Standing in front of me in this city of Modena, Italy, are the welcoming gates of the Ferrari Museum (Museo Enzo Ferrari). The automotive optimism that brought us to the edge of the pavement is at an all-time high for the tour of the Zanasi production facilities at Ferrari. Umberto Zanasi is a living legend in the history of Ferrari, and the company founder is soon with us driving a spectacular Jeep 4×4 painted in Rosso Red. Umberto is well past retiring age and, as I have said, is in his mid-eighties. He looks hale and hearty and is clearly proud of his company’s achievements.
His history as a humble painter and body repair expert stretches back to the 1950’s and ’70s when he took care of the cars for Nikki Lauda’s world championship chase. Along with him and talking like brothers-in-arms, is world-wide sales director for Metron spraybooths, Massimlano Gentoni. It’s through his swift efforts we quickly gain entry to another world.
The special restoration shop that Zanasi has developed since 2006 is a world apart from the daily grind that produces eight new Ferrari models through the main paint shop. For here are virtually priceless, iconic, 250 GTS’s, 275 GTB4, 500 TRC and 250 LM models – all at prices in excess of R100 million. “After the slow rebuilds take place, we work mainly for some of the worlds’ most significant collectors and have completed a great many key restorations that enabled us to score an outright win for the Best on Show at the 2009 Villa de Este with a very special Pinin Farina coupé,” said Umberto.
“Attention to detail runs high at this restoration specialist section and getting them right every time presents its own challenges as models at Ferrari changed thick and fast mod-updating, as well as race cars which were constantly being modifed to remain competitive. Often we have to go to a specific race car design if we want to re-create the correct wings and signwriting stickers. Luckily for us our comprehensive archives prove to be a great source of information model by model. We have them all logged since 1947,” continued Umberto.
“These exact drawings are priceless pieces of history in their own right,” says Zanasi. “We’re fully booked up to the end of 2018 with a host of special restoration projects.”
Enzo Ferrari was a bit of a fanatic with an intense focus on building the next better race car so he made notes and accurate drawings on the constant updating that was going on at the Ferrari race shop and seen at many tracks across the globe.
As you might expect there is an air of silence as a small group of skilled staff go about their work. The workshop is spotless and looking at some of the leather reworking that’s just been completed, the craftsmanship is clearly visible. You just don’t know where to look first as the history that lies before you awaits completion for its chuffed owner to cast a glance of approval towards a job well done. History is a big part of this operation. Zanasi works with approximately 30 000 original drawings up to 1979, after that records are computerised.
PPG is the refinish paint system of choice across their entire range of new vehicles and also at home in Carrozeria Zanasi. All too soon the tour is over and we are back in the real world of Ferrari making the world’s fastest, most luxurious super cars.
From the Italian race car to the sports cars many are painted in various shades of race red (Rosso) and all are adorned with the prancing horse and swathed in race history by champions such as John Surtees, Ayrton Senna, Manuel Fangio, Tazio Nuvolari right up to Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. The huge list also includes Michael Schumacher racing Formula 1 – and in other sports car divisions – arguably, the quickest of them all.
Along with this stellar group of drivers were the body designers employed by Ferrari road cars with coach builders such as Luke Zagato, Bertone and Pinin Farina in tow. The brand always produces cutting edge, ultra fast road burners with another first of 2+2 front engined sports cars way back in the roaring 60s.
To round off this chance-of-a-lifetime tour at Ferrari we were allowed to see some of the rarest models still in existence. It boggles the mind to see these cars. The result is proof positive they are at the pinnacle of Ferrari restoration right here in Modena.