Saddle up. Your classic Italian sports car awaits for your next journey to the Riviera, whether it's the French, Italian or even Cornish Riviera. The only question is which Italian classic? Happily the high-end auctioneers at RM Sotheby's are on the case with a selection of thoroughbred rides. All will provide an exhilarating experience for the driver - and two of our choices even offer room for a full complement of passengers and their luggage. There are plenty of metaphorical horses on offer too. Potent Italian style doesn't get much better than this. Here are the contenders, under starter’s orders: four classic Italian sports cars for your
Maserati Quattroporte Prototipo by Frua | Estimate: £155,000 - £190,000 | Year: 1971 | Engine: 4.9 litre V8, 296 bhp
If you're looking for a super-rare super-saloon, look no further than this slice of upper-crust Italian elegance. "Quattroporte" is of course Italian for "four-door" but "Maserati Four-Door" doesn't have quite the same ring, even if it does simply underline the practical side of this exotic machine.
Just two Quattroportes were clothed in this sublime and subtle coachwork by Italian coachbuilders Frua. You’re looking at the first of the two, the very machine that was introduced by venerable Grand Prix ace Juan Manuel Fangio at the 1971 Paris Motor Show. The Frua Quattroporte became quite the show star, appearing at the Monaco Grand Prix, in Barcelona, and again in Paris before a life at a Californian motor museum and retirement to a collection in the south of France.
You and your passengers will travel in luxurious leather armchairs, wafted along by Maserati's own V8, while your luggage resides in the ample boot. You won't see another in the supermarket car park, but do be careful when parking since spare parts are not so much hard to come by as non-existent. Exclusively brilliant.
Lamborghini 350 GT by Touring | Estimate: £470,000 - £600,000 | Year: 1964 | Engine: 3.4 litre V12, 280 bhp
The story goes that Ferruccio Lamborghini, a successful tractor manfacturer, was so annoyed with Ferrari service that he decided to build his own supercar. This is the result, the first ever Lamborghini production car, its form drawn by Touring of Milan, chassis by motoring maestro Gianpaolo Dallara, and initial design of the sculptural V12 by a third automotive artist: former Ferrari engineer Giotto Bizzarrini.
The debut Lambo was a sensation at the 1964 Geneva Motor Show. Ferruccio Lamborghini had created an instant hit and so answered Enzo Ferrari's supposed jibe, "What does a tractor manufacturer know about sports cars?" Quite a lot as it turned out. This example is one of the early models, with an all-aluminium body finished in Blue Tigullio with Senape - Italian for "mustard" - leather to the interior.
Everywhere there is detailing to delight the eye. Turned alumium is used behind analogue Jaeger dials to the dashboard. The "Superleggera" - Italian for "super-light" - badging refers to Touring's patented construction method of aluminium panels fitted to a tubular structure. Luggage straps are ready to secure your baggage behind the front seats. And the exterior styling is like nothing else on the road. This is the car that began the Lamborghini journey. A true piece of sports car history.
Maserati Bora 4.7 | Estimate: £170,000 - £215,000 | Year: 1972 | Engine: 4.7 litre V8, 310 bhp
When Maseratis were truly great in the 1970s, this was one of the greatest. The Bora was Maserati's first mid-engined design and remains forward-looking and eye-catching to this day. Maserati was under the unlikely ownership of Citroen and the Bora was a real highpoint of that time.
Coachwork is by the genius that was Giorgetto Giugiaro, then of styling house Italdesign, and is pioneering for its era. Lift the rear-hinged back - and the protective fabric beneath - and the full glory of the potent V8, with its four Weber 42 DCNF twin-choke carburettors, is there before you. This is a two-seater designed for one thing only: spectacularly fast progress with, as a bonus, an exhilarating soundtrack from that V8 and those Webers behind you.
Inside, things could hardly be more 1970s. Black rolled leather seating is in impeccable condition, as befits a machine that has covered a mere - recorded - 6,200 miles from new. There's room for just two, and seating is intimate so you might want to make sure you know your passenger quite well. The auctioneers describe the Bora as a "time capsule" so if you've ever considered a Bora, this is the Maserati for you.
Ferrari 365 GT4 2+2 by Pininfarina | Estimate: £50,000 - £70,000 | Year: 1976 | Engine: 4.9 litre V12, 335 bhp
A classic V12 for the family? That'll be this Ferrari. Seating is - as the 2+2 designation indicates - a little tight in the rear, even if the black leather armchairs are as plush as those for driver and front passenger. Sleek design of the 365 GT4 2+2 was by Pininfarina, so often trusted by Maranello to imagine its masterpieces.
There were - and are - those who said that this front-engined, usable, everyday motor car could not be a true Ferrari. The noise of the V12 upfront, the acceleration and the typically Ferrari five-speed manual gearbox should put paid to that. Purists might complain that there is actual boot space, that a supercar should be all about inconvenience, but today the 365 GT4 2+2 more than holds its own as a quiet statement of considered excess.
This example is finished in its correct, highly distinctive Oro Kelso - gold metallic to you and me - with Cromodora alloy wheels and that contrasting black leather, showing the desirable patina of age, to the interior. Charming original touches include a period car phone and a cassette tape deck to the sound system. These Ferraris have never quite become super-desirable and that's reflected in the auctioneers' estimate. Could this be the time for this most practical of period Ferraris in your driveway?