My Car Quest

April 23, 2024

Best Of France And Italy – 2017 – Woodley Park Van Nuys, California

by Wallace Wyss –

Yes, some of us believe the weather reports and stay home. They said 30% chance of rain but I went anyhow and was glad I did as it was blue sky, beautiful white puffy cumulus clouds and not the dust of previous years.

This event is held annually at a park near where the 101 freeway meets the 405 Interstate.

The Best of France and Italy event is free to spectators.

Lamborghini Espadas!

There were five Lamborghini Espadas at this event!

Lamborghini Espadas

Five Lamborghini Espadas! – photo by Bruce Caron.

The turnout was good, especially of French cars when you consider that the French cars haven’t been imported for some years so the ranks are thinning.

Lamborghini Espada

Lamborghini Espada

I enjoyed the many different Citroens that were never sold in the U.S.

The Alfas had a few old cars (no Sprint Speciale though) but a couple models that are fairly recent vintage but not sold in the US. Makes you wonder how they snuck them under the wire.

Lamborghini Espada

Lamborghini Espada

Simca 8

I think I saw this car once, out in the desert broke down at a gas station 40 years ago. It’s a Simca 8 (but not with a V8 engine) Beautiful car. Think I shoulda stopped back then to ask if it was for sale?

In the modern Fiats, a whole train of them pulled in so I was glad to see there is a group that wants to get behind these cars as pocket enthusiast cars, thinking before that Chrysler dropped the ball.

In Ferraris there were at least ten, but only one or two from the Sixties, including three Daytona coupes and a 365GT 2 plus 2, the car that used to be slandered as the “Queen Mother” because it was so big, now it looks right sized for transporting four.

Fiat X1/9

This Fiat X1/9 was slightly modified. There is still a contingent that can fit into them and relishes tweaking them.

The high point of the show for me was the long nose Iso Grifo with what I call the “wedding cake” hood, necessary because of the heighth of the 351 Cleveland engine they sourced after a spat with Opel who had been supplying Chevy V8s. The displayer was from Holland but has a shop in California and specializes in Isos, Bizzarrinis and the like and however he found this one it is a real treasure, especially if that gold/bronze is an original color.

Iso Grifo

Iso Grifo

Alfa Romeo

Yes this Alfa looks prewar. But it isn’t. It is the odd case of Alfa, after the war, making prewar styled car, much as Chrysler made the Prowler.

There was also a Ghia Chrysler powered car, a d’Elegance, that’s been on show here for years , a car that was one of a short run by a Chrysler distributor based in Paris. The man who displayed it told me he had an even more rare body style but sold that to buy this because it was less rusty and had all the parts.

The Best of France and Italy

They said this car as French but I think it was British built under license. It’s got those fenders that look like “I wanna be a Silver Cloud.”

As far as oldies, I thought I saw a prewar Lancia but know for sure I saw a prewar Bugatti, that one unrestored.

A very strong showing was in the Lamborghini Espada department with five cars lined up, and it makes you wonder are these as practical as Ferrari 400s? I have never seen five of the 400 body style lined up like these Espadas.

There was food for sale there, in food trucks, and music, and also parts for sale, not as many as you would hope but just being able to buy taillights for say, a 1954 Alfa, is a godsend. There were also a few cars on trailers, which is what makes this show unusual. Guaranteed you will never see that at Pebble Beach–trailers parked on the same green containing cars that never quite got finished.

Intake Manifold

This fearsome intake manifold was by Moon, toting four side draft Webers. Would look nice on an Iso Grifo with a Chevy or a Bizzarrini. Only $5,500! We sold two of these here on My Car Quest.

This is a great show primarily because

1.) close to Los Angeles

2.) very casual, no rules for how far a car must be restored

3.) it’s free to spectators

4.) cars come out of the woodwork to come to this show, sometimes not to be seen for another year…

Italian Scooters

Italian motor scooters got a little piece of earth to call their own. I remember when these were being imported, threatening the Cushman Eagle!

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is currently writing the sequel to his action thriller FERRARI HUNTERS. He can be reached at




The Best of France and Italy

Cars are trailers are allowed at this show. Think of it as a Last-Chance-Before-the Junkyard for some of them..

