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Quality Assured

In part three of our series on Ferrari Approved, Franco Mantellassi explains how his complete trust in the pre-owned Approved Certificate led to the purchase of a 2015 California, and the beginning of a magnificent family collection
Words: Kevin Buckley / Photographs: Giuliano Koren

“It was summer. It was hot, and I just fancied having an open-top to get around in,” recalls Franco Mantellassi. “It wasn’t that I’d fixed on having my first ever Ferrari,” he admits. But then he saw her: a beautiful 2015 California in Grigio Silverstone livery sitting outside the local dealership in Prato, Tuscany.

Put off by the year-long waiting list for a brand new model, he opted for that pre-owned one. “And I fell in love with it over that summer. It was wonderful!” he declares, chuckling at the memory.

Franco Mantellassi and sons Matteo and Marco, with his SF90 Spider, California and Monza SP2 

That summer sparked a relationship with the Prancing Horse that Franco describes as “la mia passione infinita! – my passion without end!” The ongoing romance has since spawned a magnificent collection that now includes an SF90 Spider, a Monza SP2, a 488 Pista, an 812 Competizione A, and a Ferrari Daytona SP3.

Franco insists: “Although all my cars since have been brand new, Pre-Owned is a great way of entering the Ferrari world. But I’d never buy a Pre-Owned without the Approved Certificate.”

That coveted documentation is awarded only after a comprehensive analysis of all aspects of the car has been carried out by the programme’s specialist technicians who ensure that every feature is in keeping with original specs.

Franco Mantellassi with his 2015 pre-owned Ferrari California, the car that first ignited his passion for the brand

Franco’s original California-inspired encounter may have owed much to serendipity, but he admits to having “always loved Ferrari.” 

His working life has been dedicated to Manteco, the Prato-based textiles firm founded by his father some eighty years ago this year, in the same period of the mid-1940s that saw a young Enzo Ferrari establish his own factory.

Upon the untimely death of Franco’s father in the mid-1960s, the young student had to abandon his almost-completed university studies to take the helm of a company that has since grown into Italy’s leading producer of quality textiles, specialists in cashmere and wools.

Matteo Mantellassi with the Ferrari Monza SP2, just one of the many jewels in this superb collection

As a little boy Franco was always encouraged by his father to feel the fabrics, instilling in him a deep, tactile appreciation of them. “The world of fabrics is a continual search to produce something beautiful,” he says. “You have to feel it, touch it, in order to appreciate it.”

That visceral appreciation also marks his love of Ferrari. “It’s the engines, the beauty of the design of the cars, it’s something that gets right inside me,” he enthuses, genuine passion in his voice. “From Pininfarina, through to today with Flavio Manzoni, Ferrari design is an Italian ‘eccellenza’, approaching objects of art.” 

Yet Franco is vehemently not just an observer of his collection. “No, a car has to be driven!” he insists. “A car becomes a car only when you drive it. Not when you keep it under glass. You have to find enjoyment in it. It’s like textiles: if you don’t have the fabric in your hand how can you really feel it? It’s the same thing with a car.”

Marco Mantellassi alongside the beautiful Ferrari 812 Competizione A

True to his word, Franco took part in the 2022 Cavalcade Monza and in 2023 participated in the Cavalcade International in Morocco as well as the Ferrari Tribute to Targa Florio, turning up in Sicily in his red 488 Pista. He and wife Patrizia took home two trophies, despite his having to re-register at the last minute as a ‘guest’ due to his being, at eighty-five years young, a tad over the age limit. And when June’s Mille Miglia event passed through Tuscany he couldn’t resist unofficially tagging onto it in his SF90 Spider for the stretch from Siena to Abetone-Pievepelago, repeating the previous year’s feat in his Monza. “You have to feel the pleasure of it”, he repeats, with a generous, affable laugh.

That quest for “the pursuit of beauty” has seen Manteco expand to produce some eight million metres of prestigious textiles each year. Franco, unable to resist a driving analogy, says: “that’s like covering fifty kilometres with material every day.” Clearly, Ferrari weaves through his life, just like the fine threads that he has dedicated his life to producing at Manteco.

Cover image: Franco Mantellassi with his sons Marco (left) and Matteo (right) alongside just a few members of the family’s Ferrari collection