Nicola Bulgari collects vintage cars, especially American marques, in both Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Rome.
His 21-acre facility in Allentown houses 125 cars in seven warehouses.Besides the seven warehouses, four of which hold restoration shops, the 21-acre Allentown compound includes the grounds of a derelict drive-in movie theater, where Mr. Bulgari is building a track and a 24,000-square-foot Italian-themed stone barn for charity events and collector meets.
The drive-in’s screen will be restored for Mr. Bulgari to show his beloved black-and-white movies, which he likes to scout for classic cars. In the collection is the 1929 GMC taxi from “It’s a Wonderful Life” and Bette Davis’s 1940 Buick woody, which appeared in some of her movies including “Now, Voyager,” and in the James Cagney film “White Heat.”
Mr. Bulgari makes about six trips a year to Allentown, where he has a glass-walled studio apartment overlooking the floor of the warehouse that holds the jewels of the cars in Pennsylvania.
“Italy made wonderful sports cars,” Mr. Bulgari said, but other than that, “all we had was rickety little cars. If you wanted cars that were reliable and inexpensive, you got an American car.”
Mr. Bulgari bristled, though, at the suggestion that his cars were merely a collection. He prefers to think of his mission as one of historical preservation.
Nicola Bulgari has 85 or more cars in Rome, including the faster models, and flies them to Allentown when they need repairs.
1942 Oldsmobile B-44 Sedanette
1963 Buick Riviera Coupe
1937 Packard Twelve export
1938 Cadillac Sixteen Town Car ex. Pope Pius XII.
Mr. Bulgari said he remembered seeing American cars in the Vatican motorcades when he was a boy.
“I was salivating when I saw them,” he said. “I thought, ‘One day they are going to get rid of these,’ and I told them to call me if they did.”
Nicola Bulgari garage is really a 10,000-square-foot hangar in Allentown, Pennsylvania, currently housing a collection of 120 mostly American cars and ever growing. The collection is heavy on 1941 models—coincidentally, the year of Bulgari’s birth—and many are Buicks, which happen to be his favorite.
Keith Flickinger is the collection’s curator.
Collection in Rome.30 years old American cars ’30, ’40, ’50, ’60 and 4000 scale models
LeMay –The America’s Car Museum
Indy 500, custom coachwork automobiles, cars of the “British Invasion”, the story of Ferrari in America, and the automobiles of Nicola Bulgari.