Fiat Barchetta

 

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The other day I was following a Fiat Barchetta and was reminded of what a pretty and glamorous little car this particular Fiat was. It was in metallic grey with an open burgundy roof. It was in fantastic condition, gleaming chrome and clean paint, with its hood down, wind blowing through the driver’s hair it looked very cool.

There is a growing trend amongst classic car magazines to try to predict those cars that will be future collectibles, that unlike regular vehicles will either hold or  increase their value over a period of time. For me the smart thing to do would be buy a low mileage, well maintained Fiat Barchetta, mothball it, as I have a hunch that this car may well become one such vehicle – a classic.

As someone keen on the evolution of trade marks the “Barchetta” is somewhat enigmatic. Simply in Italian “Barchetta” is a way of saying small boat. Giovanni Canestrini the Editor of “La Gazzetta dell Sport” is credited with the origin of the name in the 1940’s. Initially in the name was used by Ferrari, Maserati and the lesser known manufacturer, Moretti, who all produced open top race cars.

In 1948 and 1949 a Ferrari 166MM – based on the earlier competition Barchetta called the 166S of which only 39 were made – won the Mille Miglia, the endurance race set in Northern Italy which ran from 1927 to 1957 – only being halted by War.

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In 1966 Abarth produced the 1000SP Barchetta – a track success. In 1991 Maserati produced seventeen Barchettas for the track. In 2001 Ferrari released their stunning 550 Barchetta Pininfarina to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the stellar – now Mahindra owned – Turinese design house.

Whilst this extensive use of a distinctive name would be manna from Heaven for the trade-mark lawyers I suspect the fact that the majority of the dramatis personae in this particular performance were either owned or co-owned by the Turin giant “Fiat” is probably the simplest answer to the lack of any dispute.

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Using the project name “Tipo B Spider 176” between 1990-94 Fiat’s in house Centro Stile team comprising primarily Andreas Zapatistas, Alessandro Cavazza and Peter Barrett Davis conceived and developed the Fiat Barchetta. With a 1,747 cc DHOC petrol engine it was based on the chassis of Fiat’s Mark 1 Punto.

It was first released in February 1995 and is classically Italian in styling. It draws from both the Fiat 124 – see our earlier posts on this iconic sports car –  Fiat 124 Sport Spider – a re-imagined icon   – and the earlier Ferrari 166MM.

Production ceased in  June 2005 with a final production run of around 57,700 cars.

So, back to my suggestion of an investment in this beautiful Italian sports car. A simple but limited search on the internet shows that low mileage examples – under 100,000 Kms – particularly LHD – currently go from around €3,000 to €5,000.

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Images – with grateful thanks – courtesy of Sylvia Druet, Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler SpA.

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Fernet-Branca & Friends

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There are several iconic Northern Italian drinks that are seeing huge increases in their popularity. Why? Because they are splendid and have memorable, even overwhelming, flavours.

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Campari – please see our previous post here – Campari  – is a favourite and when mixed with soda or orange juice it becomes a excellent pre-dinner long-drink. The taste can best be described as “bitter” in a wonderfully flavorsome way almost perfumed. Like so many of its contemporaries the recipe for Campari is a closely guarded secret.

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Why not add this cool T shirt featuring Leonetto Cappiello’s iconic Campari vintage advertising image. Minty Tees Men’s Classic Bitter Campari XXXX-Large Maroon

A drink has been seen recently to challenge Campari’s position. This upstart is Aperol and is only fractionally younger than Campari. It was first offered in 1919 by the Barbieri company in Padua. Post WW11 it became very successful and was “rediscovered” recently by the international market.

It is now made by Campari and whilst it may be seen as competitive, Aperol is less bitter and beats the relatively low alcohol Campari on alcohol content. Depending on where it is purchased Aperol’s content various from 11% in its home market and 15% in Germany.

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Why not try a delicious Aperol? Click the following AMAZON link Aperol Aperitivo, 70 cl

Aperol Spritz is a favourite was of serving this refereshing drink as an aperitif. It comprises 6cl Prosecco, 4cl of Aperol Spritz and a splash of soda water.

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Why not try these pre-mixed Aperol & Sodas by clicking the following AMAZON link Aperol Soda (6 x125ml)

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Served as after-dinner “digestifs” the recent trend is for those drinks that take their flavours from infused herbs and are often described either as an Amaro (literally Italian for “bitter”). For me, the best of these, is that was launched by Bernardino Branca in Milan in 1845 and known as “Fernet-Branca” which led to the founding of the Fratelli Branca Distillerie.

