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
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
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
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