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2008 Geneva Motor Show

A self confessed and unrepentant classic car enthusiast can easily feel out of place in a new car show, what with the total absence of patina, rust, oil stains, bits falling off, and, to some, an alarming lack of defects and personality.

So with no more thought than a pig chasing a truffle one instinctively seeks out classic needles in the haystack of new offerings, dominated this year by the eco transportation theme you can read about elsewhere.

BMW provided the first sighting: a pristine white vintage 328 and Morgan...wait Morgan doesn't count though perhaps it should...whilst Honda displayed a superb 1960s Grand Prix contender alongside its latest F1.

cobra_daytona  bruce_mccaw_with_doug_nye 
Left: Ferrari honoured the Daytona's 40th birthday
Right: F1 Hondas, old and new

Weaving thought the stands of Pagani, Koenigsegg - complete with their own 1018hp bio fuel model - Bugatti and Spyker (recession? what recession?) one soon arrived at the Ferrari stand which showcased...a Daytona. This handsome black plexi nose example was there to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 365GTB/4 and conveniently served as a prop for the launch of their new personalisation program called "Atelier", meaning workshop.

Across the walkway at Maserati I met Maserati CEO Roberto Ronchi whom I asked about a hypothetical Maserati Heritage department: "We are thinking about it" was the answer. Viewed as an unnecessary expense amidst the lean times of a few years ago, the idea of a Heritage department, no matter how small, has now, in view of strong sales, mutated into a viable step for one of the grandest names in Italy. The question is whether the Fiat bureaucracy, very pro Ferrari, will allow it.

Moving on, two other classic sightings were noted: a splendid Porsche 550 Spyder and an Aston Martin DB3S. Best display award would go to Alfa Romeo's stunning Alfa 33 Stradale in its own alcove, basking in reddish light with a gigantic mirror set above it at a 45° angle which allowed head on and bird's eye views simultaneously.

cobra_daytona  bruce_mccaw_with_doug_nye 
Left: Aston Martin showcased a lovely DB3S sports-racer
Right: A '60s child getting better with age: the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale

A nice surprise was meeting Franco Sbarro, the ever cheerful eponymous Swiss boutique constructor of neo classic and futuristic motorcars whom I had last seen in 1981.

The designer's row is always interesting at Geneva, favoured launch site for the grand Italian houses. Alas this year there was a sad absence, that of Bertone, the great Torinese firm experiencing dire troubles and missing the show for the first time in five decades, just 42 years after the launch of the iconic Miura.

Italdesign presented its short nosed, Kamm tailed Quaranta and backed it up with its inspiration: the awesome Bizzarrini Manta, a rare sighting. Based on a P538 racing chassis, the Manta had been Italdesign's very first creation, shown at Turin in 1968...Quaranta years ago.

The spotting of a childhood favourite was another highlight for the author, having never seen it before: a Monteverdi Hai, one of three known, displayed next to the 375S prototype. Both were brought by the Monteverdi Museum in Binningen near Basel, now headed by Paul Berger, the late Peter Monteverdi's number 2 during the marque's heyday.