February 2013 | Life-Style
The Mazzanti Evantra supercar appeared, so to speak, out of thin air. The tiny Italian automaker rarely indulges the public with novelties, but just when you forget about them, another supercar is premiered. The Mazzanti Evantra, however, is a distinctive and cool car that differs from previous models.
At most, only a few collectors and car snobs knew about the existence of the tiny Faralli Restauri restoration workshop in the town of Lari, just southeast of Pisa. But these were Antonio “Mario” Faralli’s main customers. The workshop specialized in restoration of custom-made sports cars with aluminum bodies. At times, Mario had to deal with downright wrecks – one car only had its chassis left and the body had to be recreated from a couple of faded photographs. Everything was done manually, by eye, from aluminum sheets cut out with scissors from a template; the sheets were then hammered out into body panels. Then the detailed pieces were painstakingly fitted together. Later in the process came the solder and putty (however, using the same technology that was used for the original bodies of the historic cars!).
The quality of the work was high and the Faralli Restauri workshop was entrusted with such rarities as the Maserati 450 Costin/Zagato. This rally car, with its 400-horsepower V8 engine, should have been a favorite in the Le Mans race in 1957. The body was created with the help of aerodynamics specialist Frank Costin. However the car failed to finish and the racing debut was a failure, despite all the efforts of driver Stirling Moss. An American collector found the unique racecar in a landfill and turned it into a road car, which by the way was the fastest in 1958.
And though the work was very demanding and painstaking, the Faralli Restauri staff never numbered more than ten people. It soon became a family business: Mario’s two sons began to help him. In addition, Luca Mazzanti, the son of the bodywork-painter Rossello Mazzani, came into the workshop, deciding to follow in his father’s footsteps. But Luca was more interested in making new cars.
He got one of Mario’s sons, Walter Faralli, on board with his idea. In 2001, they created a barchetta (roadster) for a particular client, and the same year the F&M (Faralli and Mazzanti) auto company was born. (Actually, , there are huge gaps throughout the history of this tiny company, which has not been all that eventful anyway.)
F&M came out with its next car only six years later. It was called the Antas. The only completely new feature was the body. The chassis was taken from a 1966 Maserati Quattroporte with a rear beam axle. One positive thing was quad-cam 4.7 L, 310 hp V8 engine. However, as Faralli and Mazzanti explained, the customer can suggest any chassis: Ferrari 550/575/599, Aston Martin, Jaguar XKR, Mercedes SL, BMW M6, Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper. The customer can even change the design of the car. Every phase of creating the Antas will be discussed. All you have to do is put a couple hundred thousand euros down and settle in a Tuscan villa for 11 months for regular consultations – which is how much time it takes to build a car like this.
The uniqueness of each Antas is predetermined because of the method of manufacturing the body in the most rudimentary ways. The blueprints are on a scale of 1:1, which created a frame of steel tubes, upon which the aluminum body panels were hammered, like a stencil. Slots under the lights, for example, were done in place. They didn’t even think about painting the rivets that mounted the air intake to the hood and the wing to the rear – these were elements of style, emphasizing the “hand-made” character of the car. The old-fashioned interior with its centrally positioned display combines the naked paint color of the body’s metal and the high-quality quilted leather. Concessions to modernity include a hidden multimedia display in an elegant enclosure, which shows images from the rear-view camera. To be sure, over-the-shoulder visibility was not any good. As for the aerodynamics, not everything was smooth sailing, so a spoiler was later added onto the Antas.
The car’s external appearance, on the contrary, is modern, although the wipers are mounted above the windshield, the gas flap is mounted in the rear screen and has side-mounted exhaust pipes – all of which are intended as “quotations” of the auto design of the ’50s. All of the faceplates are made from silver and gold. The unique process of producing the car outweighed its shortcomings. But not in the eyes of potential customers, which is why the Antas remained one of a kind.
After a year, however, Faralli and Mazzanti were already working on a new car. For the first time they used computer modeling and brought a designer on board, the young Zsolt Tarnok, who was fresh out of college. Work on the new model took eight months and the Italians complained that they couldn’t meet the deadline. They called the car Vulca, after the mythical Etruscan sculptor Vulca da Veio. The body was made using the same simple methods, but the new coupe’s 2 + 2 seating arrangement had been designed for small-scale production and not for individual tailoring. The car replicated the designer’s lines of the Antas, but excluding the retro details.
But it all turned out to be too pretentious. The interior was generally speaking a model of bad taste, and through the mess of maroon and cream, it was hard to recognize the BMW M6 (E63). After all, the new F&M was based on the Bavarian M-class. The Italians were looking for a reliable assembly and V10 motor, so there were no alternatives to the “Germans.” The engine boosted 630 hp and 630 Nm, allowing the lighter Italian car to reach 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds. The Italians were asking for 390,000 euros and promised to build the car according to the customer’s wishes and to put a more powerful V12 under the hood. After this release, all was quiet again for four years.
Meanwhile, several events occurred. In 2010, Walter Faralli decided to devote himself to the old family business of restoring cars. But Luca Mazzanti kept working with new cars under the name Mazzanti Automobili, while keeping the F&M logo on his sign. The partners claimed that they would continue working together closely. It’s interesting that on the company’s new official website, all references to the Vulca model have disappeared, as if it never existed.
In late 2011 there was a teaser about a new supercar from Luca Mazzanti called the Mugello. It was a mid-engine supercar in the style of a Ferrari or a Pagani. Luca decided to start from a clean slate. However, designer Zsolt Tarnok tried to give the car’s shape some features from previous models. A bit later the technical details of the car became known, along with a new name – the Evantra. The supercar was planned to come equipped with a 3.5L flat engine with 403 hp. They promised a 600 hp version with twin turbocharges. The car’s body on a steel frame could be made from the traditional aluminum or from carbon-fiber composite.
They worked on the Evantra harder than on any other car. It was put through a virtual wind tunnel, its contours scrutinized. For the finishing work, Luca Mazzanti brought in Ferrari’s formula engineer, Nebojsa Borkovic, who had previously worked on Pagani supercars. The two-seater coupe weighing 1,200 kg was not supposed to concede anything to the Ferrari in acceleration and to break 100 in 3.7 seconds.
And again there was a year of silence, but the project didn’t die. By the end of 2012, it became known that the Evantra would get a new motor. A Chinese distributor showed up at Mazzanti Automobili who demanded a more powerful power train. Taking into account the wishes of one of the most important automobile markets, the car was equipped with a 7L V8 engine with 701 hp. A maximum thrust of 848 Nm is achieved at 4,500 rpm. The car was a bit heavier, but that didn’t hurt the dynamics. The car should go on sale soon.
The custom-made Evantra is not supposed to be liked by everyone, says Luca Mazzanti. It’s worth noting that instead of creating a car for the individual client, he took the same road that most small-scale manufacturers of supercars take. And his new car doesn’t particularly stand out from the multitude of mid-engine coupes, following the rules of the genre.
Mazzanti Automobili announced that it is able to produce five Evantras annually, although it is not clear whether it will fulfill the promise this time. After all, the restless Luca Mazzanti could always start again with a clean slate.
Text: Evgeniy Bagdasarov