italian cars

7

1985-1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale at Fuelfed Coffee and Classics in Winnetka, Illinois.

This is the street version of the famous Group B rally car.  Lancia was required to build 200 of these in order to compete.  Unlike the regular Delta, which is a rather normal 5-door hatchback, this is a 2-seat, 2-door, mid-engined monster.  Unfortunately, Group B was disbanded because the cars were deemed too dangerous.

5

1982 (approximately) Lamborghini Countach LP500 S at Fuelfed Coffee and Classics in Winnetka.

This Countach has the 375 horsepower (276 kW) 4.8 liter V12 engine.  It was capable of a top speed of 182 miles per hour (293 km/hr).  

The Countach may very well be the peak of 1970s and 80s wedge shaped car design.  No other wedge car that I’ve seen is this dramatic in person.  Like the Lamborghini Miura before it, it was designed by the very talented Marcello Gandini from Bertone.

3

My FIAT 500 Abarth.

This brutal little snarling monster provided me with some of the most fun I’ve ever had driving.  It has a turbocharged 160 horsepower (119 kW) 1.4 liter engine with a manual transmission, suspension that is quite a bit sportier than the base 500 (without being overly harsh), and a short wheelbase that makes it feel lively.

When I was in Texas, a woman in a pickup truck asked me “What’s with the FIAT?” with a confused look on her face. 

In an extremely rare clever moment, I said “I’m compensating.”

I know that’s a ridiculous thing to say, but at least I made her laugh.

6

1970-1977 Alfa Romeo Montreal at Fuelfed Coffee and Classics in Barrington, Illinois.

This car was designed by Marcello Gandini at the Italian coachbuilder Bertone.  Gandini was also responsible for the Lancia Stratos, Lamborghini Miura, Lamborghini Countach, Maserati Khamsin, and many others.  He is considered one of the best automotive designers in history.  While his later wedge-shaped cars are much more angular, the same softly flowing lines in the profile of the Montreal can be seen in the Stratos and the Countach if one looks carefully.  Compared to the wedge cars though, the Montreal is more traditionally beautiful. Fortunately, it was also given an excellent 2.6 liter V8, a five-speed gearbox, and a limited slip differential to go with its good looks.

Recently Gandini designed an attractive sports car concept for the Indian car maker, Tata.