Vintage Safari Rally winning car finds safe haven in Italy

The Lancia Delta Integrale, the car that won the 1988 and 1989 Marlboro Safari Rally sits at the Automobile Museum in Turin, Italy, where it has been preserved.

When a group of editors from across the globe met in Turin, Italy last week, the World Association Newspapers (WAN) hosted them to a dinner in a prized car collection museum. The evening was set at the Automobile Museum, one of the oldest car collection spots in the world.

Automobile Association is a prized collection of antics of the cars and a must see destination for visitors to Turin. Tour guides list it among the top four of the 132 exclusive destinations for any visitor to Turin. For Kenyan journalists, this Museum holds a unique place because arguably the most successful car that won the back to back World Rally Championships in the Marlboro Safari Rally in 1988 and 1989 is safely preserved here.

One of the stars in the collection to Kenyans and Safari Rally enthusiasts is the Martini Lancia Integrale which competed on Kenyan soil driven by Massimo ‘Miki’ Biasion and Tiziano Sivieiro. Biasion is a two-time World Rally champion, whose car was kept in the museum once it left Kenya after winning the 36th Marlboro Safari Rally.

Uniquely kept intact are the dents it acquired during its course to victory. Biasion won in the World Rally Championship with Lancia Delta Integrale which raced from March 31 to April 4 in 1988. He was to repeat the same feat the following year with authority from March 23 to 27.

Major attraction

After back to back wins in Kenya, Miki Niasion became only the second rally driver to win two consecutive world championships after Finland’s Juha Kankkunen. “It is sad we lost the hosting rights for World Rally Championships for the Safari Rally which used to be a major attraction for this country. Such a museum would hardly make sense on Kenyan soil,” said Motoring journalist Dr Hanningtone Gaya.

Another award winning attraction is the first car from the “inventor of” motorcar - an 1893 Benz Victoria, in itself a story that any person who drives a Mercedes Benz should know and be associated with. A tour at the museum sends one thinking of the history of the cars, which many visitors are usually unaware of. At the dinner, men and women of the press marveled at relics and ancestry of the cars the world drives and those that made historical marks at the global stage.

Etched as a reminder of the mission of the museum are creatively crafted words. “In the Museum, we will tell the story of the motor car, its transformation from a means of transport to an object of worship, from its origins right up to the contemporary evolution of creative thought.” The museum, simply put, takes one “through the evolution of the car, and narrates the epoch-making times that society has experienced.”

It is an excellent educational museum showing the history of automobiles and manufacturing as well as some iconic Italian cars including the famous Fiat models associated with the Giovanni Agneli family and a collection of European models including the Mercedes Benz and BMW.

To make visitors tour simple, explanations in Italian and English make them learn the brief history of each collection.

Modern architecture

The museum itself, which was pieced together by an Italian architect, has stood the test of time after it was elegantly designed by Amedeo Albertini.According to the archivists, it was crafted on the left bank of the Po River and is one of the few buildings specially constructed to house a museum collection and is also a rare showcase of modern architecture, recently remodelled to keep it unique.

According to curators, the Turin Museum has unique and most interesting collections of its kind, with almost 200 original cars dating from the mid-19th century to the present day. There are over 80 different makes of vehicle, from Italy, France, Great Britain, Germany, Holland, Spain, Poland and the United States.

Some of the vehicle manufacturers ceased to produce newer versions of their cars long ago, but it still lends the opportunity to modern day car owners to learn about the history of motorcars and the revolution that they have gone through.

Safari experience

If you are a car collector, a motor journalist or a lover of the antique vehicles, this is a must see collection and a safari experience that you may want to replicate in your backyard, or simply relive.


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