Past Tours & Galleries

On Sunday, February 22nd, 40 Americans and two Canadians arrived via Alitalia at the Milan Malpenza Airport. Everyone proceeded directly to the Europe Car Rental Agency here they picked up their cars. Many in the group requested and were able to have the new Alfa Romeo 156, which I might add is an absolutely beautiful automobile.

The 21 cars were divided into three groups: the Blue Team, the Red Team, and the Green Team. After a briefing by Francis Mandarano, the Group Leader, in which he explained to everyone that upon leaving we should all be sure to take a left and not a right and go in the direction of Novra, not in the direction of the Auto Strada, everyone agreed, indicated they understood. We then loaded the luggage in the cars and proceeded to leave the airport. The first two cars turned left to Novra, the third one made the right hand turn to the Auto Strada, wherein all other cars followed behind. Thus, eighteen cars managed to get lost within minutes of leaving the airport. Not to worry, most everyone arrived at the designated hotel in Torino. With the exception of Frank and Joan Manley, who checked into another hotel, and who upon looking at the parking lot, not seeing any cars they were familiar with, realized they had checked into the wrong hotel.

That night, at 7 p.m., was our first official gathering at the Ristorante La Smarrita. Special guests for the evening included Mike Robinson, Design Director for Lancia, Roberto Piatti, Marketing Director for Bertone, Luciano Greggio, External Relations Officer for I.D.E.A. With an incredible, fantastic, five course Italian meal at one of Torino's premier restaurants for only £35,000, which included wine. That works out to be only about $18 per person. As a side note, most of our organized meals turned out for some reason to equal about £35,000.

After dinner, everyone stood up and introduced themselves with where they were from, what cars they owned, and why they came to Italy. Our special guests were introduced and gave very interesting talks and explained that they were looking forward to showing us their respective design centers. With that, it was back to the hotel for a good night's sleep as we would be up early in the morning.

Monday, the 23rd of February, at 8:57 a.m., we were off to Italdesign. There we were met by External Relations Officer, Marco Degl'Innocenti. Marco, although in the final preparations for the Geneva Auto Show, greeted us with enthusiasm, took us to the conference room at Italdesign where we were shown a spell-binding 15-minute video. From there, we walked next door to the all-new Italdesign Museum, where there were approximately 20 cars on display, including the Maserati Boomerang, the Jaguar Kensington, the Lamborghini Cala, and on and on and on. Our gracious host had coffee and cookies laid out for us and pictures were allowed. The group had an incredible time and soon it was time to go.

The Bertone Stile Center had sent a driver to lead us to Caprie, which is located in the mountains, about 15 miles northwest of Torino. All 21 cars got in a line and convoyed out to the Bertone Stile Center. Upon arrival we were met by Gian Beppe Panico, Mary-Jeanne Bertone, and Roberto Piatti. The group was shown around the Stile Center, which included the Museum, and several prototype cars that were on display. Pictures were taken with Mary-Jeanne Bertone and Mr. Panicco, cameras were allowed throughout, and it was truly a wonderful experience. Gian Beppe Panicco, Bertone's External Relations Officer, explained to the group the philosophy of Bertone and the history. There was a questioning and answering period, and then everyone assembled together for a group photo. Being very close to lunch time, Mr. Panicco and Mary-Jeanne lead us into the country about a mile and a half away from the Stile Center to an absolutely fantastic small ristorante, where we had an incredible lunch, which included salamis, pastas, meats, cheeses, wine, dessert, etc., etc., all for (you guessed it) £35,000 (approximately $18.00). Mr. Panicco, Mary-Jeanne Bertone (the daughter of Nuccio Bertone) and Roberto Piatti were kind enough to join us for a champagne toast, and I must say the group was really having fun by this time. Afterwards, it was free time, we all left on our own and headed back to central Torino for shopping on the Via Roma and/or naps at the hotel. That evening it was dinner on your own. Some found restaurants very near the hotel, others went to Pizzarias.

