The Mille Miglia is going back to basics in 2012 with a raft of mainstream classics and saloons competing alongside the usual super-exotica, a true reflection of the original race.
Among the 384 entries that line up for the Brescia start on Thursday 17 May are three VW Beetles, a Peugeot 403, a gang of Fiat 1100 Berlinas, a Mercedes-Benz 180 plus a two-stroke DKW F91.
The inclusion shatters the modern – and even the contemporary – misconception that the endurance race evolved around exotic prototype sports racers, when they were always just the minority of a huge entry for the world’s most famous road race.
Enthusiasts' touring cars started the 1000-mile challenge long before the fastest racers came up on the ramp, and every year the Mille Miglia features an ever-stronger range of classic tin tops, other inspired saloon runners this year include an American entered 1957 Citroën DS and a Dutch equipe’s Borgward TS Isabella. Among the Jaguar team is a pair of works-backed MkVIIs.
Big yanks also feature headed by a '53 Lincoln Capri and a '56 Ford Thunderbird while last over the Brescia ramp is a two-tone Studebaker Golden Hawk of Belgian’s Dyck and Wilemarck, which could get lonely cruising in the wake of the last Ferrari V12s.
Other surprising entries are a trio of Arnolt Bristols, an Alfa Romeo Matta jeep, and a hefty Mercedes–Benz 500K cabriolet.
First off from Viale Venezia at 6.45am for the opening leg to Ferrara will be a train of eight OMs commemorating the first win of Minoia/Morandi in 1927. Appropriately these fine vintage 2-litre sports cars were built in Brescia.
Of course, there will be exotics, too, including an Abarth 204A coupé with sleek Vignale body and five rare Fiat 8Vs including two gorgeous Zagatos.
German manufacturers take the Mille Miglia very seriously with BMW sending a quartet of 1940 328 teams cars including the winning coupé.
Fastest and most valuable machine on the retrospective will be the fabulous Mercedes-Benz 300SLR driven by GP/ sports car legend Jochen Mass.
For more details of the entrants and route click here.