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Tuesday, Dec 6, 2022
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Valley Wheels Spin Heads at Auto Show

For just one night, cars returned to the former Hudson dealership in downtown Los Angeles. Among the vehicles found on the fourth floor of the Hudson Lofts on Nov. 15 was a 1991 Lamborghini Diablo customized by Franco Barbuscia and his son Damiano. The pair were attending an Instagram Presents event in conjunction with the Los Angeles Auto Show at the nearby Los Angeles Convention Center. The evening featured a discussion with former “Tonight Show” host and car enthusiast Jay Leno. The Barbuscias operate Franco’s European, a shop in Van Nuys since 1990. Specializing primarily in Italian sports cars – Lamborghini, Maserati and Ferrari –the shop’s staff perform customization and modification work. “When a car becomes that old, you have to start doing custom things because parts are not available or things were poorly designed back then,” Damiano Barbuscia said. “You have to modernize anything that you can while making it look original. Those people appreciate that.” Franco Barbuscia has known Leno since the mid-1980s, and Damiano recalls when he was a child meeting the comedian on visits to his father’s garage. In the Hudson Lofts building, Damiano Barbuscia described the white Lamborghini Diablo as “raw” with two-wheel drive, no power steering and no traction control. This was done to keep the car true to what it was, but he modified it to include things that he liked, such as bigger brakes and an easy-to-operate clutch. “We did little things to make it more fun and take away the things that made it not too exciting to drive,” Damiano Barbuscia said. During the discussion, Leno gave a shout out to Franco and the popularity of his San Fernando Valley shop. “He has customers all over the world,” said Leno, who now hosts the car show “Jay Leno’s Garage” on CNBC. “That shows you their reach.” Also at the auto show was Galpin Auto Sports, which set up in a large room along the concourse hall to display a mix of current vehicles sold by Galpin dealerships and those customized by the auto sports division. The latter included the Pink Panthermobile, which Galpin Auto Sports spent five years restoring, the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine van and an orange and blue Ford GT40 race car. – Mark R. Madler

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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