Lost and Found After 60 Years – A Truly Italian History
I was born in 1966, and as a child my father certainly told me about racing in the Mille Miglia as well as his cars, but never really gave me any clues as to how to go about finding them. The history of Tinazzo’s death with the Giaur in Monza was always too far from his memories, and he didn’t like to talk about it.
When my father died in 1992, I was 26 years old, and in the back of my mind I always had the thought of finding some of his old cars, but it remained only a dream for me. In 2007 I began to collect old cars (three were left me by my father), and started to think more seriously about tracking down some of my father’s vehicles. Every time my mind wandered to the Giaur, though, I still naturally assumed that it had been destroyed in Monza.
In April 2011, I was talking about cars with my older cousin Stanislao De Angelis, a fine racing pilot during the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s throughout Italy and Europe. He was born in 1948 and has great memories about our family history with cars. He is also the last member of our family with memory of the cars of that period. Our conversation naturally turned to the Giaur but, like me, Stanislao assumed that it had been destroyed at Monza during Tinazzo’s crash in 1959.
Still curious, I turned to the internet for information about Tinazzo’s accident and I was shocked to discover that Tinazzo had perished not in a Giaur, but a De Sanctis-Fiat. Quickly I realized that, over fifty years on, my father’s Giaur could be anywhere in the world, and wasted to time going to the local public registry for automobiles to try to match the license plate numbers visible in old pictures of the car. Through the registry, I found that the car spent quite a bit of time in Rome and, shockingly, had most recently been sold in my home town of Ascoli Piceno in 1999.
I found the phone number in the records and called to the home with my heart beating very fast. After three or four rings a woman answered. I asked her for the name of the owner and she informed me that her husband, who had died in 2003, was the registered owner. I asked her more about the Giaur, but she said something about the car having a bad history, that she didn’t like to talk about it, and that she no longer had it. Very disappointed but still intrigued, I tried to press her for more information. She finally agreed to meet in person, but refused to talk about the car on the phone.
A few days later, I went to her house, still very interested, to find out more about the Giaur, but she told me the same history. She then invited me to the garage to show me her husband’s car collection, and as she opened the door, I was shocked to see that the Giaur was still there!
I asked her why she told me the car was given away when the car was in her garage. She told me that she wasn’t familiar with the name Giaur, and was thinking about another English car called a Jaguar (in Italian the words Giaur and Jaguar are very similar). She had actually been confused twice. The car she didn’t like to speak of was actually not a Jaguar but another English car, a Bentley, that was robbed after her husband’s death. Meanwhile, I was ecstatic to find my father’s car, a machine that I had been hearing about my whole life. I must admit that I began to tear up, surprising the old woman. I then showed her the pictures of my father in with the car and she was very happy to see them. Over the years, many people had offered to buy the car, but she had refused them all. I told her I understood, and asked if she would be kind enough to prefer me if she should finally decide to sell the car. She agreed. Another two days went by, and the woman called me this time. She agreed to let the car go, to me, and named a price. I gave her an emphatic yes without even thinking and on Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 I picked up the mysterious old Giaur to bring it back home, reuniting it with the De Angelis family after 57 years.
Now the car is fully restored, and ready for a FIVA passport. When the weather is right, she will begin her new life on the majestic roads of Italy, ready for Mille Miglia.
[Source: Giuseppe De Angelis]