1. I know that you have been a fan of classic cars since you were ten years old! What is so fascinating about them? How do they compare with modern cars?
I have loved classic cars since I was little. Being Italian and having an architect father who loved design and appreciated beauty in all its forms, and who collected the wildest and most special prototypes of Italian manufacturers, definitely made a great impression on me. Classic cars are timeless pieces of design; objects that were conceived without taking into consideration factors that are predominant in the manufacturing of cars today, such as safety, security and whether they will be profit-making. Cars from the past, especially concept cars or custom-body cars, have an allure and an elegance that is unique. They truly are art objects in motion. What fascinates me most is the design element. Designers of the past were allowed things that today are impossible to attain. Think of the Alfa Romeo BATs from the fifties, or the special Lancia Astura Pininfarina from the thirties. These cars were diamonds on wheels. Modern cars are completely different. Manufacturers have to respect a lot of regulations, safety rules, budgets and impositions from marketing and financial departments. Of course, some of them are still beautiful (I like the new Aston Martin and Land Rover designs), but they are not comparable with classic cars. The designs are much more similar across various brands. Classic cars are collectable art pieces; modern cars are status symbols or fun (they go fast!).
2. So, what do you think is the main motivation behind collecting?
There are various reasons why people spend so much money on collecting classic cars. From my personal experience, top collectors acquire these objects purely due to their passion for the beauty, aesthetics, mechanics and the pleasure of driving them. Also, the sense of nostalgia from the past is a strong component. People remember the times back in the days when Stirling Moss or the great drivers were running the legendary F1 races or the 24 Hours of Le Mans. They buy these cars because they are like a portal to the past. They keep the memory alive. Surely, driving them is another key reason. The pleasure you have with these cars is not comparable to driving modern cars, which are almost completely dominated by electronics, chips and computers. In our family, the reason for collecting was the quest for beauty – the desire to gather the most beautiful and wildest objects that were ever created by Italian genius designers.
Many people also collect for investment purposes, but I do not see it this way, as thinking of these cars as an investment will damage and corrupt their historical and cultural relevance for society
3. Since you talk about reflecting on values, can you fit the unique Lange 1 Time Zone (on your wrist) into this specific mindset? What does the coupledom of such a mechanical piece and a unique car say about you?
The Lange 1 Time Zone is a unique piece of art. It showcases the best engineering and manufacturing qualities available in watches today. The beautiful design is priceless too. It is completely different from any other watch. This is why I love it so much; it is just like a one-off custom-built classic car. Something you do not buy for investment, but because you want to own something special, to feel special. I can fit this watch into this specific mindset. Watches and cars have a lot in common (beauty, engineering, manufacturing and more) and this watch is surely something I would definitely associate with cars from our collection.
4. To get back to cars – how did you start? It runs in the blood of course, but what was your first love?
I started very young, following my father at all events around the globe, Villa d’Este, Pebble Beach, Goodwood and more. More importantly, I went with him to restoration shops and saw how his artisans were taking care of these beauties. Each time, he would tell me something new about these cars: their history, who designed them, why they were so important back in the days, why it was so important to bring them back to their original beauty or to preserve them. These elements were so fascinating to me as a young kid. I have always been in love with cars. I used to sleep with my Ferrari F1 mechanic suit when I was five! I used to watch all F1 races and go to Monza with my dad when I was only six. My first love was at Villa d’Este, when in 2001 we won the Coppa d’Oro Best of Show with the Alfa Romeo 2500 Cabriolet Touring. It was our first time and I remember the happiness of our entire family when they announced it in front of everybody – timeless.
5. The looks are important, but did the mechanics take you inside?
The mechanics are surely also a fundamental aspect. People often underestimate the importance of it. I have always been fascinated by the engineering parts of these objects. I worked as a mechanic for the summer when I was 16 in a shop in Milan. It was mind-blowing for me working and touching these beautiful pieces of engineering all day. I worked on the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 engine of the car we then brought to Villa d’Este, where it won the Best of Show a few years later. Working there, I gained a full understanding of how an engine works, how it is built and how it functions. It was a real game changer for me, as up until then I didn’t know much about what was under the hood of these wonderful objects. Having the chance to dismantle an engine and follow the whole restoration was something that strengthened this passion for sure.
6. Let’s focus on the Lopresto Collection. It is full of masterfully crafted Italian rarities. What is so special about Italian design? What are the criteria you look for when you decide to add a car to the collection?
Italian design is surely unique, not just in the automotive world, but in all sorts of creations. The special aspect of it is that each visionary designer wanted to change completely what had been done before, always adding a new element that was completely revolutionary. They did not just want to make nice cars; they wanted to create design objects that were timeless. Think of the Lancia Stratos Zero Concept by Marcello Gandini, designed in 1970. That car was a shock, a real surprise in the world of design back then and still shocks today. Take the Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS Prototipo from our collection by Franco Scaglione. That car was designed in 1957, but it could have been done today (or even tomorrow!). Italian designers always want to shock, to change the game. They do not follow any trend; they just pursue beauty in all its forms. They are artists. That is why we only collect cars that were penned by Italian designers. They are just true examples of how design has evolved across time and generations, always making an impact and shocking society. There are no exact criteria for us when we decide to add a new car to the collection, but they must be Italian, a one-off or prototype or limited edition and designed by Italian designers! Also, they must be extremely interesting from a historical point of view.
7. So, a collector’s biggest fear is not to have anyone to carry on the tradition. In this sense, the fantastic Lopresto Collection now has a successor. What are your plans? What responsibilities do you feel as the inheritor?
Our plan is to keep the collection in the family in order to save it for future generations. We are lucky that our father created a strong bond in our family, also thanks to this shared passion for classic cars. We will keep the collection together. We will arrange exhibitions and promote these pieces of history around the world. They are world heritage pieces and for this reason we need to show them in museums, at concours events and rallies. This is what my father has always done and this is what I will keep doing in the next years. Obviously, I feel a heavy burden of responsibility inheriting such a collection. It is not easy to keep the same expectations and quality standards that my father created. People around the globe know the Lopresto name and expect always to be impressed and shocked by us. I had the best teacher I could ask for and I am convinced that I will achieve my objective.
8. Your father, Mr Corrado Lopresto, said that he had not sold any car for over 40 years although the monetary value of the collection had skyrocketed. Where do you stand on this?
I share the same view. We did not start out to make money with these cars. We have a mission to create the most important collection of Italian automobiles in the world and one of the most significant collections of design pieces around. Selling the cars would be in complete contrast with this view. Our approach is cultural. My father always quotes Nick Mason, who said that he wanted to be remembered as the man who bought a GTO and never sold it. We think the same: the Italian crazy guys who never sold a car in more than 40 years! Surely, maintaining the collection is an expensive responsibility, but this is why I am working so much on the side to gain the right experience to be able to sustain it in the following years. Collaborating with museums will also help us lower the costs of showing these cars and will allow us to have a broader impact on the public.
9. In 2019, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este celebrates its 90th anniversary. How should events like this evolve to remain relevant for the new generation?
I think that Villa d’Este is doing a good job in promoting the passion among younger generations. For example, always changing the classes means that different cars are hosted. In this way the event is never boring to youngsters who do not have a lot of experience with these events. Also, allowing younger people to be involved with judging is something that catches the attention and allows people to interact with these objects. It is not true that young people are not interested in classic cars. According to the biggest insurance company of classic cars in the world, 2018 was the year with the greatest interaction of millennials with classic cars on social media and at events. Social media is another key aspect. They need to be present there, with photos, videos and cool content to impress young people, who spend a lot of time on their phones. To involve more new generations, events like Villa d’Este need to understand who they are talking to and be smart enough to always change and adapt to the new public, maintaining the true spirit that characterises them. It is not an easy task, but I am confident and positive that we will see more and more young people at these events in the future.