Ex-racer and passionate about engines since he was a child, Patella has created the largest workshop for vintage sports cars in Italy, becoming a point of reference for the whole world.
The Omega workshop was built in Zané, a small commune in the Vincenza province but its hangars welcome clients from across the world who recognise the undisputed quality of Corrado Patell’s work with his son Guido in restoring and organising the mechanical parts in a real vintage car. This work embraces technology and artisanal standards. It is complex and requires plenty of passion because the vintage cars market is niche and can be a profitable business enterprise. And there’s only one reason for racers and collectors from around the world to trust Patella: he is fully trustworthy.
How was your passion for cars born?
As a child, I was enchanted by the roaring sound made by engines. I remember loving to entertain myself driving tractors around or following various sports demonstrations such as the Mille Miglia and other competitions in the region on my bicycle. Soon this led me to working in a workshop where I followed the reconstruction of engines becoming a driver soon thereafter. However, I was known amongst everyone as a specialised mechanic and it was actually my clients who convinced me to dedicate myself wholly to reconstructing engines: I became a point of reference to all of them during the races. It’s a very small working environment: everyone knows everyone and I had clients lining up the moment I started working in the business.
How important is your experience in providing customers with this service?
It is indispensable. We’re talking about vintage cars that are no longer in production: you have to know every mechanical part well including the engines, the components and the materials used in order to understand the problem well and carry out a diagnosis of what does not work. It isn’t easy. It is just as important to have a deep knowledge of these engines to plan how to replace them. Such replacements aren’t found on the market and have to be designed in an manufactured manner on a case by case basis. My son Guido takes care of the designs.
So the Omega workshop also features a department dedicated to the production of spare parts?
It’s our trump card: we are autonomous and there’s no need to turn to third parties to order parts. We design and create them ourselves, following certain procedures to melt the metal and apply precise heat treatment. We work to measure and we’re able to produce them for so many customers that we even manage to reconcile the costs. The result is optimal: some pieces seem really original so much so that at times, they manage to convince even the most experienced eyes of their originality! We also own the largest stock of spare parts in Italy. Customers themselves let us know when there are spare parts for sale around the world. This helps us be more rapid both in diagnosis and in cure.
After you replace the missing parts, what other services do you offer your clients?
We reassemble the engine and we test it, even completing the running in. Thus, the car can get back on the road and is ready to be used at full capacity. We also take care of the chassis – a real vintage car restoration. Our workshop contains a warehouse, the engine assembly department, the chassis repair department, the engine tools department and an engine testing room. We follow the car’s case from beginning to end. Vintage cars are described as immortal because even though they belong to the past, they must be perfect and in order to run in the present.
You define yourself as a witness of the past for the future. What do you mean by this?
My knowledge has been created on the ground by knowing these cars first hand. If I didn’t have a deep knowledge of their mechanics, I would not be able to be so efficient. Thus I try to pass my knowledge on, first and foremost to my son Guido, so it will not be lost. He has always lived and breathed the same passion as I have and remains affected by it. It would be impossible to do the job without passion: these cars possess a soul that must be understood and respected.
What does it mean to deal with clients from all over the world?
There are some who come here often speaking Italian. They look for me, they are informed and very prepared. However, the also bring with them a wealth of customs and traditions that are especially evident when I return their car and they thank me. I own a number of gifts from around the world such as fine chocolates and other oddities. For them, the car is not simply a car; they are tied to it emotionally. It is a very niche market: they are collectors, sportspeople, noble people and extravagant characters. Their satisfaction, however, is always my biggest reward.
Read: “Autofficina Omega: The Garage for Antique Sports Cars from around the World”