Marie Alexine, born and raised in France but ready to move, as she already has done in the past, to Germany, Italy and Switzerland, to learn the craft she loves, faces every new experience with a smile on her lips that sport just a hint of lipstick, always accompanied by “Miura” and that the indispensable “gipsy” spirit required by a girl determined to do what traditional society does not expect from her: learn the very difficult art of restoration of vintage cars.
Marie Alexine Romer in a Mercedes 300 SL during the years of her training, the young Frenchwoman worked on this particular car model in the HK Engineering atelier in Germany.
“My passion for cars comes from my father. He grew up in Canada in the ’70s and ’80s and passed on his love for American cars... but that was just the beginning, soon the others came too. My best encounters have always had to do with the world of collectible cars. The passion that revolves around these machines fascinates me”. She speaks with the conviction of those who know, and also with the humility of those who know they still have a lot to learn “I always knew that my life would gravitate around the world of cars: I started as a mechanic for a private collection, then I discovered panel beating and soon realized that this craft was what I really wanted to do. I’ve always liked restoring things, furniture, houses... everything, but working with metal is a whole different ballgame. It’s a difficult job to learn, with hours upon hours of mistakes after which you simply have to dust yourself off and jump back into the game before you do something acceptable. And acceptable is not enough when you work on a work of art. But the satisfaction you feel when you get the expected result is indescribable.”
Although still very young, she’s worked in Germany in an old convent redeveloped into a bodywork specialist, and then went on to be taught by the renowned coachbuilder Lecoq in Paris, something she recalls as being the most beautiful experience to date. After Paris, she did a stint with Hans Kleissl, owner of HK Engineering in Bavaria: “that period showed me that “impossible” does not exist. Working on the 300 SLs is already a huge privilege, but to do so in a 17th century monastery full of magnificent cars is truly magical.”
Not only an expert in shaping metals but also pretty good at designing too: the sketch of a Ferrari 250 SWB made by Marie Alexine Romer.
She dreams of being able to create a place like this and then dedicate herself to Italian cars. The first time she saw a Bizzarini 5300 GT, she was literally in awe. A car she loves to work on? “The Dino! They were my first restorations, I worked on four Dinos, three 246GTs and a 308 but my dream would be to work on a 206, with aluminium bodywork. I think the design of these cars is a true masterpiece.”
What about the Miura? “Marcello Gandini doesn’t have to know, I don’t think he’d be happy... it’s the name of my Staffordshire Bull Terrier... she’s female, although in reality, if you look at her and get to know her, she looks more like an American Pick-up, or a tractor, so the name Miura makes the whole thing all the more magnificent”. They’re inseparable!
It’s true that she’s never without her Miura. Not, as you might think, the car, but her Staffordshire Bull Terrier that she never leaves alone.
CLASSIC CAR MATCHER