Nicola Bulgari’s apartment in his estate in Allentown, PA is a car lover’s dream come true. One wall of the second floor apartment is all glass from floor to ceiling, and it overlooks one of his seven garages filled with a portion of his classic and vintage car collection.

These cars, he has more than 150 in Pennsylvania and more in Rome, are all American, all affordable at the time they were produced and, most importantly, they are all running and they are all driven regularly.

“The most important thing for Mr. Bulgari is that they run and he can drive them,” says Keith Flickinger, the man responsible, along with his brother Kris, for managing and restoring Mr. Bulgari’s fleet. “We’ll often go for drives in the Poconos or just go out for lunch or dinner.”

Bulgari North America invited Revolution to a special event in Allentown to experience Mr. Bulgari’s amazing collection, the first time it has ever been exposed to journalists anywhere, as a way to explain the special connection Bulgari has to America.

The Buick brand is the focus of Mr. Bulgari’s collection, but there are other cars – Chevys, Chryslers, Oldsmobiles, Grahams, Packards and more – but they are all middle-American cars, nothing too exotic.

Mr. Bulgari fell in love with these American cars as a kid in Rome, seeing them in the Papal motorcades, and now he is committed to preserving these rolling pieces of art.

Why Allentown? Years ago, when Mr. Bulgari was out for a drive in his 1948 Buick station wagon, he had an accident and was looking for someone to fix his car, which he thought was damaged beyond repair. He was referred to the Flickinger brothers auto shop in Allentown, the restored it to perfect condition, and he has been working with them ever since. He decided to base his US collection in Allentown and the Flickinger brothers do the work on all of Mr. Bulgari’s cars, with the cars in Rome shipping to Allentown when the need arises.

Drive-in Movie and Watches

During the event, which included driving in these cars and watching a drive-in movie sitting in them (on Mr. Bulgari’s private drive-in screen), I wore the Bulgari Octo Solotiempo.

I have always admired the Octo, but having worn it for longer than 24 hours, I was very impressed by its versatility, its comfort and its refined elegance. I wore it with jeans and a button down shirt and it was perfect, while it really shone with a suit as well.

“We are never decorative, the shape of the watch has to be the beauty,” explains Guido Terrini, director of Bulgari watches, of the Octo design. “Italian style is pure in its shapes and the Octo is a pure geometrical shape yet very simple, and you don’t have to decorate it. It’s a geometrical masterpiece. When you wear it, you discover new things all the time. These are all details that make the difference.

“If you have a powerful case, like the Octo, you can’t have every other detail to be so strong,” he continues. “That’s why I pushed for a black lacquer dial. If we had had a textured dial, it could have been too much.”

I enjoyed the Octo Solotiempo in rose gold so much, I didn’t want to hand it back when it was time to do so. In fact, I miss it right now.

Thank You, Mr. Bulgari

Many thanks to Nicola Bulgari for opening up his collection for Revolution to experience, and to Bulgari North America for a spectacular event mixing watches, cars and pure Americana. I understand the close connection between Bulgari and the USA much better now.