One of the largest groups of race and rally versions of the original Fiat 500 will gather in Belgium in July in a bid to repeat one of the great motorsport victories when the diminutive Fiat took part in one of the classic endurance rallies, the Liege-Brescia-Liege Rally, and not only won after 3300 gruelling km, but also filled six of the top ten places.
Exactly fifty years after the historic rally win, the Liege-Brescia-Liege Rally is now a historic event and the team of classic 500s will bid to repeat the result from 1958. Historic it may be, but the route remains the same, 3300 km of gruelling roads, including treacherous mountain passes through the Alps, Dolomites and what is now Slovenia and Croatia.
The Fiat 500s, dating from the 1950s, are part of a stunning entry list confirmed by organisers of this July’s Liege-Brescia-Liege rally which, in 1958 was unique. Then, the challenge comprised a route driven flat out – and all in cars of less than 500 cc, with the aim of proving that the then new breed of micro-cars could be reliable and fast, as well as economical.
This year, when the rally is reborn as part of the 50-year celebrations, Fiat will be providing support in the form of a transporter full of new Fiat 500s, the vehicle that shows small cars can be fun to drive while offering fuel consumption of just 4.7 litres per 100 kilometres. Any classic microcar breaking down during the rally and not able to be repaired swiftly en route, will be swapped for a new Fiat 500 so that the crew can continue to enjoy the event.
Rally organisers and technicians will also use a fleet of Fiats, which will offer receptions for competitors at overnight stops along the route, including Liege, Karlsruhe, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Ljubljana, Bolzano and Brescia.
Liege-Brescia-Liege 2008, organised by ClassicRallyPress Ltd, pays tribute to this pioneering attempt to prove the practicality, durability and usability of tiny cars that were often dismissed as ‘city cars’. In 1958, 36 cars entered the event but only 13 finished, and they included all seven of the 500s that started the rally. The 500s eventually placed 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th and 13th.
A 1958 report showed that the total engine capacity of all 13 cars that finished the event was less than that of one typical American car of the time – yet the 13 Fiat 500s had transported 26 adults 3300 km over tough terrain, non-stop for three nights and two days.
This may be considered the first environmentally-conscious car rally, and the 2008 event sets out to prove once again that you can enjoy an unforgettable drive across many of Europe’s most beautiful mountain passes even in a small-engined car that is frugal on fuel.
The Liege-Brescia-Liege Rally 2008:
Starting from Liege on 11 July, the celebration rally covers the same 3300 km / 2000 mile route as the 1958 event, including Europe’s toughest mountain passes, combining evocative names such as the Stelvio and Gavia with less well-known but equally challenging roads like the Vrsic in Slovenia. Overnight halts are: 11 July: Karlsruhe; 12: Munich; 13: Cortina d’Ampezzo; 14: Ljubljana; 15: Bolzano; 16: Brescia; 17: Bolzano; 18: Munich; 19: Karlsruhe and 20: Liege.
Cars that would have been eligible for the 1958 event will compete for awards in classes of 250 cc, 350 cc, 425 and 500 cc – an additional ‘Spirit’ category welcomes cars up to 700 cc and of a type built up to 1968, again divided into capacity classes. The rally is organised by Classic Rally Press Ltd with the support of the Royal Motor Union of Liege, which coordinated the 1958 event. See http://www.classicrallypress.co.uk/.
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