Alfa Romeo mon amour

A Frenchman with an Italian heart

FCA Heritage tells the stories of passionate FCA employees and collectors of historic cars. After Massimo De Micheli from Turin and Alexander Traiber in Austria, we introduce you to Tristan Bani-Ombrouck — salesman at MotorVillage Boulogne, diehard Alfista and owner of some fascinating cars.

Tristan Bani-Ombrouck is a young French collector of classic Alfa Romeos. Preserving the story of Alfa Romeo and communicating the values of this legendary brand are a mission—as he himself calls it—that dates back to his early youth and a childhood fascination with an Alfa Romeo 33 1.3 S Red.

"I learned to talk thanks to cars," says Tristan Bani-Ombrouck with a smile. "My parents always tell me that my first words were the names of famous cars and brands." 

These were the earliest signs of Tristan's passion during his childhood in Provence, an interest that he has cultivated and nurtured with dedication, gradually transforming it into a job and his raison d'être.

Besides his parents' recollections, Tristan has another image etched firmly into his memory, one that has had a big influence on his life: the car owned by his grandparents' neighbours. "An Alfa Romeo 33 1.3 S Red, powered by a roaring Boxer engine. A mind-blowing marvel of technology. With a car like that just yards away from me, why would I want to drive anything else?"

Tristan's time was not long in coming. As soon as he got his driving licence, he went in search of the model that came closest to the car of his dreams. After a long search, the young Frenchman experienced a coup de foudre: "I was instantly bowled over by a black Alfa Romeo 33 Trofeo. It was 1994 and it was the beginning of amazing adventures with that life companion: my initiation into the family, the 'Alfista' community. That car had a soul, a spirit. It was a continuous source of inspiration."

Tristan decided not to keep this inspiration confined to his collector's garage, but to share it with others. Dedicating himself entirely to the world of classic Alfa Romeos—and other prestigious Italian car brands—has been a matter of the heart.

The Frenchman's devotion to historic motoring knows no borders. After all, excellence, including Italian motoring excellence—especially when it comes to classic cars—should be appreciated and promoted regardless of where you are born or live. That is why Tristan has chosen to become an Alfa Romeo ambassador in France.

"I dedicate every day to Italian cars and the significance they hold in the history of the automobile," he reveals with pride. "It might be over the top, I know, but I have a motto: 'Drive Italian or don't drive at all'. Is it over the top? Maybe for some people, but not for me. 

I regard myself a little bit like a prophet preaching about the beauty and rich history of our brands.” 

Tristan uses the word "ours" almost possessively, because "Yes, they are our brands. If you belong to this great family, united by certain values, then there is no distinction. Alfa Romeo unites people, beyond geographical boundaries. It's a sort of cosmopolitanism that needs to be translated into everyday life, by trying to inform a wider audience about everything that revolves around this community of enthusiasts." This is what Tristan Bani does, on different levels; in his private life, he converts friends and family members to the cause by sharing photos and anecdotes with them, bringing them along to events or simply taking them for a drive; most importantly, he does it for a career, as a trader of Alfa cars, a spokesperson for the brand at events and meetings, and an expert contributor to trade publications Youngtimers Magazin and Autoretro.

"My brother loves Alfa Romeo. The same goes for my girlfriend, and my friends only drive Italian cars. I think I do a pretty good job at winning people over, "he jokes," and you can meet me at numerous car shows. 

I've been representing Alfa Romeo since 2012. I used to work alongside Pietro De Luca, an Alfa enthusiast who opened his own garage in Paris in the 1960s. But since 2018 I've been working for the biggest Alfa Romeo dealership in France and the Paris area: Motor Village Boulogne.” Tristan has succeeded in achieving his dream, which is also the dream of many other enthusiasts: going from being a collector to a professional dealer of classic cars. 

Precisely because he considers himself so fortunate, Tristan has chosen to serve others in the name of the brand. Especially in France, where his charisma is essential for creating a knowledge network: "France is fertile ground from this point of view: the people here are so proud of French manufacturing, but if you have to invest in quality, then look further afield and recognize excellence, especially Italian excellence. Italian exoticism, if you can call it that, is something that appeals to the French, and Alfa Romeo is a benchmark that perfectly encapsulates this taste: sporty and elegant, with a perfect design. 

Also bear in mind that Alfa's first overseas market was France, and the brand's results in competitions have only increased its mystique." 

The Retromobile show is also an unmissable opportunity to showcase the world of Alfa Romeo and especially that of FCA Heritage to a wider audience: "Retromobile is a unique opportunity, in the striking setting of Porte de Versailles Exhibition Centre, to meet the most important figures in the historic car business. 

That's where I met the team running the FCA Heritage project, which aims to preserve and promote the Group's classic cars and what they symbolise. 

It was also there that I found out about the classic services that Heritage offers. I've used them twice, requesting the restoration and certification of authenticity services for two prized cars in my collection, firstly my 1972 Alfa Alfetta 1.8, and secondly my Alfa Gt 2000 Veloce 'Coupé Bertone'".

Despite being only 28 years old, Tristan Bani-Ombrouck seems to have very clear ideas about what he wants. And before we say goodbye, Tristan’s final, romantic anecdote reveals just how much he lives and breathes classic cars and how influential they are in his life plans: "I've had some extraordinary experiences behind the wheel of the models in my collection: travelling around Europe, meet-ups, car shows. 

But my most unforgettable experience is yet to come. Together with my fiancée, we've decided to drive to the altar in my favourite car, our restored and certified Alfetta. It has a perfectly balanced chassis and magnificent weight distribution. Balance is its distinctive feature. The same balance that every marriage needs."

The relationship between Alfa Romeo and Tristan Bani-Ombrouck is a full-blown love story. Or is that a ménage à trois?

You too can share your passion for classic cars of the FCA brands. Send us your story here and become the protagonist of one of our fan features. 

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