The Italian Junkyard

Thoughts, ideas, criticism about cars. Interesting news and facts from the world of the automobile. Events in Italy and Modena. What you can find elsewhere, filtered through the eyes of a discerning enthusiast. Design, style, everything on the chopping block. Nobody is safe anymore.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Stunning Red Head of humble horigins and her Blondie heir: 1959 Fiat 600 Viotti and 2014 Willys AW380 Viotti

Technically speaking, there is only the body color of this car, or the color of the leather of its pristine interior, to qualify it as a red head, or as a Rossa in Italian. Even if back in the sixties most relevant figures in the Italian automotive sector had already been working for several if not most companies and coachbuilders from the country, it would be at least far fetched to bring about some connection between this car and say Ferrari, just to carry on the red theme.

It's nonetheless a beauty, a little gem from the local evergreen automotive industry. I actually find that what qualifies Italy among the most famous countries in the world when it comes to cars, it's not just Ferrari, Lamborghini and all the other loud names in the business, but also the capability to give birth to such great cars regardless of their technical relevance to the world, their price, or their performance. Most coachbuilders from the past and present experimented with small cars, and not simply providing the design of the bodywork or some technical insight in their engineering. It was and still is about creating something unique, special, with a personality in some ways.

Obviously today the market is in a completely different situation. There is no point in calling in the ever present global crisis, as long as Mini can afford to sell a 2.700 € set of wheels on a 30.000 € or so stock Countryman (or simply as long as it sells the Countryman I might say) it is not a matter of money availability. Sure some people suffered the crisis, not going to argue that, but there are still quite some people who can afford to spend quite some cash on rather common and not so special cars. Targeting Mini buyers is quite simple and a bit on the generalist side of things, but you got the point.
What sells is the brand, and even more so the image connected to the brand. I happened to come across a man at the mall last week, dressed with expensive clothes and with a brand new pinkish-iPhone-something, which then walked over to his car. A dented VW Polo MK3/6N. Now I don't pretend everyone to be a car enthusiast, but I couldn't help but notice he was carrying around at least twice, or trice, the money in clothes and phone than what his car was worth. And he was just fine with it which is the most important thing I take.

So is there a place somewhere in a market overcrowded with generalist offerings, premium average cars and brands actually owned by the same conglomerate, for something bespoke and special such as a truly bespoke Fiat 500, or Mini? Simple and short answer, no.
Cars are definitely less "cool" than they were 50 years ago, they no longer represent freedom and independence, and they are often seen just as a mean of transportation, and expensive one because of fuel, insurance, taxes and servicing. It's an open secret that in a few decades cars will be used just as horses are used today. Sports, sporadic trips on the countryside, fairs and little else. We will be hovering over cities with individual egg-shaped pods connected among themselves to move us around as quickly and efficiently as possible, while giving us to have a relaxed conversation, read a book (or play some silly-saga game on our augmented reality visors) and probably have lunch too in the process. What a marvelous thing progress is.

I truly believe that, but at the same time, I feel more and more people not directly involved with progress are just embracing its side effects rather than be a part of it. With people "involved" I don't mean simply engineering, scientists and researchers all around the world, but also people simply interested in science and technological progress, up to date with what's going on. If you don't understand something, it's pretty easy to misuse it, and hi-tech devices casted in the furnaces of hell are no exception. Actually, I'm pretty sure my grand-grandmother would have been even harsher on smartphones and the likes. Luckily, my grandmother has been corrupted by an LCD television a while ago. Internet is still a mistery though.

While digressing is probably my best ability, the point is it's not very common to find such a car as this 1959 Fiat 600 Viotti. Built upon a rather common and simple car, the body of this coupe can compete at any concours d'elegance all around the world side by side by with much more expensive and famous names. An evidence to this is that a Viotti Fiat 600 was featured in the first aired episode of Chasing Classic Cars, one of the few modern "reality" shows worth watching, and probably the only one among those automotive-related. For a car collector from the States to be in love with this rare and quirky little car from italy, it must be something pretty special. Here is a clip from another episode.

The Snail...

