Between Ettore & Gabriel, we have over 50 years of experience in working with
It all started many years ago, with Ettore as an 8 year old child growing up in Milan literally two doors away from the Alfa Romeo factory in Arese. Any spare time he had was spent wandering around the workshop and his intrigue found him asking the mechanics questions and getting involved however he could. It didn’t take long before he was given a broom and told to start cleaning the workshop. In the space of seven years, this passion saw Ettore become a qualified mechanic by the age of fifteen.
By his early 20s, Ettore had completed a mechanical engineering degree at the Milan Poly-Technical University. Ettore then spent a few years as workshop foreman at an Alfa Romeo dealer near Florence, before leaving Italy. He arrived in Australia in 1974 and worked at MW Motors in the CBD and Riverside International Imports in South Yarra before establishing “Il Bolide Rosso” in 1977.
As for Gabriel, he started his apprenticeship at 18 at a prestige new car dealer where he gained experience in various European marques, including Alfa Romeo. It was here that Gabriel not only gained the knowledge to become a motor mechanic, but to also use diagnostic equipment.
Shortly after completing his apprenticeship, Gabriel and his father decided to join forces, forming a dynamic team: Ettore oversees all the classic and vintage vehicles and also offers a wealth of knowledge when it comes to diagnosing a problem; while Gabriel connects with the more contemporary models, being familiar with these vehicles and trained in the use of diagnostic equipment for them.
RACV Member news and exclusive benefits
Ettore Massa, RACV
I have been an RACV member for more years than I can remember. Being a mechanic [owner of Thornbury Alfa Romeo workshop Il Bolide Rosso], I don’t need to use the roadside service much, but it’s always nice to know it’s there.
One of the greatest things to happen to me was my connection with the wonderful Argentinian Grand Prix champion Juan Manuel Fangio.
I first met him in 1955 when I was a young boy in Milan. I used to hang around the Alfa Romeo factory where he was number one race driver – he inspired me to become a mechanic there and persuaded me to work with Mercedes when he switched as a driver.
Then I came to Australia and we lost touch. In 1978 I saw a newspaper poster saying Fangio was coming to Melbourne to do an exhibition race for Mercedes. I told my wide and unknown to me she contacted him through the Mercedes dealer. I received the most astounding phone call of my life – Fangio inviting me and my family to a meeting where there was also Jack Brabham, Malcolm Fraser and heaps of TV and press people.
I told Fangio I had named my daughter Emanuela after him and he gave me his business card and said the strangest thing: “Ring that number. I want you to bring your family to Argentina and don’t worry about anything else.”
This was a wonderful opportunity but I don’t like lots of noise and fuss, and where there is Fangio there is plenty of that. I had my family, my home and a good little business in Australia. I didn’t make that phone call.
For years I kept his business card but now it’s missing. Fangio died in Buenos Aires in 1995. My family is still going well here, as is my Alfa Romeo workshop. I have no regrets.
“If I can liken the whole global car industry to the human body: Toyota is the brain, Aston Martin is the face, Cadillac is the stomach… and Alfa Romeo… is the heart and soul.”