Return To Italy

You will recall my last post on driving the Mille Miglia course:

…and the difficult choices listed from which one would make for a companion, and the car for the journey.

Forget the companion.  The topic is a perennial favorite of mine (I believe my first post on the topic was back in 2017), and I was thinking about it again over the past weekend.

For one thing, I can’t help but think that in doing this particular trip, the choice of car should be exclusively Italian, for the same reason that one should eat at little trattorias  along the route rather than searching for McDonalds, and drinking Chianti rather than Diet Coke.  It’s all about Italy, and one should take the opportunity to immerse oneself in the complete esperienza italiana.

Given that I don’t like most modern cars — both their homogeneous wind-tunnel shapes, and their overpowered engines — I keep going back to the cars of my youth, and was assisted in this thought by pics of a car on sale this week at a Sotheby’s auction:  a ground-up restoration of a 1974 Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV.


It’s neat, it’s shapely, and that little 2-liter engine is as capable of purring along at a leisurely pace through the many narrow village streets as snarling at 75mph through mountain passes and along deserted country roads.

By 1974, Alfa had pretty much worked out all the niggles typically associated with their earlier models of the Tipo 105, and I know several guys who were still driving their GTVs of that vintage when I left South Africa in 1986, a dozen years after the car’s release.  So while there would always be a threat (promise?) of some kind of Alfa-related breakdown en route, I would still be willing to take the chance.

And in the end, if I were to become marooned in some little Italian village while the local mechanic waited for spares to arrive, I’d just have to grit my teeth and endure the experience with my translator:

She’d have to be a petite lil’ thing to fit into the GTV, you see…

Okay, so maybe she’s not that petite:

So ignoring the companion, which model Italian car (e.g. 1967 Fiat Dino 2000 GT) would you choose to make the drive?  Here’s a suggested list, just to give you ideas to draw from:

  • Alfa Romeo
  • Cisitalia
  • Ferrari
  • Fiat
  • Lamborghini
  • Lancia
  • Maserati and
  • Pagani.

And if you feel like doing a little research for an hour or two before making your final decision, let DuckDuckGo be your friend… as I did.


  1. Easy choice as the first car I bought was a 1976 Fiat 124 Spider that was 3 years old. I was a senior in high school and gas had jumped to the ridiculously high price of 79 cents a gallon. The Fiat got 35 mpg and I put 30k miles on it the first year I had it. The Spider had the Fittipaldi sport package with a leather wrapped steering wheel, leather seats, Penstar wheels, larger sway bars, and stiffer shocks. I got the car with 20k on the odometer and in 5 years I had rolled it and it was back to 50k.

    As far as a traveling companion any 20 something Sophia Loren look-a-like would work.

  2. I had a friend who raced a matched pair of GTV’s in the 70’s in SCCA events. Why a matched pair? …. so he would have a car to race on Sunday.

    I also want to drive the Mille Miglia, but not just the Route, I want to participate in the recreation event held every year. and to do that it has to be in an eligible car, meaning one that was eligible to participate in the original event, with preference given to cars that actually did enter. The primary advantage being that the experience includes Police motorcycle escorts and crowds of spectators lining the streets. …. and while you don’t get to stop at just any ristorante along the way, it does include catered meals over the four-day event.

    So, since your rules specify that it be an Italian car, and eligible cars must be 1957 or before, that rules out the Fangeo/ Jenks 722 300 SLR or a Porsche 356 Carrea 2 . so that leaves a Ferrari Testa Rosa as the only logical choice.

          1. If we’re going that way I’d take my Sid Tunstall built ’67 350 Duc café racer; a slightly de-tuned version of his racing machine. As for the auto, once is my yoot I saw a ’56 Fiat 750 Abarth Zagato. I know, it’s a leeetle outside the time frame, but …

  3. 1999 Fiat Multipla. Just to rub those snug Italians’ collective noses into the fact that they design rubbish cars.

