2 Dec 2012

Confessional - Why Italian cars leave me cold

Matt Hubbard confesses to his lack of feeling towards Italian cars.  This is a new series and we would welcome contributions.  If you would like to confess about something car related please get in touch.

I remember the last time I really lusted after an Italian supercar.  It was 1983 and Cannonball Run had appeared on television for the first time.  The combination of the Lamborghini Countach and it's two female occupants were a potent combination when viewed by a twelve year old boy.  I wanted that Lamborghini.  I wanted to drive it and I wanted to spend time in the company of those two ladies.

Fast forward 29 years and I can honestly say that is the last time an Italian car proved to cause me more than a small frisson of pleasure.  I know that this is an almost criminal thing to say when coming from an avowed petrol head, but it's true.  I confess.  With some honourable exceptions I don't really like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Paganis, Alfas or Lancias.  And I would rather drive a wheelbarrow than a Fiat.

The honourable exceptions are the Lancia Stratos, the Lancia Delta Integrale, the Ferrari 360 (which Martin Brundle owned and didn't like) and the Ferrari 308.  I love the Stratos and Delta for their rally pedigree and sheer motorsport fever.  I like the 360 and 308 because of their shapes.

I can't put my finger on exactly why I don't have much of a thing for Italian cars.  Maybe it's the reputation for rust, maybe it's the rather xenophobic view that Italians can't do electrics.  Maybe it's the Fiat M13/40 tanks of WW2 that caused so many Italian soldiers to die in the desert at El Alamein because they were poorly constructed, broke down and used rivets instead of welds which whizzed around inside the vehicle, when the tank was shelled, killing the occupants.

I've tried to like Italian cars, I really have.  I've cooed at F40s, I've oohed over Maseratis, I've nodded my head in agreement when I've been told all true petrol-heads must have owned an Alfa at some point in their life (but didn't really mean it).  Alfa Romeos break down a lot, are front wheel drive and break down a lot.  And they break down a lot.  And bits of their interior comes off in your hands.

I've watched Formula 1 for 18 years and have never celebrated when Ferrari won a race, except at the hands of Eddie Irvine.

Instead, my unusual and un-Italian penchant for fast cars has covered almost every other country's automative output.  I love DB5s, I would kill for an E-Type, I want an AMG Mercedes of any type, I think Porsches are ├╝ber cool, I have a thing for American muscle cars, I will own an Audi Quattro before I die, I think Holden Commodore's are ace, I've owned several Land Rovers, I quite like some BMWs, I've owned and loved Subarus, I would love to (but probably won't) have a go in a McLaren F1 at some point and when I win the lottery I will put my name down for a Porsche 918.

For me the true supercars that put a shiver down my spine or either German or British.  This year I've driven a Jaguar XKR-S, and almost exploded with pleasure, and a Mercedes C 63 AMG Black series, which was the finest sounding modern car my ears have ever heard.  The car I am most looking forward to driving next year is the Jaguar F-Type and I am seriously considering buying a Porsche 996 Carrera coupe (I can't afford a 997).

In fact the only modern Italian car that really floats my boat is the Maserati Grancabrio MC.  And that's because it looks like a Jaguar XKR.

I'm sorry.  I'm sorry if I've offended you lovers of Italian cars.  I'm sorry if I'm not considered a true petrol-head because I don't like Maseratis and I'm sorry that I don't like Ferraris.  I can't help it.  I don't like Italian cars.  Don't hold it against me.