FIAT v FERRARI
The exceptionalism of Italian design isn’t news, but then, sitting in the middle of North Texas we might need the occasional reminder. Whether your hot button is Italian architecture, sculpture, an expensive handbag or food(!), the view is almost always compelling and (more often than not) borders on the seductive. As you might have guessed, I’m into cars. And those cars coming from Italy – from Fiats to Ferraris – will be celebrated Saturday, September 9th at Grapevine’s ItalianCarFest.
Like Italy itself, Italian car enthusiasts represent a loose confederation. To be sure, Fiat and Alfa owners can always talk about parts availability or, more recently, dealer availability, while Ferrari owners don’t concern themselves with parts; they’d rather discuss return on investment. And, of course, it isn’t all Fiat or Ferrari. Maserati’s lineup is making some headway in the luxury market, while Lamborghini has moved, with its newish Urus crossover, from the bedroom walls of adolescents to the weekend hideaways of tech zillionaires.
With previous stops at Plano’s Willow Bend Polo Club and, later, Southfork (bonus points if you remember Bobby Ewing once driving a Maserati convertible!), for the last several years the City of Grapevine has rolled out the red carpet, welcoming the various Italian marques and motorcycles to its historic Nash Farm. While – as you’d know – this isn’t the 18th green at Pebble Beach, parking cars on the grass is one heckuva lot more attractive than a parking lot, and tends to soften the anxiety when a Fiat owner meets his or her Ferrari counterpart for the first time. Happily, if you enter an Italian vehicle of any type you’ll find a community that transcends both zip codes and 0-60 capability; you are, in short, all in this together.
Of course, with the North Texas economy booming, energized in no small part by the number of corporate moves to the area, enthusiasts relocating from both coasts have a habit of bringing their enthusiasm with them. That, of course, has only energized the Italian streetscape. It’s all well and good to see a favorite fantasy in the showroom, but even better to capture it on the street.
It’s the neo-classic collectible that gets most of the attention at the ItalianCarFest, and based on previous years they should be there in abundance. My personal favorites include Alfa’s GTV; its Bertone-designed body hasn’t aged in the 50+ years since its intro, and its ongoing desirability is reflected in the auction values. Another singular – albeit more modest – sensation is Fiat’s 124 Spider, produced between 1966 and 1982. It, in combination with a 4-passenger coupe, was a hit then (as can be seen by its 16+ years of production), and remains a favorite today. For the longest time, friends Robert and Cindy Rodgers (Shadetree Enginetrics) campaigned a 124 Spider in vintage racing, and I continue to think something similar belongs in my garage.
There are, of course, other desirable Fiats, including the affordably exotic X1/9, with its mid-engine platform enclosed by another iconic Bertone shape. And with a little luck, someone brings a Fiat Dino Spider or its coupe counterpart. Both were rolled out in the late ‘60s as competition for Porsche’s 911, and while that didn’t work the cars did; they, too, have aged quite well in their 50-something years.
On the I-can’t-afford-it menu would be a collection of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Maseratis, although as this is written I’ll guess most of those owners are checking the rain forecast with their in-house meteorology teams. Of course, the Ferrari 308 and 328 are ubiquitous, as are the more recently introduced 458s, 488s and various front-engined GTs. North Texas doesn’t enjoy the vintage inventory that populates Los Angeles or Long Island, but the occasional Daytona or Dino haven’t been lost to my memory loss; I’d hope they’d also be there.
On the new car showroom the Italians have once again regained a portion of their missing mojo. Alfa Romeo has its all-new Tonale, joining the already well-received Giulia and Stelvio. And according to Maserati of Dallas general manager Kevin Chew, Maserati has added an all-new Grecale crossover to its mashup of Ghibli, Levante, Quattroporte and the recently revised GranTurismo.
Finally, there are birthdays! Alfa Romeo is commemorating the centennial of its Quadrifoglio logo, first appearing on an Alfa race car in 1923. And Lamborghini is celebrating its 60th year, having been founded in 1963.
As the event’s presenting sponsor, I’ll assume Boardwalk Ferrari will have a presence, but as this is written details are TBD. Given the shortage of new Ferrari inventory (a clear indication of income stratification, if ever there was one), here’s hoping the City of Grapevine won’t have to get on the dealership’s waiting list…with a six-figure deposit.
GRAPEVINE’S ITALIANCARFEST @ GRAPEFEST
Saturday, September 9th from 10 am to 2:30 pm
GRAPEVINE’S HISTORIC NASH FARM
626 BALL STREET, GRAPEVINE