The historical re-enactment of the Mille Miglia will be held from 19 to 22 May. This is the race famously defined by Enzo Ferrari as "the most beautiful travelling museum in the world". Now in its 34th edition, the event will welcome several rare classic Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo vehicles from the FCA Heritage collection, the new structure that coordinates all the company's activities in the world of classic motoring. In line with tradition, this old-fashioned race - of which Alfa Romeo is the "Automotive Sponsor" - will start and end in Brescia, having travelled through some of the most striking locations in Italy, with the turning point in Rome.
These rare vehicles will be accompanied by the latest new FCA models, confirming that eternal link between the icons of the past and the vehicles currently produced by the group. In particular, the new Giulia, will have the honour of setting the pace. This model is the Alfa Romeo brand's most exciting innovation this year, presented to the international press over the last few days. Additionally, visitors to the Mille Miglia 2016 will be able to admire the new Lancia Ypsilon Mya special series, launched in mid-April and characterised by its even more elegant and sophisticated style, and the new Fiat 124 Spider. The latter is an essential part of the long tradition of Spiders produced by Fiat (represented at the Mille Miglia event by two illustrious models) and is intent on capturing the passion of the new generation with its attractive style and exceptional performances. And indeed it will be a new Fiat 124 Spider that follows the entire race, drafting a special road journal. Finally the organisers of the race in Brescia can rely on a fleet of the New Giulietta, the recently redesigned Alfa Romeo model that presents a strong family feeling with the new Giulia.
The mythical "Freccia Rossa" itinerary once again sets the stage for the 6C 1750 Gran Sport from 1930, the 1900 Sport Spider from 1954 and the 1900 Super Sprint from 1956. Just three superb cars from the Alfa Romeo Historic Museum, chosen to travel the roads where the real competitive Mille Miglia race used to take place (from 1927 to 1957), won by the Brand's cars no less than eleven times: a record that can never be beaten.
All eyes will especially be on the 6C 1750 Gran Sport, the legendary model in which Tazio Nuvolari and Giovanni Battista Guidotti won the Brescia-based race in 1930. As well as the famous "overtaking in the dark" episode, that edition also saw Nuvolari achieve the unprecedented feat of averaging 100 km/h over the entire course. The bodywork was created by Milan atelier Zagato, and still draws gasps of admiration from those lucky enough to see it today.
Also taking part this year, the 1900 Sport Spider of 1954 produced in just two units. Equipped with the 4-cylinder twin-cam dry sump "1900" engine, developing power up to 138 HP, this racing roadster reaches speeds of 220 km/h, thanks to a weight of just 880 kg and particularly efficient aerodynamics. With its beautiful Bertone design, the 1900 Sport Spider comes with a 5-speed transmission and a De Dion rear axle: performance and driveability worthy of a modern car, reactive and reliable, with outstanding road-holding abilities.
Joining them on the 2016 Mille Miglia racing roads is the 1900 Super Sprint from 1956, an elegant coupé with Touring bodywork in a "gran tourism" version of the 1900, the model that became famous in the 1950s for its advertising claim "the family car that wins races". The 1900 SS is no newcomer to the Brescia-based event, since in the 1950s, when the competitive race was still held, it was chosen by many "private" drivers, on account of its superb performance and reliability.
In other words, three extremely rare cars which proudly represent the exquisite collection housed in the renovated Alfa Romeo Historic Museum in Arese, known as "La macchina del tempo". Its spacious rooms display the 69 models which have most sumptuously marked the evolution not only of this brand, but also of the history of the motorcar: from the first model, built by the Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, the 24 HP, to the P2 thanks to which Alfa Romeo won the first Automobile World Championship in 1925; from legendary winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, like the 8C 2300, to the Grand Prix Alfetta 159 with which Juan Manuel Fangio won the Formula 1 Championship in 1951, and on down to sporting glories such as the 33 TT 12 of the 1970s and the 155, which won the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft in 1993. Info and opening hours at www.museoalfaromeo.com.
The Brescia-based race will also witness the participation of a rare Lancia Ardea from 1939 - a saloon vehicle from the first series - driven by Kasia Smutniak, the Polish actress who now lives in Italy and has been the ambassador of the Ypsilon model since 2015. This will reinforce the historical link between Lancia and women, embodied by the creation of the Ardea, which was designed thanks to the determination of Adele Miglietti, the widow of Vincenzo Lancia. She was indeed the person responsible for bringing her husband's idea to life, reproducing in a reduced scale of 9/10 the forms of the glorious Aprilia saloon, already a favourite with the general public and critics alike. The Ardea that resulted was small and manageable but also featured a modern aerodynamic design, making the vehicle easy on fuel consumption and high on performance, also thanks to the smallest engine ever built by Lancia: a V4 engine displacing 903 cc, with 28 HP and cylinders in a diecast cast iron monobloc, together with base and connecting rods in Duralumin. Despite these characteristics, it would turn out to be an excellent engine, reliable over time and in any case capable of reaching 105 km/h.