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We know that the recipe of Fernet-Branca aromatic spirit is an industrial secret handed down through the generations – its currently known by Fernet-Branca’s President, Niccolò Branca – the but its thought that its 27 herbs and other ingredients consist of myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe and saffron based on a distilled grape spirit. It has a reasonably high alcohol content at 39%

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Fernet-Branca is used in several cocktails including a “Toronto” – Canadian whisky, Fernet-Branca, angostura bitters, and sugar syrup and a “Hanky Panky” – developed by The Savoy Hotel legendary bartender, Ada Coleman – comprising 1/2 Italian Vermouth, 1/2 Dry Gin and 2 dashes Fernet Branca. Stir and garnish with orange peel. In Argentina, partly as a result of the number of Italian emigres post WW11 and partly because Fernet-Branca’s concentrated marketing effort there, the mix of Fernet-Branca and Coca-cola – known as “Fernet con Cola” – continues to be very popular.

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If you’d like to enjoy this fine Italian digestif please click the following link to buy a bottle of Fernet-Branca on AMAZON  Fernet Branca, 70cl 

I must confess – I don’t know what it is – but there is an essential combination of almost magical ingredients with Fernet-Branca that creates an elixir that has the most soothing effect on an over-burdened digestion. I am no Doctor but hugely recommend Fernet-Branca. Then again, I do tend to buy into those products that demonstrate certain claims which are extensively tested over the long-term.

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Images courtesy of Davide Campari Milan SpA. and Fratelli Branca Distillerie.

 

 

Duralex Provence

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In cafes, bars and coffee shops world-wide the iconic Duralex glass is never far from the zinc, glass or wooden bar top – a great example is Bar Italia in Soho (Frith Street, London). See here Bar Italia – Frith Street, London, W1

I long loved and have praised the Duralex range – known as “Picardie” – in our previous posts Duralex Glass – Picardie but I also wanted to share with you their wonderful and iconic range called “Provence”.

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The Duralex Provence is a range of glasses that are smaller than the typical Picardie glasses. They range from the shot sized 9cl – perfect for a Jägermeister – rising through the 16cl, 22cl and 25cl with the middle two being perfect for juice, coffee or wine to the larger size – which is an attractive table water tumbler or a glass for a larger serving of wine!

For those who have spent time in parts of Europe they will know it is very usual for an expresso or cortado coffee – possibly made with Lavazza’s fine beans including their Decaffeinated version – a personal favourite – Lavazza Caffè Decaffeinato – to be served in a tempered glass, often a Duralex as they are resistant to joining water. For those who haven’t tried this quaint and delicious custom – please do.

Duralex’ construction adds a massive advantage to these charming glasses with a great hold feel, as they are virtually smash proof. Hurling them at speed with vigour at a tiled floor may well result in a chip – or worse – but I have knocked over many in the process of serving or cleaning theses glasses and they virtually bounce.

How do you know that your glass is a genuine Duralex? By draining your favourite beverage from one of Duralex’s glasses you will see the following logo appear at the bottom of your glass. For our older readers, I can assure that the sight of this familiar logo will heighten their nostalgic senses as this iconic French company also made the form of glass cup and saucers that were often used in coffee shops, and “greasy spoons cafes” BS – Before Starbucks!

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Images courtesy of Duralex International SAS

Click the photo to buy from AMAZON – Duralex “Provence” 16 cl Tumber

Click the photo to buy from AMAZON – Duralex “Provence” 22 cl Tumbler

Click the photo to buy from AMAZON – Duralex “Picardie” 36 cl Water glass

Click the photo to buy from AMAZON – Duralex “Picardie” 50 cl Beer glass

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Lancia Fulvia Coupé

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There are several well known, even iconic brands, particularly in the automobile and fashion businesses, that having been subsumed into larger acquirers and, subsequently, shelved. A good example of this is Lancia, now part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA Italy) conglomerate.

Their most recent car, the Lancia Ypsilon – based on the Fiat 500 platform – was re-branded in 2014 for the UK and Irish markets as a Chrysler. In 2017, it was announced that the Chrysler brand would no longer be used in the UK and Irish markets! It seems unlikely that the Lancia brand will be revived – which is a great tragedy.

I guess there’s a “dirt sticks” argument to the demise of Lancia for a UK audience. In the late 1980’s the Lancia Beta suffered greatly from sub-frame rust and corrosion issues so much so that they had to be repurchased by the company from disgruntled owners. Lancia withdrew from the right-hand drive market in 1994 selling their last model, the Lancia Delta, in 1995.

