I know the Louvre is famous. It has the Mona Lisa and I've even seen it a few times, but for me the real art in life is the automobile. Bodywork. Engines. Wheels. I love it all. Like this one of a kind Lancia Delta Integrale Spyder! And to find a Museum dedicated solely to the beauty of the car was really cool for me. It's called the Museo Nazionale Dell' Automobile.
I never knew it existed, to be honest, and I was simply driving back from the Monaco Grand Prix on my motorsport road trip and happened to stop in to Turino. I'm always told to go see the BMW deal in Munich(which I've seen) or thePorsche Museum, but those are all giant marketing exercises and I've seen most of my favorites at the various vintage races.
This Museum was built in 1932 by Cesare Goria Gatti and Roberto Biscaretti di Ruffia (the first President of the Turin Automobile Club and one of the founders of the Fiat company) to celebrate their love of cars. Sure many of the vehicles were donated by Fiat and other manufacturers but many different brands were represented.
There were even crazy old things like this steam contraption which is supposed to be a recreation of the world's first self propelled vehicle built by 1769 by Nicolas Joseph Cugnot in Paris's Military Arsenal. But there are also really cool, semi-modern Ferrari's like this 1973 365 GT4 2+2:
I think this Fiat was one of the coolest cars in the building. I've never seen anything like it. I know modern stamping machines can't make these bodies but you think someone, somewhere would still build something like this. It was amazing to see in person. Its a Fiat Turbina from 1954.
It's a turbine-powered car. 300cv was listed as I believe the displacement along with a max velocity of 250kph. I also read that he Turbino was the second car ever powered by a turbine engine – the first was by Rover.
Check out the rear fins! Its hard to explain how radical this little thing was in person. I also read that the Turbino held the lowest drag coefficient(0.14) of any car for 30 years.
And surprisingly there was a Cadillac just sitting there by itself. I'm not sure of the significance of this model (Cadillac 62) or why it was on display in Italy but it was cool to see it being admired so far from home.
It is interesting to me too see what the Europeans find interesting about American cars. I would have assumed it was the big V8 engines, but it appears to be the styling. Particularly the front grills.
But let's face it, this might be cool if you live in Italy, but for me its the European cars from the middle of the last century that are amazing. This is an Alfa Romeo Disco Volante from 1952!
And there were cars from manufacturer's that I've never even heard of like this Diatto from 1925.
I've obviously heard of Citroen but never one from 1934. I don't care much for their current cars (well except for the WRC versions) but man this thing looked amazing in person. Why can't they just build cars like this with modern running gear (And I suppose bumpers and stuff)?
This is a Cisitalia 202 from 1948 with a 1090cc 4 cylinder and top speed of 155kph. The cool thing about this car is the bodywork. The hood, body, fenders and headlights surround are all one piece abd in person it's flowing lines are beautiful. The car was commissioned by Dante Giacosa and built on a Fiat with the body made by Pininfarina.
And because it's a museum there was even some auto art on display. I stuck mostly to the cars but thought this was pretty cool looking.
And of course they had the world's largest automobile Chia Pet on display as well.
This is a Fiat 500 Barchetta Bertone (1936-47). The starting date of 1936 is because the chassis and driveline were derived from the 1936 Fiat 500. Here's the cool part of the story. The young son (Nuccio Bertone) of the Bertone founder bought a 500 with his own cash and worked with two mechanics outside of business hours to build it! It was his "racing" barchetta. So cool.
This car must have been cool to drive with no windscreen. Just a pair of googles I assume.
Before we get to the racecars I came across this. Each little circle represents a car manufacturer that existed at some point in the city of Turino. I wonder what Detroit's version of this looked like. And Fiat, which is still based in Turino today, is the green circle all by itself in the upper left hand corner.
This was the entrance to the race car area. So cool how real and lifelike these photos were with the light projected onto them.
And on the other side was the version ending in Schumacher:
After leaving the drivers, you enter this hall of Grand Prix cars:
And here is a video of that room with the cool interactive backdrop. It's not some high tech Pink Floyd laser light show but it is cooler than automotive art display I've ever seen. Anyone could have dropped them there with even a photo behind it but they instead choose to make art to go with the art. I like that. so I took a quick video to share. The video went on for minutes before resetting. This is just a section of it.
This is a Alfa Romeo 33 TT 12 from 1975. 2995cc horizontally opposed 12 cylinder! With a top speed of 320 kph, it earned Alfa Romeo the World Manufacturers Championship in 1975 winning 7 of 8 races.
The catermaran of cars! It almost looks like a vehicle from Star Wars, but it's a TARF from 1948 with a 4 cylinder 350cc engine. Later it carried larger 550cc engines and from 1948 to 1957 it set 22 international speed records. The left pod held the driver and the right pod was filled with an engine, transmission and fuel tank. And due to the layout featured 4 wheel independent suspension.
1954 Mercedes RW 196. If only that horrible crash hadn't happened in Le Mans the following year, Mercedes would have gone on to build some amazing machines(and a bunch of people wouldn't have died). This one is a 2496cc 8 cylinder with a top speed of 290kph. Easily one if my favorites in the show. I've read a lot about these cars, just never seen any in person.
This Mercedes was special for other reasons too. It was one of the most technolically advanced Formula 1 car back in the day with a valve train that was directly driven and used no return springs. It had twin plug heads and direct injection. It also won the first race it entered – The Grand Prix of France at Rheims in 1954.
Cisitalia Abarth 204 A and just beautiful! My understanding is that the 204 A was Abarth's first car he ever built.
Lancia D24 from 1953. 3284cc 6 cal with a top speed of 250kph. This car took Manuel Fangio, Piero Taruffi, and Eugenio Castellotti to the first three places in the 1953 Carrera PanAmericana. In 1954 Taruffi used it to win the Targa Florio and Ascari drove it to victory at the Mille Miglia. This was the sports car to have in 1953 and 1954.
This almost deserves its own write up! It was a project for F1 done in cooperation with the Swiss Magazine Automobil Revue in 1969! 2900CC 400hp. With safety features like a "self extinguishing" gas tank.
Ferrari 312 T5 from 1980. 12 cylinder 2992cc and beautiful in every way. Unfortunately the T5 didn't win one race during the 1980 F1 season. This number 2 car was driven by Gilles Villeneuve during the season featured a transverse gearbox(hence the T) and mini sideskirts for ground effect.
Lancia Delta Integrale Evolution! This car is so loved by fanatics that they put it behind bars to protect it! Or because it was outlawed from racing when Group B died.
There was also a whole area dedicated to engines that was very cool. It ranged from your typical race motors to bizarro contraptions like this thing build by Murnigotti in 1879.
This is a Fiat 18 BL from 1914.
The engine was absolutely amazing to see and touch in person. Yeah I know you're not supposed to touch the art, but its not Louvre, this is a piece of metal. Its a Delage Grand Prix engine from 1925
The were a ton of other engines on display but also this really coo,l interactive display showing how engine technology changed over time :
I found this in a room of what I believe were prototypes so I dont think they ever built this. I'm not even sure what to make of it. But they call it a Fiat 130 Shooting Brake.
At first glance, this was just another Ferrari 360 but then I noticed the windscreen and realized something wasn't totally normal. I doubt it's safe, but it looks so much better than the regular one.
Apparently this was used to fit body panels! So cool. I would love to see someone build a car using this technique. Must be awesome to watch. The guys were true artists. So while this place certainly was not the Louvre, the cars in this Museum are by far my favorite form of art.
Photos by Bill Caswell