The last post mentioned some of the touristy highlights we experienced in Lima. Another stop that we enjoyed was the private auto collection of Jorge Nicolini. You can see the website HERE for some additional info. But I will share some of the photos that we took during our visit. I know that many of my readers are not thrilled by a car museum. And most of you in the USA do not consider an old car collection to be rare. But in the South American continent, in a country such as Peru, such a collection is indeed quite rare. And this collection is made even more unusual by the fact that it includes milestone autos such as the car owned by the first mayor of Lima in 1928 and and many rare autos, such as a 1915 Wanderer. So if those facts don’t impress you, move along. Because I am going to tell you more about this amazing collection and the restoration and fabrication shop on location.
When we arrived to the address, we encountered a dusty side road and HUGE brick walls. Across the street, behind equally huge stucco walls, is a modern monastery. This location is quite far out of the city center, with not much around but a few factories and storage facilities. As we approached the entrance gate, it was obvious we were being watched on camera. To our surprise the gate guard stepped out of nowhere and welcomed us to the museum. Then we met one of the ten men employed by Jorge Nicolini to work on the autos. This man was intimately familiar with every auto in the collection and in the workshop. He spent several hours with us, explaining about the details of each car and answering our questions. Yes, this was entirely in Spanish!
Many of these fine specimens are makes or models that we have never seen in the USA. Each of them had a small sign (in Spanish) explaining the make, model, year of production, engine displacement and historical details. This silver car is a 1950 Allard, from England. One of the first things you may notice is the attention to detail on these restorations. Each car has shining bright paint, well-polished chrome, lustrous black tires rich, colorful interiors and supposedly every one of them will start, run and drive! That means the restoration details are much more than skin deep. He did start two of them for us, during the tour.
Every auto museum has it’s favorite son, treasured, special and unique auto or its mascot. This museum has selected this very special car as the logo and favorite son. This 1935 Auburn Speedster has an inline 8 cylinder engine, with a supercharger. It is a 4,585cc engine capable of 150 horsepower. It is capable of 99 miles per hour and is known to have broken land speed records in 1935. This car has incredible design details in both the front and rear. And each feature has been meticulously restored and maintained by the museum staff. Notice the special luggage door designed into the side of this car. The door opens to reveal a storage space under the back seat that is just the right size for a bag of golf clubs. And just above that, the gorgeous chrome of a winged goddess. No detail is overlooked on this, or any other auto, in this collection. Many, many of these rare autos have features that are worthy of noting or discussing. But I won’t bore you with all those details. As an example, take a close look at this photo. This incredible silver and black beauty has custom chrome foot steps leading from the bumper, to the fender so that passengers can access the rumble seat without marring the paint. Details like this filled our minds as we explored the Nicolini collection. Just as we were leaving the collection warehouse, our guide asked if we wanted a photo in front of the iconic American muscle car. He gestured toward one of the most modern cars in the building, the Ford Mustang. We obliged for a photo in front of the classic! Then we turned for one more look at this fantastic warehouse of true world treasures.
As we exited the warehouse, our guide turned out the lights. The only thing left moving was the man that details the cars. We asked about the cleaning and maintenance of these precious and shiny autos. That has to be a lot of work in the duty city of Lima. The guide explained that the man details three cars per day in a continual cycle. Most of them are fully detailed ever 45 days or so. The pride, polish and workmanship is evident when admiring this fine collection of antique autos.
But wait just a moment….. the tour is not over! We are now going to see the workshop and restoration center. The heart of the garage that is staffed by guys who make it their work to accurately restore the cars that Jorge Nicoloni brings in. And some of these cars are in very rough shape when they arrive. See this example. But at the hands of these craftsman, this auto will be a gleaming beauty that earns a place in the warehouse. These craftsmen recreate parts and pieces completely from scratch. Here they are making headlight rings using photos, micrometers and raw materials. Every piece of chrome, wood, metal and even the wiring of this Mercedes are in the restoration process. Soon this car will move to the warehouse and be placed on display. These men spend their days hunched over work tables, crawling under cars, welding, hammering and discussing the finite details of making auto parts from nothing. It sounds fantastic to me! In another section of the workshop is a seven-step chrome bath process. The parts that are manufactured from raw materials, are dipped in each of the baths, to produce deep, strong and lustrous chrome. Every one of these chrome trims, bumper guards, antenna brackets and door handles was made on-site in this workshop.
We are shown the next project for the men in the workshop. This E-type Jaguar looks like it is ready to pounce out of the corner. Any available parts have been sourced, purchased and ordered from around the world. They are gathered around, waiting to be placed on the car. Anything they have not been able to obtain, they will make by hand as they restore this beauty for display in the museum.
Some of the cars in the workshop are there for repairs, tune-ups or additional trim features. This little MG is awaiting some new parts that were located during a buying trip in Europe. These accessory items will be installed and then it will return to the collection. And this old car developed an engine leak, so they brought it in for new gaskets and seals. Those will also made by hand in the workshop. There are a few interviews with the man and the money behind this wonderful auto museum, Jorge Nicolini. You can read one of them by clicking HERE if you are interested. And I am going to guess that you are, because you are still reading! Thanks for sticking with this blog post. We really enjoyed our hours at the museum, we hope you did, too!
Don’t leave yet, there is more fun to be had in the capital of Peru, Lima! Watch for the next post or sign up to receive them automatically in your email box. Just click HERE and find the “follow” box on the left side, type in your email address and it’s done.