There have been some trophies among the mire, with a wealth of rally success but one particularly fine road going example is the iconic Lancia Fulvia Coupé.

Lancia & C. Fabbrica Automobili was founded in Turin in 1906 by former Fiat racing drivers, Vincenzo Lancia and Claudio Fogolin. The first Lancia was appropriately called “Alfa” and was produced between 1907 to 1908. Following Vincenzo’s death in 1937 his wife and son poached one of Alfa Romeo’s designers, Vittorio Jano, who oversaw a period of great innovation, including hydraulic dampers, five speed gearboxes, V4, V6 and V8 engines. Early vehicles were virtually handmade.

The business was sold to Fiat in October 1969 and there followed an era when Lancia’s claim to fame was in World Rallying.

The Lancia Fulvia was produced between 1963 and 1976 following its launch to great applause at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show.

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Like its predecessor the Aurelia, it took its name from a Roman Road; the via Fulvia being that stretch that ran between Tortona to Turin.

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The Fulvia was available as a Berlina (saloon) 4-door saloon – as above – (in 1972 as a V4 version), a 2-door Coupé, and Sport. Ugo Zogato’s team also designed and built a fastback coupé – based on the Coupé’s floorpan – and, in 1968, a prototype Zagato Sport Spider that debuted at the 1968 Turin Motor Show.

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The Fulvia Coupé was a compact two-seater coupé was initially equipped with a 1216 cc engine, delivering 80 bhp at 6000 rpm, this was gradually enlarged to a 1534 cc engine delivering 132 bhp. Designed by Lancia’s in-house designer, Piero Castagnero, the Fulvia had a shorter wheelbase than the Berlina and it was the last Fulvia model to be discontinued. It was replaced by the ill-fated Lancia Beta Coupé in 1977.

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In 1971 the Lancia Fulvia Coupé Series II Coupé had a 1298 cc engine producing 90 hp (67 kW) at 6000 rpm. A special celebratory model was released in 1972 to celebrate Lancia’s Montecarlo Rally victory that year. An update Series 2 Coupe – becoming the Coupé 3 – was introduced in 1974 .

In 2003 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Fulvia name was re-imagined in a concept from the Centro Stile Lancia headed by Flavio Manzoni. Sadly, the new Fulvia Coupé, with its distinctive brown leather interior, didn’t progress past prototype.

Lancia Fulvia 2003 Concept

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As Lancia Fulvia Coupe’s are increasing in value – may be you’d be happy to settle of a desk top but loyal die-cast model? Please click the Amazon link after the image.

There’s a choice – a red Lancia Fulvia Coupe in rally livery – please click the Amazon link below the image

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Lancia Fulvia Coupe Hf Rally Car Lampinen Andreasson 1/43Rd No1 Type Y0675J

Or in a beautiful dark blue – please click the Amazon link below the image

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BEST MODEL BT9645 LANCIA FULVIA COUPE’ 1300S 1967 DARK BLUE 1:43 DIE CAST MODEL

Do you have any Old Italian Legends in your life? If so this is the perfect long sleeved T shirt for them! Click the Amazon link below the image 

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 Teesandengines Men’s LANCIA FULVIA COUPE Grey Long Sleeved T-shirt Size Medium

Or the short sleeved version – for the Spring and Summer! Please click on the Amazon link below the image.

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TEESANDENGINES Men’s Lancia FULVIA Coupe 1972 Italian Grey T-Shirt Size XXXXLarge

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Images courtesy of Lancia

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

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Alfa Romeo is an iconic breed of Italian sports cars founded as A.L.F.A. (“Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobile”) on June 24, 1910, in Milan. By August 1915 the company was under the direction of Nicola Romero who re-purposed the factory’s output to support the Allies with munitions and aircraft engines.

The name changed to Alfa Romeo in 1920 and a car called “Torpedo” was the first to be badged with the new name. The company enjoyed significant success on the motor racing track with Enzo Ferrari and, in the 1950’s, Juan Manuel Fangio being notable drivers. With Romeo’s departure in 1928 and economic downturn the company was rescued by Mussolini’s government and came under State control in 1933. Following the Second World War and into the mid-1950’s Alfa Romeo started to produce smaller, mass-produced vehicles.

In 1952, Alfa Romeo experimented with a traverse-mounted “Project 13-61” its first compact front-wheel drive car.  The Giulietta (750/101) series of saloons, coupes and “Spiders” – open two-seaters was introduced in 1954. All Giuletta’s shared the Alfa Romeo overhead Twin Cam four-cylinder engine, initially 1290 cc. The Giulietta Sprint, as designed by Franco Scaglione at Bertone, and known as the Giulietta Sprint 2+2 coupé was launched at the 1954 Turin Motor Show.

