Stop groaning – if the subject is a visit to the Italian Car Show you have to come to expect that sort of thing.
And to a certain extent you have to expect a lot of other stereotypes – Italians come in all shapes and sizes, as do their cars, but the ones that slot right into the stage Italian role are the ones you remember. We had ’em all at Mulberry on Swan; dour black mammas glowering at the world, big hairy men slapping each other, princesses showing off for the Romeos in the cut-off tee shirts. I didn’t hear a mandolin but I did see half a dozen Tony’s dressed in straw porkpie hats. I forgot to look at the Swan River that runs just back of the conference center – there may have been gondolas.
Okay, apart from this, there was a goodly variety of Italian ironwork on display – more high-end cars than small ones, too. I had hoped for more of the tiny FIAT vans or sedans but they were overshadowed by rows of Maseratis, Ferraris, and Alfa Romeos. There were a couple of Lamborghinis and a De Thomaso as well.
I am a fan of 50’s and 60’s cars, as my model collection attests. I was pleased to see several of these but I am a little puzzled that there were not more of the more popular sports cars. I remember at the time that my wife was looking for a sporty car ( Choices for her were a Ford Capri or an MGB. She chose wisely…) the FIAT 124 sports sedan seemed to be everywhere on Perth roads – it was the Subaru WRX of the time and all the Subiaco and Claremont Money Girls seemed to be driving them. Just the one to be seen at the show. Have they gone the way of the Mazda 121 that was ubiquitous 15 years ago – dissolved into its own chassis and vanished?
Never mind. The Italian designers of motor cars were wonderful and are wonderful still. If there was a little hiatus in their professional judgement and sense of style in the eighties or nineties it did not impact too much here in Western Australia. The damned government ( Note for North American and European readers: That is our damned government, not yours. You have Washington and Bucharest – we have Canberrra. Same thing, but…) put giant taxes on imported cars and components and all the local assembly plants for interesting vehicles shut up. The Italian, French, and German small cars got too expensive to buy. The British ones vanished like frost at noon. We were left with local assemblies or Japanese and Korean imports. Fine as far as it went, but it all started to get pretty bland.
Of course if you were a mining magnate or a Ponzi financier or an old-schoolfellow gynaecologist you could afford all the good cars anyway and a number of the fancier Ferraris and Maseratis appeared in that way. Other money came presumably from other sources and also equipped itself with the better Italian cars. So we had a number of them to look at at the show – there was even a good old big standard FIAT sedan from the 1920’s and a Hispano-Suiza roadster out from the museum.
I was delighted to see them, and the equally exotic two-wheeled vehicles. Again, I have no ambitions to a café racer or a superbike, but the little grey Ducati scooter was very appealing. I wish I had the courage…
Note to car show photographers: Fill in flash at noon in Western Australia is a must, but be careful with metallic paint on show cars. You can get big areas that white out if the flash hits them directly.