Flash back to 2008

This is the event where our editor displayed his 1966 Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada in 2008 and it was selected to be on the TV show My Classic Car With Dennis Gage which was broadcast in July 2009.

Dennis Gage is in the blue shirt in the photos below, Mike Gulett has the Bizzarrini cap on and Jay Leno stopped by to talk about cars (not in the photos).

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada and Dennis Gage

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Best Of France And Itlay - 2017 - Woodley Park Van Nuys, California
Article Name
Best Of France And Itlay - 2017 - Woodley Park Van Nuys, California
The Best of France And Italy in Van Nuys, California every year in November is a great treat for Italian and French car lovers.


  1. Diamote Randal says

    Love that Grifo! I enlarged the photo, are those plates from 1980?

  2. Hello Wallace, it was nice to meet you at the show and thanks for the plug about the Grifo! I wanted to assure you that this one is a completely original one owner car. It bears its original (Rame Mettallizato) paint which makes it one of a handful Grifos factory painted in this color scheme. The car was purchased in Los Angeles, moved with the owner to Oregon and was parked in his collection in 1979. At that time the car had traveled just over 6000 miles and not moved until the owner took it to my shop. I put 50 miles on it until now and will do a sympathetic restoration to it but the fact it was the high point of your day tells me it survived its hibernation well!

    • Diamote Randal says

      I thought those plates said 1980 ­čÖé Wow, the car sold at Gooding #369 and this one would make quite a pair for mileage and originality!

      • Indeed, these tags tell you when the registration runs out – the car was last driven in 1979.

        Interesting that you remember Grifo 369. I found that in Glendale, CA, about 12 miles from my house. Also a beautiful all original car, 14000 Miles (23500 Kilometers), it came from it’s second owner who also parked it 40 years ago. It achieved the highest selling price for any unrestored Grifo ever. (until now ;-)). Grifo 405 will not be for sale, the hopes are to show it in the preservation class in Pebble Beach next year. Until then we still have some work to do to make it a safe driver again.

        • Diamote Randal says

          Well it appears that unicorns DO exist in the small block world of Grifo’s, and you have a knack for finding them. Just fabulous!

        • Will Grifo 405 be at Monterey this year? Is the owner still intent on not selling the car?

        • Wes, Grifo 405 is planned to be in Monterey this year but it’s going to be close as the engine is still out. Expecting to enter the Pebble Beach preservation class I was very careful removing it’s patina while still making it a safe driver, like not even changing the (45 y/o) tires… Then in April they officially denied us a place in that class (no genuine reason given…) so I went serious with its resurrection. I pulled motor/trans, detailed the engine bay, suspension (which I would have not done for the preservation class) and changed mechanical items like steering, brakes and tires. The engine was refreshed and with the ZF 5-speed is out I am now replacing the (weak) 1st and 2nd synchros and clutch which should finish this week. That means it’s going to be tight (I have two other Isos I need to ready for Monterey of which one is still at the upholsterer) but if all goes well the car will be shown there in all it’s glory. No, the owner is not even thinking of selling but you can probably hear this from him in person in Monterey. 8^)

  3. Sorry I missed you, Wally. You prolly didn’t cast an eye my way as I was with my lowly, ordinary 328GTS!
    They do get some funky stuff out to this show. Think Bugatti type 44, totally untouched by any restorer. Or various Lancias with their goofy suspension systems and unusual engines. Or more 50’s/60’s Alfas than one can shake a salami at. Or several Fiat Abarth Zagatos which reminded me that I use to have one as a daily driver until my eardrums said, “enough.”
    See ya next year if I’m still upright.

    • wallace wyss says

      Sorry Ed, I thought you were about to make a ruling for the 10th circuit court and didn’t want to interrupt. I admit I look for the oddball cars because the owners have to go to greater lengths to justify why they bought it. There was one kind of car there that was kinda/sorta a Gordon Keeble look alike but had a horrible nose design and I think it was just a car built with all the loose pieces on the shop floor. I look forward to the British Queen’s English show because I want to see the low cost English cars that had pretensions of grandeur (like Series I Alpines like Grace Kelly drove in It Takes a Thief…)

  4. Who would have ever thought. The world took for a given that the gentleman in New England had THEE unparalleled long nose car. The originality on both are just priceless.

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