JUNE 1994

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Beginning in June 1994,a story lasting 10 years, so important for the men of  Stola that it needs to be told in one text, without interruption.
In the latter part of the 1980's,getting Mercedes Benz as a customer became  a goal of great prestige for Stola.
The Stuttgart firm was seen as one of the most important automotive companies in the world in terms of quality, prestige and organization.
It seemed possible, the director of the styling center was Italian, Bruno Sacco, so it seemed quite natural to contact him, at least the language would present no problems.
Five meetings took place at the Sindelfingen studio between Roberto, Alfredo and Engineer Sacco from  1988 to early 1994, but never resulted in any work.
His answer was always the same: we are already fully equipped to make our models.

03Engineer Bruno Sacco in a 1994 photo.

After these trips to Sindelfingen, as well as various attempts to stimulate casual meetings between the stands at the various car shows,  on 6 June 1994, Alfredo unexpectedly received a call from the Mercedes Advance Design department.
Franz Lecher asked if there was any availability to make a show car, starting from a motorized chassis and a clay model supplied by them.
The answer was an immediate yes, and three days later, coinciding with the arrival of the chassis and model, Harald Leschke director of Advance Design, Franz Lecher and Jürgen Weissinger of the experience department cross the threshold of the Rivoli model shop.
It is a moment of great professional satisfaction, obviously the director, Bruno Sacco had decided that the time had come, certainly for their needs, but perhaps also to reward the perseverance of the Stolas.

04Rivoli 1994 FCC the official photo of the first Mercedes show car built by Stola spa.05Rivoli 2003 Vision Grand Sport Tourer The fourteenth and last Mercedes Show Car followed by the Stola family.

From that day, until  Alfredo left the company's presidency on July 26, 2004 , the Stola Family were directly dedicated to Mercedes as never before, 15 Show Cars, 3 homologated prototypes for the Vatican , about ninety styling models , both exteriors and interiors (including those for obtaining Show Car projects) and various "Mathematical Verification Masters" including the respective surface maths.
The first Show Car was the FCC, an acronym for Family China Car. The fifteenth, the last followed by Alfredo, the Vision Grand Sport Tourer which would leave Rivoli for Sindelfingen on November 18, 2003 .
The first of the style models made in Rivoli was the W203 1995 C-Class  SportCoupé ,the last one, delivered in May 2004, was the E-class  W212.
It was clear that in all the activities carried out at Stola spa in Rivoli for Show Cars, Prototypes and Models, style had always been the work of the men and women of the various Mercedes-Benz Style Centers around the world.

06This image of the production car represents the first style model made in Rivoli under the direction
of the designers of the Mercedes-Benz Style Center.
In 1995 the C SportCoupé W203.
07This image of the production car represents the latest of the style models made in Rivoli under the direction of the designers of the Mercedes-Benz Style Center.
In June 2004 the E W212.

08Franco and Pierfranco Gavina in an image of the 90s
at Salt in Grugliasco.
The Gavina's of Salt, whose company is located in Grugliasco, had already been direct suppliers to the Mercedes Style Center since the 1980s for the upholstery of their prototype interiors.
They have long had working relationships with the director Bruno Sacco, assistants Harald Leschke and Peter Pfeifeer.
Salt continued their work directly for the Stuttgart firm on all the work carried out by STOLA spa.

 

FCC

Thursday, June 9, 1994, for the first time a W124 E-Class entered  the gates of Stola spa in Via Ferrero 9, Rivoli. This was accompanied by a well protected clay model of the FCC and a mechanized chassis of the A-Class in a Mercedes truck.
Harald Leschke with his assistant Franz Lecher spoke Italian perfectly, Jürgen Weissinger understood Italian but spoke English.
They were met in reception by the  Stola team along with engineer Sasso, for this important occasion a 1958 Mercedes-Benz 190SL was displayed.
This very first meeting was very cordial, helped along by the presence of the Stuttgart classic.

01Rivoli June 9, 1994. The 1958 Mercedes 190 SL in the reception of STOLA s.p.a.03October 1994. From left Franz Lecher and Harald Leschke Advance Designe Mercedes.

After the customary coffee, they moved into the historic company office where they were joined by workshop managers Vittorio Della Rocca and Felice Chiara,  technical discussions  commenced immediately alongside presentations. The discussions were intense and highly professional, this was  followed by a detailed visit of the plant with all the understandable allowances  for industrial security.

