Sculptors of speed. Those wire artists

  • 30 September 2023
  • 2 min read
  • 3 images
Sculptors of speed. Those wire artists image

Photo credit: Nanette Schärf

Some things come to an end, some fade into obscurity, and others leave us with a sense of nostalgia. Then there are those that must not be forgotten, for the significant role they played in our history.

This conviction has been held by Jean-Marc Borel, a Frenchman with a lifetime devoted to the world of automobiles, ever since his arrival in Italy. He soon realized that the era of the panel beaters who meticulously crafted the likes of the Ferrari GTO and California, Maserati Birdcage, and even the Shelby Cobra Le Mans, had inevitably drawn to a close with the arrival of composite materials.

Sculptors of speed. Those wire artists - 1 The “filoni” were used as templates for shaping aluminium bodywork. Here you can recognize the Ferrari 250 GTO.

While Scaglietti, Fantuzzi, and Drogo remained legendary names among collectors, their craftsmanship had become a thing of the past. Fuelled by a profound respect for automotive culture, Borel made it his mission to seek out these panel beaters who, during the 1950s and 1960s, had created the masterpieces that consistently set records at auctions. He discovered Giancarlo Guerra, the inventor of the “filoni” (iron wires used as templates for shaping aluminium bodywork), Afro Gibellini, Oriello Leonardi and Fernando Baccarini. Then, he proposed something that seemed impossible: would they be willing to recreate the wire templates and bodywork, one for each celebrated model, in order to establish a museum? While speaking to them, he never concealed his deep respect for these men, who, in his eyes, were genuine artists. And the artists responded: yes, we are ready.

Sculptors of speed. Those wire artists - 2 The creation of the model made with “filoni". A true work of art.

Since then, nearly 8 years ago, they have crafted around thirty models, at a 1:1 scale, just as they did in the days when their creations were destined for the racetrack and the open road, not for a museum. Today, only two of them remain: Afro and Oriello, both well into their eighties, but always busy at work. Artists remain artists, and they never stop. So, the foundation for the museum is in place. Now, Borel is on the hunt for investors. Needless to say, it’s easier to find artists than the visionaries who believe in history. But he will succeed.

Sculptors of speed. Those wire artists - 3 The aluminum nose of the Ferrari 250 GTO made by the Modenese panel beaters.