Review by Pete Vack.
Classiche Masters: Workshops for Maseratis
Marc Sonnery had a different idea for a book. Well, it was, as he says, the idea of a Belgian Maserati collector, and he took it to heart. They both noticed that many potential classic Maserati buyers got cold feet, “being under the false impression that there are not enough people and workshops in Europe to specialize in restoring and servicing them.”
So off went Sonnery on a trip across Europe, from the U.K. (well, it was part of the EU then!) to Italy, from France to Poland. He identified 12 shops that majored in Maserati, and visited each one with his crew and photographers Rutger-Jan Cleiren and Kasper Mols. He wanted to tell the story of each restoration shop, and to have a way to tell the Maserati community in Europe that there were plenty of well-qualified shops that catered to the Trident. The result is a book, Classiche Masters, the finest workshops for classic Maseratis, and each of the twelve is presented in-depth, lavishly, and with a great sense of understanding of the job of a Maserati technician, be they in London, England or Piótrkow Trybunalski, Poland.
Sonnery noted that all the shops are very different, and “all have their own way of doing things…based on the national culture but also on the personality of the founder.” He considered the ethics of proper restoration and the evolution of the classic car world in general. He repeated certain questions but came out with a totally unique perspective in each case. Mind you, this book is not meant as a guide, nor are any shops given four stars or other recommendations. These are the stories of the individual shops and owners, revealed through a series of interviews and questions.
And the interviews are delightful. If one has ever worked in a classic workshop, a sense of camaraderie is always present and often necessary. It is the team that makes the car, and employees are hard found and once trained, not easy to keep. Many of the shops do everything themselves, from mechanics to paint, and others rely heavily on outsourcing jobs. Whichever, teamwork and talent are essential.
After travelling through Europe, Sonnery gives us a further four significant interviews pertinent to classic Maseratis; Maserati Classiche manager Fabio Collina, who explains his job and the thousands of documents he safeguards and Ermanno Cozza, who helped establish Maserati Classiche. He is a friend of Sonnery’s and they engage in a very interesting discussion about the Maserati engineers of the 1950s and 60s. Sonnery reminds us that Cozza’s autobiography, “Maserati at Heart” is not to be missed and in that we totally concur. Get a copy now while you can. Then a talk with Dottore Adolfo Orsi, man about Maserati and one of the best goodwill ambassadors the car has.
Sonnery selects one Maserati restorer in the US, in the unlikely place of Atlanta. Ivan Ruiz does not have a shop, or experts, but has restored many prize-winning Maseratis. With Sonnery, he discusses finding and restoring the ex-Joe Lubin prototype Maserati Vignale Spider. “But the Ghibli is really my thing,” he says. Like three Ghibli Spyders? Lucky guy.
"... the interviews are delightful. If one has ever worked in a classic workshop, a sense of camaraderie is always present and often necessary. It is the team that makes the car..."
- Pete Vack, VeloceToday.com
Review by Marie-Elisabeth Deroche Miles
The Maserati Club UK - Trident UK, Spring 2020
Classiche Masters by Marc Sonnery
A totally new approach to the restoration of classic Maseratis is offered in the excellent Classiche Masters written in English by the well- known and multi-talented journalist Marc Sonnery. Subtitled "The finest workshops for Classic Maseratis", this original and thoroughly documented take on what could be an arid subject reads like a novel.
The initial idea was that of a Belgian collector and Maserati enthusiast who had noticed over the years that potential classic Maserati buyers could feel discouraged by the many hurdles associated with the restoration of a classic Maserati.
Marc Sonnery, flanked by Pedro Cappelle and Joris Clayes from the Classiche Masters team together with their top-class photo experts Rutger-Jan Cleiren and Kasper Mols, embarked on a European tour to find the best workshops likely to offer first-class classic Maserati restoration. From the very traditional to the latest state of the art, what all these workshops have in common is an undeniable love and respect for classic Maseratis. The team also visited the Modena Maserati Factory and were granted access to Maserati archives by no less than Fabio Collina, the guardian of the temple. They finally selected twelve Maserati workshops in eight European countries, devoting enough time and space to each of them for potential customers to make up their minds.
