I always knew that Saint-Moritz, in the swiss alps was one of the biggest mountain resort where car passionate use to come with their sports or collection cars. I had never been there since the month of July, when a few friends and me decided to go to the famous Stelvio Pass. So when I heard about a classic italian sports car rally taking place right at these beautiful places and mountains pass we went through, at the end of the month of August, I became very interested. And I became even more interested when I looked at the cars which had been subscribed. Two days before, I called two other friends, asking them if they wanted to go almost at the opposite of Switzerland for the week-end, and since they accepted, we hit the road on Saturday 24th of August, towards the Passione Engadina. Text & Images : Mickaël B., Romain D. ©

Part 1 : Saturday 24th August 2013 – Passione Engadina Rally

The Engadina, in the eastern Swiss alps, is considered as one of the most beautiful places in the world. If you have the opportunity of going there once, remember to go to Saint-Moritz and Davos which are the two main mountain stations, and both of them are absolutely beautiful. If you have a sport’s car, you will be amazed by the number of sublime mountain passes with twisty and yet wide enough roads where it is very easy to enjoy yourself. My greatest driving memories were forged back there at the Julierpass. On the road to Saint-Moritz I was very anxious though, because we encountered very heavy rain before Zurich, and I started wondering if there were going to be any participants at all, such the weather was catastrophic. But once we passed Zurich, on the way to Chur, the weather started to improve and I was feeling confident that there would be a few mad enough petrolheads who wouldn’t let the rain spoil their week-end fun with their italian sport’s car.


Luckily enough, we didn’t even need to go to our final destination to find out where the participants had gone. A few kilometers before the mountain station, we stumbled accross a group of italian sport’s car that unmistakably were part of the Passione Engadina Rally. I had no doubt that the Iso Rivolta Grifo, especially this very rare 7 litre model, wasn’t there by chance, moreover as it was following a Lancia Flaminia Supersport, an other blue Iso Grifo, and a Ferrari 512 BB Injection. So we decided to follow them, enjoying the sight, and the sounds.

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The roar of the big 7 litre V8 in these mountain roads and villages was only disturbed by the crackles of the Ferrari 512’s flat twelve engine, bursting into life to propel the beautiful berlinetta trying to distance the mighty Iso. On the twisty mountain passes, it was an easy task for the BB, using perfectly its lower centre of gravity, and better agility, but back in the straights the monstruous american L71 Chevrolet V8 was back in business and often catched back Modena’s creation with an amazing ease, that I never would have expected from a 1968 car. While cooling down both the driving rhythm and the cars before entering Saint-Moritz, a first generation 1955 Ford Thunderbird was waiting on the side of the road, probably for a friend, or maybe just to watch as a spectator the rally. Nevertheless, we were finally in Saint-Moritz, and the rain hadn’t discouraged too much participants it seemed, so we went to park our car and decided to have a look at the town and its nearby lake.

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In the mountain station’s main underground parking, a Lancia Fulvia HF was searching for a correct parking slot. This is a car I really never liked I have to say, because of the way it looks. No doubt that its numerous victories in the rally world championship testifies how good this car must be to drive, but its design is almost banal I think. So I wasn’t really disappointed not to have any clear shots, knowing especially I was surely going to see it the next day. We were barely out of the parking that a stunning full black exterior and interior Maserati Ghibli Spider passed by. This is a much sexy car for me, with its very pure design that could be resumed by the single line that goes from the bonnet to the back. It’s typical from the 1970s, and I find it absolutely gorgeous. A few seconds later, it was the turn of a Fiat 2400 Dino Spider to appear at the same place. Although this car has often been considered as an underdog, you have to remember the Dino engine had been prepared by Ferrari, and that alone, would have made it a great car. But the Fiat, because US dealers didn’t want to use the Dino badge, afraid they wouldn’t be able to sell the car, didn’t really have the success expected, especially compared to the Alfa Romeo Spiders of the same period.

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Looking around us, we found another parking with two marvellous cars parked : an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce and a Ferrari 275 GTB. I am not a big specialist for Alfa Romeo but I really appreciate their cars, and consider that every petrolhead must have an Alfa in his lifetime. Enzo Ferrari started his career with Alfa Romeos before starting his own company. They are the essence of the italian sport’s car. Well, let’s say, they were, because modern Alfas aren’t really anymore Quadrifoglio Verde’s since the disparition of the mighty 3.2 litre V6. Most enthusiasts of the Turin firm do consider indeed that the very last real Alfa Romeo are the 156 and 147 in their respective GTA versions. With much more presence than the Giulietta, the 275 GTB is Ferrari’s grand tourer by excellence. Coping with a bigger V12 than the 250s, it was as well heavier, but still really impressive to drive, and absolutely beautiful to look at. Considering the unreasonable value achieved by its 250 predecessors, the 275 is probably the best investment any collector would want to make, before in turn its price rises too much to be unaffordable. But be quick, as a good 275 is estimated around 1.5 million $.

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We walked a few meters to the arrival and check out point of the different cars. We decided to stay there a while to see the last cars, knowing we had missed the biggest part of the show, but we didn’t care. At first, my favourite Alfa Romeo arrived : a Giulia Sprint Junior. This car is absolutely incredible. This one had the smallest engine, the 1300 cc, which developed 110 horsepower, but that was totally enough to make it one of the best small and affordable sport’s car of the 1970s, as it weighed only 930 kilograms. The following car was even smaller, and even more fun to drive : an original 1967 Fiat Abarth 695 EsseEsse. This car is so small, and – women say – so cute, that every people adore it. Although it only has a two stroke, 38 horsepower engine, it is incredibly fast, behaves like a go-kart and can still beat some more modern, and more powerful supercars on some twisty mountain roads. Moreover, these Abarth 695 are becoming so rare and so exclusive their value has exploded through the years, and today a good one will cost you around 50’000 $, which is a lot if you look at the price per horsepower ! The most amazing fact of this car is that the engine was too big to fit in the rear trunk so Carlo Abarth had the idea of letting the bonnet opened, which had a great unexpected aerodynamic effect.

