For reasons that will become apparent in a future issue of Autocar, I recently spent a day high in the Italian mountains, chasing some of the rarest and most expensive cars ever made.

I can’t say I’ve ever been too closely interested in the real top-end motoring exotica. They’re just far too rarified and too far away from reality to catch my imagination. I have the same view about competition cars, though I have have great respect for rally drivers – surely more skilled the F1 pilots? – and can get very excited by the Lancia 037 or Delta S4. And that’s probably because those cars are based, at least partly, in reality.

Still, when you’ve had the privilege of being overtaken by, say, a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB/C when high in mountains and watching a 1955 Ferrari 375 America storm by in its home territory, you see things differently.

Watching 40-odd of these cars – most of which were Italian – in close proximity, finally brought home to me the sheer mastery of the Italian car industry between 1950 and 1970. These cars are, without exception, stunning. It is obvious that if today’s mainstream Italian car industry could tap into the effortless style of this era, its dire situation would be somewhat improved.