Journal: Visiting Autofficina Sauro is Traveling Back in Time

Visiting Autofficina Sauro is Traveling Back in Time

Avatar By Raffaele Danna
February 19, 2014
6 comments

Photography by Raffaele Danna for Petrolicious

Made in Italy has been synonymous with quality, tradition, detail, and care for a long time. Today, we have the opportunity to give you a taste of a piece of living motoring heritage.

The Autofficina Sauro is a historic workshop set in the hinterlands of Bologna. This area in the north of Italy immediately reminds car enthusiasts of names like Ferrari, Maserati, Osca, and Lamborghini. The history of the Sauro shop traces back to 1964, when it became the first official Ferrari assistance workshop. Over the years, its reputation grew and it became a point of reference for northern Italian Ferrari and Lamborghini owners.

All along, Mr. Luciano Rizzoli (co-founder of the autofficina, which means ‘mechanic’s shop’ in Italian) and his pupils have kept the traditions and unique know-how concerning historic cars alive and gathered through years of continuous expertise.

Spending some time in this workshop is like travelling back a solid fifty years in time. It is located in an obscured building in a residential neighborhood. The few visible clues to such a noticeable enterprise’s presence are little Ferrari and Lamborghini signs outside the workshop. However, it’s difficult not to notice the shop when that magical V12 rumble emanates from the building.

Entering the workshop one is astonished first by the quantity and quality of historic cars stored there waiting to be fixed or restored. We can only run a few shots of these due to privacy reasons. Walking towards the back of the shop, passing incredible projects until we reach the area where the tables and the lathes are. This is where the most fascinating work occurs.

Everything here is fabricated with respect to the original part, assembly, and technique. Even if the staff uses, when exceptional precision is needed, the most advanced methods and tools, preference is given to traditional craft skills. The men who work here more strongly resemble artisans than mechanics. They prefer hand-making parts rather than buying new, to maintain originality. When possible, all the original components are recovered and patiently brought back to life. It is the attention to details and the direct experience that make this place different from a common restoration garage.

Luciano has been working on these cars since the late ‘40s. He began as a simple apprentice in a little workshop in Bologna’s countryside just after World War II. Since then he’s never stopped working on cars. He worked for OSCA before opening a shop of his own together with his associate, Sauro. He then met and became acquainted with Mr. Enzo Ferrari, who personally gave him the permission to open the first Ferrari authorized garage.

Luciano’s experience further developed through years in the world of motorsport competition. He has endless anecdotes that trace back to the golden age of racing. After more than fifty years he still works on the same cars he saw racing for the first time. Many clients still come here to prepare their cars for historic competitions, like the Mille Miglia, which was dominated more than once by the Sauro’s cars.

The Autofficina Sauro is a contemporary and living result of the Italian motoring tradition, which is loved and dreamed about the world over. It maintains the continuity of an expertise born of motoring experience alive and it is our pleasure and privilege to let you peek into this piece of heritage.

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Jeff Hadlock
Jeff Hadlock

Another great article and fantastic photos. I love all of the close ups of the engines, carbs, as well as the shop in general. Looks like a very nice place to spend 8-12 hours of your day doing what you love. Some men dream of big houses with lots of land. I dream of a shop equipped such as this one along with the skills to properly use everything. Interesting to see a ’82 Corvette Collectors Edition sitting amongst all the Italian machinery in the photo above.

Don S
Don S

The bare chassis in the lead photo and elsewhere is a Maserati A6 1500, the first Maserati road car, of which only about 20 survive. Did Mr Danna happen to get the serial number ?

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

I love how this bare chassis looks like it could just as well be from an old tractor. Good times!

Stephan P
Stephan P

Very nice. I hope this old world craftsmanship is not lost.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

Well, I don’t see any signs of any youngsters in the shop.

Looks like a nice space to house a variety of vehicles and keep busy!

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle

WOW what a great article and many fine pictures it has as well. I don’t know of any car guy who wouldn’t want to be part of a shop with this history and such attention to detail. Like a kid in a very expensive candy store haha