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Then came one of the star automobiles of this edition of the Passione Engadina, a 1970 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder, one of 122 original cars produced by Pininfarina. I had never seen one before, so I was very excited of this opportunity, especially because this blue livery model looked incredibly stunning in pictures. I have to admit that I always liked the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona but less than the Miura which is still my favorite 1970s favorite supercar. This is why if I had the opportunity to own a Daytona, I would search for one of the extreme Group 4 Competizione versions and not for one of the road ones. In real, this car is even better than in pictures, and must be quite a machine to drive, with the 4.4 liter “Colombo” V12 and the manual aluminium grilled gearbox. It was followed by a Maserati Bora, a car jointly built during the Citroën era of the brand, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro who worked at Italdesign at the time, and one of only 564 cars ever built from 1971 and 1978. Its rear longitudinally mounted V8 could develop up to 330 horsepower, with a manual 5 speed gearbox offered high performance with a top speed of no less than 275 km/h, which made it one of the fastest cars of its era, with the Lamborghini Miura, and the Ferrari Daytona. Its design was later used for the Maserati Merak with the main differences being the rear tail of the car, the 2+2 seating configuration of the Merak, whereas the Bora was a strict two seater, and the engines available, as the Merak was only proposed with six cylinder engines.

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We decided to move a little bit and headed towards the main Saint-Moritz avenue, where we stumbled across a Lancia Flaminia Supersport by Zagato, one of only 150 cars built. This white livery car is one of the finest Lancia ever built, with the 150 horsepower 2.8 liter dual overhead camshaft V6, the Kammback rear, and the new front headlights in order to improve aerodynamics of the car. Introduced back in 1954, the Lancia Flaminia Super Sport is often considered one of Lancia’s holy grail, and probably one of the brands prettiest cars for sure. Alongside a B24S Aurelia America Spider, it must be absolutely perfect for about any car collection. Parked near the local post office, an E Type convertible was waiting for its owner, and of course, as the Passione Engadina is limited to Italian cars, couldn’t have joined the event apart as from a spectator point of view. We headed towards the lake of Saint-Moritz, and as we were crossing a road on a bridge, another British car materialized. This British Racing Green gold rimed Lotus Exige passed by, and considering the amazing roads we had already been through, I couldn’t imagine how much fun he just had on the amazing mountain passes surrounding Saint-Moritz.

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Saint-Moritz is an amazing place in Switzerland, located in the Canton des Grisons, and is reknown for its Palaces, such as the Kulm, or the Suvretta, its Polo games, and its thermal cures. It is one of the oldest ski resort in the entire world, and it held the Olympic Winter Games twice in its history, in 1928 and 1948, and as well numerous times the world ski championship. The village itself is divided in two, Saint-Moritz Dorf on top, and Saint-Moritz Bad, and was the first city in Switzerland to have electric lightning as well as a ski lift. Thanks to the very cold temperatures, the lakes get frozen and it is therefore possible to organize multiple activities such as ice driving experiences, curling or ice skating.

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While walking we stumbled upon a Ferrari 275 GTS, one of only 200 units produced by the Maranello factory, and sold at its time 14’500 $, which seems nothing compared to its current value, estimated over 1.5 million $. Born in 1964 as a successor to the 250 Series II cabriolet, and presented at the Paris Motorshow with a revised 3.3 liter Colombo V12 “Tipo 213” developing 260 horsepower, it could allow the GTS a top speed of over 250 km/h. It was as well the first convertible Ferrari equipped with four independent suspensions. In this light blue livery, it was magnificent.

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Then being a little hungry we decided to go to one of the local malls, where we found firstly a second series Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider “Codatronca”, presented in 1969 at the Turin Motorshow. Its main differentiation was its rear, its stainless steel bumpers, and in the front, the loss of the front light’s glass. The Series II was proposed along its carrier with four different engines, all four cylinders : the 1300 for the Spider Junior (1972-1977), the 1600 (1972-1983), the Spider Veloce 1750 (1969-1972), and the Spider Veloce 2000 (1971-1983). Second to arrive was a first series red Lamborghini Diablo VT. Correcting all the problems from the original Diablo, it was introduced in 1993 with a four-wheel drive system, a new braking system, new suspensions and new dampers. With its 5.7 liter V12 still producing 490 horsepower, it allowed the Diablo to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 4 seconds and reach a top speed of 325 km/h.

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Just as we were arriving at the local store, I saw what I thought was a Dino 246 GT but hadn’t much time to confirm it as the owner was heading back to the city centre. We decided to go there, trying to find back the car, and a few cars from the event were still arriving, like this beautiful yellow Maserati 3200 GT, a color I had never seen on this car before. A white Lamborghini LP570-4 Performante, the hardcore roadster version of the Gallardo, convertible version of the Superleggera had arrived too and was parked near the official tribune. Luckily for us, we found back our mysterious Dino just a few meters away from our parking. We took back our car, and while on the way to our hotel in Saint-Moritz Bad, I remember thinking of how much this glimpse of the Passione Engadina event had already enchanted me. So it was with an unexpected excitation that I waited for the next morning and the rest of the event.

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