Yet another year has passed and with it another Bristol Italian Auto Moto Festival (BIAMF). What is now considered one of the best Italian motor festivals in the country, BIAMF (now in its seventh year) seems to be growing each year in support from the public and participants alike making BIAMF 09 a successo grande, as they say in Italian.
For those who have been busy, or simply have not been able to make the show, the BIAMF is a free event for Italian vehicle enthusiasts organised by local members of the Ducati Owners Club and the Italian Auto Moto Club. Focussed around Corn Street in Bristol's Italianate City Centre, the bikes and cars are parked 'Latin Style' lining the streets of the show. The Festival makes for a grand day out just looking at all the exciting vehicles, chatting with the owners and making new friends, and best of all it is free (perfect in light of the current economic climate).
In an effort to emphasise the growing popularity of the show, with more and more support from other marques, it was decided that we would try to show our appreciation by enabling each independent marque to take a prominent role with a dedicated 'Featured Marque' each year. This year Moto Guzzi was the featured motorcycle Marque, with Lancia being the featured car Marque.
Like the last few years we had again been blessed in the run-up to the show this year with some amazing weather. This was reflected in the growing numbers asking to bring the vehicles to the show. Due to the make up of the show cars do need to be pre-booked as parking needs to be allocated and a permit issued, and due to the venue space is a precious commodity with more people than spaces being a regular concern. Of course from a bike point of view this does not seem to be so much of an issue, with ample possibilities to squeeze in a few late arrivals.
As has become the custom over the past few years, the bikes now get to mark the start of the show. A few years ago we made arrangements to meet before hand and ride into the show. This, like the show, has boomed in popularity. The official 'Ride In' to the Festival is now one of the main highlights. As per last year arrangements were made for the bikes to meet up at Gordano Services (junction 19 of the M5) from 8am (and this was a great sight for those keen people who popped up to see the bikes there). Unfortunately, with just days to go to the show, we were hit with bad weather forecasts predicting heavy rain for the morning, with the possibility of improved weather for the afternoon. But the gods shined upon us, the majority of the bad weather passing in the night (I could not believe my eyes when I opened the blinds in the morning to bright sunshine). The forecasts did have their effect and we did see a slight impact on the numbers that joined us for the ride-in and the show, but the turn out (considering) was outstanding! In total we saw 153 Italian motorcycles meet at Gordano Services.
Come 9:30am we made our way on the ride out. As Moto-Guzzi were the featured Marque this year they got to lead the ride-in with the rest of us following for a lovely cross country ride into the show.
Approaching 10am we pulled into the heart of Bristol (for those of you who would like a really good show I would encourage you to try and get outside Hippodrome in the centre of the city ready to watch and hear as the city rumbles to its foundations as these great Italian motorcycles growl into place at the show. It is a sight to be seen as well as heard and felt). This arrival at the festival venue works as a very noisy sign to mark the start of the festival.
The Festival really gets into its stride now as spectators, owners, and enthusiasts get a chance to mingle, chat and debate about their favourite belongings and the joy they receive from them as the venue becomes a concourse resembling the most charismatic, multi-million pound parking lot the West Country will experience all year. And we were blessed with some amazing vehicles this year.
The cars had some amazing attendees showing the finest that Italy has to offer. With each Marque featuring prime examples such as the Bristol 412 Zagato, Maserati Boras, Ferrari 355 Spider, 1938 Fiat Topolino Siata Smith Special Alfa Romeo Giulietta 116 2.0 RS. The Lamborghini display was remarkable for its content, ranging from a startling white Gallardo Superleggera to the amazing Isleros.
The featured car Marque was Lancia and was enthusiastically supported by scores of Lancia enthusiasts celebrating 30 years of the Integrale with many superb incarnations of the model on display. There were also many delightful Stratos, Appias, Montecarlos and numerous other confections of the Marque such as the gorgeous Alan Parkes' Fulvia Zagato.
There was also an amazing entry to form the finest evolutionary link from the cars to the bikes in the form of a 3 wheeler with a Moto-Guzzi engine built by the owner himself, Nigel Bentley-Beard.
As always there was also and amazing line-up from the biking community with every imaginable Marque in presence; Moto-Guzzi, MV Agusta, Aprilia, Ducati, Benelli, Moto Morini, Laverda and Gileras. And we had some amazing examples to show.
From Aprilia we were blessed with some fine examples of there flagship RSVR, as well Tuonos, Falcos, Caponords, some Tauregs, and an amazing F1 Futura.
MV Augusta provided exotica in the form of the beautiful Brutales & F4s as well as classics in the form of 125 sports, 750s Magni, 750ss.
Ducati provided an array of everything from the classic favourites of the monster, through to every possible example of each bike made by the prime Italian Marque, including some of my favourites; a Desmocedici RR, a blue and silver NCR'esque Ducati Sport Classic 1000s, 1098 Tricolore, and a beautiful 851. 'Riders Bristol' also brought along the newly launched Streetfighter.
Moto-Morini was also in attendance presenting us with prime examples of its Marque with a Tresette, Corsaro, 3 ½, 250 Turismo, 350, and a Dart.
Of course as said earlier the featured motorcycle Marque this year was Moto-Guzzi, and it took this position with pride with two Dealerships (Moto-Guzzi Southampton and Moto Sport in Wareham) providing the best of both old and new. Brand new were the 1200 Sport 4V and a 1200 4V Stelvio
Other highlights included the Griso and the V7 Classic, but people were more fascinated by the classic bikes brought to the show, especially the 500cc Dondolino - one of only 54 made by Moto Guzzi between 1946 and 1951. The model on display was from 1946. It was paraded at the 2005 TT and at the post-TT Steam Packet races after the centenary TT in 2007.
Another great centrepiece was a 500cc 1960 Falcone Sport. These epitomised motorcycling in Italy in the 1950s and early 1960s and in addition to being sought after by enthusiasts it also was the bike of choice of the various Italian police forces throughout that period. The Falcone Sport is highly prized by Moto Guzzi enthusiasts, especially so in Italy, where there is a club that goes touring each year on up to 25 of such bikes - all in red.
Notable amongst the lesser-represented marques was Michael Viret's enchanting Aermacci two-stroke racer, an amazing piece of motorcycle history.
Of course let us not forget the great support always afforded to us, and the show, by the Bristol Mods club. Again they had the ever-popular presence of their classic scooters of all shapes, sizes and colours; my personal favourite being Jim Burnham's Lambretta, resplendent in its Union Jack livery and myriad spotlights. A bike that truly caught the attention of all who passed by.
So all in all a great festival was had by all, with the great opportunity to meet friends old and new where we could all collectively enjoy that which had brought us all together; the passion, flare, and amazing attention to detail that makes these great Italian vehicles (whether that be on two, three, four wheels or more).
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