The mechanical watch industry shares many similarities with the automotive world. Not in the first place that Switzerland watchmaking’s epicentre, with Italy seemingly the same if we look at supercars. And while other countries provide plenty of gorgeous and extremely capable machines, there’s nothing that comes close to a little Italian flair. Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera, a small coachbuilder from Milan, Italy, celebrates its 95th birthday with bundles of that iconic Italian style. Their gift to the automotive world? A series of eighteen cars called the Arese RH95.
Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera, otherwise simply known as Touring, has had a second chance at life after closing up shop in the mid-sixties. The company was resurrected in 2006 and since focuses on designing and building coachbuilt cars, as well as homologation and restoration work and industrial design outside of the automotive industry.
Chapter 1: Foundation and rise of Touring
Founded in 1926, during the heydays of the coachbuilt car industry, it quickly made a name and secured commissioned builds for Alfa Romeo and Isotta Fraschini. In a relatively short time, the company managed to achieve unparalleled success, with a clean sweep during the 1931 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, with designs by Touring winning all categories.
The company has always been at the forefront of design, pushing boundaries both in style and technology. Touring is one of the pioneers regarding tubular chassis, an industry standard for decades for performance-oriented cars and of course racing cars. The Superleggera part, meaning lightweight in Italian, is a direct indication of the groundbreaking lightweight construction methods the company has developed.
Touring is also the company behind some of the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous cars ever built. The company portfolio is riddled with stunningly designed cars like the 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B (including the ‘Le Mans’ version) and the 1952 Disco Volante Spider. While perhaps design studios like Bertone, Pininfarina or Giugiuaro are more widespread, Touring can compete with the best of them any day of the week, and trump them from time to time as well.
Coming out of the Second World War, a new partner was found in Ferrari, with the 1948 Ferrari 166MM Barchetta being the first collaboration. Also penned by Touring is the Lamborghini 350 GT, the first production car by the new brand set out to compete with Ferrari. This would also be the start of the scale-up of Touring, as the car industry in Europe was booming. Many sports and GT cars would have something to do with Touring, whether by design or by manufacMilang.
Chapter II: Bankruptcy, and a rekindled Touring
But in a dramatic turn of events, as technological developments in car manufacturing led to dwindling sales, Touring was forced into bankruptcy by 1966. However, after 40 years of hibernation, the illustrious name would return to the scene in 2006. Two years later Touring presented the first car in this second chapter of the company, the Maserati A8GCS Berlinetta Touring. A pair of Shooting Brakes followed, based on a Maserati Quattroporte and a Bentley Continental GT.
The absolute piece de resistance, so far at least, is the exquisite Alfa Romeo Disco Volante Touring from 2013. Based upon an Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, already a gorgeous sports car, to begin with, Touring built a brilliant modern-day interpretation of the original Alfa Romeo Disco Volante cars from the early fifties. The car has a unique body, done completely by hand by Touring. The design is reminiscent of the earlier Disco Volante, sharing key features throughout the car. From the front to the back, the resemblance is uncanny. Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson made a superbly fitting tribute segment on the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante Touring;
Following the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante Touring are more one-offs and cars built in small series. The most noticeable is the AERO 3, which takes inspiration from early streamlined cars by Touring. It features a unique body with a closed rear section and a central fin coming off the roof. The car is based on the chassis and drivetrain of the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. This means it has a 7,3-litre V12 engine producing 740bhp. Only 15 cars will be built at an undisclosed price, given the bespoke nature of all 15 examples. Design elements are carried over into the latest project.
Chapter III: Time for celebration
And now, in honour of the company’s 95th anniversary, Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera is presenting the Arese RH95. The car is named after the location of the manufacturer’s headquarters in Milan, Italy. The car is once again using a Ferrari as a donor, but Touring doesn’t reveal which one exactly. Looking at some of the specifications it is most likely the 488 Pista or F8 Tributo (both cars have the same engine). Power comes from a twin-turbo 3,9 litre V8 and tops out at 711bhp. The top speed for the car is said to be 211mph (roughly 340kph).
So far for the boring statistics. I say that knowing full well 711bhp is far from boring of course, but the best part of the Arese RH95 really is the exterior body. Drawn up almost entirely in carbon fibre, the body is a dramatic change from the car it uses as a donor, whether that being the F8 Tributo or the 488 Pista. The clamshell front and rear sections fully open up, and the doors open up like on a McLaren F1. The glass section of the door extends into the roof of the car, which looks simply stunning. Further dramatizing the look of the car is a fully functional air scoop on top of the engine cover.
Just as in the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante Touring, a visual line extends from the lower section of the front bumper, up the side of the body, enhanced with a contrasting stripe. Yellow touches throughout the car finish the look. On the inside, the Arese RH95 is finished with a two-tone caramel and cocoa leather interior. The design and combination of the interior sound gorgeous, but the way it is divided between the driver and passenger seat is not to my liking. Then again, who am I to criticize it?
The car will be built in a limited run of 18, all undoubtedly fully customized to the client’s requirements. The first car built is finished in a gorgeous green paint job, with the second one being done in a candy red similar to the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. A third car is said to be painted in the famous blue-and-orange Gulf Oil colours.
Each car takes up to six months to build. Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera doesn’t specify a (base) price for the Arese RH95 but does state that no two will be the same. That said, the price is almost certainly determined by the owner’s imagination and depth of pockets.