“I know Nuneaton very well,” says Giancarlo Barbieri, surprisingly, in his heavily accented English.
A Lamborghini employee from 1965 to 2005, he is one of the retired old hands that still lives in the Italian supercar manufacturer’s home town of Sant’Agata.
He is regularly called upon to help maintain and restore the cars on which he worked when they were new.
“I tested a lot of cars at MIRA,” continues Giancarlo.
“They were the most professional. Certification from MIRA was accepted across the world.”
It’s the memories and expertise of former employees such as Giancarlo, along with period drawings and photographs, that have allowed Polo Storico, founded in 2015, to rebuild classic Lamborghinis with a remarkable – and at times bullish – commitment to originality.
Polo Storico is Lamborghini’s in-house heritage division. It was created in response to customer demand and looks after all Lamborghinis from the 350GT of 1963 to the final Diablo of 2001.
This is more than just an officially sanctioned restoration workshop, however: it also houses Lamborghini’s archive of build records, which detail not only chassis numbers but also engine, gearbox, axle and body codes, as well as the specification of each car as they were first built, including paint colour, trim, wheels and optional equipment.
This is the first step for any classic Lamborghini that comes in to Polo Storico: its originality is assessed and a certificate is given to those that pass.
A car with, say, a replacement gearbox will have this noted on its certificate. If a gearbox of a different specification is discovered, then, according to Massimo Delbò, Polo Storico’s media man: “We have a problem.”
Most restorers like to wax lyrical about keeping things original, of course.
The shift from restoration by replacement to patinated originality is a trend well over a decade old in the classic car world, but few take the obsessive, even legalistic approach of Polo Storico.
“It’s not just about originality, but a matter of what has been tested,” says Alessandro Farmeschi, the firm’s global aftersales director.
“If you upgrade or change something, that part hasn’t been tested by us, nor how it interacts with the rest of the car. So we reproduce it as it was.”
That commitment to originality means that restoration also includes obsessive cleaning of carpets and laborious repairs to vinyl upholstery.
Interior pieces are ideally worked on in situ, to prevent the chance of damaging them upon removal and creating new rattles when they are refitted.
Sometimes components must be replaced, of course, and Lamborghini has begun using its technical archive to reproduce parts as a result.
Polo Storico estimates that 70% of items for its back catalogue are available, whether from itself or via third parties.
Every part produced by Polo Storico, however, and any that it would consider using in its restorations, must be made to its original specification.
Responding to the assertion that modern materials could be utilised to make fragile parts longer-lasting, Alessandro replies with genuine defensiveness: “Fragile? Who says they are fragile?”
It’s a different approach from that of many restorers, who are happy to seek improvements and address weaknesses as they work.
Aston Martin’s continuation models, for example, are significantly upgraded from their original specifications.
In contrast, when Polo Storico recreated the lost Countach LP500 prototype it kept its specification, like all its cars, utterly original.
- Name Lamborghini Polo Storico
- Address Via Modena 12, 40019 Sant’Agata, Bologna, Italy
- Specialism Certification, parts and restoration for classic Lamborghinis
- Staff Eight
- Prices Certification €7-10,000 depending on model
- Tel 0039 051 215 6282
- Web lamborghini.com