As an enthusiast who has run the modern Mille Miglia five times, Carl Gustav Magnusson didn’t have to think long about which car he wanted when he began planning his sixth run. In his previous five races, each driven with a different family member by his side, Magnusson had piloted a Fiat Abarth Zagato 750 GT Corsa, a car that more than makes up for its small stature by packing a whollop of pedigree, performance, and noise. Magnusson thus went looking for, and found, his current “double bubble” which, like its predecessor, has served as a passport to the golden age of road racing.
For three decades and twenty-four races, the Mille Miglia was among the most grueling races anywhere on the planet. From 1927 to 1957, racers from around the world tore across a thousand Roman miles of Northern Italy, drawing millions of spectators and making GT sports cars from Ferrari, Porsche, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo–among other marques–famous. A pair of fatal crashes in ’57, however, put the kibosh on the Mille Miglia.
In 1977, the event was revived as a vintage rally and the roads between Brescia and Rome were once again alive with the scream of racing engines. Cars eligible for entry in this modern-day event are those from which at least one vehicle took place in the original race, making Magnusson’s car among the last eligible models produced. Quick and tough, it’s easy to see how these cars placed second in the 750cc class in the 1956 Mille Miglia and won that class in 1957.
For Magnusson, the Mille Miglia is months away, but he isn’t letting this car sit idle: he drives it several hundred miles each month, blasting through the local canyons before the sun is even up, all to ensure that the car doesn’t forget that it was meant to race.