Never-ending stories: What would History be without the history of these cars?
The car is the most interesting industrial device created by mankind – and probably the one with the most impact in our daily lives too. Not just because it takes us from A to B but also because it conditions everything around it: from the way we build roads and car parks to the impositions it places on the cities, towns and villages it has to pass through.
To this day, the car still brings out the most passion from humans. And like no other device, the passage of time has bestowed upon it an inevitable and inescapable cultural component.
The light passenger vehicle as created in 1886 by Karl Benz – with an engine that produces an explosion of fuel, controlled inside a cylinder, whose energy is transmitted to the wheels via a gearbox – is fast approaching its end and other forms of propulsion will define what the car of the future will be like.
That is why it is so important to preserve the history of cars and to leave a legacy for future generations that reflects the path that brought us here and how we got here.
At the invitation of Fiat Portugal, Essential visited a place where this need is taken very seriously. In Turin, within the walls of the historic Mirafiori factory, the incredible Heritage Hub was created. As the name suggests, this is a centre that houses the historical heritage not just of Fiat, but of the Italian car industry as well.
The Mirafiori factory is one of the most important sites in the history of motoring and a major symbol of the city of Turin.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Gianni Agnelli, the legendary chairman of Fiat, controlled 15% of Italy’s GDP, more than 40,000 people worked here every day.
For someone who loves Italian cars and the culture and history of Italy, walking through the gates of Mirafiori is an unforgettable moment in itself and a privilege that I hope Fiat will grant to many more fans of its creations.
The Heritage Hub is located in the former Officina 81 premises on Via Plava, which once housed the Mirafiori production line for drive shafts, bearings and gearbox gears, and aims to be a centre for sharing knowledge about the past, present and future of the Fiat, Lancia, Abarth and Alfa Romeo brands.
With 15,000 square metres, the complex retains the industrial identity of its location, and the grey of the floor and the metal structures are joined by an infinite world of colours and shapes that make this one of the most exciting collections of cars under one roof in the world.
Here, over 300 models tell the story of a country that is proud of, and in love with, its cars. In addition to the logical arrangement by brand, there are eight different themes: Records and Races, Concept Cars and Custom-made Models, Archistars (cars that revolutionised the architecture of a car), Eco and Sustainable, Small and Safe, Style Marks, Epic Journeys, and The Rally Era.
The Heritage Hub is also a place to celebrate events connected to the brands on display, Italian culture and the city of Turin itself. The different facets of the space are the reason behind a sign that reads “This is a place in constant evolution and change”, whilst another reads “Value is generated here” – and it is easy to understand that the value of the cars on display is only surpassed by the value of their history and the human relationships it can create.
The Mirafiori industrial complex will, in the future, be the centre of the electric revolution that is underway within the brands of the Fiat group, now part of the Stellantis conglomerate.
For now, alongside the Maserati Levante, Ghibli and GranTurismo, which still have combustion engines, the electric GranTurismo Folgore and the Fiat 500e are already being produced here. In a decade’s time, Mirafiori will be one of the largest, most important, and certainly most emblematic centres for creating sustainable mobility in the world.
But beyond the Via Plava gate, what will forever remain is this garage that mixes dreams with reality, past with present, machines with emotions, and which symbolises one of Italy’s greatest national treasures. Thank you, Fiat. Thank you, Lancia, Abarth and Alfa Romeo. Without you, the world would be a much sadder place.
Stay up to date with: