9 April 2007

From Vespa to Testa

Reina International Auto has a wide scope of interest that ranges from Vespa to Testa – Testarossa, that is! The Milwaukee, Wisc. business specializes in luxury automobiles and sports cars, but also has a Vespa motor scooter franchise. “We are the largest Vespa dealer in Wisconsin,” says Lorenzo Reina. “We sold over 300 Vespas last year and beat out the dealers in Chicago and San Francisco.”

Joseph Reina is the sales manager of the business and handles that aspect of the operation, where the focus is on modern exotic cars and SUVs. However, the giant statue of a prancing horse in front of the building tells you that the Reina Brothers have a spot in their heart for Ferrari Testarossas and other such cars – generally painted bright red.

Lorenzo handles the service and restoration parts of the business. In fact, he was working on a Ferrari 308 owned by an executive of the Sargento Cheese company when I visited. The 308 was in the air on a lift getting some TLC from a real expert in Italian sports cars.

“We used to be factory-franchised dealers for Alfa-Romeo, Maserati and Lancia in the state of Wisconsin. We sold a lot of cars. We were busy all the time,” Lorenzo explains.

When the imported-car market softened in the ‘80s and ‘90s, some of the Italian brands pulled up stakes in the American marketplace and left forever. “Actually, we still have our Alfa dealer franchise under our old name,” Lorenzo recalls. “But a lot of the rules changed, so today we do restoration work on Ferraris and other Italian cars. We also have a service department, a parts department and a body shop.”

Exotic cars are a mainstay at Reina International. “We get some parts from a local distrbutor,” Lorenzo points out. “But we also know of a place in Milan, Italy, where we can get Ferrari parts when we need them.”

Another car Lorenzo was working on was a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC. “I have three months in on this car already,” Lorenzo said. “It will take me another three or four months to finish the job.” Also in the shop for service was a 1990 Testa Rosa in showroom condition that’s valued at $80,000 today.

In addition to restoring cars, Reina is an enthusiast, as are members of his family. “We do vintage racing at Elkhart Lake and other venues,” said Lorenzo. “My son Fillipo and nephew Roberto compete in Sports Car Club of America racing, too.”

Reina International Auto is located in Brookfield, Wisc. Contact them at 262-781-3336 or visit www.reinaintlauto.com.

John "Gunner" Gunnell is the automotive books editor at Krause Publications in Iola, Wis., and former editor of Old Cars Weekly and Old Cars Price Guide.

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