The 2017 California Mille

By Jennifer Strong

The 1947 Fiat 1100s MM driven by Peter Kappeler and Renato Sutter of Switzerland

On Sunday April 23rd, the 27th annual car show to kickoff the California Mille took place in front of the Fairmont Hotel, atop Nob Hill in San Francisco, CA. To me, this event is the unofficial start of Concours Season in Northern California and is a rare treat to see many exquisite pre-1957 sports, touring and racing cars.  Many are Italians as the tour is modeled after the famed Mille Miglia 1,000 mile road race that began in Brescia, Italy but their English, German and American counterparts are represented as well. 

It’s a great day when you can see Lancias, AC Bristols and Acecas, swarms of Alfa Romeo 1900s and Guiliettas, and hear the characteristic air-cooled hum of Porsche 356 Speedsters making it up the hill. While all the cars are rare gems, each year has a few extra-special standouts.

I am partial to unusual marques, and Siata - the Italian tuning shop turned manufacturer - tops my list. Less than sixty  208S sports cars with the famed Fiat 8V “Otto Vu” engine were produced, so seeing two 1953 Siata 208S Motto bodied Spyders in one place is a great surprise at any event.

Another rare sight was the 1952 Tojeiro Barchetta. Some will recognize the name John Tojeiro as the designer of the AC Ace, and this 1952 MG powered Barchetta is one of the Ace’s predecessors.  Rounding out my top three, I have to go with the 1947 Fiat 1100s MM, which is possibly the only 1100s to be fitted with this Fabio Rappi body style and very similar in design to the 1st series Fiat 8Vs.

David and Howard Swig deserve a big thank you for continuing the car show at the start of the California Mille. It is truly a gift to Bay Area car enthusiasts to see this level of vintage car design and engineering at a free event in such a beautiful setting.


The 1953 Siata 208S  driven by Robert Davis and Jerry Anderson of CA

The 1957 Ferrari 250 LWB California Spyder driven by Ray and Janet Scherr of CA

The 1953 Siata 208S  driven by Robert Wilder and Catherine Gentry of NY

The 1955 OSCA MT4 driven by John and Jan Grosseto of CA

The 1958 AC Bristol driven by Van and Merrill Kasper of CA

A small group gathers around a 1958 AC Bristol driven by Van and Merrill Kasper of CA

The 1953 Allard K3 driven by Ted Springstead and Ray D'Ardeene of CO

1952 Tojeiro Barchetta , driven by Drew and Josephine Alcazar of AZ . This was one of the first race cars built by John Tojeiro, who designed the AC Ace.

All photos and copy contributed by Jennifer Strong

Jennifer Strong is a San Francisco, California based car aficionado with a great eye for interesting designs, coachwork, engineering, and vintage racing cars.

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