Roof-top experience: Italian motoring group’s 50th anniversary

A Maserati makes a lap on the roof-top test track at the Lingotto in Torino, Italy | Dirk de Jager photos
A Maserati makes a lap on the roof-top test track at the Lingotto in Torino, Italy | Dirk de Jager photos

Last weekend, the ASI — Automotoclub Storico Italiano — celebrated its 50th anniversary. As the governing body for all clubs related to anything running with an engine, ASI has always been located in the heart of the Italian motoring industry — Torino.

At the anniversary kickoff, a symposium was held earlier in the week at the Torino Auto Museum in conjunction with FIVA, the Fedération Internationales des Véhicules Anciens, which also celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. FIVA has member organizations in 65 nations, including the Historic Vehicle Association in the U.S., all dedicated to the preservation, protection and promotion of historic vehicles and related culture.

This was only the third time that both organizations held a symposium together, and the last one was in 2008.

Classic cars on the roof of the old Fiat factory
Classic cars on the roof of the old Fiat factory

With 2016 designated as a World Motor Heritage Year by FIVA, the Heritage Forum actually started early in the month in Paris, came here, will move to Allentown, Pennsylvania, in mid-October and then will wrap up in Paris in November.

The focus of the Torino session was “the importance of the historic vehicle. Cultural, artistic, historic, social, economic and technologic aspects of motoring.”

Keynote speakers came from various fields of the industry. One of the most interesting, at least for me, was the presentation by Rodolphe Rapetti about the preservation of the French automobile heritage and how the group is working with the French government and businesses to accomplish its goals.

Yet Adolpho Orsi probably provided some of the best quotes discussing automobile collecting. He referred to collecting as a disease, and said that cars are autoMOBILEs, not auto-IMOBILEs and while acknowledging that they are investments, he encouraged owners to drive their collector cars.

The big draw of the ASI event involved cars in motion. On Friday afternoon cars began to arrive in the area of the Lingotto, the famed old Fiat factory. Saturday morning, 135 cars got to drive up to the roof and circle the factory’s old and fabled test track.

Since the name of the club is Automoto, it was not just only classic cars participating but a second group comprising 42 classic motorcycles also participated in the ASI gathering, as did 50 utilitarian and military vehicles.

Each group had its own driving round in the area, but all gathered near the city center where the public could view them, as well as vintage trucks and tractors.

After which the rest of the day was spent having a long lunch. Heck, we are in Italy after all, the land of great food.

The schedule for Sunday was similar, a morning drive followed by a long lunch.

The most interesting aspect of the gathering was the diversity of vehicles. Yes, they were mostly Italian cars, but many were models you rarely see at any other event.

The gathering wasn’t so much about the value of the vehicles but the passion of collecting and preserving the rich history and heritage of the rich various brands. Meetings like this make it interesting for all the aficionados to see cars that otherwise might be neglected and forgotten in the allure of higher-profile events.

Photography by Dirk de Jager

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