Corrado Lopresto: Collecting Unique Cars That Made History

Images: Courtesy Lopresto Collection

Like many stories about automobile enthusiasts, it all began with the very first car that 23-year-old Corrado Lopresto bought from the pocket money he had saved up until then (in 1979). It was a beat-up Fiat Balilla Lusso 3-speed from the early 1930s, in desperate need of restoration.

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Corrado Lopresto posing with his award winning Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Zagato/Aprile from 1931

Lopresto worked on the car, with the help of Carrozzeria Giordano, an old workshop known for its meticulous attention to details. Here the young enthusiast discovered the secrets to the correct way of automobile restoration.

Lopresto went to Centro Storico Fiat next and discovered that the car was a special Lusso version. They gave him the original drawings for that version and with those drawings Corrado was able to convince the pinstriping specialist to do it the correct way.

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A glimpse of the 150-plus Lopresto Collection, with an early Alfa Romeo Giulietta prototype in the foreground

The “specialist” would have done it completely wrong had Corrado not insisted on following the drawings. From that experience he understood the value of always being careful about every detail and the need for proper guidance.

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Some more cars from the collection, with a unusual Autobianchi A112 Giovani, by Pininfarina, from 1973

It was also the start of his research into historic automotive documents and catalogues, which later had him acquiring an amazing collection of archival material.

With that Balilla Lusso, Corrado Lopresto learnt the meaning of historical authenticity and perfection in restoration, two objectives that he has continuously pursued as he built up what is arguably Italy’s most famous collection.

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Corrado Lopresto poses with just a handful of the trophies (these are the four Coppa d'Oros that he won at Villa d'Este) that the collector has won over the last decade and a half

Starting with that Fiat, which still remains a part of the 150-plus line-up, the Lopresto Collection is highly respected for its extraordinary assemblage of one-offs, prototypes and custom-built specials. Many  of them have special features, or are cars of famous people.

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Two of several Alfa Romeos in the Lopresto Collection: the 6C 2500 SS with Pininfarina body on the left, and another 6C 2500 SS, but with a Bertone coachwork on the right

The cars in the collection are strictly Italian and cover the entire history of the Italian automotive industry, from 1901 to recent times, from the very first Isotta Fraschini ever, a 5 HP, to the Bertone Nuccio, from 2012.

As well as the countless rare Alfa Romeo and Lancia one-offs, the Lopresto Collection is a wonderful treasure trove of the lesser known, but no less important specials from forgotten marques: Ansaldo, Diatto, Bianchi, Stanguellini, Isotta Fraschini, Cisitalia, Osca, De Tomaso and Iso Rivolta, amongst others.

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Corrado Lopresto with another Alfa Romeo, this time with Zagato bodywork, at Pebble Beach, accompanied by his son, Duccio, who is on extreme left

An architect by training, Corrado Lopresto is, no doubt, one of the real heavyweights of the world of historic vehicles. His particular attention to restoration and conservation has been rewarded with more than 250 awards worldwide.

Lopresto has cornered 60 "Best of Shows", as well as eight class wins at Pebble Beach, and as many as 18 at Villa d'Este, including an unbeaten four times the “Coppa d’Oro”, the popular award from the public.

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A young Corrado Lopresto with his very first car, the Fiat Balilla Lusso, circa 1979

One of Corrado Lopresto’s most important participation was at UNESCO, in Paris, for the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens’ (FIVA) 50th anniversary celebration to commemorate world motoring heritage, in 2016.

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Corrado Lopresto with his wife Elena, next to a Lancia Aurelia B52, with coachwork by Vignale, from 1953

At  that 14-vehicle exhibition, Lopresto’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ Coda Tronca prototype, conserved in a half-complete-half-incomplete stage, was the “headline” showcase, after it had won the FIVA Preservation Award at Villa d’Este that year.

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Ten of the most fascinating one-offs from the Lopresto Collection lined up at an exclusive exhibition in Florence, in 2014

With this project’s execution, Lopresto became one of the reference points for research, history, and the culture of Italian car design in the world.

Thanks to in-depth research, Lopresto and his restoration team reconstruct in detail the history of every single car that they are working on, to ensure as accurate a restoration as possible.

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One of several Isotta Fraschinis in the Lopresto Collection, this one is a Tipo 8A SS, with very elegant Castagna coachwork

Through new processes, several cars in the collection have been restored with a very careful approach, without replacing any parts. This was the case of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ Coda Tronca prototype, as well as a 1913 SCAT, cars which have remained original in all respects.

To back this, Corrado Lopresto has built up an extraordinary archive.

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The gorgeous Franco Scaglione-designed Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale prototype, which has been a winner at several shows

Researching the history of each car, the Lopresto Collection today boasts a very rich documentary repertoire, as it includes all the industrial and technical drawings of Isotta Fraschini, a rich photographic collection of Bertone archival material, as well as other archives from stylists Mario Revelli di Beaumont and Count Carlo Felice Trossi, designer Tom Tjaarda and design studio IDEA Institute.

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Corrado and Duccio Lopresto in the Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8C Monterosa, a very distinctive cabriolet by Boneschi, from 1948

Joining Lopresto in his passion are most of his family: his wife Elena, as well as their two daughters, Dora and Marta. But the one who is the most involved in the historic vehicle movement is their son Duccio, who worked for Lamborghini, RM Sotheby's and Hagerty, before joining The Classic Car Trust.

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The astounding SCAT 25/35HP, from 1913, which has been "preserved" by Corrado Lopresto (who is posing with the car) in near original condition, at the 2018 Villa d'Este concours

Duccio Lopresto has also done international jury duty at events like Pebble Beach, Salon Prive, Audrain and Concourse Suisse.

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Corrado Lopresto poses proudly with his daughter Dora and wife Elena, in front of the Bertone-bodied Alfa 6C 2500 SS

Since 2017, Corrado Lopresto himself has also been responsible for the organization and global promotion of the Kyoto Concorso d'Eleganza, hosted at the Nijo Temple, which is an UNESCO Heritage site.

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The same Bertone-bodied Alfa 6C 2500 SS at the Ludwigsburg Concours in 2014

Another endeavour that Lopresto has been involved in is encouraging young talented artists from around the world, with the objective to produce artworks and initiatives aimed at melding automobiles and art.

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Corrado and his wife pose with one of his favourite cars, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider prototype by Bertone

As a result of this venture, a New York-based painter Charlie Masson developed a series of paintings portraying the cars of the collection, and Alessandro Magliani, an architect at Foster Studios, created a unique travelling exhibition at the centre of Milan during Design Week in 2016.

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Lopresto and a bunch of one-off Alfas, including the one he is standing next to, the 6C 1750 GS Zagato/Aprile

Gautam Sen

Serial concours judge, author, founder-editor of several Indian auto mags, as well as co-conspirator with design greats Marcello Gandini, Tom Tjaarda, and Gérard Godfroy on a few vehicle projects


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