Canio Gigante, Italy
You may ask why I don’t own a modern Fiat or why I don’t own a Classic Alfa Romeo or Lancia being based here in Italy. The answer is simple: there were both MADE IN ENGLAND and, as I was born in England, the reason might just be sentimental.
I’m a quite proud to have been born in England and to be a British citizen even though I’m an Italian by descent. That probably explains why I’ve purchased two British cars for the same reason that most Italian people buy Italian cars.
I purchased the almost anonymous 75 pictured because this was, at the time, almost certainly the last chance for me to buy a car which came from the same source as my Wolseley.
OK, you can’t see in the pictures:
‘Triplex – Made in England’ on the windows.
‘Lucas – Made in England’ on headlamps
Remember, though, that both the Rover and the Wolseley they have connections with Cowley and Longbridge. The 75 is a stunning 2004 CDTi Connoisseur Tourer with only 17,000km on the clock and was purchased from the company which bought the entire stock of MG – Rover Italia S.p.A. after the liquidation. I only found out the details of the company concerned a few months ago – it was in Rome and had sold more of 300 cars – most of which were 75s, ZTs and MG TFs in all manner of condition and had been sold as brand new for half price in 2006! My 75 was one of the last three facelifted Tourers remaining – the car had been parked in the vendor’s yard since November 2005 and came complete with four flat tyres and half an inch of dust!
I agreed a good price with the seller on the basis that the car would have to be serviced the car (for the first time) and the tyres changed because of the time which they had been left flat. The car is simply beautiful but, here in Italy, for what the Rover cost me, you can buy a brand new Ford Focus TDi SW or, more simply, an almost new Fiat Stilo or Alfa Romeo 156 with plenty of warranty and ready access to garages for servicing. However, I’ve explained the reasons ‘why’ and reckon that my choice was a good (and, for me, the only) one.
Oh the Wolseley! This is a long story! It began in 1966 when my father purchased a brand new Wolseley 16/60 in England a few months before my birth. This was the first true family car, the car of my childhood, probably the best car ever owned by my father.
I’d been trying to find an immaculate 16/60 in England for two years and made five visits to see cars advertised there in 2004. However, whilst most were boxes of rot, I finally found this 6/99 and bought it.
Sadly my father passed away in March 2006 but you can’t imagine his pride and joy (and mine) when he found himself sitting in a Farina Wolseley again nearly 30 years after he had scrapped his original Wolseley back in 1978 because parts were no longer available in Italy.
This rare 6/99 (it’s a 6/99 not a 6/110) is believed by the Wolseley Register to be the best surviving example in original condition. She is totally original, with 30,000 miles on the clock, in show (concours with some elbow grease…) condition and has been maintained to the highest standards. The car was stored for 26 years from 1973/74 until 1999 when the previous owner purchased the car from the first owner and got it roadworthy.
I purchased the car and drove it back to Italy but had to return the car to England in 2005 for an MoT. I made the Rome-London trip in 23 hours (channel included!) without any problems. However, the car is now registered in Italy – you wouldn’t believe how difficult that was when compared to the British MoT so don’t ask me how much I spent registering the car here.
Indeed, please don’t ask me whether I will ever sell the car – the answer is obviously NEVER!
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.