03Rivoli 13 June 1994, the Clay Model made by Mercedes shortly before starting the mold making activities. The Stola team together with a Mercedes technician pose for a souvenir photo. Franz, V. Mammone, F. Leker, S. Ardagna, R. Bianco , Gavioli, L. Giarolo, A. Tesauro, Luigi, Egiziano, Casciano, A. Stola, M. Vay, F. Chiara, Bonetto, P. Calò.

04Rivoli November 2, 1994.05Rivoli November 2, 1994 Franco Gavina of Salt.

06Rivoli November 3, 1994.07Rivoli November 3, 1994.

In these photos we recognize Mulargia, Weisinger, Leschke, Chiara, Massano, Ardagna, A. Stola, Giorgione and Bonetto

08Rivoli November 3, 1994. B. Comollo, F. Chiara,
L. Giarolo.
09Rivoli November 3, 1994. F. Lecher, A. Stola, L. Giarolo, M. Goffi.

10Rivoli November 3, 1994. A customary photo with the Stola and Mercedes Teams in the afternoon just before loading the prototype on the truck for the photo studio. From the left we recognize X, Comollo, Y, Weissinger, Z, W, Mammone, Chiara, Giorgione, Giarolo, Bonetto, Calò, A. Stola, Ardagna, Mulargia, Gavina and Leschke.

11Rivoli November 3, 1994. F. Lecher, A. Stola, H. Leschke, in the background we recognize F. Chiara, and J. Weissinger.

12November 4th During the photo shoot a dinner at Adriano restaurant in via Pollenzo 39 Turin. Present O. Boulay, H. Leschke, H. Weller, J. Weissinger. At the end of the photo shoot, on the same night, the FCC was loaded onto the truck for the Frankfurt airport.

134 November 1994 Turin. Official photos taken in the studio with a real family specially brought from China by Mercedes-Benz.

144 November 1994. Details of the interiors all made by the modelers of Stola spa and saddled by Salt Gavina.154 November 1994. Details of the interiors all made by the modelers of Stola spa and saddled by Salt Gavina.

16Alessandria, November 6, 1994, in the countryside near the A21.On the afternoon of 5th November, at the end of the photo shoot, with the area of Turin in full flood, the Mercedes Style Center truck left for Frankfurt airport  via the  Brennero pass for the final journey to Beijing.
For a week, torrential rains had given no respite, after the flooding by the Tanaro and Po rivers, many roads and highways were closed for days on end.
More than 70 died in Piedmont and over 2500 people were displaced, it was tragic moment for our territory but resulted in an unexpected  and sincere solidarity between the Mercedes and Stola teams.

 

C SPORTCOUPE'

Styling models were the real reason for trying since 1988 to gain  Mercedes as a customer for STOLA spa.
We did not think about Show Cars or prototypes, but only in proposing a different way to realize the conventional styling models as we had  the first time with the SAAB 95 in 1987.
01Peter Pfeiffer.It was known that the Sindelfingen Style Center modelled in Clay,We wanted to propose the  "See Through" method in Hard Material  in 7 Weeks. According to us it would be faster, cheaper, easily transportable around the world, more stable and above all more real at the time of presentation.
A process that involved the milling of the model from the customers mathematical surfaces, two weeks of manual changes on one side, followed by symmetrization through a final milling. The opportunity let them experience this method and allowed them to gain confidence gained in the process with the newly delivered Fcc Car Show.
A final challenge to ourselves was the offer to give them a model build , Mr. Bruno Sacco replied that it was not necessary for us to give them give a job, but only to convince his deputy Peter Pfeiffer with a demonstration.
In the spring of 1995  the mathematics were ready, this was an advanced phase of a C-Class Sport Coupé, a totally new segment for Mercedes. The test for Peter Pfeiffer would last about two and a half hours, just the amount of  time needed for a dinner at the  National Restaurant in Rivoli, together with Roberto and Alfredo Stola.
Pfeiffer landed in Turin Caselle  from Stuttgart in the late afternoon after viewing the finished but un-painted model, he provocatively positioned various black tapes on the lower side of the door and sill.
A total distortion of style, but aimed at showing a very obvious change request.
His request was then to go to dinner and return to see the modelling progress in a couple of hours to see if the Stola modellers had been able to work the hard material as he would have been able to do with Clay.
The dinner, although pleasant, was a little tense, in those years mobile phones were not so widespread as to have some news of the work in progress. A  complete menu was selected so as  to gain as much time as possible, and for the return journey, the Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio Verde with Roberto Stola at the wheel,  never exceeded 50 km/h.
The test was passed with flying colors, following on from that evening we would go on to make about ninety styling models for Mercedes , exteriors, interiors and aerodynamic.

