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“Give it some grit!” – The Alfa Romeo 179C, a study on film

In an industry famously reluctant to change, we’re always trying to think of ways to switch things up and present things differently. That’s why we asked our resident photographer Veronica Lane-Girardo, someone not quite so ingrained in the world of classic cars as us, how she’d make our Alfa Romeo 179C Formula 1 car ‘pop’…

Nowadays people are so fascinated by nostalgia, which is why I think that when it comes to presenting these old cars, it’s not necessarily about showing the minute details, but rather the emotion and romance of the eras in which they were born. And to me, that means shooting it on film with an analogue camera that would have been used at those times.

I don’t want the clean-cut, straight-laced mood of photos straight from a digital camera. I want to give it grit and grain and imperfection – after all, that’s what make these cars unique and beautiful. This Alfa Romeo 179C F1 car (click here for more details) is perfect for film, primarily because the instantly recognisable Marlboro colours remain so true to life (I actually find fluorescent colours difficult on digital).

I mainly used 35mm with some medium-format film for this car, though I also used up some expired film that I had kicking around. It’s a gamble with film at the best of times, but with the expired rolls, you really don’t know what you’re going to get – it can tinge, the colours can shift and you can find more humidity spots.

Thankfully virtually all the photos developed nicely. What you’re looking at is straight from the lab - they’re not edited or straightened (save for the collages, which I thought were, again, a more artful and visually striking way of presenting the car). For my fellow camera geeks, I shot these with a Minolta x300 and a Pentax 645n 120mm.

Other than the fact that they look as though they could have been shot in 1981 (Belchers Farm’s palm trees don’t quite rival Long Beach’s!) and Alex looks suitably retro, I think the reason this medium suits the Alfa again goes back to emotion. People of a certain age remember it like this when they were kids, watching heroes such as Mario Andretti and Bruno Giacomelli fighting tooth and nail on the track.

It’s the vintage vibe, and the exact same reason people love old cars and analogue cameras in the first place – because they’re stylish, tactile and neither easy to master nor flawlessly finished. You imbibe the atmosphere of a photo from Jose Villa, Akila Berjaoui or Slim Aarons. You feel the roar of an old engine. You hear the whirl of a film winding. It just works! 

Text and photos: Veronica Lane-Girardo. Follow Veronica on Instagram here.

Click here to find out more about this 1981 Alfa Romeo 179C or, alternatively, click here to browse our other classic cars for sale.

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