The Cult of Cars, Racing and Everything That Moves You.
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This Is Why You Have To Visit The Car Museums When You're In Italy

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Italy. A country of great food, great culture, and great driving. Well okay, two out of three isn’t so bad. In the five days I spent in Tuscany I fell in love with the country that gave us gelato, bolognese sauce, and of course, some of the best dream cars ever made.

I loved the way of life there. No one cares about anything. It’s all very laid back and relaxed. That is, until you get out onto the roads, where it’s like everyone is playing Grand Theft Auto. As someone who’s gotten used to the logic and precision of living in Tokyo, Italy’s chaos was a refreshing change of pace.

On the final day of the Raduno, we decided to break away from the rest of the cars and made our own way back to Modena. We had a day free until we had to return back to the U.K. for The Goodwood Festival of Speed, which I wrote about earlier this month. So we spent that time taking in some history.

Instead of looking at old cathedrals or mingling with the locals, we decided to check out the local car museums where some of Italy’s finest cars were on display.

As it turned out the museums for Pagani, Lamborghini, and Ferrari—let’s be honest, those are the only ones we really care about—were all down the road from each other. It was about a 20 minute drive from each place to the next.

Coming up from Tuscany in the south, we visited the Lamborghini museum in Bologna first. We set Waze up to take us to the Lamborghini museum but unfortunately it mistook the old Lamborghini headquarters as the museum. Don’t make that mistake as there’s not much there except for a flag and some gravel.

The one you want to go to is 20 minutes down the road from the old facility. It’s much more modern and much bigger. Being Lamborghini I expected something a bit more ‘wow’. Instead it looked pretty much like any other modern building. From the outside at least.

As you walk closer to the main doors, the unmistakable shape of a Huracan is there to greet you. When the automatic doors opened themselves with a whoosh (I’m sure Lamborghini could’ve engineered some sort of automatic scissor door action for the museum) you’re met with the most Lamborghini color palette of yellow, orange, and green.

It’s a reasonable 15 euro entrance fee to have a wander around the museum to your heart’s content. The first floor had some of Lamborghini’s most important historic models such as their first car, the 350GT. Of course there was a Miura on display, as well as a Diablo and a LM002.

To complement the models from the past, Lamborghini also displayed some of its more well-known more recent concepts. The Cala was a personal highlight of mine. I remember seeing photos of this car when I was in elementary school and this car basically started my love affair with Lamborghini. A shame they never put it into production.

The Miura Concept, by far one of the prettiest concept cars ever made, was an annoying reminder that this is how Lamborghini should’ve celebrated the Miura’s 50th anniversary instead of making a “special edition” Aventador with gold bits.

Another concept car that was never meant to be was the Asterion. You probably have read about this one here on Jalopnik. A GT car harking back to front-engined Lambos from the ’60s and 70s, this would’ve been a great supplementary model to go alongside the Huracan and Aventador. It could’ve been the “Gentleman’s Lambo” if you will. It was a hybrid too, and a lot more tasteful than the garish LaFerrari or others.

We can’t talk about Lamborghini concepts without talking about the Sesto Elemento. Yes, it’s based on the old Gallardo and no, they’re not road legal. But Christ almighty this thing had presence. It’s exactly what a Lamborghini should be: crazy, ridiculous, and jaw dropping. Lamborghini made around just six of these.

Upstairs there were a few more of Lamborghini’s recent models. There was a carbon fiber shell of an Aventador coupe. Next to it was an Aventador Roadster stuck to the wall. Across them was a “normal” Huracan and a Gallardo Super Trofeo racing car.

There was also a green first generation Countach, the one without the “look at me” wing and aero bits. Next to that was a Jarama, one of the more obscure and easily forgotten models from the Raging Bull’s past.

Right in the middle of the second floor display was the Veneno prototype. This is the “fourth” Veneno Coupe in existence, well okay I guess technically it’s the first but it’s the only other coupe in existence apart from the there customer cars.

Also on the second floor was a special exhibition with a history of Ayrton Senna’s F1 cars on display. After taking it all in we went back down and onwards to the next stop in Modena.

After Lamborghini we headed back to Pagani HQ. Even though it was a random Monday afternoon it was still pretty busy, albeit most of the people were hanging around the gift shop. Pagani recently renovated their museum so 15 euros got you into a brand spanking new facility.

For 35 euros you could do the whole factory tour but I’d imagine that would require advanced reservations so we didn’t end up doing it. There were still plenty of lovely cars to look at inside the museum itself.

You walk through a small theatre with a video explaining the history of the company. As I walked through only one man sat and watched the video. I assume most people are in a rush to see the collection of exotic metal on display.