021995 In Stola spa in Rivoli, the first See Trough model in Hard Material is produced as a test.

The following autumn, the Sindelfingen Style Center commissioned 6 different models of the C Sport Coupé to be produced almost simultaneously and to be  delivered  in a week.
A seemingly impossible challenge that was overcome thanks to the courage of Roberto Stola, he accepted the proposal immediately under the incredulous gaze of the modelling technicians.

03Rivoli 1995 Massimo Stola, with Carlo Mantovani, has been in charge of the CAD, CAS and CAM area of Stola spa since the early 1980s.04Carlo Mantovani.


And, if that were not enough, Mercedes also ordered  STOLA spa to make all the CAS mathematics for these C Sport Coupés under the direction of their respective designers who would be resident in Rivoli for the duration of the work.

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1996 in Rivoli in Stola spa six different style models of the C-Class SportCoupè are produced simultaneously.
The design is from the Mercedes Style Center and their stylists work together with the modelers of the Stola.
The directors Bruno Sacco and Peter Pfeiffer visit Rivoli every week.

STOLA spa had struck lucky as Daimler Benz were planning to build a brand new Renzo Piano designed styling center between 1997 and 1999,  so it was that in 1996 the Mercedes management asked us to be their modeling shop for two years while the new facility was being built.
The work on the new style center was extended for another year, and the so modelling work also continued in Rivoli.
The experience for the Sindelfngen Style Center was so positive that they set up optional Italian language courses for their designers and STOLA spa did the same with English for its modellers.

101997 The Mercedes Style Center project.111999 Work in progress of the Style Center in Sindelfingen.

122000 The creation of the Style Center strongly desired by Bruno Sacco is completed in Sindelfingen.

 

F200 IMMAGINATION

At the end of 1995, thanks to the successful delivery of the 6 models of the C Sport Coupé W203, a good omen for a complex project whose presentation at the upcoming Paris salon in 1996 was confirmed by the Mercedes board.
The name was Vision F200 Immagination,it was to be a perfectly functioning Show Car, a project in partnership with the Advance Design studio of Sindelfingen and the Resarch Department in Stuttgart.
01Harald Leschke in a photograph from 2004.Harald Leschke, as director of Advanced Design, was the design contact assisted by Chris Rhoades, Gunter Holzel and Jurgen Weissinger of the research and development departments for mechanical, electrical and electronic systems.
The objective of the "Vision" program was to anticipate as far as possible the most futuristic aesthetic and technical solutions of future production Mercedes'.
The F200 Vision Imagination, for the Stuttgart company, must represent the culmination of all the  technological innovation in their possession. Automatic butterfly wing doors, automatic opening trunk, electro-chromic panoramic glass, cameras instead of rear-view mirrors, side window airbags, voice recognition for mobile phones, touch opening doors and trunk, monitor style dashboard instruments and especially the joy stick in place  of the steering wheel.
The cabin of the Airbus aircraft, the consortium of which Mercedes at the time was a member of, and the newly arrived PlayStation 1, were the most important inspirations for the F200 Immagination.

021995 For many years, Airbuses no longer use the usual joystick but a joystick. Airbus is also the first aviation
industry to use electronic screens instead of analog instruments.
03The success of the PlayStation 1 that arrived in 1995 is so evident that Mercedes wants to imagine that the drivers of tomorrow will no longer use the steering wheel but a PlayStation-like command.

04December 1995 Rivoli. Meeting by model resolution from the left Peter Pfeiffer, Antony Lo, Olivier Boulay, Bruno Sacco and Stefano Ardagna can be recognized.05June 1996 Rivoli. From left Felice Chiara and Rocco Tartaglia.

06June 1996 Rivoli. Felice Chiara in the foreground behind Tesauro and Comollo inside the Rocco cockpit.
The whole body is made of hand-beaten aluminum sheet. From beating models built in Stola spa, the Coggiola company has been the supplier of the aluminum sheets.

07Beppe Comollo and a Mercedes research technician.08H. Weller.

09July 1996 Rivoli. Tommasio.

10Without a doubt, for that time, the most electronic prototype ever built.11Without a doubt, for that time, the most electronic prototype ever built.

12July 1996 Mulargia works on the front bumper.13July 1996. H. Leschke, F. Chiara, H. Weller and Bianco.

14August 1996 Rivoli. Spitaleri, Filippo Casciano, X and Weissinger are recognized.

15August 1996 Rivoli. Sometimes discomfort and fatigue arrive. Rocco, A. Tornatore, F. Chiara.16August 1996 Rivoli. Sometimes discomfort and fatigue arrive. H. Leschke, F. Chiara and B. Comollo.

