The classic car race that every enthusiast wants to drive at least once. For many classic car enthusiasts, the Mille Miglia is the pinnacle event of the year, once dubbed “la corsa la più bella del mondo” by Enzo Ferrari – and we are inclined to agree. For several years in a row, we have had the opportunity to be at this beautiful Italian race, supporting our customers participating in the four-day rally in a restored car. It feels like coming home every time again … Not only is this one of the world’s most scenic rallies, guiding you through the beautiful Italian landscapes and mountain areas, but the event is also a magical rebirth of a race that was driven almost a hundred years ago. It’s no wonder that the Mille Miglia is the ultimate rally for many classic car fanatics. It is our pleasure to help our customers experience this unique Mille Miglia experience.
la corsa la più bella del mondoEnzo Ferrari
In recent years, several of our customers took their position at the start of the rally. It’s not a given, because you can’t participate in this event with just any old car. And there is the rally itself, which is sensational, but also very difficult and very demanding on the car. In short, the Mille Miglia requires specific expertise that we, as enthusiasts of the Italian sports cars, have delved into. For the rally, we’re not just looking for a suitable car, but we also prepare the car in our workshop and transport it safely to Brescia. And ultimately, together with our team, we are on-site to provide technical assistance day and night during the race, so that our customers can enjoy a thousand miles carefree, as it should be.
Racing the Mille Miglia with a car dating from the original time, a car that exudes the atmosphere of the original race is what makes the best experience of the Mille Miglia, in our opinion. At the time, the racing cars were generally not Maseratis or Ferrari Barchettas, but etceterini: small, self-built Italian racing cars. After all, most of the participants at the time were ordinary Italians who just wanted to indulge in their hobby and build a competition vehicle with their friends in their spare time according to their own means. They made their own sports car based on the popular Fiat cars. The real Mille Miglia was, therefore, a colourful varied display of diverse, small, but powerful sports cars.
We delved into the etceterinis in recent years and have gone looking for these ex-Mille Miglia cars in Italy. As passionate about Italian classic cars as the Italians themselves, it’s a task that Bernard gladly undertakes, all the while delighting in using his knowledge of the Italian language. Following this, Luc repairs and restores the Italian-sourced etceterinis in the Brussels workshop so that they are completely ready for racing again. Dozens of Marreyt etceterinis have already participated in the most beautiful race in the world in recent years, below we highlight some of their stories.
The Maggiorelli brothers broke the speed record in their category in 1949 with an average speed of no less than 94.306 km/h with the Giannini 750 Sport. An extraordinary achievement at a time when the Mille Miglia track was not yet made of neatly paved motorways, but of narrow gravel tracks through the Apennines, and added to that driven by a small but nippy car.
We’re inclined to describe it as heroic and without a doubt put it alongside the victory and the Mille Miglia speed record set in 1955 by Stirling Moss, who incidentally drove the race with a clearly more powerful Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Spider. Bernard was delighted when he found the original car in Italy owned by the son and nephew of the original participants, Giovanni Maggiorelli. The car was in Giovanni’s house in a dedicated room surrounded by posters, books, and photos showing the history of the car and the participation in the race. It goes without saying that it was an emotional handover … The Giannini was not just any car, but a piece of family history and it was regarded as a child by Maggiorelli. But our promise was clear and genuine: we would return the car to where it belonged at the start of the most beautiful race in the world. And so we did.
The Giannini 750 Sport has been riding the Mille Miglia for several years. As for Maggiorelli? Not only is he a faithful spectator at the race every year, watching his family’s Giannini and wondering “why don’t they drive faster”, he has also become a friend. Bernard invariably visits him during his travels to Tuscany and is always served a delicious bistecca alla fiorentina.
This 1953 Moretti 750 Sport was entirely built by an Italian manufacturer, right down to the engine. The model dubbed the "Alger Le Cap", is known for having won multiple races, such as the Alger-Le Cap rally. The Moretti is also an ex-Mille Miglia car and once broke the speed record in the first heat before breaking down and having to give up.
It didn’t take more for us to be charmed by this classic car and convince the new owners in 2014 to participate again in the Mille Miglia and – why not? – attempt to break the hour record again as it was back then. We did not break the record, but we did pay tribute to the participants of the time, and that’s what matters.
Nothing is more fun than stumbling upon a unique find during the hunt for a classic car. This was the case when, after a few insider tips, we discovered this 1955 Fiat 1100 S Marino Spider in Italy. This classic car designed by Italian “sports car wizard” Marino Brandoli, testifies to the best technology and the best craftsmanship of the time and has a great sports history with, among other things, two Mille Miglia participations in 1955 and 1956.
The fully-aluminium body was designed by super designer Michelotti and built by Carrozzeria Motto from Turin, and the tubular chassis was created by Gilco (Gilberto Colombo). The concept of the engine was ingenious, it’s, in fact, the 1100S with a special Marino cylinder head, but which could be adapted by replacing the connecting rods according to the participation in the 750cc class or the 1100cc class. In short, this classic car is the cream of the crop in its category.
We restored this magnificent classic car, which was in excellent condition and in a completely original state, from a preservation point of view. She then returned to Italy to participate in the Mille Miglia two more times. Today this Marino Spider is part of a Belgian private collection, but majestic as it is and as an example of what we think are the most professionally developed etceterini, it will always remain in our hearts a little bit as “our classic car”.
Why not join the Mille Miglia with a sedan car prepared for rally driving that will make the hearts of all Italians beat faster? This 1953 Fiat 1100 Tipe 103 Berlina is a Mille Miglia regular: the car originally participated in 1956 and 1957, but ended up with us a few years ago and took part in the Italian dream race no less than six times after restoration! A small but fine car in excellent condition that drives surprisingly smoothly …
A few years ago it quickly became apparent that this Fiat is gathering fans. The car, which was at the start of the Mille Miglia for the first time again in fifty years, received a lot of attention. Wherever it passed by, cries of “Millecento!” could be heard from enthusiastic Italians. After all, there is no more recognisable car for the Italian spectators than this iconic Fiat, which evokes the same nostalgia as a Citroën 2CV does for a Frenchman or a Volkswagen Beetle for a Belgian. The US owners at the time were so surprised by this cheerful reception that they returned to Brescia with the Fiat five subsequent times, taking a different co-pilot to share the remarkable experience every time. And that’s what it’s all about for us: enjoying the classic car experience.
How lucky we are to continue writing the story of so many beautiful classic cars with wonderful Mille Miglia anecdotes … We eagerly look forward to this annual date in our diary. Starting with Bernard's search for the appropriate etceterini to the preparation and live assistance by Luc, we insist that our customers experience the same unprecedented classic car experience that we ourselves cherish. It is therefore with quite some pride that we can say that all Marreyt classic cars that participated in the Mille Miglia finished the rally without any problems. The greatest experience at the most spectacular race in the world.