This Scale Model Factory Is A Magical Place
Photography by Rosario Liberti
1:43-scale diecasts are the perfect item for an office. If you love cars, chances are that you love scale models. While the popular and visually attractive 1:18, 1:20, and 1:8 scale (and beyond) model sizes are the most impressive, 1:43s will fit anywhere, making any room into a potential garage for the car-obsessed.
Tiny yet immensely satisfying to look at, small scales are the most intriguing and approachable of all miniature cars.
Making scale models is perhaps the closest thing to designing a “real car” there is. Everything is taken seriously, with proper R&D, testing, and a high level of engineering mixed—with traditional craftsmanship. Very few factories are left in Europe that haven’t yet emigrated to China in order to make big numbers. To all these factories still here, you have all my support and admiration.
If you love 1:43 scale models, chances are that you might have a Brumm in your collection. For those unfamiliar with this company, know that is an almost legendary brand that has produced every sort of four-wheeled vehicle from its start in 1972.
Contrary to popular belief, the name Brumm isn’t the onomatopoeia of an engine noise, but the Milanese dialect name for the Brougham horse carriage, which was used as a Taxi in the streets of Milan in the 19th Century, up to the early ’30s. Wanting to honor this piece of Italian and Milanese culture, three enthusiasts, Reno Tatterletti (the founder), Virginio Bianchi, and Emilio Molteni got together to build a new business, which 43 years later still manufactures its high quality die casts entirely in house.
Every single piece, from the metal to the decals and the assembly is done mostly by hand in the Oltrona San Mamette Factory, close to my hometown of Como. A team of two men designs and builds the prototypes, four skilled women assemble the models in small batches every day, and a single man, affectionately dubbed “Giotto” by the workers, paints every model that comes out of the factory.
Brumm is a typical factory of Northern Italy, and one of the few left in full force today. Their models are a clever blend of CAD technology design and old-school craftsmanship. These people work bravely, efficiently, and impressively with a small budget, every day.
Each model is designed from pictures, and Brumm doesn’t employ a laser scanner like bigger companies. Every project is drawn on a computer, yet under the watchful eye of Rio Tattarletti, owner and chief designer. Like every handmade item, you can feel the difference in your hands, even a bit of the soul of the people who make these models every day, with passion and courage.
Like we say here in Italy: “The good wine always comes from the small barrel,” you can tell that the spirit coming from small companies like this is definitely reflected in their products.