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A Brief History of Michele Conti

By Don Malatesta


Michele Conti “Maestro of the Miniature Auto”


As the name Enzo Ferrari is synonymous with the world of championship race and exotic sports cars, so too, the name Michele Conti has achieved the same stature in the world of fine scale miniature models, or may I say, exact scale replicas of these cars.


Mr. Conti’s creations, the majority of which were to 1/10th scale, are faithful recreations of the original cars, with both an uncannily realistic and artistic quality. Often when looking at a photograph of one of Mr. Conti’s creations it is difficult to tell it from the full scale automobile.


Although the creation of these miniature masterpieces was his principal means of income, I truly believe that they were a labor of love to him, especially in the case of the Ferrari mark.


Michele Conti was born in Torino , Italy , in 1931.  It was in the early 1950’s that he gained his full scale training as an apprentice at the well known body manufacturer, Stabilimenti Farina, which employed craftsmen who created shapes principally by hand. His own father was employed there as a specialist in assembling doors, hoods, and trunks of cars. When Stabilimenti Farina closed their doors in 1953, he was hired immediately, along with his father, by Pininfarina. It was at this juncture, during his free time and evenings, that Michele started, what would eventually become his future career building custom, scale automobile models.  Because of his reputation, craftsmanship, and dedication to realism, many of the original auto manufacturers entrusted Michele with actual factory drawings from which to build his creations.


At first, Michele’s models were made from wood which then evolved into aluminum.  Ultimately, he used similar materials to those used in the construction of the full scale cars, in order to recreate the realism of the original cars.  The bodywork was shaped over a scale wooden body buck, the interiors were reproduced in upholstery materials, including leather, and the tires were cast from rubber from miniature molds he made of the originals.  Most of his 1/10th scale models included such features as an opening hood,  opening trunk, opening doors, full engine, cockpit, and interior details.  The attention to realism was so incredible that he often included a scale set of tools with tool roll.  The amount of detail was limited only to the request of the person ordering the model, who in most cases was the owner of the original car.


It is said that Michele would spend up to a year painstakingly working to create one of his cars; it is assumed that he would be working on several cars in different stages during that time.  It is hard to determine just how many of these miniature cars he produced during his 40 year plus career, but a good estimate would be around 250.




It is reasonable to say that most of Michele’s cars are located in private collections. The collectors range from heads of major corporations, celebrities, famous racing drivers, royalty, and those who appreciate the craftsmanship of his true miniature masterpieces.  It has also been mentioned that one has been on display at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City .


Michele’s models are extremely rare and hard to find on the resale market however, due to circumstances which sometimes arise, they do become available through some of the world’s most prestigious auction houses, as well as through Michele’s son, Maurizio, who has representation in the United States and the United Kingdom .


After Michele’s death in 1996, his son Maurizio, having worked alongside his father for many years, officially carried on the Conti name.  He is also a true master craftsman of the automobile in miniature.


Many articles have been written about Michele Conti over his illustrious career, more so in other countries than in the United States .  It is most fitting that he now gain the recognition he so truly deserved.


On May 18, 2003 , Michele Conti’s achievements were formally recognized at the 2003 Reading Ferrari Concours d’ Elegance. His son Maurizio Conti was in attendance to accept for his late father the “Enzo Ferrari Hall Of Fame Award”. For his dedication to the Ferrari Automobile.


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