17Stefano Ardagna, X and Y18L.Giarolo, J. Weissinger, G. Grande and F. Cerva.

19The Mercedes electronics and mechanics team.20Bonetto, X, Rocco and Tommasio.

211 October 1996 Rivoli. A few days before transport to the Paris Salono.
We recognize Tesauro, Spitaleri, Gavioli, Casciano and Cerva.
224 October 1996 Rivoli. Finished work the prototype is already on the truck for the photo shoot.
The next day he will leave for the Paris motor show.
Gioachino Grande, Harald Leschke and Alfredo Stola.

234 October 1996 Turin At the sound stage for the classic photographs for use in the press kit.

24The futuristic instrument panel.

25The joystick instead of the steering wheel. There are no more pedals.

264 October 1996 Turin Sound stage.
The sophisticated automatic trunk with infinity opening.
274 October 1996 Turin Stage theater.
The refined grille in milled aluminum.

Stoccarda 2019. La Mercedes F200 è attualmente esposta al museo Mercedes.Stuttgart 2019. The Mercedes F200 is currently on display at the Mercedes museum.

 

MAYBACH CONCEPTS

The meeting, at the end of October 1996, was preceded by an informal get together at the Ramada hotel bar in Sindelfingen with Harald Leschke and Jurgen Weissinger.
The reason for this preliminary meeting was that the two managers wanted to understand directly from the Stola family if they had the internal capacity, and desire, for dealing with an ultra strategic project for Mercedes; the new Maybach.

01The Ramada hotel in Sindelfingen on Mahdentalstrabe 68 was used by the Stola family and their employees from 1994 to 2004. It is now a Marriot.

After a few phone calls with the Rivoli office to check on workloads and understand the availabilty of the best technicians,the answer was immediately positive.
The following morning, Alfredo and Roberto, accompanied  by Leschke and Weissinger, were received in Bruno Sacco's office with his Deputy, Peter Pfeiffer, present for final confirmation. The styling of the Maybach was entrusted to Advanced Design, directed by Leschke, whose operational sites were in not only Sindelfingen, but also  Irvine in California, Yokoama in Japan and Como in Italy.
It is interesting to remember 1996, the year in which BMW and VW, with their hundreds and millions of "Deutch marks" took control of Rolls Royce and Bentley respectively.

02Rolls Royce Silver Spirit my 1997.03Bentley Turbo R my 1997.

In this crazy race to buy luxury brands, Mercedes Benz found themselves left behind, struggling for sales and somewhat perplexed.
Their only possibility was to exhume from the past the dormant luxury brand Maybach which had been owned by Mercedes since 1960, and this would be agreed by the board of the Stuttgart maker in that same year.

04February 1997 Rivoli. Parking at the Stola spa reserved for customers.
The period is that of the development of the Maibach models and prototype

05Villarbasse April 1997 The Advance Design Team Mercedes at lunch at Alfredo Stola's house. H. Leschke, G. Grande, A. Stola, a. Lo and O. Boulay.Mercedes, ordered STOLA to build two hard styling models, one designed by the office in Irvine, California and the other by that in Yokohama, Japan.
The two models were huge, refined luxury and more than 6 meters in length, but very different in style.
The Asian design studio, directed by Oliver Boulay and his assistant Anthiny Lo, created the winning design and, the model, together with the interior, also designed in Japan, was started straight away.

06September 1996 Design of the new Maybach made in Japan by Antony Lo under the supervision of Olivier Boulay. The four Advance Design centers are all under the direction of Harald Leschke.

07Rivoli, via Ferrero 9 March 1997. The body of the Maybach under construction, derived from a Mercedes S-Class chassis specially prepared in Sindelfingen.

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Rivoli maggio 1997. Da sinistra si riconoscono X, Y, Chiara, Bonetto, Spitaleri, Buttiglieri, Boulè e Antony Lo.Rivoli May 1997. From the left we can recognize X, Y, Chiara, Bonetto, Spitaleri, Buttiglieri, Boulè and Antony Lo.

11May 1997 Anthony Lo and Stefano Ardagna.12July 1997 Mercedes Team

13July 1997 Jurgen Weissinger, x and Harald Leschke.14July 1997 Mercedes Team

15October 1997 Stefano Santolini, Gavioli, Luca Rosetti, Marco Vay, Buttiglieri and Felice Chiara are recognized.

16October 1997 One of the Mercedes electricians at work.17October 1997 Cogerino and Mulargia.

Novembre 1997 Sullo sfondo in piedi Cubeddu, Roberto Stola, Ardagna, Grande e Gammicchia.November 1997 Cubeddu, Roberto Stola, Ardagna, Grande and Gammicchia standing in the background.

