Visiting Candini Classiche, A Multi-Generational Maserati Workshop In Modena
Story by Alexander Byles
Photography by Marco Annunziata
“The passion for this brand is an innate thing,” Marcello Candini explains, “In Modena you either love Ferrari or Maserati, and luckily for us, love for Maserati has blossomed.”
Marcello, together with his father and workshop founder, Giuseppe Candini, run Candini Classiche. Specializing in Modena’s other famous car brand, Candini Classiche works on all aspects of Il Tridente from straightforward repairs through to complete restorations (though bodywork and interior is outsourced). While you’ll find modern examples in the workshop on any given visit from the year 2000, most of Candini’s customers bring in cars from the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.
“The most important restorations we’ve carried out have mainly been prototypes or road cars from the Orsi era,” says Marcello, referring to the Orsi family that bought the company from the Maserati brothers in 1937. Moving the base from Bologna to Modena, the Orsis oversaw some of the marque’s most successful years, following the war from around 1950 before entering a joint venture with Citroën in 1968 and finally departing.
“The cars that come to us from this era, whether for a simple service or for a total restoration, are all models on which my father had already worked at the beginning of the shop,” says Marcello, referring to Giuseppe’s early career.
With a fascination for cars, in 1954 Candini Senior was thrilled—especially for a young man from Modena—to begin an apprenticeship with Maserati in its racing and customer service department. Giuseppe was the youngest mechanic in Maserati’s team that supported the private “gentleman drivers” who piloted the likes of the A6GCS. At the time, Giuseppe also came to know Juan Manuel Fangio during the five-time Formula One World Champion’s Maserati days, a friendship which would grow in later years.
Compulsory military service when Giuseppe was 22 put his passion on hold before he again found opportunities with a number of workshops in Modena, including experience with cars built by Lancia and Alfa Romeo. At this time he also achieved some good results of his own on the track in his self-built junior single-seater. However, it was in 1963 when Giuseppe ventured out and started his own workshop in the provincial Modenese town of Bomporto, expanding some 11 years later to a new premises in nearby Sorbara.
“The relationship with Maserati already existed, but it was made official in 1985 when, following Maserati’s request, we moved to Modena to the workshop where we are still located,” adds Marcello, which prompts me to ask him, since his family started the business, what has been the ethos?
“We’re artisans,” explains Marcello. “We’re a team of just four, albeit a highly experienced team, and our aim is to return the various models of Maserati which we’re presented with back to the finest condition for the roads, competitions, and gatherings. Even when there’s been pressure to grow from a business perspective, which would have taken us away from our craft and passion, we’ve resisted it.”
Most of the clientele is international, from either the U.S. or Europe, and when I ask what the typical projects at Candini Classiche look like today, Marcello tells me, “Our workshop directly deals with everything related to the engine, the chassis, the gearbox, brake, and differential,” adding that the workshop conducts basic maintenance up to overhaul of individual aspects and complete restorations. Original and vintage Maserati spare parts are used regardless of the work being done, and the workshop can also machine their own if required for especially rare or fragile pieces. For bodywork and interiors, Candini Classiche only works with trusted partners who can not only guarantee a high standard, but also remain faithful to the work of the original Maserati’s craftsmen who stitched and sewed.
Alongside several Meraks and the ‘60s Quattroporte seen in the photographs, Candini Classiche regularly works on more recent editions, such as the Biturbo, Ghibli, and Shamal models, along with a few from the early 21st century. “Currently the restorations on the cars of the ‘60s are our most frequent projects,” Marcello continues, “The first biturbo cars, which are now 40 years old, are also approaching requirement for restoration more often.”
After all his years working on Maserati, I ask Marcello what his father’s favorite model is, to which he replies,“That’s like asking a mother if she has a favorite child!” It’s an apt analogy considering Candini Classiche has worked on some very interesting restorations.
For instance, “We cannot forget a 5000 GT Coupe with Frua bodywork, originally ordered by the Aga Khan. It came to us after being buried in the desert for many years and thus presented quite a challenge,” laughs Marcello. Other notable works included museum pieces such as a prototype 1947 A6 1500 currently in the collection of the famous Nicolis Museum in Verona, through to work for more actively exercised cars.
“We once had a 450S from an American customer who arrived to participate in the Mille Miglia. The Sunday before departure he broke a piston and after that on a force of will we managed to repair it where it participated in the race and made it to the finish!”
While cars bearing the trident have changed over the years, according to Marcello they have all retained the same crucial features.
“The common denominator which has always characterized Maserati from the beginning was the search for performance but without ever neglecting the comfort, elegance, and detail that made these cars true style icons. Of course, the technology has evolved and the needs of the customers have changed, but the same approach has always been retained by Maserati.”
Despite the array of grand tourers, for Marcello and his colleagues, Maserati’s most beautiful cars have always been their racing models. Disappointingly, this trend hasn’t been continued in recent years with Maserati’s lack of enthusiasm for racing.
“Unfortunately for Maserati I think their lack of competition was a big deficit because the racing world is undoubtedly the best way to advertise a brand or model,” says Marcello. Inevitably, it was racing which was the catalyst to reignite the relationship between Giuseppe and Fangio; “In the mid ‘80s, they met at a rally in Austria, where my father tuned Fangio’s 250S, which he was driving in the event, but it wasn’t performing well.”
“A true friendship began, so much so that from that moment on, every time Fangio passed Modena he would always come to our workshop to say hello or to go out for a plate of pasta. The relationship was one of mutual esteem but simple friendship.”
Despite being able to pursue their life’s dream, it hasn’t always been plain sailing at Candini Classiche, especially when big business has been involved.
“Our company remained officially linked to Maserati until 1999 when requests of scale from Fiat became impossible to fulfill without sacrificing our true way of working. We wanted to remain as artisans, dedicated to our craft and with a direct relationship with our customers. From that moment on we dedicated ourselves to restorations and maintenance but crucially we continued to work exclusively on Maserati cars.” Though as you can see, they can make some room for the spare Alfa or two. But we can rest assured though that for as long as Giuseppe, Marcello and company are in business, they will remain loyal to il Tridente, as Marcello explains,“If Candini stops working on Maserati it is because we’ve closed the doors for good!”