Candid interviews and anecdotes, questions about spare parts and rebuilding processes supported by some stunning photos also give Classiche Masters readers a very enjoyable and refined experience starting from the cover, a different cover for every single workshop being available. The book is printed on beautiful paper produced by Fedrigoni, an Italian company with over 130 years of history. The fascinating final part of this book is devoted to “The Curators of the Heritage” with interviews of Fabio Collina, Dr Adolfo Orsi, Ermanno Cozza and Ivan Ruiz before a "Facts and Figures" reminder of what Classiche Masters is all about: restoring classic Maseratis from the 3500 GT to the Kyalami and nowhere any further.
"A totally new approach to the restoration of classic Maseratis is offered in the excellent Classiche Masters"
- The Maserati Club UK - Trident UK, Spring 2020
Imagine you're thinking of buying a classic Maserati. Where will you go to have it worked on or restored? There's a widespread perception that it's not easy to find specialists who are suitably qualified in these cars, to the point that some would-be owners are actively discouraged from taking the plunge.
That's why Marc Sonnery and a tight-knit band of fellow creatives have produced this beautiful book, in which they visit a dozen top-quality workshops spread across Europe, each of which is dedicated to Maserati. They range from McGrath Maserati in the UK to Poland's MBL Classics, via ten other specialists dotted across France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. Each one is profiled in a question-and-answer session with its proprietor, with occasional digressions into particularly interesting cars that they've worked on or currently have in the shop.
What prevents this admittedly niche subject from becoming dully repetitive is the book's superb design and picture quality. Text and images have plenty of room to breathe, and they are printed on an art-paper matt stock that is lovely to handle as well as look at. Complementing this are photographs that have been artfully tweaked to give soft tones and subtle colours. Workshop pictures can often appear stark and garish, but these images are the exact opposite; they're utterly beguiling.
Rounding off the specialist profiles is a chapter entitled The Curators Of Our Heritage, containing interviews with the likes of Maserati's seemingly immortal Ermanno Cozza and historian Dr Adolfo Orsi, plus an appendix of classic Maseratis. Beware: if you didn't want a Maserati beforehand, you will after being exposed to this brilliant book
"Workshop pictures can often appear stark and garish, but these images are the exact opposite; they're utterly beguiling."
- Octane Magazine - April 2020
- This review by Simon Park appeared in Auto Italia, issue 291, May 2020.
Classiche Masters: The Finest Workshops for Classic Maseratis By Marc Sonnery
Subtitled 'the finest workshops for classic Maseratis', this weighty publication by renowned Maseratista and journalist, Marc Sonnery, shines a spotlight on a dozen of the most respected marque specialists and restorers in Europe. Almost by definition, it serves as something of a *shop window* for all 12 companies, which are located in Holland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Poland and the UK. But it is far more than a mere directory, each firm has its own chapter which, after a brief introductory company history, is in a Q&A format. The questions are intelligent and the answers illuminating, given that all of them are working on similar cars and facing the same challenges.
As you might imagine, there's a fair bit of detailed technical stuff about the oily bits, but perhaps the most interesting questions and answers bear on the more general aspects of classic restoration: taking photographs at every stage of the work, liaising with clients, accessing scarce spare parts - and the judicious use of non-original or modern parts to help with today's driving conditions (Bosch fuel pumps in place of Lucas ones, later cooling fan motors which look like the originals, etc.).
What does become clear is that with these older Maseratis, being largely hand-built, no two examples, even of identical models, are exactly the same. Customers' attitudes and priorities have changed over the years, too. But one senses they would all agree with McGraths's Andy Heywood (of this parish) who says: "We try to keep everything original... to provide you with the driving experience from the days when the car was sold new". Overall, the interviews reveal a remarkable consensus amongst them about all the important aspects of bringing these great Italian icons back to life and rude health.
At 303mm x 234mm and 1.67kg, it's no lightweight; but neither is its content. With high production values, it doesn't seem outrageously expensive, either, at around 100 quid, compared to many coffee-table tomes. All in all, a fascinating read and valuable addition to the canon of Trident literature. It's available from www.classichemasters.com priced at €95 plus postage (typically €15.10 to the UK).
"At 303mm x 234mm and 1.67kg, it's no lightweight; but neither is its content. With high production values, it doesn't seem outrageously expensive, either."
- Auto Italia, issue 291, May 2020