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Eleganza in Movimento - Talking cars with legendary designer Lorenzo Ramaciotti

With Passione Engadina 2023 creeping ever closer, we sat down for an espresso with Lorenzo Ramaciotti, the lead judge of the event’s ‘Eleganza in Movimento’ concours, who also happens to be one of Italy’s most influencial car designers. Here’s what he had to say…

There’s nothing else quite like seeing a hand-picked flurry of weird and wonderful collector cars neatly assembled on the lawn of a prestigious art deco hotel or country club. Each car has its own story to tell, almost inviting curious viewers to pull up a chair and soak in the memories and hear the journey of how they ended up here. Passing oohs and ahhs cement a car’s rarity, but many of us are often left with a burning question, “what is it like out on the open road?”

For Lorenzo Ramaciotti, he felt exactly the same. Cars are meant to be driven, and seeing the inner workings of an early 1920’s Rolls-Royce or hearing the turbo flutter of a Group B era rally car is where true admiration and joy can be found. Graduating from Polytechnic University of Turin with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1972, to then being almost immediately employed by the little-known design house called Pininfarina, Lorenzo certainly knows his stuff when it comes to car design. Over the decades, he would go on to design some of Ferrari’s very modern-era machines, including the 456 GT, 550 Maranello, 360 Modena, F430 and the 612 Scaglietti, all of which might we add are ageing like the finest of wines. 

Anyway, it’s now time to let the man himself explain why Passione Engadina’s unique Concours d’Élégance will be the one you won’t want to miss. First off, how did the idea of creating Eleganza in Movimento come about?

Paolo Spalluto never stops looking for ideas to make Passione Engadina more interesting and engaging, so he asked me if I saw the possibility of including a Concours d'Elegance in the program. It was necessary to find a particular formula, because it was not possible to interfere in the course of the main event and therefore the cars could not be stopped for half a day to examine them in detail. I thought of turning this limit into a unique feature and trying a formula that is different from all other events of this type: the cars would be judged solely by elegance, and while traveling on the road, since it is a dynamic event.

We love the term dynamic event, and Passione Engadina certainly brings the energy! Why is it so important to judge the car in motion and not statically?

Cars are designed to travel, movement is the expression of their function. When we look at them from a standstill, we move to change perspectives, points of view, to understand their three-dimensionality. In reality, we observers should be stationary while the car first approaches, touches us and then moves away showing its shapes under different angles and at different distances. When a car passes in front of us we see how it is on the road, how it moves facing curves, we can hear the roar of the engine that is not a secondary element in the character of a car.

Thankfully, there isn’t just one award up for grabs, how do you come up with ideas for the categories of Elegance in Motion?

Composing classes, here at Eleganza in Movimento as in other events, is an important part of the fun for me. The aim is to bring together cars linked by a common theme, and every year I try to propose different classes, taking advantage of the different composition of the list of participants, of comparable size so that the competition is balanced.

This is one we are big fans of, but how exactly is the Love at First Sight award awarded? Is it the same spark-like feeling of falling in love?

In all events at a certain moment I ask myself, and like me my colleagues certainly ask themselves: "What car would I want to take home in my garage?". The answer is linked to sensitivity, memories, youthful desires, passion for a brand, in short, a set of unique suggestions for each one that make the choice absolutely personal. In a group of people there is always one who is remembered more than the others, the same happens for cars.

Now, we may be a little biased in saying that your jury are some of the best in the business, (No, JP Rathgen didn’t tell me to write that), but please do tell us about the jury, what makes the harmony between you special?

Being part of a jury at an automotive event is not only having the opportunity to see beautiful cars, which otherwise I would never have met, or to meet other enthusiasts with different professional paths and exotic backgrounds. For me it is an opportunity to exchange opinions, critical judgments, to compare experiences and points of view, to establish relationships to cultivate over time. This is why I prefer small groups, which allow you to discuss amiably around a table looking each other in the face. 

Having undoubtably attended and judged hundreds of events throughout your careers, what do you like most about Passione Engadine?

It seems to be at the meeting of a circle of friends who enjoy the pleasure of meeting every year, rather than a competition to be won at all costs. People come here to  participate, and it is also nice to see parents and children and young couples with cars that are not too demanding next to monuments of collecting in an equal and informal relationship. It is not so easy to build such a climate and I think it is clear that behind Passione Engadina there is not the coldness of an organization without a soul but the passion of a person in the flesh like Paolo Spalluto.

Tickets to Passione Engadina 2023 have now all been snapped up, but if you’re a Lancia lover or driver, there is still a chance for you to get involved with the Orgoglio Lancia Package. Find out more by checking out our previous articles!

Photos by Elliot Newton & Giacomo Geroldi