25 agosto 2022
by Sonia Montrella

History on Wheels


Vintage cars have stories to tell. Stories about who we are and where we come from. Alberto Scuro, Chairman of the Automotoclub Storico Italiano (ASI) is convinced: “not only vintage cars but all historical vehicles in general are the witnesses of over a century of history and evolution in the motor industry and beyond.; in fact, they have contributed to the social, cultural, technological and economic development of all humanity.”

Vintage vehicles are thus almost a cultural asset

“UNESCO identifies cultural assets as being the result of a creative act and the work of human ingenuity. Another necessary feature is having had a weight in human history: vehicles have contributed significantly to individual mobility and transport, to work and economic well-being, even social emancipation. It also has to have had a weight in the landscape and urban planning (roads and infrastructures for traffic), to have had a weight in sport (countless motor racing competitions) and to have had a role in figurative arts (cars and motorcycles have always been the stars of films and photography). If we consider these parameters, then yes: I am convinced that the vintage car is a cultural asset.”

It is a ‘niche’ hobby. What are the numbers surrounding vintage cars?

“In reality, in Italy, vintage motoring is confirmed as a very significant sector: it generates revenues of EUR 2.2 billion per year in the production and professional industry and tourism. On average, each enthusiast spends around EUR 3,700 a year, broken down as follows: EUR 2,500 for car maintenance and use, EUR 650 for taking part in events and the remainder for other items such as club membership, the purchase of books, magazines and historical documentation and much more.”

Who is the typical classic car enthusiast?

“Our world is a truly mixed and large bag, with people of all genders, ages and social backgrounds. What unites them is the passion for the history (or stories) that the vehicles carry with them: some love pure technology, others love style and design, some in the middle identify something of themselves or their origins. There is always a deep personal connection with the vintage vehicle owned or dreamed of. Many live this passion in an intimate and almost secret way, but most of the people involved love to live it and share it with others, transforming every trip, every meeting into a celebration. This is why I love to define vintage motorsport as a flywheel of positive values.”

Which is the most representative classic car of our society, which is the best-selling and which is the most expensive?

“Let's start with the easiest questions. The most expensive was recently in the news: a Mercedes-Benz sold for EUR 135 million. I think the best-selling is also the most popular: our iconic and timeless Fiat 500. But numerous trades, on an international level, also involve the various models of Alfa Romeo, Porsche and Ferrari. Identifying the most representative car is instead more complicated. I think there are many, divided into the various eras and for different reasons Looking to place greater emphasis on individual mobility, I am thinking of the many small cars of the second post-war period and, once again, the very Italian Fiat 500.”

There is no great environmental impact because there are few of these cars and they are not driven very much. There are also 'green' fuels which are not cheap. Given that these cars are used very little, have you ever thought about converting to biofuel?

“Any useful solution for improving or defending the climate and the environment must be taken into consideration. Biofuels would seem a good alternative for the automotive industry in general. For classic vehicles, I don’t think using them is necessary: first of all, because, as they are driven so little, it would be totally insignificant in terms of emissions; and also because this type of fuel requires modifications or deterioration of the mechanical parts, which instead must be maintained exactly in their original state.”

 Vintage cars are also flag-bearers of Italian production abroad

“Vintage motorsport has won a place among the products of Italian excellence exported all over the world. The historical heritage of Italian motoring has an identity and cultural value and is an important driver of development for the national economy and industry.

Italian institutions are also becoming aware of this and have signed memoranda of understanding and strategic partnerships precisely with the Automotoclub Storico Italiano. The Ministries of Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility, Tourism and Culture sponsored the ‘ASI Circuito Tricolore’ initiative to foster knowledge of the Italian regions through classic car and motorcycle events. The Department of Culture is also working alongside the Municipal Authority of Pesaro and the Mayor Matteo Ricci for the construction of the first national motorcycle museum, to which ASI will offer its precious Morbidelli Collection saved in 2020 from a very real risk of ending up abroad.

We also have agreements now going strong with ANCI (National Association of Italian Municipalities) and with the Associazione Città dei Motori, with the Stati Generali del Patrimonio Italiano and with the Istituto Nazionale dei Castelli.”

Where are we at in terms of protection?

“In Italy, we are at the forefront in the protection of vintage vehicles. Italy is the cradle of world motorization, from which are derived our culture and our respect for these works of art in motion, which have led us to define the boundary between vecchio (classic) and storico (vintage) with the Certificato di Rilevanza Storica (Vintage Certificate), recognized by the State in Article 60 of the Highway Code. It is based on the fundamental principles of seniority, originality, state of conservation and responsible use of each individual car, which in order to earn the status of vintage vehicle is viewed by certification bodies, such as ASI, which are in turn identified by national regulations.”

What are the next dates in the ASI calendar?

“After the summer, we have a fall full of events, starting with National Vintage Vehicle Day, which will be celebrated on Sunday, October 16, throughout Italy, by our clubs and enthusiasts to demonstrate to the general public the beauty of vintage motorsport in all its forms. At the beginning of September and in the first two weekends of October, we have three great ASI Shows scheduled: boating on Lake Garda, industrial vehicles in the Republic of San Marino and cars on the roads in Puglia and in the squares in the region’s main cities. These unique occasions will be like touring veritable open-air museums.”

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