Classic Car Capital
Pur Sang 8C 308
Pur Sang 8C 308

Pur Sang Argentina – An Introduction

By Rick Carey, Auction Editor | Photos by author and Rhonda Kiblinger

Wind back the clock on your DeLorean to 1930 or so, eighty-plus years ago.

Your [great] grandparents might still have been dancing the Charleston.

It was the time of Machine Age design. Craftsmanship, dedication, style, design and ingenuity were its hallmarks.

It persists today at Pur Sang in Paraná, Entre Rios, Argentina. And it is not only in the meticulously crafted automobiles that are mirror images of Bugattis and 8C Alfa Romeos from the Twenties and Thirties, but also in the way they do it: without fuss or fanfare, without conceit and with a profound excitement and enjoyment in their products.

They love cars, and it shows in what Pur Sang Argentina creates as well as in their intense pride in themselves and their appreciation for driving them.

Pur Sang 8C 2900B
Pur Sang 8C 2900B

What happens here is amazing, a word that crossed my lips many times in five remarkable days in late May.

They just get down to the job at hand and translate concepts into physical entities, much of it by hand. It seems to be part of the Argentine character. Forced to be self-sufficient by a dysfunctional economy and import restrictions that make acquiring even the simplest components from outside the country almost impossible, what they can’t buy they make, in an astounding profusion.

At Pur Sang they make almost everything, and do it with beaming Latin pride in their skills, accomplishments and the intricate gizmos that they create from raw metal and ideas.

Pur Sang’s diversity means this is a long story of individual operations, best presented in separate treatments of significant functions, but a little introduction is appropriate.

Paraná, capital of Entre Rios state, is a little over an hour’s flight from Buenos Aires, about 375km as the crow flies but another hundred km, a six hour drive, on mediocre roads. Built on the eastern shore of the Paraná River, at almost 4,900km the second longest river in South America, Paraná sits in a rich, agricultural region noted for its prolific wing shooting.

Pur Sang’s factory buildings are set around the Villa Lola, the former state president’s residence, on the outskirts of the city. To say it is ‘old school’ hardly does justice to the layout. The villa in the center is on an expansive lawn, but outside the front door to the right is the foundry. To the left across the lawn is the Pavilion, a re-creation of Bugatti’s showroom. A double-decker bus is nestled up close to the enclave’s surrounding wall, waiting for attention.

The action is situated in the rear in a series of workshops enclosing administration, design, assembly, special projects, engine assembly, CAD/CAM, paint, coachwork and the machine shop. They are where the magic happens, and it is so much more than Type 35s and 8C Monzas.

Because Pur Sang is also a group of enthusiastic schemers with endless ideas including building aircraft engined specials in the style of the post-WWI era. What goes on at Pur Sang is (that word again) amazing.

In the end, though, the process is less significant than the people, who are – and realize they are – privileged to work in an environment that creates marvelous objects. Yes, it’s a job, and at 5 o’clock they head out to their families (except those who stay on to review progress and foment audacious new projects) but the pride and satisfaction they take from what they do, and in doing it well, is tangible throughout Pur Sang, from Leonidas ‘Jorge’ Anadon, Pur Sang’s padron, to the second generation assembling cars and gearboxes with their fathers.

It is – that word again – amazing, a privilege to observe and a peek into the artisanal creativity of former days. Walking through the shops, talking with the craftsmen (even with them speaking Spanish, a language which I do not claim in even small part) and driving their automobiles, the environment is fantastic.

Many articles will follow on Sports Car Digest, augmented by videos by Rhonda Kiblinger including some driving videos on cobblestone streets where heroes once raced in Paraná and later on track outside Buenos Aires.

Pur Sang was an experience that fully deserves the description ‘unique’. So, too, are the automobiles they create.

[An aside, and an apology: This report has taken a long time to be uploaded to Sports Car Digest.

After returning from Pur Sang, though, I barely repacked my bags before heading to the Leake Tulsa auction, then spent a few days poring through their files of cars that Jim Leake had bought and sold from the Sixties (a treasure-trove of original information that promises to unlock many mysteries.) From Tulsa it was straight to Seattle for Mecum’s first auction there.

The bottom line, however, is that a week in Argentina with Pur Sang was, simply, magic.]

The author playing the Part
The author playing the part

[Source: Rick Carey]

Show Comments (12)

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  1. It’s good to know the Kirchner government’s endless incompetence created the conditions for this magic. Wonderful story.

    1. Sorry, Pietro. You are right about the endless incompetence of Kirchner’s governments (Néstor and Cristina). But Leonidas “Jorge” Anadon began with this craftmanship many, many years ago, in some year of XX Century. It began because he loves Bugatti’s criatures,… and you can see how he developed from then to now. In Anadon’s factory the big engined Alfa’s engines are recreated as it was in the past, using the same metals and materials…. Really amazing. It’s all matter of love. As th song says: “it’s a many splender thing”.

  2. These are beauts which sooner or later somebody will try to pass off as the real thing. I note that the P3 with #20 on it has been given a “patina.” Since the cars have no history or direct lineage they are not “pur sang”–or thoroughbred as we would say.

    1. you are right, they are not pur sang, but thoroughbred the are, by their own merit !!!!!

  3. Purists put these cars down either because they’re too accurate and might be misrepresented as being the real thing, or not accurate enough and therefore unworthy. Well, I don’t think you can have it both ways, since there’s no intention on the part of the builders to deceive. The intention is to provide cars with the essential character and appeal of the originals at a fraction of the cost. There are enthusiasts who own originals and Pur Sangs, and they drive the Pur Sangs more… for all the obvious reasons.

  4. Interesting recreations of the real thing at a much smaller price. Have seen quite a few of them. But please note that – at least in Europe – one cannot get them legally (without fraud) on the road. Another problem is that quite a few of the owners seem to believe the fraudulous new identity is real history and even try selling it as genuine prewar product.

  5. Some days you read a story and some rare days you read a Pur Sang story – excellent editorial and has me set up for the day or as Rick says “Amazing”. Thanks.

  6. Simplemente enmudecido por el asombro que me causa tanta artesanía y belleza, y sumamente orgulloso de que este asentamiento esté en la Argentina. Y en Paraná ciudad históricamente con trascendencia automovilística (recordar Paque.. Gral. Urquiza , en la década del ´40)) Hugo Blas de Villa (Periodista)

  7. Dear Rick,

    Thank you very much for sharing the Pur Sang story with us – it certainly gives plenty of flavor & color to the amazing machines they bring to PB every year. Thank you again. Vincent.

  8. great to see replicas of these amazing cars that were built to be driven ,not just hidden in a collectors lot.I love the Alfa Monza , this is on my wish list,are their any of the cars in Australia?