Viotti itself is partially back as a coachbuilder with the recently unveiled Willys AW380, which does its best at transforming a Porsche Boxster/Cayman into a modern replica of the Alpine A108 that the Brazilian arm of Willys was licensed to build in the seventies. The scene of its unveiling was the rather disappointing and slowly dying Bologna Motor Show, now the only generalist auto show left in Italy after the demise of the Turin Auto Show in 2002 (the last exhibition being held two years earlier). How ironic that such a pivotal place for cars as Italy is left without a decent show of international relevance.
Viotti is also a design firm in the modern sense, providing engineering know-how and prototyping facilities for new experiments. Indeed, bonus points if you can recognize what they have been working on in the recent years, might as well cover that car as well...

All pictures copyrtight: Damiano Garro for The Italian Junkyard
Press images courtesy of Carrozzeria Viotti Torino Want to know more?

Friday, September 26, 2014

I like Mondays: my new life at Lamborghini

Been a while, but I have a good excuse this time.

A few weeks ago I landed myself a nice position at Lamborghini, R&D department.

Aside from the overexposure of Huracana and Aventadors in all shades and configurations, it's a great place to be, nice people, relaxed environment, and great food at noon too. Also, from time to time you get to see some very special toys like the pictured Veneno, the first one to be built and finished with red accents. The green model is presently in Miami in the hands of enthusiast and collector Kris Singh, who also got himself the first bespoke Pagani Huayra nicknamed La Monza Lisa, while the white coupe is in China/HK. As for the Veneno Roadsters, I haven't checked on them yet.

I was also lucky enough to see the equally rare Sesto Elemento during the final checks before its lucky owner could take possession of that precious little gem. I'm not a fan of the Gallardo LP570/4 SuperLeggera drivetrain, but the design is striking.

Of course there aren't and there won't be many pictures coming as its pretty much forbidden to the deadliest level, as you may imagine.

I'm obviously over the moon to be finally involved in the creation of these spectacular exotics. I'm even more blown away by the complication hidden behind every single detail, something that the average enthusiast often forgets to consider. If things are done in a specific way, there are good chance there are quite a few reasons why.

I'll be sure to enjoy my time there for you too :D

All Watermarked Pictures and Words Copyright: Damiano Garro for The Italian Junkyard
This article can be linked to from other websites but its content and the pictures can't be reproduced on any other website without my written permission

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Midsummer's Day quick story

This summer sucks on so many levels.
The end.

A rare and somewhat misunderstood BMW Z1 in Bologna downtown in a rare moment of sun so far.
I know better about it.


3 a period of hot, usually sunny weather
5 the period of finest development, perfection, or beauty previous to any decline: the summer of life

All Watermarked Pictures and Words Copyright: Damiano Garro for The Italian Junkyard
This article can be linked to from other websites but its content and the pictures can't be reproduced on any other website without my written permission

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Monday, June 23, 2014

2014 Vanishing Point: Pagani Zonda LM, bespoke endurance racing at its finest

With the introduction in June last year of the already featured Zonda Revoluciòn, something more needed to be done on the road going side of the Zonda world. The Zonda itself takes its roots back to the good old Group C days, an era of monstrous prototypes that could spank Formula 1 cars, with the added bonus of being raced at the world famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. The only racing effort of a Pagani car, and a completely unofficial one, saw a Zonda race car, called the Zonda GR, enter at Sebring and Le Mans in 2003, with very little success, and giving it a try again at the 2004 Le Mans test days, only to retire from the actual event because of a crash during a test at the Vallelunga race track prior to the race. To this day, the Zonda GR is still raced in Eastern Europe with somewhat decent results, finished in a green and black livery. Little is left from the original 2003/2004 version.

Here it is at Sebring 2003, Le Mans 2003, Le Mans Test days 2004 and at Hockenheim about 10 days ago.

So while Pagani was always adamant there were no racing intentions for the Zonda, race cars always offered inspiration. One might say the Zonda 760 RS was quite enough of a road going race car, as one Lewis Hamilton might say referring to his own Zonda LH, but apparently there is at least one customer that wanted something more. Take the Zonda 760 series and it monstrous 760+ BHP engine, 7 speed actuated gearbox and revised aero, add a stronger Le Mans flavor, build a completely new and so far bespoke front end almost directly taken from the Revoluciòn, a modified rear end plus a new massive wing, new headlights and some other bits and bites, and you get the brand new Pagani Zonda LM. LM obviously standing for Le Mans. Another good name would have been Zonda Monstrous Beast edition, or even the Pagani "I want one now" Zonda. You get it.

