Turin, Italy - Self-confessed petrolhead Idris Elba looks back on his lifelong obsession with cars and attempts to define what makes some cars rolling artworks and others merely appliances, in this preview video for Grand Basel, a new exhibition of automotive masterpieces.

Elba explores explores the emotional impact of the car, including his earliest motoring memories of pretending to drive in the back seat of his parents’ Cortina. He examines those characteristics of a car that make it a masterpiece and searches for just what gives a car its soul - but no answer is forthcoming until he presses the starter button of a 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Zagato with a bespoke body by Giuseppe Aprile.

Star cars

Even Elba would agree that the 6C, not he, is the star of the video, which includes the remarkable 1978 Lancia Sibilo Bertone – a unique prototype with an unmistakable monolithic wedge design by Marcello Gandini, the designer of the iconic Lamborghini Countach – as well as the 2015 Mostro show car, conceived by Zagato as a tribute to the 1957 Maserati 450S Costin-Zagato Coupé nicknamed ‘Il Mostro’, and the elegant 2018 GFG Sibylla, created by Giorgetto and Fabrizio Giugiaro.

But the setting is itself part of the story; the video was shot in the Lingotto building in Turin, built between 1916 and 1923 by Fiat and at the time the largest car factory in the world. It’s designed as a continuous spiral - materials and components would enter on the ground floor and progress upwards until the complete cars came off the line to be test driven on the roof, which was an oval test track with banked corners.

The exhibition

Grand Basel will present the cream of the world’s most important cars of the past, present and future, each as an artwork in its own right, in a museum setting rather than just parked in a row, as in conventional classic car show.

The inaugural edition will open in Basel, Switzerland, from 6-9 September 2018, and then move to Miami Beach, Florida, from 22-24 February 2019 and Hong Kong in May 2019.

IOL Motoring