They wouldn’t be disappointed. I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a Pagani fanboy and so this was like my Disneyland. First you had the go-karting Horacio. Next to it was a Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary, a car Horacio had a hand in designing.

The first Pagani you see was the “La Nonna.” The test bed for every generation of Zonda since the beginning, from the C12 all the way to the 760 series. This test car had over 500,000km on the clock.

Next to it were a line of Zondas that came after it and owe their existence to the “La Nonna.” There was an exposed carbon C12 S, an early showcase of the carbon fibre work that would later become a signature feature on future Paganis.

The red Zonda F coupe was the next evolution in the Zonda line from the S. It had an uprated 7.3-liter naturally aspirated V12 producing 650hp. The F stands for Fangio, as a tribute to Juan Manuel Fangio, the famed Grand Prix racing driver who was a close friend to Horacio Pagani.

Next up was the orange Zonda F Roadster. This was the first time I had seen a F Roadster and it’s one of my personal favorite Paganis. What made this particular car even more special was it’s a right hand drive car from Singapore. The color is called ‘Singaporean Orange’, which was rather fitting. A naturally aspirated V12 with a manual and no roof, that’s about as perfect as it gets.

The last regular series production Zonda, the Cinque, was the second to last car in the museum lineup. The name comes from the limited production run of five coupes and five roadsters. The Cinque here was the final Cinque Roadster made.

Finally there’s the Zonda Revolucion. The record-breaking track only car that looks otherworldly with all that carbon fibre work and insane aero. It’s the ultimate expression of the Zonda and only five of these exist in the world. There was also a cheeky Zonda R scale model next to it.

Interestingly there wasn’t a Huayra on display. However, the 6.0-liter twin-turbo AMG V12 from the Huayra was displayed next to the 7.3-liter V12 from the Zonda. There were also models of the evolution of the Huayra’s design displayed on a shelf.

As well as these displays, there were also plenty of photos and Pagani paraphernalia displayed around the museum. It’s not a big area by any means; only eight full sized cars were on display. But it’s easy to spend a lot of time there taking in all the fine details of each car and display.

As you make your way out you walk past the gift shop with everything Pagani branded you could think of. From t-shirts to jackets, model cars, and bags, the gift shop was surprisingly busier than the actual museum.

After Pagani we made our way to the final museum to visit: Ferrari.

As excited as I was for the previous two museum visits, I was most excited for this one. This being Ferrari, there were two different museums; one in Maranello next to the factory, and another at Modena.

Being lazy and tired we only visited the Museo Enzo Ferrari at Modena. It’s hard to miss, it’s a massive yellow building. Before walking in you can already sense the uniquely pomp and ceremony that comes with the Ferrari brand.

The entry fee is a whopping 16 euros, a whole euro more than both the Lamborghini and Pagani museums. Sure, Ferrari’s is considerably larger, spanning two separate buildings at the Modena facility alone. But it seems like Ferrari just wanted to one up the others, presumably to reinforce their exclusivity. Ferrari will sell you tickets to both museums for 26 euros.

Of course, the cars were interesting. There was a 288 GTO Evoluzione, one of only six in existence. There was a 360 GTC and a 575 GTC as well, a particular favorite of mine. Right in the middle of the room was a whole lineup of engines from the company’s 70-year history.

A notable choice was the F150 Laborator. Not to be confused with the Ford, this was the testbed for what would eventually become the FXX K. Even in its camo wrap and prototype aero it had serious menacing presence. Round the back were a couple of F1 cars, a 156/85 from 1985 and a more modern V8 powered F1 car.

Back inside the main yellow museum building there was a special exhibition on at the moment. The theme was “Driving With The Stars” where some celebrities’ Ferraris were on display among the usual historic model displays.

You walk in and as you make your way down to the main attractions it’s like walking through a timeline of Ferrari’s greatest models. Everything from the 166MM, a 275 GTB, a 246GT Dino, and F40 greeted you as you got down toward the more modern cars. Interestingly, no 250 GTO or F50.

As I got to the main display the bright green LaFerrari immediately caught my eye. This unique car is owned by Jay Kay. The white LaFerrari Aperta is owned by Gordon Ramsay while the SP12 concept next to it, based on a 458 Italia, is owned by Eric Clapton.

As great as it was to see these, it’s hard to ignore the F40, 288 GTO, and Enzo displayed next to them.

It was definitely a good way to spend an afternoon in Italy while learning more about some of the most iconic cars to have come out of this wonderful country.

Go for the cars, stay for the food and the people.