The history of four world-leading Italian motoring brands
From the most emblematic models to the most successful, revolutionary people, and the most significant events, this section illustrates and celebrates the cornerstones of Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia and Abarth.
Passionately fond of model-making, Rafal Sikorski was born in Poland but for last two decades he lives in London. Multi awarded on numerous Model Shows, member of the UK section of the International Plastic Modellers Modelling Society, in his art he combines his two great passions: building scale models and FCA group classic cars.
A Fiat brand childhood, dreaming of Abarth.
The two Turin firms have a special place in Rafal's heart and in his childhood memories.His father always drove Fiat cars - 500, 600, 600 Multipla, 127, 131, 125 and 126 – and Rafal, as a child, spent a lot of time looking after the family's cars with him.They were the cars used every day, for going on holiday or for fishing trips, and they soon became real "mechanical" members of the Sikorski family. Furthermore, Rafal learnt to drive at the wheel of a Fiat 126, and later took his driving test in it.
Although the Fiat brand played such a large part in the Sikorski family's daily life, it was definitely Abarth that shaped their motoring dreams. It was, and still is, particularly rare to see a classic Abarth car on the London streets. This fact gives them an "exotic" allure and a key place in Rafal's motoring dreams of his motoring future. To compromise his dreams before he could not afford to buy important cars built by the great Italian constructors, the young Pole developed a passion for their "small scale" equivalents. In effect he and spent more and more of his time to build making models and to improve his technical skills.
“I began by making models of ships, submarines and planes, when I was a teenager. Then one day I decided to start work on a car project to fulfil my passion for Fiat and to make most of my engineering and model making skills”.
And that was the decisive turning-point.Working on models of cars initially took longer and also required him to challenge his existing skills. For example, he had to improve his paintworks with different types of paint and more coats; the interiors - because they are most likely to be very visible, so they should be built with exceptional authenticity from wide spectrum of materials. In the other hand, more source - require more care and precision, there's more material and documentation available, and there are also far more individuals people who may possibly know the original. In effect, when building ca model, Rafal pays great attention to accuracy and smallest details- because any inconsistencies in finished model with original can be easily recognised.
In-depth research, purchase of materials, the delicate assembly stages and the very high-precision finishes: Rafal spends most of his spare time on his model works. So the choice of the model to be made is particularly important for him.
“Before I start a project, I have to be 100% sure I will be able to complete it in the best possible way. In my perfectionist approach to model making I follow G. Agnelli motto: A thing done well can be done better"
The first criterion that guides Rafal's choices is passion.Mainly interested in the Italian design of classic cars before the ’80s, he has tackled unforgettable cars such as the Fiat Abarth 1000 TCR, the Fiat Abarth 595 SS or the splendid 1920s Fiat 806 Grand Prix.And many more are in progress or planned.
“I'm currently finishing a 1/12 scale Fiat Abarth 695 SS, but I've got several models waiting to be built: the X1/9 Prototypo, the Abarth 2000 Scorpione, the Mefistofele, the 600 Jolly and also the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza.”
The cars' rarity is another criterion that appeals strongly to Rafal, even though it makes his task more complicated.The first step in the realisation of every model is "academic" research, to gather information about the car.Technical data, photos, contacts with motoring museums, period films and books are essential sources, as are interviews with collectors and experts.
When this meticulous research is complete, it's time to source the materials - he mostly purchases them in online specialist shops. Then he can finally begin to construct model. In order to create components, Rafal draws every single one of them in aid of various ways of scratch building; including hand tools, machining, 3D printing, photo etching. These stages make Rafal particularly excited in whole model making process. In whole process Rafal prefers to follow the original assembly sequence used for the actual car.Normally he concentrates on the engine and transmission first. Then he makes the bodywork and car interior. After he is satisfied with all car body shapes and panel lines, he paints it with several coats of primer, top coats and lacquers.
Then is the time to assemble the whole model: finished body work is fixed to chassis with wheels and to fit prepared interior, windows, handles and lights and other beforehand build accessories. His work cannot be considered complete until he has finished the polishing and given the model the final touches, such as shading, washing and adding creative eye catching display for the public.
All models are completely hand-made, and each one is a unique project, what inspire him to try and learn new techniques, and at the same time stimulate him to master existing skills.
“During the construction process, I often come up with new better ways of how to do particular operations “
Every model has its difficult stages and the difficulties vary depending on the model.In some cases the complications are more technical, such as the performance of a specific step; in others, the challenge is getting hold of technical data, or perhaps to reproduce microscopic pieces.
“It's a challenging labour of love, but also extremely satisfying, when I can present my projects to my fellow modellers from Model Clubs, and when they are appreciated on Model Shows and Magazines. I'm satisfied with all the models I've created, but if I have to choose, my absolute favourites are the Fiat 806 and the Abarth 1000."
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