Tuesday morning, February 24th, it was up early, a good breakfast at the hotel, at 8:57 a.m., Fiat had made arrangements for a bus to pick us all up at the hotel where we were driven over to the Fiat Stile Center where Michael Robinson, Director of Lancia Design, gave an excellent talk on his coming to Italy and entering the design world and on how big companies operate in the field of design. The group was spell-bound and fascinated for forty minutes. At the end of his presentation, the enthusiasm and passion that came through from Mike's presentation had people nearly standing on their chairs, shouting for more. Soon it was time to leave. We were presented with a complimentary scale model 156 Alfa Romeo, and cookies and refreshments before departure. It was back on the bus and back to the hotel. After lunch we grouped up four people to a car and drove up to the I.DE.A. Stile Center's head office, which was at the top of the hill and at a fabulous, incredibly beautiful, 18th century villa over looking Torino. I.DE.A. turned out to be a real gem of a tour. We were shown a video presentation in the villa with an introduction by the President of I.DE.A., Dott. Ing. Franco Mantegazza. After the film, we were all presented with a exquisite silver key fob, made of heavy weight metal, and of very high quality. We then loaded onto the two small buses that were provided by Luciano Greggio, whose official title is Assistant to the President. From there we went to the I.DE.A. Design and Stile Studio where we were shown cad machines and their function as well as some very unusual prototype city cars. The group was really blown away with what we were allowed to see here. We then went on a bus that took us to I.DE.A. 5, which found us in a building where milling machines were actually milling cars and parts out of epiwood and chalk. The I.DE.A. tour lasted for two and a half hours. Afterwards, Luciano telephoned to the Torino Automobile Museum and asked if they would be kind enough to hold the museum open for us until we arrived and he also arranged a special group rate, which we were very thankful for.

The Torino Automobile Museum was incredible. Hundreds of cars all displayed in a very pleasing setting where there available for us to photograph and to enjoy.

That night a group of us went to the famous Urbani Ristorante. Located near the train station, it is a landmark ristorante where all the journalists go when they are in Torino. For £70,000, we were treated to an incredible 6-star dinner ... if there was such a thing, this would be it. Those of us who attended this dinner will not soon forget it.

The next morning, Wednesday, February 25th, it was up early, breakfast in the hotel, into the cars, and drive to Modena. Drivers were instructed to go like hell, pedal to the metal, and pull into each Auto Grill, cruising slowly, looking for cars that had our team stickers on the back of them. If you saw team stickers, you'd pull in and have a cup of coffee. If you didn't, you'd cruise through slowly, get back onto the Auto Strada, and "go like hell" to the next Auto Grill, where the same procedure was repeated. We arrived at our hotel in central Modena at around noon, gathered in the Piazza for the first visit to DeTomaso Automobiles at 2 p.m. At DeTomaso, the group was met by Ing. Giordano Casarini and Bruce Qvale, the new world distribution owner and manager for DeTomaso cars. After a superb tour of the DeTomaso facility, which included watching cars being produced as well as older, vintage DeTomasos that were positioned outside for us to photograph, the group headed back to the hotel in central Modena. Dinner was on your own, and several people split up going to Danilo's and local pizzerias.

Thursday morning, February 26th, found us queuing up in the Piazza and heading for our tour of Lamborghini, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the tour. After an incredible tour of the complete Lamborghini facility, which included departments that I, personally, had never been in before, we assembled in the courtyard for a group photo. Lamborghini had made arrangements at a ristorante very near the factory which came very highly recommended. We no more got situated in our chairs at the ristorante than the food started coming. An absolutely incredible 6-star lunch was served to everyone, including wine and fizzy water for the incredible price of, you guessed it, £35,000 (approximately $18.00) per person. After lunch it was back to the hotel for 15 minutes, and then off to Maranello for the Ferrari tour. Those who would be taking the tour on this particular Thursday, went into Ferrari. The rest of us went into the Ferrari Galleria and then shopping in nearby Warm-Up and Formula 1. Upon departing Marinello, at about 4:40 p.m., we were surprised to see none other than Michael Schumacher, testing the new Formula 1 car prior to the Australian Grand Prix. As usual, the bridge was jammed with on-lookers including the tour group from America. We parked our cars, and got our cameras out, and shot pictures of Michael Schumacher testing the Formula 1 car, and then it was back to central Modena, meeting at Bar Drogie (affectionately nick-named the "doggie bar"), where we had come to gather between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. before dinner. There, we would swap stories, have a few drinks and talk about the day's activities.

Friday, February 27th, it was up early and off to the Bonfanti Museum in Bassano di Grappa near Venice and the Formula 1 workshops of Michelloto near Padua. Those who stayed in Modena, including myself, enjoyed a sunny day at the local flea market and a visit to the Stanguilini Museum, which I might add was the surprise of the trip, a beautiful, well laid out, well executed museum, which contained tools, photographs, cars, and the complete history of Stanguilini. In the afternoon it was a tour of Brandoli, a small workshop that specializes in Ferrari restoration. And then back to central Modena, where we met at the bar and then split up for dinner.

Saturday and Sunday, February 28th, and March 1st, was free time. Half of the group took day trips to Venice, the other half went to Florence the following day. Some people visited Mantova where the Nuovalari Museum is located.

Monday was Maserati Day. In the morning, 8:57 a.m., we queued up and drove to the Maserati Collection of Umberto Panini located on his cheese farm. There we were met by Matteo Panini who not only gave us a tour of the collection, but of the parmesan cheese production as well. Seeing how they take care of the cows, raise the calves, and produce the cheese was in itself very interested and a highlighted bonus.

