taly is rarely known for it’s rainy days and cloudy weather. That’s something we’ll leave to the UK. But sadly our trip to Italy started out with pouring rain from our starting point around Geneva all the way through the Simplon Pass and the Centovalli and down through Milano. It’s only when we arrived at Verano Brianza, just outside of Monza, that we were granted a giant patch of blue sky and 30°C+ weather for our stop at the Officine Fratelli Frigerio, or “Fratelli Brothers’ Workshop”, the place where the Effeffe Berlinetta is handmade!
Greeted outside by Rachid, the European distributor for the Effeffe Berlinetta, we immediately stepped inside to see where the magic happens. Not long after entering this sacred place, our eyes fall upon a handmade chassis for the car, several handmade body parts and even machines dating back to the 60s. We could easily forget that this is a brand-new car straight out of the minds of the Frigerio brothers.
Indeed, this car isn’t an Alfa Romeo or Ferrari replica. The only thing stemming from another brand is it’s 4-cylinder Alfa Romeo engine which has been tuned up to 180hp. Sure this doesn’t seem like much, but when you take into account the 790kg wight of the vehicle, this suddenly becomes much more interesting! Asides from the engine, everything is hand-built by the talented guys from the Officine, including the dashboard, leather upholstery and even the windshield wiper command stick was handmade using a machine straight out of the 60s to keep this as authentic as possible.
Seeing all the work required to build such a masterpiece is really an eye opening experience. In a day of production lines filled with machines with the occasional human sent to do some quality control, it is refreshing to see people that still know how to build a proper car without all the electronics. These people have learned this art and will pass it on to future generations and that is a heartwarming thing to know because this means that we will continue seeing cars able to share this emotion of pure mechanical pleasure in this age of electronics governing every thought that goes through our vehicle’s “brain”.
After going through the whole build process and seeing these guys at work, it was time to sit down with Leonardo Frigerio, one of the two Frigerio brothers, and listen to the story of his passion. This was supposed to be a hard conversation to have simply because of the apparent language barrier. I speak English, French and a bit of German, and on the other side, Leo speaks only Italian. But there’s this weird thing about passion that goes beyond languages. Without even noticing, hours had gone past and I was understanding everything Leonardo was explaining. From his lifelong love for Italian cars, to the Alfa Romeo Giulia SS in which he got married that still sits in his workshop, to the emotions felts during his racing years, he covered every reason that pushed him to create this car with his brother Vittorio and although we spoke different languages, I couldn’t stop listening to this timeless tale of a man following his dreams.
That day I noticed two things. The first was that nothing in life can beat passion. You can work hours on end, day in/day out, and come out of it with the biggest of smiles, simply because that is what passion will do to you! And the second thing was that after spending this day with Leonardo, Vittorio, Leo’s wife and son, there is nothing more magical than seeing a family this close with a common goal & values and in this day and age, this was a truly unforgettable experience!