Last year, Autofocus.ca pulled off an experiment that put to the test an oft-repeated claim: that vintage microcars turn way more heads at car shows than modern exotics.
This year, we captured the same experiment on video in a head-to-head “show-off” between a 2016 Lamborghini Huracán LP580-2 and a 1959 Autobianchi Bianchina Transformable.
The Lamborghini loaned to us looked every bit the quintessential supercar: our Huracán LP580-2 boasted a wedge-shaped profile, spaceship-aping creases in all the right places, and a bright Rosso Mars paint job in case it somehow wasn’t eye-catching enough.
The 580-horsepower naturally aspirated V10 – capable of rocketing the Huracán to 100 km/h from a standstill in just 3.4 seconds – similarly provided aural cues to passersby, especially in ‘Corsa’ mode, which gave the exhaust note a lot more character and volume.
We netted our favourite reaction at a stoplight, when a guy in a towering SUV lowered his window and motioned for us to do the same. “My kids in the back seat have the biggest smiles right now!” he yelled. “That thing is my dream car, man!”
But the Lambo’s competition was stiff, an absolutely gorgeous 1959 Autobianchi Bianchina Transformable supplied by the fantastic Ocean Drive Motors, which specializes in imported classic cars. Production of the Bianchina basically involved taking a then-new Fiat 500 – think of it as the VW Beetle of Italy – and refitting the chassis with some sportier bodywork and a “Transformable” roll-back top.
From the factory, this adorable two-place car used the Fiat’s 500-cc two-cylinder, good for, in 1959, about 20 horsepower. Our feature car, however, had been refitted with a later 650-cc unit putting out about 55 horsepower, making it a lot easier to net 100 km/h when necessary. The rumble of the Lambo is great, but you’ve got to see this little banger oh-so-ambitiously bounce on its spring-loaded mounts.
Our contest venue was the Markham Classic Cruisers cruise night in Markham, Ontario, a small, weekly show that hosts about a dozen or two classic American muscle cars. When show-goers walked by, we poked them for their opinion on which car first got their attention.
While both cars were like nothing else than had ever shown up in this cruise night’s parking lot, the Bianchina found a little more favour than the Lamborghini.
We noticed, too, in Toronto, that the Huracán wasn’t turning every head, per se—it could be that, while exotic, Lambos are around, and not hen’s-teeth-rare like the Autobianchi.
Also working against the supercar was the crowd’s age—the demographic there was generally older, and they made their affinity for classics apparent. But the younger showgoers definitely flocked in greater numbers to the Lambo, especially when offered the chance to sit inside.
Sometimes, though, it’s just a matter of undeniable cuteness outshining anything and everything around it. Even when you’ve got a veritable spaceship sitting in front of you, you’re going to gush at the little mouse scurrying around it.