The collection contained many prototype cars and original cars that were held by the Maserati Factory. The tour of the collection was conducted by the famous Birdcage engineer, Giulio Alfieri. The tour group felt genuinely privileged as they listened to Giulio Alfieri explain about the test drive of the first Birdcage, wherein after Ing. Bertocchi had not returned in two hours he had begun to worry. After Bertocchi had returned, Alfieri asked, "What happened? Where have you been?" Bertocchi said that the car was running so well that he continued to drive up in the mountains. Being in the presence of such legendary men as Giulio Alfieri and Adolfo Orsi is an experience that the group will not soon forget.

From the collection, we drove back to central Modena where there was a pre-arranged lunch at the famous Lauro Ristorante. Giuliano Alfieri, Matteo Panini and Adolfo Orsi were our guests of honor. The owner of Lauro served up a terrific 5-star lunch to all of us, including wine, two to three types of pasta, etc., etc. Afterwards, the remainder of the group that had not visited the Stanguilini Museum was given the opportunity to do so. At five in the afternoon, we met back at the Drogie Bar where we again split up to go to dinner in central Modena.

Tuesday, March 3rd, found us headed towards Maranello for the Ferrari tour. The remaining 22 people who did not tour the previous Thursday, were allowed to tour today. Afterwards, it was lunch at the Cavallino Restaurant with Ferrari officials, and then on to the fantastic Ragahini Collection. This Collection is perhaps one of Italy's finest. There were approximately one hundred or so of the most absolutely knock out cars on display in the 14th century Ragahini castle.

Tuesday night, it was back at the bar and split up for dinner in central Modena. By now, everyone was really enjoying the drill.

Wednesday morning, it was up early to depart for Geneva where we would attend the Geneva Auto Show the next day. The weather was terrific, the drive was fantastic through the Alps, and in four and a half hours the group was in Geneva. Some of the group had stopped in the little strip of France on route to Geneva where they had an absolutely fantastic lunch at a French restaurant.

Thursday morning, it was a visit to the Geneva Auto Show, dinner in Geneva in the evening, and Friday morning it was up early and up to Milan. The group would arrive at Piazza Piemonte at about noon, check into the hotel, queue up for our drive to Arese and a visit to the Alfa Romeo Museum and Alfa Romeo Central Stile.

When we arrived at Alfa Romeo we were met by Walter DeSilva, the Director of Central Stile, Giorgio Pavilla, the Alfa Romeo Brand Manager, and Richard Gadeselli, the Vice President of Corporate Communications. We were given a superb tour of the Stile Center and taken into the preview room where three cars sat undercover. One by one, the covers were removed to reveal first the Nuovola, then the brand new Alfa 166 (which won't be show until Paris), and the third car, a prototype Alfa Romeo Club Racer. After a short question and answer period, we were directed back to the Museum where we spent approximately two hours wandering around the Alfa Romeo Museum, where I might add, there is literally every significant Alfa known to exist. Our hosts at Alfa Romeo were kind enough to arrange a buffet which included refreshments and snacks for our enjoyment.

Afterwards, it was back to Milan where we all gathered for our final dinner together at the Dropin Ristorante, where awards were passed out and stories were told and a good time was had by all.

The next morning, Saturday, the group queued up and headed off to Malpensa for the return back to the States. The tour was declared an absolute success and Annual Car Guy Tours are now being planned.

Thank you to the following people who made this very first official Car Guy Tour happen:

Kelly Corbin & Hugh Dana
Spokane, WA

Tom Gilman
Burlingame, CA

Bill Inglis & Bonnie McRae
Woodland Hills, CA 91364

Tom O'Callaghan and Renee Palys
Hayward, CA

Dallas and Willa Paul
Lodi, CA 95240

Bob Selz
Hallandale, FL

Kent and Brenda Snowden
Ellensburg, WA

Matthew Earnest
Seattle, WA

Rod and Janet McNae
Whidbey Island WA

Larry Dent & Dave White
Auburn, IN

Alan and Alice Goetz
Portola Valley, CA 94028

Len and Leslie Kuzmicki
Ladd, IL.

Bruce & Marian Patzmann
Kent, WA

Troy and Ruth Raynor
Morro Bay, CA

Don West
Palos Verdes CA

Ron Koch
Palo Alto, CA

Bill and Terry Greenslade
Phoenix, AZ

Frank and Joan Manley
Bellevue, WA

Mario & Barbara Parravano
Toronto, Ontario

Dick Reichek
Coconut Grove, FL

Glenn & Sande Rittenhouse
Kent, WA

Bill Baner
San Francisco, CA

Carlo Sciacchitano
Pompano, FL

37 people + FGM = 38