At the request of Max Hoffman, Alfa Romeo’s US importer, the Giulietta Spider was born in 1955. It was designed by the Pininfarina who also built around 17,000 Spiders at their 107 Corso Trapani and Grugliasco factories between 1956 and 1962 – in the era it was not unusual for the designer to complete the build.

This beautiful example is from 1961:

Our featured image dates from 1959 – see below Hoffman’s range available in the US.

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These beautiful little cars – smaller by today’s standards – would continue to be built in a variety of configuarions until 1965.

Back on the track in the 1960’s and 1970’s Alfa Romeo focussed on competition to great success both in Europe and the US, using production-based cars, such as the GTA an aluminium-bodied version of the Berton-designed coupe.

A Giulietta’s development continued – see this beautiful 1975 Giulietta.

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The 1980’s and 1990’s, aside from a couple of GTV Spiders, were not, in my view, classic years for Alfa Romeo. In more recent years there has been an increasing return to form with a new Giulietta’s and Guilia’s – largely designed as a family vehicles.

In February 2007, the Alfa Romeo brand became Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A., a subsidiary Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Italy, having first merged with Fiat in 1986.

Add this Alfa Romeo Giulietta T Shirt to your wardrobe – click the link below the image

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Men’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider T-Shirt (X-Large, Military Green)

Add this stunning Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider model – as featured above – to your collection: click the link below the image

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Alfa Romeo Giulitta Spider 1300 Cabrio Rot 1961 Mit Sockel und Vitrine 1/24 Modellcarsonline Modell Auto

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Images Alfa Romeo – with grateful thanks

Imperia pasta machine

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May be its the reappearance of “MasterChef” on nightly TV but as the winter creeps in I find that I have a compulsion to cook. Filling your home with splendid aromas and purchasing unfamiliar ingredients are the winter’s way of saying roll on spring but not too quickly.

I have enjoyed cooking pasta for many years. All too often this has meant adding some dry durum wheat pasta to boiling salted water and topping with the latest tomato or pine-nut based sauce. To be honest that removes half the fun. Why not make your own pasta?

For me – as a reviewer justifiably called it – the iconic Italian original, the “Imperia” pasta machine is “the Ferrari of pasta makers”. Since February 1932, Imperia pasta machines have been helping Italian families make “la pasta fatta in casa” (home-made pasta). Moreover, with extensive emigration from their homeland many Italian families chose to resettle in the US and, of course, took their Imperia pasta machines with them.

Starting at the beginning – even before taking your Imperia pasta machine out of its retro printed box – you are going to need to make a pasta dough – and to do this you are going to need access to a food processor (see our later review of the Magimix).

For me, the best recipe is as follows: 140g plain flour or preferably, if you can get it, Italian “doppio zero” or ’00’ flour – which is specifically ground to make pasta. 2 eggs – 1 whole and 1 separated yolk. Sift the flour into the food processor and pulse it. Then add the eggs and keep mixing until the mixture appears crumbly – this should take no longer than three minutes. Shape the resulting dough into a ball – which should be stiff – and knead it to for a minute. After wrapping it in clingfilm leave it in a cool place (not the fridge) and avoid it drying out. After an hour its ready for use. Divide into two equal pieces and roll to a 5 mm thickness. The dough is now ready to be passed through your Imperia pasta machine.

The classic manuel machine, the Imperia SP150, is at the heart of the home-made pasta making process. It rolls the raw dough into a number of thickness and its basic attachments allow you to cut the flattered stretched dough into spaghetti, fettuccini, or tagliatelle.

Slowly cranking the handle, pass your proofed dough through the pasta machine set on its widest setting, collecting the flattened dough in a figure “z” and re-rolling on then same settings- this exercise should be repeated seven times – until the dough appears shiny. The dough is ready for rolling starting on the widest width setting, without folding and reducing the setting with each pass to your preferred thickness.

Imperial sell a range of flat metal sheets with indents for fillings to make ravioli and gnocchi but you can also buy bolt-on attachments to the Imperia machine, developed by Imperia to make ravioli filling and gnocchi rolling – for example – very simple.

So Imperia’s SP150 pasta machine is not only an iconic design, it’s also hugely practical. Truly, “Made in Italy” at Imperia’s factory in Sant’Ambrogio (Turin), it is constructed to a high standard with a solid steel body and clamp and a wooden cranking handle.

One quick tip – you don’t need to wash, as a wipe down with a soft moist cloth will be sufficient.

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Image with thanks Imperia