Italian Nostalgia Is A Six-Legged Dog And A Miniature Gas Station
Those of us with an interest in motorsport attach more-than-normal meaning to brands that we probably wouldn’t care about otherwise; you don’t need to smoke cigarettes to appreciate a race car decked out in the black and gold John Player Special scheme. And though most people wouldn’t consider liveries like these on the level of Warhol’s Campbell’s, the concept of turning a brand into something beautiful is nothing new to big-shot advertisers and bohemians alike, intention notwithstanding.
When it comes to spending a lot of money for the right to paste the name of a product or a service on something that’s mostly seen as a blur, the objective is to make it good-looking, but not so complex or subtle to the point it goes unnoticed. Some of the most recognizable cars don’t have a stripe on them after all, their fame having come from sheer exposure at the front of the grid where the TV cameras are pointed. Ferrari’s Formula 1 machines fit this description better than almost anything save for the maybe the Silver Arrows, and aside from the occasional accent of white the standard has been good old Rosso Corsa with the sponsor decals clumped in frank arrangements on the side pods. To those of us outside of Italy, footage of people like Niki Lauda and René Arnoux in their Ferraris showed us a six-legged dog breathing fire and some capital letters spelling “AGIP.”
The once state-owned Italian petroleum giant sponsored Ferrari’s Formula 1 efforts between 1974 and 1995 (a few years before the now-ubiquitous FIAT logo appeared), and I would imagine that in the same way American fans of Schumacher prefer Shell fuels that Italian fans of Lauda stop at AGIP stations. Andrea Lattanzio seems to be one such person, and his latest LEGO creation (he’s made quite a few vintage garages and vehicles) is a scene of the more humble side of the company’s story, for he’s chosen to render a quintessential local station scene with a Vespa and an OM Leoncino tanker rather than a pit garage full of a 312T3 and its parts.
As Andrea describes it, the model is a tribute to his country done through the recreation of one of its most pedestrian scenes: a regular day at a regular fuel station. Having stopped at and driven past many of them in his life, these stations’ modernist designs and that “bizarre dog positioned everywhere” are nostalgic pieces of the Italian experience that still exist but in fewer numbers. Andrea’s captured it in miniature form with the help of a few stickers and a box of LEGOs, and the accuracy of his finished build is impressive, especially considering it’s not an official kit but just something he put together from pieces that already available. He does print out a few decals though, and these details continue throughout the scene down to the pile of parts and old signage strewn in the back among the shrubs that need trimming.
Not every piece of motoring history needs to be special, sometimes it just needs to be relatable.