One of Europe's biggest classical car meetings is about to kick off. A selection of prized Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Jeep and Lancia cars will be stealing the spotlight. The line-up will be including a 1954 Lancia D25, a 1974 Lancia Stratos and a 1955 Fiat 1100 from the official collections. They will be accompanied by an Alfa Romeo 4C supercar, a Fiat 500X crossover and a Jeep Renegade compact SUV.
Classic Days, the yearly meeting dedicated to cars of yesteryear, will be staged from July 31 to August 2 at the medieval castle of Schloss Dyck, near Düsseldorf, in Germany. The event will be an opportunity for the nearly 40 thousand expected visitors to get up close and personal with a selection of prized Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Jeep and Lancia classic cars and is one that FCA could not miss. The cars will be competing in the 'Racing Legend' events and in special races on the beautiful castle grounds.
More in detail, Abarth will be tackling the approximately three kilometre long circuit around the Dyck Castle with two racing cars from the classic Formula Abarth and with today's ADAC Formula 4 powered by Abarth. Representing Alfa Romeo will be two authentic pre-war legends: the 6C 1750 and the 8C 2300, followed by the Giulia TZ1 with its tubular frame and aluminium body, and the Giulia Sprint GTA, which was one of the most popular touring models of the 1960s. Fiat is paying homage to the Mille Miglia race with two versions of the Fiat 1100 accompanied by the vintage Fiat Corse team service car.
Jeep will be bringing a 1945 Willys MB, the predecessor of all off-road vehicles. Lancia will be lining up three outstanding jewels, all from the brand's Official Collection: the Lancia D25, which was driven in the 1954 Tourist Trophy Championship by five times Formula 1 champion Juan Manuel Fangio; a street-legal Lancia Stratos HF, with which Lancia won the World Rally Championship for three times in a row (from 1974 to 1976) and a Lancia Flaminia Loraymo, a custom prototype made in 1960 to the specifications of famed US designer Raymond Loewy.
As further confirmation of the strong bond between the cars of the past and those made today, a fascinating Alfa Romeo 4C, a Fiat 500X crossover and a Jeep Renegade compact SUV will be present in Germany.
Abarth: time travel in a Formula 1
Tuning legend Carlo Abarth designed a racing car for Formula Italia, the new series kicked off at the beginning of the 1970s to foster the talents of the young, up-and-coming drivers of the day. The SE025 project was developed using the 110 HP aspirated Fiat 124S engine, the gearbox of the Lancia Fulvia, chassis components of the Autobianchi A111, the steering system of the Fiat 128 and the disc brakes of the Fiat 125. With a tubular chassis and plastic body, the car weighed only 450 kilograms and reached a top speed of 200 km/h. The car sporting chassis number '1' owned by a private collector will be present at the Schloss Dyck Classic Days.
Alongside it is today's ADAC Formula 4 powered by Abarth model to reassert the brand's enduring focus on competitions for young drivers. With a carbon fibre frame, controls on the steering wheel and a 1.4 litre engine - limited to 160 HP of power to comply with regulations - this model represents today's best. One ADAC Formula 4 powered by Abarth will be driven by Mick Schumacher, the promising 16 year old son of Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher. In the special 'Racing Legends' competitions on the Dyck Castle grounds, he will be competing against 16 year old Dutch talent Job van Uitert who will be driving a Provily Racing Formula 4.
Alfa Romeo: masterpieces by Zagato, Autodelta and Vittorio Jano
A Giulia TZ1, one of the most fascinating Alfa Romeo icons from the 1960s, will be present at Schloss Dyck. The car design team was led by Giuseppe Busso, who was strongly inspired by the Giulia which was being developed and would soon be mass produced. Instead of a load-bearing chassis, the car fitted a tubular frame covered by a sleek aluminium body made by Carrozzeria Zagato. The project name - Giulia Tubolare Zagato, or TZ for short - is derived from this construction. The number 1 was added to differentiate it from the later model.
Zagato designed a flat coupé with a characteristic Kamm tail named after aerodynamics pioneer Wunibald Kamm. The chassis and body weigh less than 100 kilograms as a whole. One hundred and nine 109 Giulia TZ cars were made in total, all equipped for customers with a standard 112 HP engine.
The race car engine was developed by Carlo Chiti, who founded the company which would soon become Autodelta, specifically for it. The four cylinder, 1.6 litre engine delivered 150 HP of power. The Giulia TZ1 was a serial winner in world championship endurance races in its category in 1964 and 1965.
Autodelta carved its place in automotive history with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA, where the letter 'A' stands for 'alleggerita', or lightened. Its remarkable empty weight of only 200 kilograms was obtained by using body parts which were only 1.2 millimetres thick made of Peraluman, a super-light aluminium, zinc and magnesium alloy. Doors, bonnet and all non-load-bearing body parts were made of aluminium.
Its fits a 1.6 litre twin spark engine and two Weber 45 carburettors. The factory tuned 'Corsa' (racing) version generated nearly 170 HP of power. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA once owned by official driver Ignazio Giunti will be taking part at the Classic Days event.
The spotlights will also be trained on two legendary pre-war Alfa Romeos: the 6C 1750 and the 8C 2300. In particular, the first car generated an uproar in the early 1930s and the straight-six under its bonnet is one of Vittorio Jano's masterpieces. Fitting a double carburettor and twin overhead camshafts, it was a technical breakthrough in its day. The engine of the 6C 1750 Super Sport stood out for its brilliant temperament. It delivered 85 HP, which was boosted to 102 HP by the Root compressor. The bodies of the racing team cars, stripped down to the bare essential for use in competitions, were made by Zagato. It was in a 6C 1750 Gran Sport that official driver Tazio Nuvolari won the Mille Miglia race in 1930.
