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Auto e Moto d’Epoca Is an Italian Car Spectacular

All your favorite Giulias, Giuliettas, Barchettas, Ferraris, and fanciful Fiats under one roof—or 11 roofs and a lot of outdoors exhibits.

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Mark Vaughn

If you like Italian cars from the 1950s, ‘60s—and ‘70s, and if you’re reading this chances are you do—you absolutely have to get to Italy at least once in your life to see Auto e Moto d’Epoca (Vintage Cars and Motorcycles). I finally broke down and made the pilgrimage last week, and I can tell you as a Lancia Appia owner that it was overwhelming.

It’s like Hershey for Fiats. The annual marketplace of cool cars, car parts, and car books is simply massive. It’s been held in the 1.2 million square feet (28 acres!) of the Padua, Italy, exposition center since 1983, when it started as a sort of swap meet of cars and parts. Then it grew. And grew. And grew. Until, now, it’s so big that it’s moving to Bologna next year, where there is not only more space but where it will be right in the heart of Italian supercar central.

The show features 1600 exhibitors and 5000 cars and motorcycles. For comparison’s sake, there’s a show in Los Angeles next week called the Best of France and Italy, held November 6 at Woodley Park in Van Nuys, California, that was my previous favorite show in the world. That show typically has about 400 cars. Ha! Peanuts compared to Auto e Moto d’Epoca!

“This show is remarkable because it is truly heaven for anybody who loves Italian cars,” said author, star of “Jay Leno’s Garage” and current CEO of the Audrain Collection Donald Osborne. “You can find any part, any manual, any accessory, there are cars to sell, cars to buy, and great club resources here.”

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The first Ferrari ever made was the 125 S in 1947.

Mark Vaughn

Major manufacturers come to celebrate their heritage with special stands highlighting their ancient car lines. Ferrari Classiche, the agency that verifies your car’s authenticity, brought six beautiful and historic Ferraris, from a continuation copy of the very first Ferrari, the 125 S, to a Daytona, a Dino, and a perfectly preserved ravishing red F40.

“Each car has a history, each car has a particularity, and each car is certified by Ferrari Classiche,” said Michele Morano, director of Ferrari’s museums in Modena and Maranello. “The exhibition that we have bought here is Ferrari forever, because each Ferrari is forever.”

Roberto Giolito spent 32 years in the design departments at Fiat and Alfa Romeo and is now director of heritage for those brands as well as Lancia and Abarth. He brought a splendid collection of cars, from a Lancia Delta Integrale to a 1966 Fiat Abarth 1000 SP race car.

“It’s important to share this ‘historical’ vision because companies and brands, who owns the history, the methods, the know-how is important to connect in a project, in a future dimension, all this treasure,” Giolito said.

auto, autos, car, cars, classic cars, auto e moto d’epoca is an italian car spectacular

A Fiat Multipla anywhere in the States would be cause for celebration. Here, there were 15 of them.

Mark Vaughn

Even Mercedes-Benz shows up every year, with the latest example of a particular model and that model’s predecessors. This year the three-pointed star brought the new Mercedes-AMG SL 63, along with excellent examples of previous SLs.

“A show like this is driven by passion,” said Radek Jelinek, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Italia. “For many years we have been bringing one new model then we bring that model’s predecessors to show the heritage of the model.”

This is not like an old-school auto show; manufacturers are just one of many facets of the old car hobby present at d’Epoca. There are many restoration houses on hand with examples of their latest projects, all for sale.

HK Engineering came from Polling, Germany, and parked across from the Mercedes stand with two of its specialty models, the 300 SL. Eterna Classic Car Restorations came from the Piedmont area of Italy with the shiny machined metal shell of an Alfa Romeo Touring 1900 Sprint Speciale that looked so nice it seemed almost a shame that they were going to paint it. Red Carb Classic specialized in the restoration of carburetors and had about 200 of them on display.

“This show is remarkable because it is truly heaven for anybody who loves Italian cars.”

There were also classic car dealers, like Stefano Aleotti’s dealership Ruote da Sogno, which must have brought about 100 cars and motorcycles. Aleotti is selling more cars now than ever.

“It’s the perfect storm,” he said of the current climate for old car sales. “Before covid, people thought that we will all live forever, so they had to plan for the future and save money. Now they wish to live the life.”

And what a life. Osborne has been to Auto e Moto d’Epoca every year for the last 11 years and enjoys the cars and parts as much as the people.

“The enthusiasm, I mean, it’s an international show, you see Germans and the Brits and the French, and Americans now back, all here just to revel in Italian car glory, and bizarre parts of Italian car glory. I mean, an entire stand just for scooter and motorcycle parts? It’s an amazing thing. I always try to bring a sense of proportion here because I could buy everything.”

He’s bought two cars over the years and an endless number of books, manuals, and art. I myself sought out, found, and purchased an owner’s manual for a 1972 Lancia Fulvia HF Series II, for a friend who had just bought one of those cars. It wasn’t cheap, but you’re not going to find these things just laying around the library. You find them here at Auto e Moto.

“It’s one of those things that if you see it, buy it, because you’re not going to find another one. You haven’t seen that one for 30 years. And the chances are, I mean, how many Continental tank engines do you find at a flea market in the US?” Osborne asked as we were standing right next to a monster V12 engine the size of a couple of American washing machines.

Indeed, where else? Only here.

Plan to make it next year when the whole show moves to its new, even larger home in Bologna. Follow the show, and buy tickets, at autoemotodepoca.com.

Mark Vaughn Mark Vaughn grew up in a Ford family and spent many hours holding a trouble light over a straight-six miraculously fed by a single-barrel carburetor while his father cursed Ford, all its products and everyone who ever worked there.

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