"There is always someone waiting for my stuff, they will eat anything I can cook."
—Giovanni Michelotti

A few good men . . . and women

Dr. Salvatore Ruffino

The only reason for the existence of the Triumph Italia was the desire of Dr. Salvatore Ruffino to create a new model for the Triumph line. It was his vision to build a car that would take advantage of the engineering expertise of the British automobile and add the beauty and refinement of Italian design.

Dr. Ruffino had the vision and the contacts necessary to proceed. He needed someone to create a design that would fulfill that vision.

From l to r: Mrs Ruffino, Dr. Ruffino shaking hands with C. L. P. Edmonds of Standard-Triumph, and on his left is Mr. Rodino President, of the Italian State Radio Company. In front, a young Dario Ruffino (from Standard-Triumph Review, February 24th, 1960). And you can just see an Italia at the bottom left of the photo.

Giovanni Michelotti (1921–1980)

Giovanni Michelotti

Giovanni Michelotti had started in automobile design at the early age of 18. His talents led him to branch out into his own design studio when Vignale asked Giovanni to style a car for him. Giovanni said, “ And I felt much freer. I became a free-lance for the motor-industry.” Automobile companies and coachbuilders clamoured for his work. “There is always someone waiting for my stuff, they will eat anything i can cook.” — Giovanni.

Apart from knowledge and experience, he considers three factors that count in his success:

  1. Inspiration
  2. Perspiration – Giovanni works an 18-hour day
  3. Follow-through—which means endless visits to coachbuilders to discuss styles in great detail.

The average price of one of his drawings is 100,- British Pounds. He says he styles one car a week, provides face-lifts for two others, and earns in a year – because he also gets royalities from the manufacturers – five figures Sterling.

Alfredo Vignale (1913–1969)

Photo of Alfredo Vignale

Alfredo Vignale opened his business in 1948 with his brother, Guisseppe and Angelo Balma. Once, Vignale completed 4 Ferrari racing bodies in just ten days. That service helped make Vignale's carrozzeria the favorite of Ferrari in the 1950's. His friendship and belief in Michelotti's abilities led to many fabulous creations from Rolls-Royce to FIAT and everything in between.

And some modern day ones . . .

Dario Ruffino

Dario Ruffino is Dr. Ruffino's son and was involved in the project with his father. Dario kindly gave an interview to Jörg von Appen detailing the early days of the venture.

Giuliana Vignale

Alfredo Vignale's grand-niece is an artist in her own right. Giuliana is carrying on the family tradition of creativity. You can view and purchase her automotive paintings at her site: www.vignalemotorart.com

Graham Andrews

Graham is the Italia consultant for the TR Register in the U.K. Graham owns and restored Italia #82. This multi-year, award-winning restoration required repairing a previous attempt to restyle the original bodywork and layers of poor bodywork. After removing buckets of bodyfiller, Graham has built an award-winning Italia. And there's more Italia stuff to come.

Paul Harvey

Paul was the Italia consultant for the TR Register in the U.K. Paul owned Italia #215, the second "as original" Italia in existence. It and Italia #126 were both held in dealer stock for over twenty years. Visit the Restoration page for more about #215. Paul put tremendous effort into the Italia Register including the newly added Triumph Italia 2000 Facebook page and initiated the Triumph Italia Circolo, the club for owners and enthusiasts of the Italia.

Scott Marquis

Scott, the owner of Italia #227, is the Triumph Italia Circolo's Facebook page administrator. Scott's the one that answers your questions and finds interesting Italia-related photos and information to keep the page up-to-date. Not knowing when to avoid volunteering, Scott organized the Italia's debut at the 2019 Concourso Italiano and an upcoming event in California with the able assistance of fellow Italia owner, Mark Saro, #129.

Jörg von Appen

Jörg's interest in the Italia goes back to the mid-nineteen eighties when very little was known about the car. With Jörg's assistance we have been able to piece together the Italia's story. At one time, Jörg owned five Italias. While I assisted him in the purchase of #54 and, later, #198, Jörg put great effort into gathering both printed material and interviews with those involved in the original project. Without his help we would know little about the real history of the Italia.

Leo Ranner

As the Italia consultant for Europe, Leo has been an avid collector of Italias and Italia information. Today, owners in Europe who need help with their cars have no further to go than to contact Leo. Leo is, at present, restoring the second prototype Italia. Be sure to visit the Photo section to see pictures of the 2012 Italia meeting in Lindau, Germany. Leo and his family put together a great weekend for Italia owners.

Tyrone Stoner

As the Italia consultant for the U.S. for the Vintage Triumph Register, Tyrone owns a number of Italias and has a vast collection of Italia material. His assistance is invaluable to present and prospective owners. Tyrone also put together a meeting of Italias in the U.S., as part of a Vintage Triumph Register event.

Adrian C. Sinnott

I purchased my first Italia (#3) in 1982. Like many other Triumph fans, I had seen photos of the second prototype and when the opportunity arose to buy #3, I leapt at it even though the car was in a very tired, if driveable, state. As I actually owned an Italia, the Vintage Triumph Register asked if I would consent to be their consultant for the car. In the days before e-mail, this meant many phone calls and letters both to and from owners, manufacturers and museum's. Even a phone conversation with racing legend, Phil Hill, who drove those early 1950's Vignale-bodied Ferrari's. With photos and notes shared by, and with, Italia owners throughout the world, I was able to piece together a rough history of the Italia.

In the mid-eighties, I received a call from Jörg von Appen asking for help in acquiring an Italia. After introducing him to an owner willing to part with his car, Jörg and I journeyed to West Virginia. With the able assistance of its former owner, Douglas Chadwick, we towed the car to Port Elizabeth, New Jersey for shipping to Germany. Jörg and I would become good friends and he kindly and enthusiastically shared information as he uncovered it in Europe and I did the same with what became available in America. Together we visited the BMIHT archives at the museum in Gaydon, UK and as I searched through the microfilm, we were able to gain an even more detailed list of cars produced.

And what has become of #3? That's a story in itself. Over the last 20 years, I've bought parts when available, rebuilt pieces, and had the chrome re-plated. Now, finally, work has started on restoration of the body.

In Memoriam: David Tomlin

David Tomlin photo

The entire Triumph Italia community was saddened to learn of the untimely passing of David Tomlin, longtime Triumph Italia owner and former Italia Registrar for the TR Register.

David and I started corresponding back in the days before e-mail. At the time, David owned Italia #264 and shared valuable information about the Italias that survived in England and Europe. It was always enterttaining and informative to hear from David, either in his letters or the occasional phone conversation.

David eventually sold #264 and stepped down as Italia Registrar. Four years ago, I received an e-mail from David joining our Italia owners club. He had purchased another Italia after missing the fun of his original. #316 needed some love and attention to get it to pass MOT and David was enjoying sorting it. We finally met in person some 30 years, and lots of Italia information, later at the Triumph Italia stand at the NEC show in 2016 (with special thanks to Paul Harvey for making the meeting possible).

The Triumph Italia website would like to say a special "Thank you" to Peter Bowden and the folks at the TR Register for allowing us to use the photo of David.