After more than one stutter step, the Italian car industry residing outside of the rarefied bubble of the 1% (exemplified by Ferrari, Lamborghini and – to a lesser extent – all of those Maseratis) is enjoying a resurgence here in these United States. At least in urban areas, Fiat’s 500 continues to resonate, and Alfa Romeo finally has something to offer beyond a wildly impractical – albeit wildly compelling – 4C sports car; Alfa, finally, has both a sports sedan and crossover. It would seem, then, a time for celebration, and if you’re inclined to join the get-together, the city of Grapevine has just the party.
This Saturday, September 9th, you’ve invited (I guess we’re all invited) to the 14th annual Italian CarFest, located at Grapevine’s Nash Farm. Here, the Italian car clubs in and around North Texas converge – with the help of the Boardwalk umbrella of Italian franchises – on Grapevine’s Nash Farm with a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Ferrari and Lamborghini, of course, lead this particular charge, but there remains a lot of enthusiasm for the more affordable entries, including older cars from Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia.
Italian car gatherings have existed almost as long as the Italian car industry; few manufacturers have so consistently distilled their national passion into automobiles (and earlier, motorcycles) as have the Italians. And while older models may have been more reliably visceral, credit the subsequent cars and bikes with being more reliably reliable. Also, there’s an affordability for a greater number of buyers than may have been the case thirty years ago. While the entry-level price of a Ferrari or Lambo is around $200K, Maseratis can be bought in the $70s, Alfa’s sedans start at around $40K and the Fiat 500 can be had (please buy one!) for under $20K.
Of course, if the September weather cooperates, Grapevine supplies a nice venue for simply kicking tires, even if you’re not sure what tires you’re kicking. We wish the organizers had included motorcycles this year, because Italian motorcycles have their own story. But in the absence of bikes you can read about them – one idea is below.
Admission to the Italian CarFest is free, and we can’t imagine a better way to kick off Grapevine’s Grapefest than with a big gulp of collectible Italian machinery.
The Back-to-School Bookshelf
In the (regrettable) absence of Italian bikes at the Italian CarFest, we’ll suggest a book to reduce your separation anxiety. The Complete Book of Moto Guzzi – Every Model Since 1921 is an extremely comprehensive overview of the storied Italian marque, written by recognized expert Ian Falloon.
While Harley-Davidson’s rollout predated Guzzis by some eighteen years, Guzzi’s late start doesn’t in any way diminish the Italian company’s impact on global motorcycling. Few powerplants are as instantly recognizable as Guzzi’s iconic V-Twin, and few manufacturers have exhibited the wide ranging product initiatives – from cruisers to cafes and adventure bikes – than the team from Mandello del Lario.
The book is just this side of supplying a coffee table footprint, and compresses almost 100 years of history into its 250 pages. Obviously, that requires quite a bit of compression. From the 1921 Normale to today’s V7 Scrambler, there’s arguably too much info when considering all that Moto Guzzi has built and marketed over most of a century. Falloon’s text is engaging, but we wish more time and space had been given to specific models, especially those models with which your typical U.S. reader might identify. The book is published by Quarto Publishing, and retails for $60.
Thankfully, while bikes will be absent at this year’s Italian CarFest, viewing opps are readily available at Guzzi’s two retail outlets in North Texas, RPM Cycle in Dallas and Fort Worth’s Eurosport Cycles. Both showrooms offer a selection of Guzzi inventory and a congenial atmosphere. You’ll get that, of course, on September 9th in Grapevine; you simply won’t get the bikes.