He’s stuck on Maser­atis

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - NEIL DOWL­ING

ONE man’s pas­sion keeps Maserati’s his­tory alive. His name is Um­berto Panini and there is lit­tle hint in the min­i­mal­is­tic build­ings at his dairy farm, Hom­bre, on the out­skirts of Mo­dena.

Even the barn doors give no idea of the rich mo­tor­ing his­tory inside.

Panini has the world’s big­gest private col­lec­tion of Maser­atis.

The line-up rep­re­sents an amaz­ing com­pany that has been through seven own­ers and en­dured the depths of bank­ruptcy and the highs of world cham­pi­onship rac­ing.

Panini, 78, be­came very rich in the sticker busi­ness. Pop­u­lar since the 1960s, the stick­ers and cards de­pict­ing any­thing from foot­ball play­ers to car­toon char­ac­ters were dis­pensed from Panini’s coin-op­er­ated ma­chines around Italy and other Euro­pean coun­tries.

Panini sold out in 1988 and built up his Mo­dena farm.

In 1997 Mo­dena’s pride, Maserati, was sold to Fiat by its own­ers, de To­maso, and the com­pany’s car col­lec­tion was auc­tioned in Lon­don.

The out­cry from Italy was so strong it re­sulted in Panini buy­ing 22 Maserati cars.

They went into his barn, adding to dozens of other cars, mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles, rac­ing en­gines, trac­tors and mo­tor­cy­cles. He owns two im­mac­u­late Maserati mo­tor­bikes.

The col­lec­tion is ar­ranged on ei­ther side of the barn — Maser­atis to the left, oth­ers to the right— with se­lected mod­els in the mid­dle. Up­stairs are mo­tor­cy­cles and mod­els of prospec­tive cars.

The early mod­els at­tract the most at­ten­tion, start­ing with the Maserati A6 GCS Ber­linetta de­signed by Pin­in­fa­rina. It was val­ued re­cently at $8 mil­lion. Its grille has been copied for the latest Maserati Qu­at­tro­porte.

The col­lec­tion in­cludes a 1936 6CM sin­gle-seat racer that has been per­fectly re­stored. Then there’s a Tipo 250F, the V12 ver­sion of the iconic rac­ing Maserati that sped Juan Manuel Fan­gio to grand prix vic­tory in 1954.

Be­hind is Stir­ling Moss’s El­do­rado 420M, then a mid-en­gined Tipo 63 and a Tipo 61 Bird­cage. It got its name be­cause its 36kg space frame chas­sis is made of 200 steel tubes that re­sem­ble the bars of a bird cage.

More mod­ern cars in­clude Mis­trals and Bo­ras, Ghi­b­lis and Mer­aks, with rar­i­ties such as the Shah of Per­sia’s 1958 5000GT by Tour­ing, one of only four built.

There is a pro­to­type Simun of 1964, a pro­to­type Chubasco V8, a one-off tur­bocharged Merak and one of only 52 Qu­at­tro­porte III Royale mod­els made, this 1986 ex­am­ple with a fridge, air­con­di­tion­ing and tele­phone.

Panini’s favourite is a 1909 Rol­land-Pi­lan Model C he found in ter­ri­ble con­di­tion un­der a hedge.

It was re­stored over five years in time to be the car­riage for the wed­ding of his daugh­ter and now sits along­side a De Dion Bou­ton.

Any­one can visit the mu­seum by ap­point­ment. The first step is to email hom­bre@hom­bre.it

Mo­tor­ing his­tory: (left) Um­berto Panini, and (right, from top) the Maserati 250F V12, the 1958 El­do­rado 420M and the Tipo 61 Bird­cage.

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