Based on this revolutionary engine, Jano also developed an eight-cylinder with the cylinders arranged in two blocks of four which was named '8C 2300' as its displacement. With a Roots compressor optimally filling the combustion chambers with the air-fuel mixture the power reached nearly 180 HP.
Alfa Romeo fitted the 8C 2300 engine on two different chassis types: the four-seater variant was used in endurance races, like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while the two-seater version competed and won the Italian Grand Prix in 1931, the Monte Carlo Grand Prix in 1932 and the Eifelrennen in 1932 - driven by German driver Rudolf Caracciola - and again in 1933. The Tipo 8C 2300 won the Targa Florio three times and the Mille Miglia in 1934.
Fiat: the star of the Mille Miglia
The legendary Mille Miglia race was always about Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati fighting for victory. But for most drivers these cars were simply inaccessible. Hundreds of private auto enthusiasts entered the race with family cars fitting very little non-standard tuning and equipment. An example is the 1955 four-door Fiat 1100, which will be at the Classic Days meeting. This model was prepared for races by fitting a more powerful 70 HP engine and aluminium drum brakes.
Drivers who wanted an even more powerful car, and of course had a bigger budget, could opt for the Fiat 1100S. Despite its comparably modest engine power, the aerodynamic two-seater coupé ranked close to the winners in the years from 1947 to 1949. Only 400 were made. Fiat will be showcasing a special 1948 version with aluminium body on the track in the Dyck Castle grounds. The Mille Miglia theme will be completed with the service car, also based on the Fiat 1100, which was used by the Fiat Corse team.
Jeep: Willys MB, the predecessor of all off-road vehicles
There are several explanations of the origins of the name 'Jeep'. One is that the acronym 'GP', standing for 'General Purpose', was slurred in speech into the word 'Jeep'. In all cases, general purpose was precisely the basic concept of the project ordered by the United States Army from Willys-Overland. Production of the Willys MB - whose official name was 'Willys Jeep MB Truck, 1/4 Tonne, 4x4' - started and this was the first all-wheel drive vehicle to be mass manufactured. By the end of war, Willys-Overland had made some 370,000 units.
The indestructible 2.2 litre four-cylinder engine delivered a power of 60 HP. The gearbox had three forward gears. All-wheel drive could be engaged on demand. In this way, the open-top vehicle was unstoppable in deserts and jungles alike. The first Jeep clocked 100 km/h on the road. With a special insert in the air cleaner it could even wade across fords with water up to its middle.
Willys-Overland developed a civilian version based on the Willys MB named CJ-2A after the war. This 'Civilian Jeep' is considered the predecessor of all four-wheel vehicles on the road today.
Lancia: from the design studio to the rally world championship
Two important examples of motor racing excellence from the Lancia Historical Collection will be present at Schloss Dyck. The Lancia D25 was made for the World Sportscar Championship and fitted a 3.8 litre V6. Only four cars were made. The model showcased at Classic Days was driven by the great Argentinian champion Juan-Manuel Fangio in the 1954 Tourist Trophy in Ireland.
The Lancia Stratos, on the other hand, dominated the rally world until the mid-1970s. Team manager Cesare Fiorio cleverly exploited all the possibilities offered by the regulations. Under his guidance, the first car designed for one purpose only - to win rally races - was made. The two-seater car had a wedge-shaped plastic body. Its six-cylinder 2.4 litre engine, originating from Ferrari, developed a power which at the end of its course reached 300 HP, was arranged behind the driver and co-driver, to optimise weight.
The rules of the so-called Group 4 required a minimum production of 500 standard cars over 24 months for a rally car based on the standard model to be approved for racing. On October 1, 1974 Lancia convinced FISA, the International motor Racing Federation, that this number had been reached. Four days later, the Lancia Stratos won its first world championship race. It would go on winning until 1981. Fiorio's plan worked. The Lancia Stratos was virtually unbeatable. It won the Monte Carlo Rally three times in a row and conquered three manufacturer's championships (from 1974 to 1976). In 1978 Walter Röhrl drove the Lancia Stratos to win several German rally races.
Another particularity of the rules of Group 4 was that some technical modifications needed to be certified only on one hundred standard cars. Lancia exploited this opportunity to improve the Stratos by fitting a four valve header, a spoiler on the roof and a larger rear spoiler. One of these even rarer, evolved models, this one sporting a brilliant orange paintwork, will be making the characteristic roar of the V6 sound out on the circuit around the Schloss Dyck.
The third vehicle that Lancia will be presenting at the Classic Days meeting has a surprising parallel with the Stratos - a rear spoiler on the roof. But the similarities between the serial rally winner and the 1960 concept car known as the Loraymo end here. Famed designer Raymond Loewy, whose creations include the timeless shape of the Coca Cola bottle and the Lucky Strike cigarette trademark, designed the car and ordered it for his personal use from Turin-based coach builder Rocco Motto. The name 'Loraymo' is a portmanteau word formed by the designer's name and surname. This custom prototype, whose sleek aluminium body conceals the mechanics of the Lancia Flaminia, belongs to the Lancia collection.
Turin, 29 July 2015