Why it’s still hammer time at Carrozzeria Touring

Touring is one of the few coachbuilders remaining from the golden era, but it’s also a restoration workshop for classic cars of any type. We met the boss of the restoration department, Andrea Dragoni, to see the workshop and better understand its purpose and philosophy...

What is your oldest automobile memory?

Being given a tin toy Ferrari by my grandfather, Eugenio, just before he died in 1974. Sadly, I don’t have it any more as I lost it soon after his death on the way back from a park. He gave me the car in his office and I remember it as if it were yesterday... I think it’s my last memory of us together.

Are cars your passion, or just your work?

Definitely 200% passion, which fuels my work every day.

So where did this passion come from, and how does it affect your life? 

It’s in the family… my grandfather Eugenio founded the famous Scuderia Sant’Ambroeus and then became a Ferrari F1 team director. He died of a heart attack during the 1974 Monza 1000km, but I grew up surrounded by cars and have never stopped enjoying them. I live my passion every day at work, attending races and events or simply reading and studying magazines and books.

Do you collect classic cars?

I wish I could be a collector but at the moment I just own a 1986 Porsche Carrera. But never say never…

How did you become responsible for the restoration department?

My background is built on my passion for cars – for their technology and history. Beyond that I’ve always been employed in the automotive industry, first as a cast wheels engineer for some well-known wheel manufacturers and then as a project engineer at Borrani, the world-famous wire wheels company. Here, I grew closer to classic cars and the restoration process. Last but not least, there’s my passion for research and attention to detail. Every day spent at Touring Superleggera increases my knowledge and my experience like nothing else could. I’m now responsible for the restoration department, but I’m also the project leader for the modern ‘Fuoriserie’ at Touring Superleggera.

Do you have a special affection for classic cars?

I love them, they are our history and they teach us how to create modern collectable cars that communicate the same emotions and feelings.

What's your expectation for the classic car market over the next few years, with prices increasing?

I’m no expert, but my feeling is that we are seeing a special moment where everything is increasing in value. How long it will last is difficult to say but, when the dust settles, some will keep their value and others will fall back to more realistic prices.

Which car – that you’ve restored at the workshop – are you most proud of?

I’m proud of all of them, since every one tells a different amazing story. At the moment, the most astonishing is the Touring-bodied Bristol 401 we saved from wreckage and brought back to its original splendour.

What's the car youd most love to have at the workshop for a restoration?

An Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Le Mans, a racing car in its purest form.

Which aspect of restoration is your favourite?

Probably using state-of-the-art technology to preserve and restore the originality of each and every car, but also the research and close attention to detail needed during trial fitment and final assembly. But even the thrill of facing unexpected issues and solving them in the best possible way is a pleasure.

What do you mean by technology?

For example, on the Ferrari 166 MM, the front was replaced during the lifetime of the car. It was too flat, the shape was not right and nor was the grille. So we took some period pictures, scanned the car in 3D and, with the right software and designers, we compared the 3D scan to the pictures and created the original shape in 3D. We then milled a hammering buck, and formed a new metal face and grille, correct in every detail. It was a case of modern technology at the service of originality.

What’s the philosophy of Touring restoration? Do you restore everything? Do you ever save well-preserved original components?

As I recently expressed in my speech at the HAGI Classic Car Symposium in Cologne, we put a lot of effort into trying to preserve the most we possibly can from each car – as long as it’s correct and complies with the aim of the specific project. But every project tells a different story and we have to study it deeply in order to act properly.

What’s your view of completely original, well-preserved, untouched cars with patina?

I love them as long as they are still efficient and driveable; the only drawback is that ladies tend not to like the smell of mould. I am a driver first, and I need to drive any car to feel it and enjoy it fully.

How long has the restoration department existed?

The staff and equipment have been operational since 1995. Touring bought the department from a pre-existing company in 2010.

Which services do you offer at the restoration department? Bodywork? Upholstery? Engines? Paint?

Everything except the mechanical aspects, such as the engine, gearbox, differential and so on.

What is your modern ‘dream’ car?

No doubt about it, Touring’s Berlinetta Lusso is filling my dreams!

And what's your dream classic car, regardless of price?

A Ferrari 330 GTC in Blue Sera with dark red interior. Why? It was my grandfather’s Ferrari, a car that also appeared in the Grand Prix movie in 1966.

Photos: Rémi Dargegen for Classic Driver © 2015