      1. at least I’ll be chugging in reasonable comfort rather than standing at the side of the road waiting for roadside assistance, as would be the case in pretty much ever other Italian car 🙂

  4. Turn4811 beat me to the first post and the car.

    In 82 I bought a clapped out ’74 Fiat 124 spider for literally 100 bucks. Did the body work to fix the tinworm (Michigan) and then repaired all the “niggling” details as Kim so aptly described most Italian mechanicals.

    A new to me junkyard differential, upper engine overhaul, Magneti Marelli replace/rewire/renew and a bright orange paint job.

    This little car was a hoot to drive with the top down and did very well on the back roads of Michigan (dirt, gravel and potholed blacktop). It never let me down once fixed right and would not have hesitated to do a 1000 mile loop with it (come to think of it, going to the UP and back was about that distance), along with some leggy lass riding shotgun (only had the latter for short trips on a couple of occasions).

    Things of youth though, I am not sure my carcass would fit in one now, much less being able to climb out of a seat all of 18 inches above the ground.

  5. Stirling Moss. Mercedes 300SLR. We will pick up the girls at the podium.

    Forever the words “Mille Miglia” will evoke Moss and Jenkinsons 1955 win.

      1. Any car driven by Stirling Moss in the Mille Miglia automatically qualifies as
        Italian. My wife is Italian. She said so. So there. Actually, I lied. Can I run for congress now?
        BTW, the account of the race, by Dennis Jenkinson, Mosses co pilot, is a fun read.

  6. I like your idea of a GTV. I’ll see you at 16.00.

    Actually a friend of wife is a regular mille miglia.

    Unfortunately I’m too poor to keep such a beautiful car on the road…

  7. Don’t laugh, my first car was a 1968 850 Fiat Spider, bought used in 1969 when I was in Army flight school. Not much power, but what a joy to drive. Best handling car I had till the new cars of today. Trouble is, now I am 100 pounds heavier than those days, ould I even fit? And would there even be room for a traveling companion?

  8. I came at this from the angle of wanting a Grand Touring car, rather than a sports car. I then went to see what the Italian design houses of Pininfarina and Bertone had done.
    I came up with two finalists from companies NOT mentioned in the original post, but were Italian:
    Iso and Bizarinni.
    Then finally decided on the Iso Grifo. Good looking from every angle, plus a plush, comfortable interior. Put me in a 1970 or older with the more exposed headlight nose. Yes, I know it was mentioned in the earlier post.

  9. I would opt for a twin to my ’62 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spyder, that I briefly owned in highschool ~’68. Totaled my mother’s car while still parts hunting for the Alfa, so it went away instantly, sigh…

    I’d still fit, as I’m within 10 lbs of my highschool weight 😉

  10. 1970 found me in Italy, San Vito dei Normanni Air Station, near Brindisi. I bought a Fiat 124 Spider, I seem to remember that it was a 1967 Fiat 124 Spider and drove it for about a year until I was reassigned to Turkey. I loved that car, drove around Italy and took it on a tour through Europe: Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Germany, Austria and back to Italy. Never a moment’s problem. I also thought that the Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV was one of the most beautiful cars ever. Missed out on buying one and settled for the Fiat, never regretted it. I am 6′ 7″ and about 50 pounds heavier so don’t think I could fold up into the Fiat now. Great memories, still love Italian cars.

    1. We lived in Italy @1979-’72 and the family car was an Alfa 1750 GTV. Learned on it. Absolutely lovely car to drive and I can’t remember it ever being in the shop.

  11. I had an Alfa Spider that I drove to work daily. It wasn’t the fastest or the flashiest, bit it was a helluva lot of fun to drive and to work on. So, I would have to go with my heart (how Italian) and choose an Alfa Romeo, but not a Spider. I would choose a Giulietta Sprint Speciale. A rare, beautiful coupe that most Alfisti would love to own, if they could find one in running condition for affordable money.

  12. I choose the Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV. A neighbor had one when I was a yoot and could just reach the pedals, but alas, the neighbor never even took pity on the neighborhood boys and took us for a spin. He moved away before I was old enough for a learner’s permit, and I had to make do with pictures.

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