomaso Pantera and a pale blue Maserati Indy, one of two in attendance. Three Lancia Delta Evo models turned up, plus a Fulvia Zagato and a Beta Coupé Volumex, while a colourful display of Lamborghinis (is there any other kind) had two great highlights from two vastly different eras. In the orange corner was a Murciélago SV, while in the yellow was a one-of-40-in-RHD Lamborghini Urraco P250S.
The Italicarclub brought along a fine selection of special-bodied Fiat/Abarth machines, including an 850 Sport, 750 Zagato, Monomille and an Abarth-Simca 1300 GT Longnose, among many others, though the crisp blue Fiat Dino Coupe lurking in the preparation area was a highlight.
More details on Festival Italia can be found here.
Spare a thought for the owners of these Ferraris – sometimes the best view of the track isn’t always the best view…