It's a little-known fact that Viglietti Motors was only the second concessionaire for Ferrari outside of mainland Europe, with only the United Kingdom offering Maranello’s finest before them. We visited one of the original Viglietti brothers, Carlo, who has been part of the local Ferrari scene since the early days.
Words and Images: Wilhelm Lutjeharms
The Vigliettis first opened a motor-repair shop in 1972 and later got to know T.A.K. Motors, which approached Viglietti Motors Pty Ltd about the possibility of servicing and selling Ferraris in Cape Town. It was only in 1994, however, that Viglietti was given the official agency.
As the years passed, the family members have gone their own ways, but Carlo Viglietti has continued as a Ferrari specialist and now boasts decades of experience.
As I walk into his workshop in Cape Town there are a number of Ferraris being attended to. Some are receiving general maintenance, one an aftermarket exhaust while Carlo is also busy with two full restorations. The cars in his workshop span several decades of Ferrari's product catalogue.
“My earliest memories of Ferraris were as a teenager, in the Seventies, seeing the first Dinos and 365 Boxers and then eventually seeing them coming into our workshop. I just remember being in awe of these machines.
“Most of my brothers were actually trained Mercedes-Benz technicians. This training was very thorough and well disciplined. I came out of school and went straight into the family business as well as doing my apprenticeship. We also had a full engineering shop at that time. As I was the youngest of all my brothers, and them having established themselves in various mechanical fields, I greatly benefited from this experience."
Over the years Ferraris have been fitted with V6, V8 and V12 engines. Some of these have been mid-mounted and others at the front, but Carlo is not fazed by this variety of powertrains.
“An engine is an engine at the end of the day. Whether it has four, eight or twelve cylinders. It gets a bit more complicated when you get to 12 cylinders for obvious reasons, but the principals and mechanical features remain the same. It was a progression; I didn’t jump from working on the Fiats to working immediately on Ferraris. I did a lot of rebuilds on Alfas, including the now rather rare Giulia 2.0-litre Rally.
“My brother Luigi did the succession planning and I stepped into the role. He was a very strict operator. He taught me well and he was a good mentor.”
Through the years Carlo has been involved with a couple of specialist workshops in South Africa, but a few years ago he opened his own.
He has worked on a wide variety of Ferraris through the decades, but I was wondering which cars were the most exciting to work on.
“I’ve recently fitted a Novitec exhaust system to a 488 Pista which was quite interesting. My training stopped with the 458 Italia, so, to see the Pista was very special. But to answer your question, it has to come down to an F40.
"An F40 challenges you in every manner - not only to drive but also to work on it. When you work on it, you can't help but find it confined and cramped, but it is raw and the epitome of what a Ferrari is really about. Then, the full restoration and engine build I did on a Ferrari 365 GTB/4 (Daytona) a few years ago.
“It is difficult to pinpoint the best part following a restoration or full engine rebuild. I guess it is the first time you start up the engine. When you have the car in hundreds of pieces, and then finally it all comes together again. However, all the selective stages of the process are exciting to experience and witness. Even stripping it to see the bare basics and starting the journey is quite enjoyable and then seeing the car coming to life is rather special.
“In the end, it helps that I’ve known the brand for 40 years, then you know the ins and outs!”