The annual Auto e Moto d’Epoca (vintage cars and bikes) in Padua, Italy, is billed as the largest classic car market in Europe. It features 11 pavilions filled to the brim with vintage car dealers, clubs, manufacturers, an auction, as well as all manner of private sellers and vendors.
The cars themselves are spread across the expansive grounds, and with roughly 1,600 exhibitors and 5,000 cars on display, you’re never going to see it all. We put on our hiking shoes and explored the event to find 10 of the finest Italian and Italian-themed cars on display.
Lancia Delta Integrale ‘Safari Rally’
For rally enthusiasts, it doesn’t get much better than a Martini-liveried Lancia Delta. There were quite a few at the event and one of the best examples was displayed by the Lancia Heritage department. Still showing its battle scars, this was the very car driven to victory in the grueling Safari Rally in 1988 by Miki Biasion. It was Lancia’s ever first win in the event after 10 unsuccessful attempts.
Aston Martin DB4 GT ‘Continuation’
The past few years have seen several high-end manufacturers moving into new niche markets by building reproduction versions of their most iconic cars. Among them is Aston Martin, who kicked off its continuation program with a run of 25 DB4 GTs. The cars are built to the exact same specifications as the originals, which featured bodies by Touring of Milan. As the example at Auto e Moto proved, it is virtually impossible to distinguish the old from the new.
Porsche 356 Carrera Zagato
In a similar vein, Italian design house and coach builder Zagato has revived a design of the past in the form of a small run of nine Porsche 356 Carrera based coupes. The cars were built using drawings from 1959 of a car that may have been built but certainly has been lost. Accordingly, the intriguing project was dubbed the “Sanction Lost” project. All nine cars were quickly sold and the one here was shown on the Zagato Club stand.
Peugeot Tipo 3
Completed in 1892, this Peugeot features a German Daimler engine. Although it has no Italian components, this particular car was the very first ever registered for road use in Italy. Chassis No. 25 was ordered new by wealthy businessman Gaetano Rossi. He took delivery of the single cylinder engined machine on January 2, 1893, introducing the motor car to Italy. The rest, as they say, is history! Recently restored for the museum that owns it by Peugeot Italy, it is in fully functional condition.
March 90CA Alfa Romeo Indy
One of the European manufacturers to campaign in Indy car racing in the late 1980s was Alfa Romeo, who had turned its back on Formula 1 (it recently returned as an F1 sponsor). Considering the racing successes of the Italian manufacturer in the past, the Alfa Romeo V-8-engined Marches were highly anticipated. Unfortunately the expectations were never met, and after the 1990 season Alfa Romeo withdrew the effort. This is one of the three cars used during Alfa’s final year in the CART PPG Indy Car World Series.
Subaru Leone RX Turbo
One car we had originally walked by was this Subaru Leone RX Turbo. Prepared for rally racing, it was campaigned in the Ivory Coast and Safari rallies from 1982 to 1986 with little luck. But what piqued our Italian interest when we gave it a second look was that this car was the first ever Subaru delivered to Italy. The ex-Alessandro Molino Leone RX Turbo was beautifully presented with many mementos from its rally career.
Ferrari 250 GT Coupe
Headlining the Bonhams auction was a superb example of the Ferrari 250 GT Coupe. Built in the late 1950s, this understated but very attractive machine shared many components with Ferrari’s competition cars. This has also been its undoing as several of them were converted into replicas of the race cars. They are now collectibles in their own right as is underlined by the example on offer, which was estimated to sell for more than $600,000.
During the 1950s there were a number of small Italian manufacturers building compact sports cars, usually powered by a Fiat-based four-cylinder engine. These are lovingly referred to as Etceterinis and there were a remarkable number of them on display. Some are more familiar like O.S.C.A. and Stanguellini but there were also rarer machines spread across the grounds including an Ermini and a Giannini. You see the nickname was well chosen!
Cisitalia 202 SC
When the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York held an exhibit featuring automobile design in 1951, one of the eight cars featured was the Cisitalia 202 SC Coupe. Its Pinin Farina-penned lines earned it a spot amongst much more prestigious and better known cars. The 202 SC is still part of MOMA’s permanent display but a sister car was shown with great pride here in Padua.
Austrian-born Carlo Abarth was a renowned engine tuner who primarily specialized in selling exhaust and intake kits designed to make standard cars go faster. He also dabbled in making cars of his own and the 207A Barchettas were among his first. Just 10 were built in 1955 and they featured a lovely body designed and built by Boano. Naturally, the Abarth exhaust system was prominently displayed on the right flank of the 207A.