It is spring in Italy's Apennine mountains, and change is coming to the rocky hillsides near Pievepelago.
For decades, Vaccari & Bosi S.r.l. has produced handmade automobile frames for the boutique carmakers on the plains below. Not far from Modena, Roman laborers built the 2,000-year-old stone bridge that spans the river next to Signore Bosi's factory. The road past the plant was used during the Renaissance by the Duke of Modena to reach his summer villa in Tuscany. Because the road is narrow and treacherous, Bosi jokes, the chassis Vaccari
& Bosi has made for Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini must be shipped down the river to his customers in Modena. Only a few are lost on each trip, he says with a grin.
Bosi picked this spot for his factory because he grew up here and likes the view of the mountains through the building's dingy windows. Though Bosi is physically isolated from his customers, he cannot afford to be technologically isolated. Vaccari & Bosi still uses manual jigs and hand-held welding guns to make the Ferrari 550 Maranello chassis. But the firm has become a curious mixture of Old World craftsmanship and New World technology.
In a small office adjoining the gritty welding shop, young engineers sit at computer terminals, using the latest three-dimensional surface modeling software. The engineers are particularly proud of a recent project in which
they helped Qvale Automotive Group, a fledgling Modena automaker run by San Francisco car dealer Kjell Qvale, to develop a steel chassis for the new Mangusta roadster. As Vaccari & Bosi modernizes to keep pace with the high-speed changes occurring down in Modena, this lovely valley will never be the same.