Luigi Macaluso, affectionately known as Gino, was born in Turin on 9 June 1948.
At the end of the 1960’s, in his early twenties, he joins the world of racing competitions. He enjoys a short yet successful career in the Fiat Abarth official team. As a co-pilot, in 1972 he wins the European Rally Championship and the Mitropa Cup with Emanuele Pinto, driving a Fiat 124 Spider. In 1974, he wins the Campionato Italiano Rally with Maurizio Verini on a Fiat 124 Abarth.
The same year, in 1974, he graduates in Architecture from the Polytechnic of Turin. His dissertation – which focuses on the safety systems of race cars and their possible application to the design of mass-produced cars – combines his passion for motorsport and his studies. Since childhood, he has always been a very curious young man, with a particular talent for drawing, so studying architecture feels like his natural choice. During his university years, he develops and nurtures a keen interest for industrial design.
One year later, in 1975, he starts to work in watchmaking when he is hired by an Italian distributor of prestigious Swiss brands. In 1982, he starts his entrepreneurial career by founding MGA, which will later become Tradema. The company distributes Swiss and American brands Blancpain, Breitling and Hamilton in Italy. Just seven years later, in 1989, he becomes a shareholder of the historical Girard-Perregaux manufacture in Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, and in 1992 he becomes its President. Shortly afterwards, he adds the Daniel Jean Richard brand – created by one of the founders of Swiss watchmaking – to Girard-Perregaux. The two companies together converge into the Sowind Group. In just a few years, Gino becomes known for his ability to give new life to historic brands, and as an ambassador of the huge cultural, aesthetic and technical value of mechanical watches. Most importantly, he proves his entrepreneurial skills and, at the same time, is able to express his creativity as a designer of dials, cases and bracelets for the new collections. In 1998, he wins the “Esprit d’Enterprise-industrie” GAIA award, the most prestigious acknowledgement in Swiss watchmaking. In 1999, he becomes President of the Association Interprofessionelle de la Haute Horlogerie (AIHH) – the association representing the best producers and distributors in the industry – and remains in office for three terms.
Despite his hard work and achievements in watchmaking, Gino does not forget his first love: the world of cars and racing competitions. In 1987, he joins Club Italia, an association of Italian car manufacturing lovers. A few years later, at the beginning of the 1990’s, he becomes President and remains in office for almost two decades.
In his efforts to promote the cultural, social, aesthetic and historical values of automobiles, he decides to restore rally cars from the golden years of rallying. It’s the beginning of what is still one of the most relevant collections in this field.
Despite the great interest in the history of motorsport, Gino is equally passionate about his times. In 1997 he joins the Commissione Sportiva Automobilistica Italiana (CSAI) – which acts as the Italian federation of motorsport within the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI) – with specific roles related to rallying. In 2001, he becomes President of CSAI. In 2000, he founds a team to compete in the Junior World Championship (Junior WRC) under the Italian flag. It’s the beginning, in Turin, of R&D Motorsport: with Andrea Dallavilla driving a Fiat Punto Rally Super 1600, the team wins the silver medal in the 2001 edition of the JWRC. In 2005, Gino is elected President of the Commission Internationale de Karting, a body of the International Automobile Federation (FIA), and represents Italy at the FIA World Council.
The Italian Republic awards him two honours: the title of Grande Ufficiale dell’Ordine al Merito in 2007 and of Cavaliere del Lavoro in 2009.
Soon afterwards, on 27 October 2010, he unexpectedly passes away, leaving a big void in the lives of wife Monica and children Stefano, Massimo, Anna and Margherita, as well as in the Italian entrepreneurial and cultural landscape.
A rally driver, designer, entrepreneur, collector: this is who Gino was, thanks to his brilliant intuitions and a remarkable and admirable perseverance. All his life, he followed his passion for art, design and architecture, honing the aesthetic sense that helped him create new watches and restore historic cars. But the most important legacy that Gino has left us are probably his projects, and above all his Collection. It was the spark that started the Foundation bearing his name.