A convoy to Italy
Villa D'este is an ancient palace within a park on the edge of Lac Como in Italy, it has lush woodlands, large gardens with manicured lawns, and a perfect lakeside aspect. A modern conference and exhibition centre is located here too.
Every Spring a Concorso D'elegance is hosted here by BMW, where the world's finest antique cars and motorcycles are displayed, BMW traditionally reveals its newest showcar project here too.
This year BMW was displaying its new 8 series concept, and 8 series models of the past. Your foreign correspondent was closely involved with the new model, in fact he designed it! Your man John suggested the best way to visit the show in Italy would be in a red, white and blue Integrale convoy. We agreed, this is the story!
We had available a red and white Evo1, and a lord blue Evo2, I was tasked with making these cars roadworthy for our trip. Each car had its problems, the red Evo's was rust, the white car had poor boost, and the blue car's exhaust and brakes needed attention. I was all winter welding the red car, Pro-Tec fixed the white car, and the blue car was successfully fixed, and chose its own exhaust!
MOTs, tax and insurance were all obtained, but the red car kept throwing up unexpected problems. I hoovered the car's interior the day before leaving and the hoover sucked the sunroof lining down its pipe! The fuel return hose sprung a leak, and then the screw behind the driver's door interior lock decided its thread was stripped, and blocked the lock.
I had a late night fixing all these problems, obviously the red car didn't fancy the long trip, it put up a fair fight. It's last tantrum was breaking one parcel shelf hook, I just laughed at this!
On Friday morning we set off for the Channel tunnel, we got to London by the afternoon, the M25 was murder! Coming from the quiet roads up North the congestion down there is always a shock.
We got to the tunnel 18.30, 30mins after our booked slot, the tunnel took full advantage of this and bounced us to a train after midnight. The service was busy and chaotic, we got to Calais about 2 the next morning, then we drove to our first stop at Reims.
It was dark driving down through the empty roads of France, not really improved by the faint glow of our Delta's headlights. I had
read about huge fines being applied for speeding in France, so we drove extra carefully, this was probably a complete waste of time!
Dawn was well under way when we drove into our tourist hotel, but the night desk staff were welcoming and we were glad to rest.
The three Integrales had functioned perfectly, running cool in the traffic and on the highway, just needing a tank of super unleaded
now and again.
Our early morning arrival at Reims travel hotel.
Our Como hotel view
Sat nav is just guessing now!
Not in the cars boys!
Next morning we were up and out by 8, a quick fluids check, then off over the Alps to Switzerland, into Italy then Como town.
This trip was straightforward, I'd bought French toll tags for the cars which were really useful, especially for drag racing away from the quick lifting barriers.
The tunnels under the Alps were used as competitive echo chambers by our crew, I was going even more deaf by the end of the day. We arrived early evening in Como, and got lost looking for our town centre hotel, we followed each other through a piazza basket ball game and pedestrian only shopping streets. We found the hotel eventually, on foot, it was wonderfully non-modern, with great restaurants nearby.
Entering Switzerland, with a 40 Euro vignette to purchase.
3 Evos echoing through
the Alpine tunnels
Click to watch video.
Como is a beautiful, ancient city. As with much of urban Italy there is decay,
and modern style too, both respected and enjoyed by the passionate population.
We are choosing our places on the empty top floor of the Como city multi storey car park. This modern structure is impressive, with beautiful views over the city rooftops.
Next morning we checked out of the hotel, collected our Deltas from the car park, and headed for Ville D'este.
The winding road was very congested, just like the M25!
Unlike the M25 it was busy with joggers, cyclists and crazy motor scooterists. A huge number of cars were looking for a small number of parking spaces, we did a few turns and eventually found some spaces by a lake slipway. I enjoyed seeing a Panda 4x4 being used as a boat launcher.
I didn't think anyone could squeeze in where we were parked, but when we got back
2 more cars had done!
We had to use Italian style to get parked together.
We got into the event main hall and John's 8 series concept was centre stage, slowly rotating under beautiful lighting, with a large admiring crowd. This 8 series is a new design direction for BMW, and we are very proud of our John's achievement, he's worked hard on this project and it shows in the result.
Heading into the exhibition centre.
George Clooney? No! Delta crew!
This is what we'd come to see, a modern and exciting new model from BMW.
A new simpler style for BMW, and a great achievement for our John
The new 8 series was shown with all its predecessors, it was a great display.
Outside, many priceless antique cars and bikes were on show, with race and rally champs of the past, an auction was held too, as well as the actual Concourse d'elegance
held in front of an admiring grandstand of well fed enthusiasts.
It was a busy and interesting show, warm sun and lovely surroundings
Among many other things! the challenges of running and repairing Lancia Deltas, with the patience and good humour required, have given our lad a practical and patient outlook which has helped overcome the challenges of this major BMW project.
Meanwhile, back at the car park, Bob's red car's front tyre was going flat, and the car was squirting out steering fluid on full left lock. The white car was smelling badly of fuel. All the cars were running on Mobil1, and had used no oil so far, running cool and smooth
in all the different conditions.
So we set off North for home, looking for an air pump and avoiding tight left turns. The patience and good humour will be needed
The Delta trio had so far not missed a beat. Problems were beginning to appear however,
but we had plenty of people, tools, and all the fluids required. Provincial Italian gas stations
are self serve on a Sunday, with the air hoses locked away, we didn't get air until just over
the Swiss border, at a typically Swiss very well equipped facility.
So we continued North towards Strasbourg, more in part 2, here