When Martin Willems just graduated in automotive engineering, he came into contact, in Germany, with a Dutch entrepreneur who sold Fiat parts in Germany.
“I drove to Germany with my father to buy parts from an enthusiast for my own Fiat 1100 Spider from 1955. That enthusiast put me in touch with the parts trader. We were instantly simpatico, and he asked if I was interested in setting up a Dutch branch. This was in 1988’, says Martin Willems.
Cancelled his interviews
As a fan of Italian cars, he didn’t have to think about it too long. ‘I already had interviews planned for my career in the off shore, but I cancelled them immediately.’ The entrepreneur from Drenthe had found his passion. In the early years, he combined the sale of parts with his restoration work on Fiats and Lancias.
In 1992, Martin Willems went on under his name, and two years later he moved to Emmer-Compascuum. In the meantime, the collection of exceptional Italian cars grew. By now, it includes approximately 250 cars; ranging from cars in perfect condition to restoration projects. The focus is on Lancia. ‘It's true, nearly all the cars are for sale, but I am an aficionado, more than anything. Some of the cars I would rather not sell’, Martin laughs admittedly.
The workshop has also been a critical part of the company since 1998. ‘We mainly focus on engineering aspects: service, repairs, and overhauls. We also work on engines and gearboxes.’ During our visit, there is a Fiat 500 and a Ferrari Mondial, side-by-side, on the bridge, while a Lancia Delta Integrale is receiving a brand new engine on the other end.
At Martin Willems, they work exclusively with engine oils and coolants from Eni. ‘We’ve been using Agip, now Eni, since 1998. The quality is superb. In all the years, we’ve never had even a single problem. I would go so far as to say that the Eni brand truly goes with our company’, the entrepreneur emphasises.
A strong brand
Martin Willems also notices the popularity of the Eni brand, based on the webshop orders. ‘It’s a strong brand amongst Italian car aficionados. When people see the dog logo, they know they’ve got the right product. Many owners of Italian cars prefer to use Eni oil. Many of my clients always have a litre of Eni in the car, in case they need a top-up on the road.’
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