Bulgari Family Historic Vehicle Collection
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, New York Bureau
The Auto Channel
For over 130 years the Bulgari family has been recognized as the foremost purveyor of fine jewelry throughout Europe and the world. Their products have graced the most notable celebrities, and ownership of a Bulgari creation carries with it an unalterable symbol of excellence. Ultimately, the Bulgari mystique has found its way into all forms of hospitality and fine couture.
Born into this appreciation of excellence, scion of the company Nicola Bulgari learned to understand the elements of fine design and taste. While growing up in Rome he appreciated the beauty of European cars, but he was more thrilled when he saw a high quality, American-made automobile driving on the streets, capturing his imagination.
Nicola Bulgari is not the typical car collector. He cares little about capital appreciation, winning the most trophies or owning the most toys. He simply loves cars! He maintains two collections: one in Rome, Italy – the other in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
American automotive designers were appreciated by some Europeans. But, because they competed with products with greater local prestige, they had to admire these cars from afar. However, when one converses with Nicola about the beauties of, particularly, the great General Motors cars of the pre-World War II era, one can see that his passion evolves from a true understanding of beauty.
For more than thirty years Nicola Bulgari, Vice-Chairman of the contemporary Italian jeweler, BVLGARI, has been assembling one of the world’s largest collections of antique and vintage Buick automobiles. Bulgari’s passion for Buicks dates back to his childhood in Rome when Buick was the car of choice for dignitaries, diplomats, heads of state and even the Vatican.
“I fell in love with the Buicks. To me, they were a symbol of America. They had glamorous styling, personality, power and responsiveness. They are luxurious without being ostentatious and offer the quality normally associated with far more expensive import cars.”
Nicola Bulgari was willing to lend a selection of his finest cars for display in the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum. We got a look at them at a recent exhibit. Often unrecognized by American enthusiasts, even to this day, these cars made their way into the garages of American automotive connoisseurs before World War II and have now reached new levels of appreciation. A greater appreciation of the classic American cars has evolved as a result of Nicola Bulgari’s passion to collect and display them for all of us to enjoy.
This was a rare opportunity to see and understand why American automobiles of the classic era, in many cases, are unsurpassed.
© Larry Nutson