Iconic Beach Cars

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As many return from overseas holidays, stay-cations and City breaks I wanted to send a “wish you were here” digital postcard – also my 300th Aestheticons post – from a wonderful visit to France’s Cote d’Azur, more particularly, the iconic French beach-side town of St Tropez with it’s simply beautiful pastel shaded port.

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Fame was assured for this picturesque coastal town when the 1950’s French actress, Brigitte Bardot, born in 1934 and still a local resident at Baie des Canebiers, featured in the 1956 Roger Vadim directed and ground breaking “And God Created Woman” (“Et Dieu Crea la Femme”). Mdme. Bardot’s impact on the region has been honored by local baker “Senequier” who in 1956 launched the delicious “La Tarte Tropezienne”, a delicate almond cream filled brioche topped with powdered icing sugar and chopped pistachio.

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Shot on location in and around St Tropez the film also provided a springboard for the world renowned beach club/restaurant “Club 55” that was founded from a dilapidated beach shack by the parents of current owner, Patrice de Colmont, who provided food for the cast and crew of filmmakers. Rumored to have recently been offered €30m for his iconic beach club M Colmont is understood to have politely turned down the offer as he preferred not to become one of his clients eating the signature dish of “Panier des Crudites” with anchoiade mayonnaise!

The town’s along this stretch of the Cote D’Azur are each rather distinct and have their own style. The beach is never far from people’s minds as they negotiate, sometimes to the frustration of the locals, the summertime traffic of fellow tourists.

Naturally in this style capital it is vital to get your beach or port transport right. For those not seeking to impress in the vast array of American muscle cars that are to be spotted in many locations, my preference is to celebrate the more quirky and classic vehicles.

Aestheticons readers will already know of my passion for the GRP bodied Citroen Mehari – see our previous post here – Citroën Méhari – A reliable French classic that is patriotically supported and really enjoyed in St Tropez and its surrounding villages.

The Mini Moke, which has the look of a vehicle that was designed for the breeze of the Cote D’Azur, is a very popular ride either to the beach or to park up alongside a visiting boat transporting provisions for a day at sea. For the the right clients it is possible to rent one of these wonderful and iconic cars for your stay. See our previous posts here – Mini Moke Goes Electric .

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Closer to the original Mini, I have seen parked in Grimaldi Village, a beach version with wicker seats and no doors, called the “Austin Mini Beach”. It was very beautiful and, I understand, extremely valuable! See our previous post here celebrating the iconic Mini – Mini – the best selling car in Britain

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The third leaf of this Fleur de Lys of wonderful beach and port transport is the Ghia designed Fiat Jolly based on the equally iconic Fiat 500 – see our previous post here – Fiat 500 – 1957-2017

Seemingly one of the most valuable of these iconic beach cars price points of $100,000 have been mentioned for these basket weave seated, frilled canopied expressions of Italian style.

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Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis is said to have had and loved his Fiat Jolly.

In 2108 this charming little car celebrated its sixtieth anniversary and to coincide the guys at Fiat commissioned Garage Italia to produce a reimagined version of the Jolly, limited to 1958 editions, and called the Fiat Spiaggina.

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Image Credits – used with grateful thanks – Hemmings Car Auctions and Garage Italia/FIAT

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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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Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder by Scaglietti

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Occasionally, when I see something of great design or beauty there is a real ‘catching breath” moment. The sight of your new born offspring and a Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder by Scaglietti will illicit a similar reaction but for so many different reasons.

I completely forgive you for staring as this is widely regarded as the finest and best looking Ferrari ever built. There is an argument – that I buy into that the later SWB versions can hold a candle but its marginal. It’s lines, its air intakes, its expansive boot and shrouded headlights combine to create a simply beautiful car.

We have featured other Ferrari’s and we leave the final decision to you – see our earlier posts here Ferrari 330 GTS and Ferrari Dino

The 250 GT LWB – because of its 2.4m chassis – was intended for the North American market and was produced between 1957 and 1960 being superseded by a SWB version.  Comprising a Pininfarina designed body and a Tipo 128D 60 degree V12 engine that delivered 228 bhp and top speed of 145mph – Paco for the late 1950’s.

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Original owners of these cars have include French film star, Brigitte Bardot (0937GT) and celebrated “Barbarella” film director and a former partner of the wonderful, Catherine Deneuve, Roger Vadim (1283 GT).

The iconic Ferrari GT 250 LWB California – as in our featured image – is a year younger than me and the current seller, Talacrest 2000 AD of Windsor – as featured on the excellent http://www.classicdriver.com – tell us that it bears the engine number 1503 GT, was the 35th of 50 LWBs to be made by Scaglietti and was delivered into their care in Modena on 7th July 1959. It was completed in October 1959, originally in white with a black interior and was shipped to a client in Caracas, Venezuela. In the early 1960’s it was imported into the US and in 1987 was acquired by a renowned collector who added only 700 kms in eleven years of ownership to the odometer but did change the colour to Ferrari’s signature Rosso/Red with a tan interior.

Provenance is vital with this quality of vehicle and like a fine painting or other artwork the amount of detail as to where, when and by whom that can be clearly demonstrated adds greatly to the cars value.

 

In 2015, RM Sotheby’s sold a stable mate of our Rosso, with engine number 1307 GT – as shown above – in stunning dark blue with its aluminium hood and distinctive air vents – for $8.5m. Rarely has an optional aluminium hard top looked so good as to enhance the overall effect of this majestic Italian classic.

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Photo credits – with grateful thanks to: Talacrest 2000 AD Ltd, http://www.classicdriver.com, Richard Owen/www.supercars.net and Patrick Ernzen/RM Sotheby’s

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