Up until 1978, the extent of my travels by car had taken me to California and back. My sole trip via air was a family vacation to Florida in my late teens. The only time I had been out of the U.S. was a quick trip to Toronto while a college student.
When my mother and several other family members planned a visit to Italy, I signed on, thinking that the food and the cars would offset the less-desirable attribute of traveling with relatives.
We were there for two weeks in September of 1978. The only one in our foursome not fluent in Italian was me, and since we spent most of our time visiting family members, none of whom spoke English, things could get boring. To entertain myself, I would venture out on my own and purchase car magazines (in Italian, natch), and teach myself how to translate automotive technical terms.
My camera for the trip was a Kodak 110 Instamatic, with negatives the size of your pinky nail. It is amazing that the snapshots looked as good as they did. While most of my photos were of relatives, I did capture some interesting machinery on the street. It’s not surprising that the cars which fascinated me 38 years ago are the cars which fascinate me today. Some things, as the cliché goes, never change.
There was no driving by me during this journey. That would change for my next European visit.
BELOW: This Lancia Fulvia Coupe is from the late ’60s/early ’70s and is already an “old car” for the Italian streets. I always admired its tall greenhouse, reminiscent to me of the Fiat 124 Coupe I had owned. Note the lack of a rear bumper.
BELOW: This Volvo 66 (really a Dutch Daf with a Volvo grille) was the first non-U.S. Volvo I had ever seen.
BELOW: This late ’60s Alfa Romeo Giulia GT Coupe is done up to mimic a GTA (on the presumption that it is not a real race-bred GTA). There was no way to determine if the Turbo badging was only an honorary add-on. Like the Lancia, the rear bumper was removed in an effort to add a dash of sportiness.
BELOW: At the time of my visit, I owned a ’77 VW Rabbit. The GTi hot hatch version was something that Americans could only dream about, and here was one barrelling down the strada.
BELOW: While being driven to southern Italy by my mother’s cousin, we were forced to come to a temporary stop while a farmer herded his sheep (and other farm animals) across the road. Admittedly, the photo was actually an attempt to capture the herding, but the Opel Kadett happened to be there. (Based on that crowded back seat, it looks like its driver is doing his own herding.)
BELOW: This Fiat 124 sedan, owned by my mother’s cousin, was our transportation for 8 hours as we were driven to southern Italy. My mom and aunt patiently wait in the back seat for the herding to end.
BELOW: On the streets of Rome, I came across this Fiat Dino Coupe, a car that I had certainly read about, but had never seen until now. Look at the dirt which has been kicked up by the front tire onto the fender and rocker panel – this is someone’s daily driver.
All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.