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Forget the DeLorean, the Frigerio brothers have invented true time travel.
It began with a cup of coffee in a busy café on a winter morning. There I was chatting with Valerio Cometti, the head of V12 Design and one of the world’s best designers. As it turned out, he also knew how to travel in time.
He proceeds to excitedly tell me about an unassuming workshop in a little town just a short drive from Milan called Verano Brianza. There, two brothers by the name of Frigerio invest their time, money and passion into their car company. That might not be all that unusual, but Effeffe is a car company that, despite having only been recently founded, is deeply rooted in the past.
You see, the brothers just couldn’t let go of the past. The glory days of motoring from the 1950s and ’60s were just too special to be consigned to the history books, too special to be simply read about and studied whilst the world tip-toed towards automotive sensory deprivation and autonomy. In their youth, the brothers toured the world’s most famous motoring venues – Monza, the Nürburgring, Spa and Brands Hatch, among others – taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the era’s creations and the glamour of the ‘circus’ around them. In many ways, their creation is both a tribute to the past and an antidote to the present, a working project that demonstrates how ‘new’ doesn’t always equate to ‘better’, and that the craftspeople, techniques and knowledge of the past remains ever relevant in the current age.
An Effeffe car is a brand-new car, but in as many ways as possible it is produced using the methods of yesteryear. It is entirely hand-built, the tubular spaceframe chassis is welded together entirely by hand, as is the all-aluminium body that looks as if it has been poured over a frame like liquid. Some of the craftspeople working on the new Effeffe were building the Grand Tourers and bodies of the ’50s and ’60s, and they can still produce incredible work to this day, a demonstration of the skills that still remain in the craftspeople of the Italian motoring industry.
Not all parts use old designs, for obvious reasons. The brakes are modern discs on all four wheels, and the suspension is completely independent and contemporary in design. As for the engine, well it’s a 4-cylinder 2.0-litre Alfa Romeo engine, adapted and tuned for Effeffe’s requirements. When fully adapted, in total it will produce 200bhp, an ample amount in a car that weighs in at 800kg and enough to guarantee performance that genuinely excites.
Don’t forget that there are no electronic safety aids in an Effeffe, your ABS, traction control and stability management friends aren’t there to help you out. Only your feeling for the car and skills with the controls can help you drive an Effeffe to its full potential.
The fabulous cockpit where the driver sits comprises beautiful leather bucket seats and a thick wool carpet. Effeffe freely admit the driving position is imperfect, as per the period, and this, when mixed with details such as the Jaeger rev counter and 5-speed gearbox with its long arm, could have anyone believing they were back in the 1950s, as could the Nardi wooden steering wheel. The Effeffe truly is a time machine for drivers seeking engagement from another age.
Produced in extremely limited quantities by hand, we’re unlikely to ever actually get to drive the Effeffe. A complete car takes months to put together, and the company prides itself on taking its time to ensure that the finished article takes you back in time.
If you’re patient enough, time travel really is possible. Just ask the Frigerio brothers of Verano Brianza. There, in a little workshop, it happens every day.
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