The car was already spotted in Andorra where its registered and at Pagani factory of course, but it was yet to completed in all its details. Now the customer can fully enjoy his new ultimate Zonda in all its glory, and what best occasion than a private rally around Italy with other customers and Pagani entourage? Added bonus, this is the 10th anniversary of the first Vanishing Point Pagani meeting, and it's probably still ongoing right now as I write.

Full disclosure, I said the event is private, indeed only customers, partners and friends are invited. While taking pictures outside of Pagani headquarter, I noticed people coming and going from the showroom, people clearly not part of the event and not invited. So I walked in, wondering if indeed it was OK. No one seem to bother, so I took a couple of shots of the blue Pagani Huayra #001, the first production car. A few seconds later, I was kindly shown the door. I felt so bad for it, so let me post my apologies here in public, my bad.

As you can see the front of the car is modeled after Le Mans prototypes, perhaps those from the more recent years rather than those pointy ends on the cars from the 80s and 90s. The new headlights are a complete departure from the usual Pagani design, with now all four elements under a single cover reminiscent once again of LM prototypes. A new LED DRL element is visible too. While I think the new front ads some freshness to the Zonda profile and nicely integrates in it, there is quite some gap between the front clam and the cockpit/windshield, but perhaps that was done on purpose for ventilation reasons, indeed you can spot two massive radiator fans underneath it. Autofocus played a fast one on me this time and I didn’t notice at first, an almost useless picture is the result.

As for the other major modifications, the rear end was adapted, rather than built from scratch as the overall design seems quite the same, to integrate a lower spoiler and additional tail lights quite similar to those found in the Zonda R and Revoluciòn, this time though they feature a built-in spoiler too. The main wing is massive, even more than the 760 series and mimicking that from the Revoluciòn cars, but this time the side planes/pillars have a more complex design. Maybe it’s the less homogenous feture of the car, but not something I’d call a deal breaker for sure. As for the interior, it seemed pretty much standard issue, except for the chrome finish of the metal plaques, something else I’d rather do without.

The thing is, this car is the result of the dedication of Pagani to provide customers and the automotive world with yet another gem, and a customer willing to get his dream car completely tailored according to his liking. Apparently he also owns the Zonda Cinque Roadster #1/5 also featured at the gathering and a Zonda R too. I might add that some Zonda Rs are presently being updated to Revoluciòn specs, for good measure.
Even if the result may or may not be our first choice, we should be simply happy that there are people out there willing to commission, and to build, such bespoke and extreme creations. The same goes for the ever growing Ferrari Special Projects program, some of their cars are awesome, other less so, but it’s simply exciting that they exist. So now you just have to go out and make some millions, no more excuses separating you from your ultimate supercar!

I also feel like Italian companies are better at building such special cars, something to do with the heritage, racing history and Mediterranean passion for all things wild and personal. I don’t see Porsche pulling out such bespoke and exotic models. Mercedes have been building unique versions of their cars for some very loyal and wealthy customers, but most of the time we are talking about special version of existing cars, with maybe a different engine, or transmission (those fifteen E 55 AMG 4-Matic W210 anyone?) or refurbished internals (the eleven or so 300 SL rebuilt with modern suspensions, engines, steering, etc).
The raw nature of Koenigsegg’s cars allow for some additional madness to be infused by a willing customer, and the One:1 program is a great example of what more can be done, but maybe their product is so extremely designed to reduce the margin for modifications. I’d expect the aerodynamics on the Agera to be pretty much the best they could come up with for those outstanding top speeds, but a new balance may be found nonetheless.
Bugatti has shown already that all they are willing to do is a new set of wheels and body finish, but maybe McLaren can prove me wrong with some additional bespoke models after the somewhat weird but fascinating X1 Concept from 2012. Also the new Special Operations division of Jaguar might be in for some suprises. Last year Project 7 Concept was very promising, although the death of the C-X75 program is hard to justify in my mind. That was one sexy supercar.

Some other pictures of the event and the 2014 Terra di Motori with the 100th Anniversary of Maserati and a Pagani Zonda Revoluciòn will follow soon.

All Watermarked Pictures and Words Copyright: Damiano Garro for The Italian Junkyard
Other shots copyright: Guy Golsteyn,,
This article can be linked to from other websites but its content and the pictures can't be reproduced on any other website without my written permission Want to know more?