Jewels on Wheels
November 2005 – April 2006
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.
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. Bulgari says:
“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’s passion for Buicks is obvious. However, his love of American cars is much deeper and more eclectic, as illustrated by the vehicles that he hand-picked for this exhibition. The monetary worth of a car plays no role in what he chooses to collect or restore. Each vehicle is significant in its own way. If Nicola Bulgari decides to restore a car, the end value is not part of the overall equation. This means a Nash sedan will receive the same attention as a custom-bodied Packard. This approach to collecting and restoration is appreciated by those who value America’s rich automotive heritage.
Some of the vehicles in this exhibition are in their original condition, others are completely restored. The connecting thread is that all the cars are fully-functional and driven frequently. In fact, the majority of the cars in this exhibition were driven, not trailered to the AACA Museum. When the first group of cars arrived, Nicola Bulgari himself was behind the wheel of the exhibit’s introductory car, a green 1934 LaSalle Coupe.