What Is The Most Quintessentially Italian Car?

Illustration for article titled What Is The Most Quintessentially Italian Car?

Germany may be the recognized birthplace of the automobile, but no nation claims fast, beautiful cars as a part of its identity like Italy. What's the most truly Italian car ever made in Italy?


Screaming little engine: Check. Achingly gorgeous bodywork: Check. Built for racing on real roads: Check. Rarer than handmade Armani couture: Check. The Alfa Romeo TZ2 dominated small-displacement Continental roadracing in its day, and is probably the most intensely desirable postwar Alfa — and a perfect example of everything lovable about la Reppublica' s cars all wrapped up in one hip-high Weber-carbureted package.

(QOTD is your chance to address the day's most pressing automotive questions and to experience the opinions of the insightful insiders, practicing pundits, and gleeful gearheads that make up the Jalopnik commentariat. If you've got a suggestion for a good Question of the Day, send an email to tips at jalopnik dot com.)


Photo Credit: Pietro Zoccola

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The Piaggio Ape.

It won't get millionaires reaching for their wallets, or win a race, or end up on a poster on a teenager's wall, but it's been the heart and soul of Italy for 65 years.

It can be a panel van, a pickup truck, a flower hauler, a pleasure cruiser (think Calessino) a tuk-tuk, a pizza delivery truck, a rolling billboard, a dumptruck, or about any other utilitarian configuration you can imagine. The Ape has been a goodwill ambassador for Italy around the world, from southeast Asia to India to Africa and South America. Even in the United States, you'll find imported Apes doing promotional duty for Italian restaurants, bars, and shops.

I think it's beautiful in its own ugly little way.