An Afternoon With Princess Martini of Tuscany
Story and photos by Eduardo Mascalchi
I had been looking for her for a long time. Like all good surprises, she came a bit by chance, one morning on my Facebook wall when I saw Pino’s post to the Italian group dedicated to this wonderful car.
The car looked beautiful, perfect—with the Martini livery, which I love. Where does he live? In Siena! I tried to contact Pino, and I discover that the luck has kissed me twice: he’s a nice person and really passionate about cars. So here we are in Quercegrossa, divided between the towns of Castelnuovo Berardenga and Monteriggioni in Tuscany.
Importantly, here is the “Princess,” as Pino calls her.
We have in front of us a Lancia Delta HF Integrale Martini 5, created to commemorate the five-year winning streak in the World Rally Championship after winning again in 1991. It is a car produced in limited edition by Lancia in cooperation with Martini in 400 units.
At the time, Lancia was having a huge success in the World Rally Championship, winning all editions from 1988 to 1992 with the Delta, then was forced to give way to the emerging Toyota Corolla, Subaru Impreza and Ford Escort Cosworth. This car has a special Martini Racing livery on its sides (which copies her ”sister” that ran in the rally), Recaro seats in black Alcantara with contrasting red stitching, seat belts of the same color, black air intakes, and a rear spoiler adjustable in three positions.
The rims were white (like the car). The engine was a 1,995-cc turbocharged 4-cylinder with a strong 210 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque and, of course, four-wheel-drive. At the time, you had to spend 56 million of lire (today roughly 25,000 euros, but we are talking about completely different eras).
Pino is the first and only owner of this car. He tells me that he saw it for the first time in a dealership, placed prominently to attract visitors and sell more cars. But he wanted to own her. He confides me that it was not easy, the dealer did not want to sell that jewel so easily, and he was even forced to offer more than the standard price! In the end, however, it was a dream come true.
Always respectful to his Princess, he has never left the car wanting. This obsessive attention to detail has earned him the Gold Plaque, the highest recognition from Automotoclub Storico Italiano, or ASI, given to a historical car. After 23 years, Pino has not yet found a car that manages to involve him as she does, his love has remained young and unaffected, leading him to exhibit his car for the historic events like Tuscan Rewind(www.tuscanrewind.com), and leading the way to the Rally of Chianti each year.
The sun says goodbye, closing this afternoon that I’d be happy to enjoy a bit longer. In front of an aperitif, Pino tells me how much he feels lucky: he has a beautiful family, many grandchildren, and a wonderful villa in Chianti. He share these things every day with his wife and friends—but the feelings driving his Princess are private, and he really hopes to be able to enjoy all for many other years. Thanks!