Lotusland’s Petal to the Metal show offers up Santa Barbara’s finest Italian classics

Brandan Gillogly

We don’t need an excuse to go to a car show. We’d cover an all-Gremlin car show in the parking lot of a Chik-Fil-A on a Sunday. When an event has rare and beautiful cars and is hosted at a fabulous location, you can bet we’ll be there.

Lotusland—in Montecito, California—was the private estate and garden first purchased by Polish opera singer and socialite Ganna Walska in 1941. The estate’s 37 acres have been sculpted into several distinct landscapes and are now open to the public. For just one day in July, it was also the perfect backdrop for a car and art show that highlighted the most stylish and sporty Italian classics from the nearby city of Santa Barbara and the surrounding Southern California area.

From Ferrari to Fiat, and coachbuilt coupes to mass-produced minicars, car exhibit chair Ron Hein and co-chairs Paul Hageman and Andrey Tymkiw assembled a dazzling array of Italian metal. We took a whirlwind tour through the field of cars and soaked up as much as we could in our time at Lotusland, stopping to hear from owners—and the cars—when possible. Here are some of our favorites that we had a chance to inspect a bit more closely, followed by a gallery of the beautiful machines we admired.

We spoke with Doug and Deb Joseph, owners of this 1960 Abarth 750GT Zagato, who told us that the 50-hp car is capable of highway trips but excels in the coastal foothills near Santa Barbara, where its sub-1200-pound curb weight makes it a spirited machine. The characteristic Zagato “double bubble” roofline adds racy looks, but its main goal was to add usable headroom—a success, as couple says there’s plenty of room inside.

Greg Dahlen’s 1967 Lamborghini Miura P400 is one of the early production models of Lamborghini’s athletic and pioneering supercar. As such, the V-12 engine has a lighter flywheel and is even quicker to rev than its successors. The car is also about 200 pounds lighter, since it lacks the bracing added to later models. This ’67 may be a bit more finicky to drive at slow speeds, but the sound of the V-12 is more than worth the fuss of finessing the clutch.

1967 Lancia Flaminia Super Sport Zagato Brandan Gillogly

The Lancia Flaminia Super Sport Zagato wasn’t sold in the United States when new. Lucky for owners Robert and Maira Gaimo, someone had already gone through the trouble of importing the sleek coupe. Mr. Gaimo showed us the grand touring car’s pass-through to the trunk, designed to accomodate long parcels or skis, although he admitted he’d think twice about driving the car up a snowy mountain himself. While far from its place of birth, this car is living in a familiar Mediterranean climate and will likely never see the snow.

After skipping last year’s show, Lotusland plans to be back in 2022 with another tastefully curated event. If you’d like to become a member of Lotusland, visit its site so you won’t miss out next time.

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