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Museo Nicolis in Verona : Quick Look!


What does a firm heavy into recycling paper and waste, with a link to India have to do with great cars, bikes, aircraft, etc? That's what prompted Adil Jal Darukhanawala to go have a quick look at the delightful Museo Nicolis in Verona

 

 

Museo Nicolis in Verona

 

 

Does the brand name Lamacart ring a bell to any among you fellow Indians? Well to those in the specialized trade of paper recovery and recycling it will ring a loud bell for sure because this brand is very much associated in this endeavor in India just as strongly as it is entrenched in Europe and elsewhere. It is indeed one of the most specialized in its field in the world and that is recognition enough.

 

Of course this isn’t good enough for us because just like we have the Klemm L25 aircraft in this issue, we need to have a proper automotive angle to it and it comes by way of the highly entrepreneurial Nicolis family. The late Luciano Nicolis established not just Lamacart all over the world but also brought in a contagious passion, first as collector and then curator to bring in a very tasty and handsome collection not just of cars and bikes but also of musical instruments through the ages, cameras, typewriters, machine tools and what have you.

 

 

radiators, engines, fuel bowsers, old school lathes and machine tools

A museum not just of cars but also of disparate bits and pieces -

radiators, engines, fuel bowsers, old school lathes and machine tools


The collection came about solely by patriarch Luciano’s zeal for recovery, an essential element in his business but one, which he imbibed in real life as well and which his wife Renate and children Silvia and Thomas carry out in dead earnest to this day. Where others inevitably saw scrap, Luciano saw treasure in the faded rusted mechanical marvels which he bought from all over the world, carted them to his workshop (literally a halo shrine to the man occupying the entire basement of the large Lamacart facility in Verona) where he and a small team restored many of them.

 

Legend has it that when he opened his Museum of Cars, Technology and Mechanics and threw it open to the public, it was evident that he was doing this for the common good. “I am the nutcase who did all this,” he would mention to whosoever visited him at the museum and engaged him in discussion on the collection before adding “we (the Nicolis family) are not the owners of all this, just the safekeepers for the future…”

 

 

1903 French Cottereau Populaire

 

 

The 1903 French Cottereau Populaire featured a 1040cc

single-cylinder engine & a 3-speed transmission

 

 

Some of the most venerable names in the automotive world can be found here at the Museo Nicolis and it spans the gamut from the earliest coachbuilders' craft with four-legged horse-power to the glorified art of the automotive carrozzeria as we could make out over Isotta-Fraschinis, Alfa Romeos, Bugattis, Lancias, OMs, Mercedes-Benz and many other great marques. 

 

While utterly fascinating in its entirety (I could only gape at the large model car collection while the autographed steering wheels from over 60-70 plus F1 cars had me trying to link driver, car and race, albeit with a degree of difficulty thanks to the sheer onslaught on the senses!), the most important detail which caught my eye was a 1914 Benz 8-20 PS Jagdwagen which was once the prized possession of an Indian royal near Calcutta.

 

 

three-wheeled Guzzi-powered contraption

A very special section in the museum is devoted to specialised

army vehicles like this three-wheeled Guzzi-powered contraption

 

 

In fact the car carries two very intriguing plates, one is that of its coachbuilder – Carrosserie Schebera based at Heilbronn near Stuttgart but it is the other diminutive enameled brass plate affixed to the inside of the left rear door which is even more intriguing: it reads “The Great Indian Motor Works – Calcutta” with the address being mentioned as 158-159 Dharamtala Street! Do any of our readers know them and also if they do yet exist in some form or the other?

 

Sadly the Museo Nicolis doesn’t have any reference to the identity of the Indian Maharaja because the Benz was sold to a collector who took it to the US in the 1940s and there it lay uncared for a very long time following which Luciano Nicolis stumbled on to it, rescued it and restored it back to its original glory.

 

Just to see a rare Indian Benz should be reason enough to pop into the Museo Nicolis if you are ever in the Verona region. I am sure the abundance of automotive riches will leave you shaking your head in disbelief!