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Painstakingly curated over the course of several years by the Fondazione Gino Macaluso, ‘The Golden Age of Rally’ kicked off at MAUTO in Turin this week. And simply put, the exhibition is the most extraordinary celebration of the sport we’ve ever seen…

Rallying. Our dirty little not-so-secret. It’s an affliction. We can’t help it. That’s why travelling to Turin earlier this week for the grand opening of the ‘Golden Age of Rally’ exhibition at the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile (MAUTO) was such a treat.

There is so much more to this symposium than rally cars in rooms. When the fantastic group behind the Fondazione Gino Macaluso began curating this show, there was a clear goal with much broader implications. They wanted to elevate these marvels of engineering and thoughtfully position them in the context of technological innovation, humanistic culture and the tradition of craft. Ultimately, these mighty machines reflect social change through the decades.

“When the Mini won the Monte-Carlo Rally in 1964, it showed that you could compete at the highest level in motorsport with an affordable industrially produced car,” explains curator Stefano Macaluso of the Fondazione Macaluso as an example. “Before then, you needed wealth to afford a GT or a formula car for such competition.

“There is so much more to this symposium than rally cars in rooms. Ultimately, these mighty machines reflect social change through the decades.”

“Fast-forward a decade, and Lancia was winning everything with the Stratos – the first purpose-built thoroughbred rally car, again a technological step-change in mentality from a manufacturer looking to the baby boomer market.”

Experiential is the key word here – from the moment you enter MAUTO, you’re immersed in an awe-inspiring, evocative and educational journey through the halcyon days of rallying, told with previously unseen period footage, photographs, memorabilia, and insightful profiles.

Of course, the backbone of this symposium is the Macaluso family’s exquisite collection of rally cars – each with a very real, very human story of success or a direct connection of the late Luigi ‘Gino’ Macaluso, the Italian former rally navigator and horological entrepreneur after whom the eponymous foundation was conceived.

From the mighty Thousand Lakes-winning Mini Cooper S and the slinky pocket-size Alpine-Renault A110 to the unstoppable Lancia Stratos HF and the Toyota Celica – there’s representation from the 1960s through the Group IV and titanic Group B eras to the Group A period, after which digital technology yet again changed the face of rallying.

“For us, we wanted to recreate the atmosphere of rallies during the eras we’ve underlined,” comments Stefano. “Everything from the fiercely contested battles – such as that between the four-wheel-drive Audi Quattros and the rear-wheel-drive Lancia 037 Rallys – to the sheer proximity to the action only rallying serves spectators.

“Accompanying the Fiat X1/9 prototype are Gino Macaluso’s hand-written test notes dating back to 1974, when the Swiss Formula 1 star Clay Regazzoni was behind the wheel.” 

“And, of course, tell the story of my father Gino Macaluso, the centre of gravity of the exhibition.” For Stefano and the rest of his family, it’s the Fiat X1/9 that anchors the collection. It was a car that, as Fiat’s designated project manager in 1974, Gino oversaw the development of. It was also a car that, 12 years later, kindled the incredible collection you can see today. Accompanying the prototype in the exhibition are Gino’s hand-written test notes dating back to 1974, when the Swiss Formula 1 star Clay Regazzoni was behind the wheel.

If you happen to be in Italy in the coming weeks or months, we heartily recommend a visit to MAUTO in Turin to catch ‘The Golden Age of Rally’. For what is still considered a relatively niche segment of the collector-car world, the symposium offers a genuinely fresh and broader perspective on the genre.

Photos courtesy of the Fondazione Gino Macaluso / Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile

The ‘Golden Age of Rally’ exhibition is now open at the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile in Turin and will run until 23 May 2023. For more information or to book advanced tickets, please click here. Alternatively, if you’d like to discover more about the Fondazione Gino Macaluso, please click here.