Corrado Lopresto is not your average car lover in a number of ways. From the moment he learns that you want to talk to him about his collection, his eyes are on fire with energy and enthusiasm. ‘Look at this Alfa Romeo!’ he exclaims, grabbing me by the arm and exitedly dragging me over to where his stunning Aprile-bodied 1931 6C 1750 GS Spider sits, as if I’m the first person he’s ever shown it to. He then takes me through each of its fine details with wide-eyed and child-like wonder, starting with the exquisite Revelli du Beaumont steering wheel.
The Spider is just one of the cars Mr Lopresto has brought along for the public to see at Retromobile, which he’s rather used to now, having scooped the coveted Gold Cup with it at Villa d’Este and shown cars at Pebble Beach, Amelia Island, Cavallino, Goodwood and just about anywhere else that can attract the very finest machines on the planet.
Aside from his irrepressible enthusiasm, he has a few caveats before he makes an addition to his collection. ‘Only protoypes,’ he beams, ‘or cars with chassis number one. Yesterday I bought the Lancia Fulvia with chassis number one!’ he adds, galvanising his point suitably. He then opens his book and shows you photo after photo of his Alfas, Lancias, Fiats (and so on) in-period, sometimes outside the factory where they were built, and all to ensure that any work required is a perfect match to the original. Originality is everything to him. He explains that if any of his cars need replacement carpet (for example) he never just buys a pattern set, but studies the textiles of the time and visits libraries to establish exactly how the original carpets were made. The same applies to any other aspect.
Asking collectors which are their favourite cars usually causes them to say either that they don’t have one, or that each is a favourite, or that it depends on the occasion and so on. Not so Corrado Lopresto, whose smile stretches even further across his face before he replies with the affection of a proud father: ‘Alfa Romeo.’ Frankly, we could have guessed this to be the case. Elsewhere on his stand is the gorgeous Giulietta Spider ‘Bertone’, a 6C 2500SS ‘Pininfarina’, a 2000 ‘Touring’ and the simply jaw-dropping 6C 2500 ‘Bertone’ just for starters. Beyond that lies the wild, Lancia Stratos-based Bertone Siblio we showed you last week and an elegant Lancia Florida ‘Pininfarina’ sat near to the very pretty Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider prototype.
Want examples of the cars he didn’t bring along to Retromobile? How about De Tomaso Montella (Pantera prototype), Isotta Fraschini 8A SS ‘Castagna’, Cisitalia D46/48, Lancia Flaminia ‘Pininfarina’ …
All too soon our time with Mr Lopresto is up and we must stand aside to give another member of the press the opportunity to experience his inimitable knowledge and enthusiasm. We’ve added each of his cars to the gallery at the top of the page. If ultra-rare Italian fayre is your thing (which it should be – what’s not to love?) look no further.
Photgraphy: Tom Shaxson