The return of the Gas Dandy

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Freddie Bulliard of the Gas Dandy website, merchandise business and podcast recounts a visit to last week's Esposizione di Stile

I summer in Europe whenever possible, travelling as lightly as I can. It’s the only way to see the continent through the warmer months. All I need is my K.P. Farnhampton calf flank moccasins on my feet, my 1970 Vacheron Constantin Reference 6562 in stainless steel on my wrist, a compact Phillip Hofferzeg travel satchel in dark mocca wolf leather on my back (containing a few Mary Wong alert fit Ts, a brace of Remy Guest Company Prohibition-collar button down shirts and some Rouse et Moorsome essential cosmetics), and my trusty Leica in the pocket of my Welton & Carvey pure cotton sport blouson in Antiguan teal, and I’m ready to go!

I have spent many of the past weeks staying with my dear friend Marco De Busialliani, owner of the Parmobriano watch brand. Marco is like a brother to me, except he’s not in a New York jail for securities fraud, and it was a joy to spend time in his exquisite home on the shores of Lago di Vincero. For me, Como is a little played out now (sorry George!) and Vincero is where the smarter traveller pitches his tent or, in my case, his friend’s 18th century villa with nine bedrooms!

I was not in Italy purely to slip on my Gershwin Casuals pima cotton two-third length afternoon pants, plant my Wriss & Knightly Inc. style 5 tortoiseshell eye glazings upon my face, and overlook the lake sipping on another Massulli, a twist on the classic Negroni made with Albieri Gran Classico 1879 Reserva Bitter plus another ingredient I am not permitted to share by discretion and also because the feeling that I know things other people don’t is one of the desperate ways in which I attempt to validate my tiresome personality. In my business I have learnt that one can never simply sit back while your father gives you a five figure allowance every month; there is always Gas Dandy business to see to, and last weekend I was able to attend one of my very favourite events of the season, the Esposizione di Stile at Villa Della Rosa, an absolute magnet for anyone whose favoured cologne is gasoline (although actually my go-to scent at the moment is Réflexe du Bois par Brigitte Malereause).

As ever, La Esposizione did not disappoint, and I spent a glorious afternoon roaming the lawns admiring the incredible classic automobiles on show and then taking shallow depth-of-field photographs of their extremities with a bit of lake in the background. I was even able to slip my Persson Produkt Stockholm graph paper notebook from its Guillermo Massono sheep leather sheath in order to pen some thoughts with my vintage Landman 277 Ebrucheé fountain pen, pointless scans of which will accompany the typed-up words in a Gas Dandy feature very shortly. I find working with ink on the page to be as liberating as not having to earn an actual living from any of my unoriginal and self-consciously mannered essays.

Choosing a star of the event was near-impossible, though I confess that delights such as the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale and 1938 Lancia Aprilia Sport Zagato turned my head so fast I almost dislodged my Greenbaum Brothers of Brooklyn Type B Gentle Weather fedora. However, Gas Dandy runs on the principal by which I live my life, which is choosing to like things I hope you’ve never heard of in order to make me feel better about myself, and to that end I must choose as my vehicle of the day a little-known wonder called the Maserati 2700 SG by Coloni di Spirito. Don’t worry, you won’t have heard of it and I want that to make you feel ordinary.

As the Esposizione di Stile drew to a close I was lucky enough to spend time with the car’s owner, Maximilian Hofenstraufen, and lucky enough to drive this exceptional machine because I’m lucky enough to be one of those people who sometimes puts ‘lucky enough’ in front of things in a crude attempt to sound humble about experiences I actually regard as my inalienable entitlement to enjoy. Suffice to say, this strong and yet understated hand-built one-off did not disappoint in the areas of looks, performance and allowing me to shoot a lazily under-written video review full of over-saturated shots and needless lens flare which will tell you precisely nothing you couldn’t have Googled in 30 seconds.

Later, I was delighted to dine with Max and his charming fiancé Ana, and found him to be as good at over-meal conversation as he is at canasta, fencing and off-shore power boating, which is to say; very. We ate at L’albero di Noce which, naturally, did not disappoint. When in Italy I always believe that you can have the finest food at the most modest of establishments but I was prepared to waive my belief for this particular dining assignation as one little Michelin star can’t hurt once every two weeks or so. I mention this, firstly because I mistakenly think I appear effortless in my relentless attempts to impress you, and secondly because it was over dinner that Max agreed with my assertion that the Esposizione di Stile is an essential engagement for the car connoisseur. With that in mind, I can only urge all of my readers to place next year’s event in the gorgeously leather bound and thickly papered diaries I want to make them feel inadequate for not owning. You can be certain that I will be there, unless it clashes with something even more pompous that I will feel compelled to attend in the mistaken belief that it will make me feel less wretched.

If I had to describe my job, I would say “storyteller”.