Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

Denis Carrara builds collectible handmade automobiles. His workshop is on the via Volterana in Cerbaia. Born in 1980 in San Mauro a Signa, Denis began playing with toy cars when he was little. The difference is that he always dreamed about and wanted to build them by himself.

Denis began by frequenting the shop of artisan, Umberto Codolo. He observed and picked up the secrets and rudiments of assembly. Soon afterwards, he met Valerio Barnini, another builder of autos in scale, specialized in artisanal models and the creation of assembly kits that were once popular.

When Barnini retired, Denis took over his workshop and started his own business. He has been following all phases of work necessary to create a model since 2005: from buying prime materials to the boxing of the finished product.

“We take measurements and make a prototype of stucco”, explains Denis. “The outer line is defined by the cutter and then we dig inside. Thanks to the file and the smaller cutters, we can do the detail”.

“For the accessories,”, he continues, “we make a model in brass and then obtain the finished piece in white metal. For the windows, we make a master, and then a machine heats the material which obtains the perfect form which fits into the shell. The headlights are diecut by hand and finished with a drop of colored resin, depending on the model. Finally, we apply the decals”.

Part of the workshop is set up as a library: Autosprint, Quattroruote, volumes from Abarth to Zagato (passing through Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Pininfarina); history and specific techniques, inspirations and measurements made by Denis to create his models.

The latest creations are of the unreleased Ritmo Abarth and the Formula Italia Fiat Abarth. The scale 1/43 remains the classical size of collectionism and is the same rapport used by Denis to create dioramas, three-dimensional recreations of a specific environment.

The model of the Abarth establishment of the 1960’s is realistic and unreleased. It is now in the hands of a private owner, after being exhibited in Torino for the occasion of the 100th birthday of Karl Abarth, founder of the “Scorpion” house.

Denis works with shops who want a standardized product, but more with private clients who often ask for an unusual mounting: doors and trunks that open, a visible motor and various accessories. He has a wide clientele, from the young fan who follows motor sports and wants the model of his favorite car to the old collector or ex-pilot who orders the series of automobiles that he drove during his career.

Foreigners can also buy models from the online shop. The changing of generations is not to be taken for granted, says Denis.

“Often children of collectors have other interests, and you can’t find artisanal models in shops in town. It is a niche which has been a bit sidelined”.

However, among smart phones, soccer, and 1000 other virtual stimuli, some passion resists, and Denis will soon transfer his workshop to Ponte a Elsa where he will continue his work, “Made in Italy” for excellence in his sector.

Stefano Casprini