19November 1997 Gavioli, J. Weissinger and Boulè20November 1997 Egiziano, Giarolo and Vincenzo Angelini.

Novembre 1997 Alfredo e Roberto Stola e Oliver Boulay.November 1997 Alfredo and Roberto Stola and Oliver Boulay.

22November 1997 Claudio Bruson, Jurgen Weissinger, Tesauro and X23November 1997 Gioachino Grande prepares the last documents before the prototype starts.

24November 1997 Maria Paola Stola polishes Sabattini silver.


25November 1997 Stefano Ardagna, Lino and Alfredo Stola, in the background Rosetti father and CP father can be recognized.

25 Novembre 1997 10 ore prima del servizio fotografico in studio. <br>La fase finale del montaggio. Si riconoscono Giampiero Fasano, Pietro Calò, Lello Locantore, Claudio Bruson, Felice Chiara, Buttiglieri e Antonio Tartaglia.November 25, 1997 10 hours before the photo shoot in the studio.
The final stage of assembly. Giampiero Fasano, Pietro Calò, Lello Locantore, Claudio Bruson, Felice Chiara, Buttiglieri and Antonio Tartaglia can be recognized.

27November 26 at 3:00 A.M. O. Boulay sits in the finished car and smokes a cigarette as a joke.


28The driver D'Alessio has been waiting for over two hours to transport the prototype to the photographic studio. After D'Alessio with the red suit G. Grande, J. Weissinger, H. Leschke and L. Giarolo.

26 Novembre 1997 J. Weissinger, Roberto Stola e Olivier Boulay.November 26, 1997 J. Weissinger, Roberto Stola and Olivier Boulay.

31November 26, 1997 On the last night of work Alfredo and Maria Paola Stola pose for a souvenir photo.32November 26, 1997 Olivier Boulay and Harald Leschke pose for a souvenir photo on their last night of work.

26 Novembre 1997 Poche ore prima della partenza, mancano ancora i due sedili anteriori.November 26, 1997 A few hours before departure, the two front seats are still missing.

26 Novembre 1997. Qualche minuto prima della partenza.November 26, 1997. A few minutes before departure.

That was the most luxurious prototype ever made by the Stola company, with prominent external finishes in hand polished aluminum whilst other parts were milled Plexiglas and backlit with LED lights.

35December 1997 Tokyo Harald Leschke, Roberto Stola and Bruno Sacco36December 1997 Tokyo Carlo Alecci, Roberto Stola and Peter Pfeiffer.

The interiors were finely uphostered with ultra relaxing, comfortable seats, important parts finished in solid cherry wood, and for the time, a really innovative infotainment systems was installed.
For the Stola technicians and managers, it was a great opportunity to learn from their Stuttgart counterparts.
At the end of 1997,The Maybach was  presented at the Tokyo motor show  by the Mercedes board, including Jurgen Hubert, Dieter Zetsche and of course Bruno Sacco.

37December 1997 Tokyo. Maybach at the press presentation.38December 1997 Tokyo. Maybach at the press presentation.

As soon as the presentation to the journalists and employees was finished, my uncle, Roberto Stola, offered around a Magnum of Italian Prosecco he had brought with him on the plane from Turin, for all the Mercedes managers present at the show, in order to toast their success.
Back in Stuttgart, Mercedes began to develop the production Maybach directly from the prototype, the project code name for the standard and long wheel base versions was W240, it went on sale five years later in 2002

Gennaio 1998 Miami. Fotografie in esterno su Ocean Drive eseguita dopo il salone di Tokyo.January 1998 Miami. Outdoor photographs on Ocean Drive taken after the Tokyo show.

26 Novembre 1997 Torino. Foto in studio.November 26, 1997 Turin. Studio photo.

42The refined interior of the Maybach saddled by Messrs. Gavina of Salt.43The precious silvers are a creation of Sabattini.

Si può notare dallo stile del cielino superiore posteriore un pò d'influenza giapponese. Anche il fiore inmezzo ai due sedili anteriori ne è un segno. Tutto l'interno è arrichito da preziosi inserti in legno di massello di ciliegio lavorato a mano dai falegnami della Stola spa.A bit of Japanese influence can be seen from the style of the rear upper ceiling.
The flower between the two front seats is also a sign of this.
The whole interior is enriched with precious inserts in solid cherry wood handcrafted by the
carpenters of Stola spa.

45Beijing 2002. Five years later here is the production Maybach.
46Developed entirely in Stuttgart by Mercedes, and practically identical to the concept presented in Tokyo.

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