A few weeks ago we featured a beautiful and boxy Zakspeed Escort recreation built by Piazza Motorsport here in South Africa.
Looking at the Escort build, it’s hard to believe that it would have come out of anything less than a fancy, high-profile shop. But if you think that, you’d be mistaken.
Piazza Motorsport’s shop is located on a smallholding in a residential area, with no signage at all. Driving up to the gate, it’s a completely unassuming facility.
Entering the property and heading up the driveway, I was greeted by a few Fords that have seen better days and a Chevy C10 cab being worked on.
At this point, I don’t think anyone could predict what they’d find inside the building. But a surprise awaits…
Walking inside, the first car I see is a TVR Tamora. Piazza Motorsport were busy rebuilding this one’s 3.6L six-cylinder DOHC ‘Speed Six’ engine.
Before I go any further, it’s probably worth me quickly talking about the shop itself, which Paolo Piazza Musso founded back in back in 1987. The Piazza Musso family comes from a long line of racers with successes dating back to the mid-1960s.
Giovanni Piazza Musso, Paolo’s father, was the Italian karting champion in 1965, won the SA Production Car series from 1976 to 1979, and is a multiple South African and European rally champion. He was also awarded the SA State President’s award and is a recipient of the Motorsport South Africa (MSA) long-time achievement award.
Before getting into cars, Paolo was a South African and Italian national BMX champion. Once he moved onto cars, his first big win was becoming Class B national rally champion in 1995, and he also raced and won in Super Trucks. His brother Claudio has also had a successful kart career, claiming the national title seven times.
Paolo still does the occasional race here and there, but they’re mainly invitational events these days.
Having been involved in South African motorsport for so long, Paolo has become well known and respected for building some great race cars. He’s also branched out over the years with more specialised work, including restorations.
When I visited the shop there were some pretty classics in for some work, including a stunning Jaguar E-Type.
The colour on this Mercedes-Benz 190SL roadster restoration is so perfect. This will be the ideal classic weekend cruiser once Paolo is done with it.
Paolo is a real expert when it comes to Fords – something we’ve seen in the Zakspeed Escort build – so I wasn’t surprised to find a few blue-oval-badged cars under the knife. This Capri is not a restoration, but rather a full custom build with new paint, big brakes and a fresh engine. It’s going to be really awesome when completed.
The black rally Escort was one of my favourites; it looks so ready to go and tear up everything. You obviously can’t go wrong with a Gulf livery either, especially when it’s applied to a classic.
This shop is definitely well-equipped, and Paolo and his small team do as much fabrication as possible in house.
But no matter how packed your workshop is, it’s always a good idea to have a well-organised storeroom. Paolo’s is super-neat in this respect; everything has its place, which not only looks good but makes it easy to find a specific part when its required.
Next to the main workshop is a store room for race cars. The yellow McLaren M10B is an original car, chassis #17, that was originally raced by Formula 5000 champion John McNicol and now regularly competes in hillclimb events. The Alfa Romeo race car was supposed to go to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and be part of Alfa’s 110 year celebration this year, but COVID-19 obviously screwed up those plans.
Memorabilia makes any car place a million times cooler, and Paolo has a whole bunch of magazines, books, posters and even some cool RC cars on display.
Piazza Motorsport is a really cool old school spot, with even cooler cars. I love finding places like this that do such a wide spectrum of work. When, like Piazza Motorsport, they do quality work and don’t work on modern and everyday cars, it impresses even more.