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The story of Carrozzeria Pavesi

The beginning

In the first post-war period, Ernesto Pavesi (1901-1974), a young carpenter specialized in bodywork, opened a small business: a craft workshop for carriages.

He seemed to immediately understand how these would soon be replaced by the advent of cars and, at the cost of great economic sacrifices, he founded the homonymous body shop in Via Pietro Calvi in ​​Milan.

Piazza Risorgimento & via Pietro Calvi, 1920 ca.

Over the years, he specialized in the construction of commercial vans starting from production vehicles such as the three-speed Fiat Balilla. The remarkable success of vehicle customization also extended to private vehicles. The first wood dashboards were mounted on the Lancia Astura and the Lancia Artena.

The increase in orders led Pavesi, who in the meantime had been joined by his eldest son Gianpaolo, to hire several workers.

With the beginning of the Second World War, the demand for aesthetic finishing and customization dropped drastically and to avoid the bombings of those difficult years, Pavesi moved his workshop to Trecella, near Melzo. Pavesi adapted to the difficult period by dedicating themselves to the repairs of the vehicles of the Armed Forces, the installation of gas-fired systems and some very primitive ballistic protections.

The success

At the end of the conflict, Pavesi returned to Milan opening a new plant in via Mezzofanti. The other two sons, Emilio and Luciano, also joined the new team of Carrozzeria Pavesi. Luciano quickly became the architect and the inspirer of the new course of the Milanese coachbuilder.

Alfa Romeo 1750 Giardinetta Veloce Pavesi

In the 1950s, Pavesi decided to relaunch a trend that was taking hold in production cars in Great Britain: the complete transformation of the interiors of any type of car, inspired by the interiors of Rolls-Royce and Jaguars. The customization included the dashboard, steering wheel, seats and door panels in hand-stitched leather and wood. Air conditioning and a radio was also added at a cost of about 5 million Lire; amazing when you think that the cost of a Mini did not reach one million Lire. Despite this high price, Pavesi produced around 50 such custom Mini speciments.

Due to the limited spaces at the via Mezzofanti headquarters, the body shop was moved to via Luigi De Andreis, its former historic headquarters. Twenty Alfa Romeo 1750s were built here, transformed into wagons (Alfa Romeo 1750 Giardinetta Veloce), about thirty spiders starting from the Grifo coupé of the Iso Rivolta (one was bought by the tenor Mario Del Monaco): many Ferrari Dino and Maserati Indy were transformed in “targa” versions. At that time, the Pavesi body shop employed 38 people, most of them skilled workers. Despite the considerable number of employees, it was not possible to satisfy all the customers needs, as a testimony of the great success of the coachbuilder.

In the early 1970s Pavesi started to produce hard tops for the Ferrari 365 Daytona spider (50 of these for the American market) and sunroof transformations on Maserati Ghibli and Dino Ferrari. In these years there were the first agreements with Alejandro De Tomaso (who owned Maserati), which turned into an industrial collaboration on the DeTomaso-branded cars. All the DeTomaso Longchamp convertibles and the DeTomaso Panthera Targa were transformed by the Pavesi coachbuilder. One of these Longchamp Spider was used in the movie “il bisbetico domato” (1980) with Ornella Muti and Adriano Celentano.

Maserati Longchamp Spider

In the late ’70s and early’ 80s, Italy was hit by a wave of terrorism and kidnappings for the purpose of extortion, and this led Pavesi  to specialize in the construction of armored cars. Among the many we remember the four-door Maserati for the then President of the Republic Sandro Pertini. At the end of the 1980s, Pavesi built special cars for important world personalities. We remember the Range-Rover Cabrio and the Ferrari 400 cabrio made for the Libyan president Gaddafi and for the Arab prince Feisal.

The recent years

In the 90s, the work of customization and transforming exclusive cars (such as the creation of a small series of Ferrari Testarossa cabriolets), was joined by a small production of vintage-looking commercial vehicles, the “Old Pavesi” based on the mechanics and chassis of modern Ford Transits.

In the early 2000s the three Pavesi brothers were joined by some of their children who were lookin for a management that could continue the tradition of the Pavesi brand and at the same time relaunch the production.

Ferrari 550 Barchetta Pavesi

In 2008 the coachbuilder was sold to a consortium of entrepreneurs who laid the foundations for a relaunch, which however did not obtain the desired results and in 2015 it was put into liquidation. In 2017, the brand was acquired by specialists in the sector who customize cars at the specific request of international customers.

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Tribute to Marcello Gandini with the Prototype Unveiled at the 1972 Geneva Motor Show: A Unique Model Exuding Elegance and Personality

From May 24 to 26, the BMW Group Classic and the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este will host the legendary Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. The most spectacular cars from different eras and around the world will compete in various categories to win prestigious awards. Among these are the coveted BMW Group Trophy awarded by the Jury, the traditional Coppa d’Oro based on public votes, the Design Award for concept cars and prototypes, and the special ASI Trophy for the best-preserved post-war vehicle.

The presence of the Automotoclub Storico Italiano (ASI) at this unmissable international event is highlighted by the display of the Citroën GS Camargue prototype from the ASI Bertone Collection. This car enriches the theme dedicated to Marcello Gandini – the recently deceased master of car design – set up in the park of Villa Erba on Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26. Also at Villa Erba, as part of the “Amici & Automobili” event, the ASI-affiliated Veteran Car Club of Como will accompany the Camargue with a precious selection of historical cars from its members.

The Citroën Camargue was first presented at the Bertone stand at the 1972 Geneva Motor Show, where it was met with great enthusiasm from both the public and the press. Built on the innovative Citroën GS platform, which was launched in 1970, the Bertone coupé, styled by Marcello Gandini with the assistance of Marc Deschamps, retains the compact sedan’s layout and dimensions. The car features distinctive front and rear overhangs – the front being much more pronounced to enhance the car’s dynamic look. Lower and wider than the GS, the Camargue boasts a wedge-shaped front typical of Gandini’s style, contrasting with a truncated rear end supporting a broad, panoramic canopy with amber-tinted glass, paired with a chic metallic champagne-colored body. Despite its striking and original design, the Bertone proposal did not reach commercial production due to Citroën’s economic crisis during those years, which led to its merger with Peugeot in 1974.

The format of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este includes a double location in Cernobbio, on the shores of Lake Como. On Saturday, May 25, the exclusive Hotel Villa d’Este’s park will host the display of all competing cars, the jury inspection, voting, parade, and the awarding of the Coppa d’Oro and special prizes. Simultaneously, Villa Erba will host the “Amici & Automobili” meeting with an exhibition of historical cars from clubs and enthusiasts.

On Sunday, May 26, the event will continue at Villa Erba with a festival celebrating automotive passion: all cars in the competition will be displayed in the park until the concluding parade, where the Design Award, class prizes, and honorable mentions will be awarded.