Modena, capital of hand built automobiles
THE ORIGINS: CARROZZERIA ORLANDI, STANGUELLINI FIAT DEALER, FERRARI TEAM
The turning point for Modena was in 1929 when it was destined to becom eht automobile capital of Emilia. In fact it was in that year that both Vittorio Stanguellini (cfr.) and Enzo Ferrari (cfr.) started their work in the strictly technical field of automobile manufacture, the former first as elaboratore and later also as manufacturer of sportscars, the latter as owner of the Scuderia Ferrari with the purpose of providing technical backup to the clientele that raced privately with Alfa Romeos.
In 1937 the craftsmen of the Scuderia Ferrari built an excellent single seater, the famous Alfa Romeo "Alfetta 158" which – after dopo l'acquisizione da parte di Enzo Ferrari di tutto il materiale sportivo dell'Alfa Romeo che ne aveva finanziato il progetto - avrebbe dominato le scene sportive del dopoguerra vincendo i primi due titoli mondiali (nel 1950 con Giuseppe Farina e nel 1951 con Juan Manuel Fangio).
In the same year the industrialist of Modena Adolfo Orsi (cfr.) took over Maserati which until then had belonged to the Maserati brothers from Bologna and in 1940 relocated it in Modena.
In 1939 Enzo Ferrari – with the substantial proceeds from the salòe of his own Scuderia – formed a new company, Auto Avio Costruzioni with the intent, not even mascherato, to continue on his own account with the manufacture of sports cars. In fact already in the following year (1940) and thanks to the cooperation of the engineer Alberto Massimino two 1500cc 8 cylinder cars were produced using FIAT material which then became famous as the "815" since Ferrari could not use his own name which was contractually bound to Alfa Romeo for another five years. The first car tha bore his name – the first geniune Ferrari – was produced in 1947 at Maranello where he had relocated his industrial business.
To transport the racing cars to the circuits simlpe adapted lorries were used. Many of these even arrived coping with normal road traffic with everything that was needed on board. The craftsmen in the periphery of Modena, with their premises in the most unlikely locations and improvised workshops were people who had gained experience working for Ferrari and Maserati (or previously also for the Caproni Workshops of Reggio Emilia, specialised in working with the aluminium of warplanes: men who had been trained well in their craft and who had decided to go into business for themselves.
One certainly cannot talk about the craftsmen of Modena without mentioning the work done by the technician Valerio Colotti. (cfr.), a specialst in gears. Another Scuderia, la Serenissima (cfr.), under the patronage of the Ventian count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata, had found excellent support in the workshop of Neri and Bonacini who had also come from the closed down racing depatment of Maserati. Even the American driver Lance Reventlow, son of the millionaire widow Barbara Hutton had some contact with the car manufacturers of Modenal and the craftsmen of the city when at the end of the sixties he decided to build a Formula 1 single seater, the Scarab 2500. Before him and moreor less for the same reasons Tony Vanderwall, the builder of the Vanwall 2500 F.1. had also come to Modena.
Sergio Sighinolfi (cfr.), before becoming famous as a driver of the Stanguellini and later as a test driver for Ferrari, built a Sport 1100 in 1948 derived from Fiat which had excellent results.
The British team of Rob Walker, for which Stirling Moss raced, also approached the “ususal” technician Valerio Colotti to assemble and mettere a punto an F.1 single seater with a rear motor with BRM and a Cooper frame. The work was done in the workshop of Giorgio Neri and Luciano Bonacini. From the other side of the English Channel a technician by the name John Wadsworth arrived in our city in the early months of 1959 together with an unknown American driver Tony September, to found the World Racing Enterprise (WRE). A similar project had been undertaken by the American journalist Hans Tanner, a great lover of motor racing, who had commissioned the Colotti studio for an F.1 2500 with short wheelbase and independent wheels using mechanical parts and motor from Maserati
De Tomaso had reached an agreement with Ford and the carrozzeria Ghia of Turin to assemble the “Pantera” with a 5750cc Ford V8 330 HP (enough power to reach 260 kph) in the town of Fossalta in the outskirts of the city).
In 1971 Stanguellini produced a series of small cars with a Chevrolet 5700cc V8 engine.
Tra le carrozzerie non si può non citare la Scaglietti (which then became a part of Fiat-Ferrari but also ha carrozzato cars of other makes). In more recent times new workshops have come to the fore such as Sala and Marverti, Gozzoli, Giuliani, la Valtellina Racing and Sportwagen, which however relocated elsewhere. Fortunately someone had the courage to continue believing in these iniziative. Allo stesso modo, forse, è stato mandato in pista prematuramente il motore 12 cilindri Chrysler-Lamborghini "made in Modena", progettato dall'ormai ex-ferrarista ing. Mauro Forghieri.
Besides F.1, there has certainly been no lack of other interesting projects such as the GT which was produced in a limited series . worthy of particular attention is the "Nembo-Lancia" from the workshop of Neri and Bonacini which, woth the cooperation of the engineer Giotto Bizzarrini, had already produced the prototypes of the 'ASA 1000 (Ferrarina), the first Bizzarini 5300 Strada.
Another interesting creation of Luigi Bertocco, former test driver for Ferrari, was the "Condor". Bertocco concived the car together with Sergio Aguzzoli, an Alfa Romeo dealer in Parma.
More recently there was another courageous project: Cizeta.