On the very same day the dilettantes were oohing and aahing at the bazillion-dollar restorations on the other side of the country at the Hilton Head Island Concours, where judges were tisk-tisking the blades of grass in the tread patterns of the otherwise-perfect wheeled juggernauts, and gentlemen in straw hats were sipping tea with pinkies extended just so, on this same day on the opposite coast was held the Best of France and Italy car show, right there in the dust and dirt of the very public Woodley Park in California’s fabulous San Fernando Valley, where strip malls go to die.
And yet we love this little show.
There were more Fiat Abarths than anything else on the field.
See, there are thousands of really cool little French and Italian cars hiding in stucco garages all over Southern California, ferreted away by owners hoping to one day fix them up and get them running in their former, imagined glory. There are Renaults, Panhards, Citroens, Alfas, Lancias and thousands and thousands of Fiats. The Best of F&I gives these car connoisseurs something to shoot for, a deadline by which they either have to get them all running or face eviction, divorce or both. So in that sense, the show is a public service.
And it’s free to the public. Owners have only to pay 20 bucks online or $25 at the gate to drive onto their own little patch of Pebble-in-The-Valley.
Above are our 30 favorites. The show is always held the first Sunday in November. So start looking around now for parts and get that Lancia Appia running.
Editor’s Note: The same guys put on The Queen’s English in the spring, featuring the best of British cars. Tallyho!