Popular sayings always have an element of truth to them: leap years are not considered very lucky and 2020 has confirmed that one straight away. Even the Mille Miglia has been forced to give up its historical dates, those of late spring under both the sun and the rain in the best of traditions, and has been moved to October.
What was the Mille Miglia? It was a challenge of pure speed across half of Italy, between Fiat Topolinos transformed into small sports cars in private garages, family cars without bumpers and hubcaps that became racing cars for the occasion, elegant two-seater coupes designed to perfection by one of the many Italian coachbuilders, to feel like real race drivers and then, the mighty sports cars of the times designed to win. These were the ingredients of a unique spectacle: a heady mix of sport, passion and creativity. Creativity which, among other things, gave birth to the thriving Gran Turismo market, a category that did not exist before and one which went on to making the car a dream for the masses.
It’s interesting to note just how much this category grew in the 10 years from 1947 to 1957: in 1947, 81% of the vehicles at the start were in the Sports category, while just 19% were Touring cars designed to be used every day, so to speak. The Gran Turismo Category did not yet exist, simply because those cars had not been invented.
In 1952 however, 56% of the starters were touring cars, mainly four-door vehicles, while the newly-formed Gran Turismo category made up 22% of the entrants. In 1957, the final tragic year of the Mille Miglia, 47% of the cars on the starting line were Gran Turismo models and only 27% were entered in the more traditional Turismo category. Numbers that clearly depict the growth of the phenomenon. A spectacular phenomenon also in terms of the quality of the cars, which was then repeated on the road. Across the entire world.