Bravery cannot be just measured in statements but in facts. Let me put things straight: start building cars in these days is one of the toughest challenges people in this industry can face. A new car factory means investing capitals in R&D, equipment, technologies and more importantly in creating a new brand which speaks to enthusiasts and especially to customers as well. Also, it means breaching the hearts of enthusiasts in a sea of competition.
In Italy, there are quite a few small independent Ateliers at the moment. Many of which build cars from the ground up. Whether you’re a fan of them or not, you must say that these people are quite brave. With the current market saturation and the wide choice of brands offered to customers worldwide, building high-end motorcars is indeed a very brave task. “Choice” and diverse offerings are the engines of international economics, but too much of it flattens the demand and puts the market into a crisis. Atelier cars are the ultimate personification of automotive hedonism: made to order and revolving around the desires of the owner. Over the past few years, Mazzanti Automobili is one of those Factories which makes cars entirely in-house, without relying on parts from other manufacturers. In the tiny factory of Pontedera, close to Pisa, the small Factory produces everything from the chassis, engine, interior and the other mechanical components. To put it in the words of Luca Mazzanti, CEO, and Founder, “we outsource parts by choice and not a necessity”. Even the design is made by Mr.Mazzanti himself and the development of the car also done in-house as well. Recently, a guy named Loris Bicocchi gave his expertise for making the Evantra, the Company’s current production model, corner even faster.
It may shock you, but Tuscany is one of the holy grails of Italian motoring and it is part of the famous Motor Valley. Think about it for a moment: Giotto Bizzarrini, Carlo Chiti, Franco Scaglione and the constellation of small coachbuilders which were building small racing cars back in the golden era of motoring, the 1950ies. Mazzanti is taking the bulk of the heritage of years of car history on its shoulders and it is putting all its efforts to build a car living up to this heritage. We can define the Evantra as a homage-driven supercar: like the Bizzarrinis of the past, the Evantra is powered by a big, rumbling and savage 7 liter LS V8 motor, extensively modified in-house to produce more than 700 hp; its name is derived from the ancient Etruscan immortality Goddess Evan; its design, with multiple flowing lines, is inspired by the hills around Pontedera and Volterra.
The aim of Mazzanti is to make cars bespoke to the customer, in every way: the Evantra follows no ordinary rules and there are no production lines whatsoever. Customers can choose anything, including power output, turbocharging or atmospheric aspiration, manual or paddles, the suspension set up and many more. If you complain why Porsche isn’t making its 700hp GT2 RS with a manual and has ditched air cooling, well you could always have a trip down to this tiny Factory in Tuscany.
Of course, being a Brand with less history than many others, there is the skepticism that surrounds the actual quality or performance. Frankly, a new car builder is always exciting, simply because enthusiasts have one more car to enjoy. This escape was more of a test, an intriguing starter to something quite promising. As an independent car company, they regularly do test runs every day on the lovely windy roads of the area. In these days, the paddle-shifter gearbox software is under development, so we had the chance to join Luca Mazzanti, CEO, and Founder in one of his shakedown runs. Although sitting as a passenger, the incredible stiffness of the chassis is evident. The feeling the Evantra transmits is of old-school, unfiltered driving. Despite having for the moment no electronics on board (and so no traction control) the car felt neutral and coping very well with the impressive amount of torque generated from the naturally aspirated V8. Luca Mazzanti, my chauffeur for the day, was quite keen on demonstrating the excellent dynamic qualities of his baby, which are quite good indeed. The Evantra is quite conventional, using a steel space frame and a mid-mounted engine, and it feels honest and raw at the same time. You don’t feel the speed, also during corners: during the test, Mr.Mazzanti was keen to point out that while we were amiably chatting, we were taking a tight corner at about 80 kph going downhill. Well…that is quite impressive indeed! The ride was quite stiff and the cabin was noisier than expected, with the reverb from the exhaust and aspiration notes making impossible talking at high speeds and the gearbox was incredibly slow. Nevermind, this being a prototype and with the gearbox under development, it is not something that matters at the moment (yet air conditioning works very well, so do not despair). Under acceleration the car feels like it is exploding forward, emitting a sound no different than a 30mm GAU 8 Avenger cannon being fired by an A10 during a gun run. It resonates through the hills giving the impression of a military drill done in civilian areas. Even if I was assured that the car doesn’t spit flames out of its de-catted and open exhaust, it isn’t hard to imagine a trail of fire, tracers, and smoke coming out of the back.
Besides, this not being an escape like we intend but more of a comprehensive sneak peek of what’s to come, we’re eager and cannot wait to unleash this beast through some quintessential Tuscan countryside. After all, who won’t like a car which sounds like a Gatling gun when at full chat?”