We’ve highlighted some price guide-smashing, record-breaking results on Sale of the Week lately, so this time around we figured we’d take a look at something that offers a little more fun per dollar. This week’s car shows that you don’t have to drop a casual million to share the road and rub elbows with the car collecting elite. In fact, you can do it for a fraction of that.
The Mille Miglia Storica is frequently billed as “the most beautiful race in the world.” It isn’t technically a race, but more on that later. The event runs a thousand miles through the motoring Mecca that is northern Italy, starting in Brescia then heading to Rome and back, traversing stunning scenery and making stops at historic piazzas over the course of several sunny days. One of the most beloved car events anywhere on the calendar for both spectators and participants, the Mille Miglia Storica has also become popular with celebrities, sports stars and politicians in addition to car collectors. Sounds expensive, right? It is. Figure around 10 grand for the entry ticket, and that’s before tackling the logistics of getting yourself and your car to Italy for the start.
And speaking of cars, you can’t just roll up in any old classic and expect to have a go. The only eligible cars are ones built back when the original Mille Miglia race was staged, from the first in 1927 to the last in 1957, after which the original event was canceled for safety reasons. The other stipulation is that “eligible cars are those of which one model ran in the original 1927-57 race.” Specific cars that actually raced in the original Mille Miglia are guaranteed entry. Eligibility is so prestigious that someone selling a car from 1957 could realistically ask for more money than an identical car from 1958, just because it’s Mille eligible.
The event organizers reportedly get about 1500 applications per year to participate, but there is only space for around 400 cars. And if you browse the galleries of screensaver-worthy photos from the Mille every year, you’ll see legendary seven- or eight-figure race cars from all the big names – Ferrari, Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Jaguar, Porsche, etc. But there is a way to do the Mille Miglia on a tight(er) budget.
And that brings us to this little Renault sedan, sold for €21,525 ($26,248) on Get Your Classic, a European online auction platform. It’s a far cry from a Ferrari 340 MM or Stirling Moss’s Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, but it’s Mille Miglia eligible all the same. Back when the original race was run, plenty of more humble cars took on the grueling Italian endurance classic to duke it out in smaller displacement classes. These included Fiats, Lancia sedans, MG Magnettes, even VW Beetles and Isetta microcars. In the 1956 Mille Miglia, Jean Rédéle (founder of French carmaker Alpine) drove a Renault 4CV sedan.
In the early 1990s, an enthusiast with an eye toward tackling the Mille Miglia Storica found a used 4CV, built it up as a tribute to the original 1956 car, and did the Mille in 1993 and 1994. After a long time in storage, it was sorted and brought back to running order, including its 850-cc Gordini engine tuned to a whopping 45 horsepower. Not much, but power isn’t the point. The “Storica,” which started as a tribute event in 1977, has drivers aim to hit checkpoints at precise, predetermined times, not get to the finish quickest.
Sure, it isn’t much performance per dollar. Yes, there are cheaper ways to go racing both on a circuit and at historic rallies. The car is even a little frumpy-looking and, statistically, the new owner will have to apply to the Mille Miglia a few times before the Renault gets accepted. But, to experience one of the world’s most exclusive and rewarding car events, this looks like a great value to us.