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Lamborghini Grande Giro - Day One

The Piazza Castello is burgeoning with Lamborghinis. Indeed, their raw screams pierce central Milan as 300 cars gather for the marque's 50th anniversary, which is being celebrated with a Grande Giro. The 350GT was created in 1963, and at least a couple of them have joined this 1200-kilometer run, which will lead to Forte del Marmi on the seacoast  then to Rome and Bologna. Joining the 350GTs are examples Lamborghini's other early landmark, the Miura, which introduced the world to the roadgoing, mid-engine supercar. Subsequent nameplates from the 1970s are represented as well: the Countach, the Urraco, and the Espada. From more recent times, a strong showing of Diablos has turned out. And contemporary rented Gallardos abound, the choice of owners who couldn't ship their cars.

Automobile Magazine has sent me to participate, and Lamborghini is providing a Gallardo for my use. The route of the Giro looks fantastic, and I can hardly wait to start tomorrow morning. But today has been a great opportunity to meet some of the others. I had breakfast with the 11 Indonesians. Their star is Yanto Widodo, reputedly Asia's leading collector of Volkswagens  (A recent feature in VW Classic attests to this status and shows his incredible garage.) His collection also includes Porsches and Lamborghinis.

The Indonesians are hiring cars, but Tristan Lewis will hold the wheel of his prized 1999 Diablo roadster. As a five-year-old, he used to call his father at work and ramble about his Matchbox Lambo. " You've really chosen well there," Lewis was told. His aspirations were met in 2005 when he bought the roadster with 2000 miles on the odometer. In the years and 13,000 additional miles since, he's found that his Diablo "holds its own with some of the newer cars in terms of presence and rarity." The car lives with him on the Isle of Jersey, which has a 40-mph speed limit, and that incongruity ought to explain why he's brought it on the Giro.

Paul Claxton, of Wellington, New Zealand, had a different idea. Like Lamborghini, Paul turns 50 this year. So he bought a '74 Urraco in England, had it mechanically refreshed, and traveled there to pick it up with his Kiwi friend Phil Johnson, of Queenstown. " We're having a bit of a midlife crisis," Phil says. "At least that's what we told our wives." They arrived in Milan just in time to join the display, and Paul says the Urraco is running strong.