Compared with the dimensions of the Aprilia, in the Ardea, the length and width of the chassis were resized and the body was lightened, but it retained the same aerodynamic design and characteristic curved rear part of its predecessor. All this helped to reduce the fuel consumption: only 7 litres of petrol per 100 km, an almost unique performance back then.
In just 3.615 metres of space, the Ardea featured all the technical solutions used in the rest of the range, such as the independent front wheel suspensions, the Silentbloc bushes on the rear and the rapid change 4-gear mechanism. Despite its "economy car" dimensions, it did however feature all the traditional Lancia characteristics in terms of elegance and style: interiors in soft fabric, available in leather upon request, a full range of controls and other small, useful accessories such as the clock and the satin curtain at the rear window.
Produced in four series, until 1953, the Ardea - which provided the inspiration for the Ypsilon that is produced today - also succeeded in achieving important sporting results in the Mille Miglia race, where, in 1947 it won an important victory in its category.
The starting grid will also welcome two fascinating Fiat Spiders with an important history under their belts: the 508S from 1934, known as the "Balilla Coppa d'Oro", and the 1100 TV Trasformabile from 1955. In particular, the first vehicle takes its name from the victory won in the "Coppa d'oro del Littorio" in 1934. Characterised by its continuous red mudguards (the Mille Miglia version had separated them from the rest of the bodywork), the vehicle derives directly from the Fiat 508 S Balilla Sport from 1933, a two-seater Spider with cabriolet body and spoked wheels. The Fiat vehicle has a front-mounted 995 cc engine with side valves at the front, a maximum output of 30 HP and a Zenith 30 carburettor. Its maximum speed is approximately 110 km/h.
It should also be remembered that the first model in the range (the Fiat 508 Balilla from 1932), together with the 500 Topolino from 1936, was the final result of a long pathway embarked upon by Fiat starting in the early 1920s, when it began to think about designing smaller, lighter vehicles with less powerful engines that consumed less and, most importantly of all, were more affordable to run. These circumstances led to the birth of the first project designed to create small vehicles, known as the "500 project". This is why the pioneer cars Balilla and Topolino were known commercially as the Fiat 501 and Fiat 509, but would later be called the Fiat 508 Balilla and the Fiat 500 Topolino. The Balilla was presented in 1932, and the classic saloon and torpedo versions were immediately accompanied by a more brilliant, elite Spider version. In 1933, the latter was developed to produce the 508 S Balilla Sport - proposed in the Coppa d'oro and Mille Miglia versions - and the next year a version with an enhanced 36 HP engine made its debut.
The second vehicle participating in the Mille Miglia 2016 is the Fiat 1100 TV Trasformabile from 1955, a charming 2-seater, 2-door Spider with chromed radiator grille, panoramic windscreen, reclinable seats and white wrapped tyres. Fitted with an enhanced 1089 cc 50 HP engine and a Weber 36 carburettor, the vehicle reaches a maximum speed of 143 km/h. Its dynamic performances are also excellent thanks to the use of independent wheel front suspensions and anti-roll bar - both front and rear - which guarantee a high level of reliability in curves and a smooth driving experience.
Thanks to these features, the Fiat 1100 TV Trasformabile is often used for sporting activities, including the Mille Miglia, but always by private individuals, as back then no official Fiat racing team existed. It is also important to remember that the Fiat 1100 TV Trasformabile - of which only 142 vehicles were made - was based directly on the "TV" version (Turismo Veloce) of the Fiat 1100. Compared with the 4-seater sedan from 1953 with self-supporting body, which was an immediate success, the "TV" version offered an engine with a higher performance, and a double-bodied Weber carburettor. The latter, together with the modified transmission system, ensured better performances. Additionally, several changes made to the bodywork - such as the addition of a fog light to the centre of the grille, the two-toned paintwork, the white wraps in the tyres, the reclinable seats and carpeted mats - definitely improve the aesthetics of this vehicle, while detracting nothing from the elegance of the design.
Turin, 17 May 2016