Featured photo for Automezzi


“There they are,” I said to Kelly as we walked into the Automezzi Italian car extravaganza in Broomfield, Colorado. “Fix It Again, Tony.”

The FIATs, I meant. But I meant no malice by refering to their half-deserved reputation for sketchy reliability. I actually have a soft spot in my heart for these cars.

Particularly the Pininfarina-designed Fiat Spider (both the 124 and later-model 2000 sold in 1979-80). I remember being driven home by my mom from high school and looking out the window of her rolly-bowly four-door Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme each day admiring a beige Fiat Spider 2000 in the neighborhood. It was always parked in a tree-lined driveway next to the house of the man who founded California Cooler, the alcoholic beverage. I was more obsessed with the idea of a traditional two-seat British roadster such as the MGB, but the thoroughly more modern Italian sports car equivalents also registered on my radar back then. Maybe this is because they also like to mark their spot with black dino juice and have some of the only electrical systems that could rival those made by Lucas, Prince of Darkness.

Roughly 15 years after that time I finally owned a Pininfarina-designed car that parla italiano. But it was in the form of a later model (even airbag-equipped!) Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce, not the more plebeian—but just as dashing—FIAT variety. Hmmmm.

Meanwhile, Kelly seemed more intrigued by the Lamborghinis Gallardos that were already motoring out of Automezzi. We had arrived at the event rather late, you see—so tardy that even the normal $7 admission fee was being waived and donations were being accepted instead.

“My favorite car of the show,” she later proclaimed, “was the white Lamborghini Gallardo.” No argument there.

Kelly with her favorite car of the show, a white Lamborghini Gallardo.

Except that—being forever an al fresco type of guy—I’d have chosen the Spyder version:

A Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder.

But there were plenty of other machines remaining to admire: Alfas, DeTomasos, Ferraris, Maseratis, among others. I also loved the two-wheeled ilk: particularly, the Ducati 1199 Paningale and Ducati Streetfighter. Versus, say, the Lamborghinis, these dream machines are a lot more attainable—and just as quick.

Two dream bikes: Ducati 1199 Paningale and Ducati Streetfighter.

(An aside: Both the Lambos and Ducs are made by companies now owned by Audi. More reason the German company better known for its elegant design and super high quality interiors is one of my current faves.)

A few non-Italian cars were present, cast away to the back of the parking lot. This included this Porsche 911 GT3 from the early 2000s:

Kelly and Porsche 911 GT3 from the early 2000s.

Both Kelly and I emerged from the show feeling energized and thinking classic machines. So while I was happy to drive us home in my Audi TT (“Teeter is looking really good,” I said after seeing the German roadster back in the parking lot), in the back of my mind, I wondered if it was time for a chrome-bumpered roadster to keep her company in the garage.

Later that night I’d notice that Fiat Spiders can be easily obtained for a mere $2500-4000 nowadays. They could use a little bit of work (what vintage Italian car doesn’t?) but would be absolutely driveable—or so the Craigslist ads say. Hmmmm….

The Fiats, including the orange-red  Spider next to the Bertone-designed X1/9.
The non-Italian cars were delegated to the back.  They included two Pontiac Solstices, a Corvette, and a couple of Porsches.
I really like this color scheme on the Fiat 500.
Moto Guzzi.
The interior of the Lamborghini Gallardos was the most luxurious and stylish of any car here.
A Ferrari Mundial from the 1980s.
Fiat 500 Cabrio, the first one I've seen in the flesh.  Note the retracting old-school soft top.
The custom plates on these bikes read SCFLAW and FSTGRL.
Kelly checks out the interior of the Ferrari 360 Modena while I check out the V8 engine and Testarossa intake covers.
Ferrari 348 Spider from the 1990s.
A 1960s Fiat following a Maserati Quattroporte.
An Alfa Romeo Guillieta Spider from the 1960s.
This Ferrari 360 Modena looked great.
Alfa Romeo Zagato.
Lamborghini Countach.
A red Ferrari 360 Modena.
Pininfarina did a great job styling the Cadillac Allante (circa 1990) in my opinion.
Front view of the Lamborghini Countach.
Side view of the Ducati Streetfighter.
Riding away on the Ducati 1199 Paningale.