The next time October rolls around on the calendar and you find yourself hankering for cars and travel, put Argentina and the weekend of AutoClásica on the top of your list.
As this is surely one of the largest vintage vehicle events in South America, I felt obligated to make the journey this year to bring back some coverage for 400-euro-job. So, I packed light, charged my batteries, and took a flight down to Buenos Aires last month with some high expectations for what I’d find.
AutoClásica has been celebrated every annum since its inception in 1998, and this year the full weekend of the event drew over 1,000 cars to the San Isidro horse racing track in Buenos Aires. Though I could barely care less about prizes, the fact that the trophy categories spanned from Best European to Best Unrestored meant the automotive crowd would offer a diverse mix of metal, and from the first few steps past the entrance, that’s exactly what I got.
The layout of the event was organized by club, with the cars from each marque more or less grouped together. Of these, the Ferrari turnout for the 70th anniversary of the brand was quite good, and featured a gorgeous 250 LM as the centerpiece of the collection. What was more interesting to me though was the 166/195 S Vignale Coupe wearing what looked to be its original paint and plenty of lovely patina. The 250 GT Boano pictured at the top with the Miura was another top car from the Ferrari section and the show as a whole.
Among the first groups that I saw in addition to the Ferrari display was a collection of racing cars from the Turismo Carretera (TC), the most important series in Argentina during the 1950s and the decades afterwards. In this group are cars like the Renault Torino and Ford Falcon, and they often featured some dramatic aerodynamic modifications over the regular road-going editions. The yellow Torino for instance, known as “La Liebre,” was a design by Heriberto Pronello that was one of the most successful in the TC thanks to its advanced bodywork and suspension engineering.
There was another section nearby for builders, and here I got to take in the details of the wild aero-car creation from Pur Sang. The Argentinian company is best known for their faithful recreations of ‘20s and ‘30s racing cars like the Bugatti 35, but this unique build, called the Pur Sang Nicola Romeo, is something else entirely. With a wild cocoon-like cabin set behind a WWI aircraft engine (a 14.7-liter Isotta Fraschini six-cylinder with 250-horsepower), there was little else like it at the show, and it reminded me of Jay Leno’s aircraft-powered Fiat Botafogo.
There were more standard-shaped cars of course, and they were equally deserving of attention. Take this silver Renault Torino for example; it was in absolutely mint condition, and provided a great contrast to the modified versions of the Torino that competed in the TC. It won the award fro the best car of American origin—it is derived from the the AMC Rambler—and besides the good looks of this example, the model was also known for having been driven in the 84-hour Marathon de la Route at the Nürburgring in 1969, driven by a team headed by Juan Fangio no less.
And speaking of vintage Grand Prix stars, there was also a Brabham BT16 in attendance (above), one of just 12 original cars produced for competition. Despite that car’s rarity and so many other special entrants, the red Bugatti Type 57C Gangloff would take Best of Show for the automobiles, while a 1926 Coventry Eagle Flying 8 B160 won for the two-wheelers.