Johannesburg - His voice overpowers the roar of a Lamborghini Aventador’s high-revving engine as he shouts orders across the workshop.
“My colleagues gave me this nickname - the Mad Italiano - because I shout and scream at everyone," he grins. "It’s just in my nature.”
It’s not that Angelo Pisanti is an angry man who enjoys shouting. Rather, he says, he's passionate about his job.
“When you are working for a prestigious brand such as Lamborghini, everything has to be done to perfection," he says. “So a little bit of shouting here and there is good, it keeps everyone on their toes.”
Pisanti, 58, is the master technician of the Lamborghini workshop in Johannesburg - and even though he's been working with the Italian supercar brand for the past 19 years, it’s clear that he still gets a kick out of hearing its distinctive roar. He jumps into an Aventador that he's working on and revs up the engine.
“This sound never gets old, I tell you,” Pisanti says, smiling, as the noise echoes throughout the workshop. “I still get shivers down my spine when I hear the sound of a Lamborghini. I could hear it all day long and never get tired of it.”
Pisanti is surrounded by sheer beauty at his workplace; everywhere you look, you see a different model of Lamborghini - Aventadors, Huracans, Countachs, Murciélagos, Gallardos and even a Diablo. These multimillion-rand vehicles are recognised as some of the world's finest supercars.
“As a car fanatic, of course it’s wonderful to be surrounded by such beautiful supercars. It puts a smile on my face everyday when I walk in to work.”
Edenvale-born Pisanti started working with Lamborghini in 1998 and trained at the factory in Sant’Agata, in Italy. Today, he is recognised as one of the best Lamborghini technicians in the world.
He takes a stroll around the workshop and starts giving a detailed explanation of each of the cars on the floor; then he stops at a yellow Lamborghini Diablo and glances at it for a while.
“The Diablo was the first Lamborghini model I worked on,” he says. “Since then I have learnt about every other model that Lamborghini has made.
Whenever a new model comes out, we undergo training and do a course. So we are always learning. Even at my age I learn new things all the time.”
Today, Pisanti has to get a brand new Aventador ready, as its owner is coming to pick it up in the next 24 hours. Lamborghini customers, he says, demand the very best service.
“It’s hard work," he admits. "It’s challenging, you have to please your clients. You've got to go the extra mile for them, no matter what they ask you to do. I can’t just say no. If they spent six million for a car, you must make sure that you give them just as great service.”
While Pisanti describes working for Lamborghini as a “dream job”, it's not easy. It’s taken years of hard work, commitment and dedication to reach his professional goals.
“Keeping up with the evolving technology in supercars isn’t easy," he explains. “There’s always something new and we need to stay on top of developments.”
His duty as master technician of Lamborghini is multi-faceted, involving dealing with pre-service orders and moving cars into the shop, assisting his team with running vehicle diagnostics and vehicle services. He is also the customers’ first port of call for any technical issues.
Early days and late nights are just part of the equation; Pisanti’s day starts as early as 7am in the Johannesburg showroom and that’s where he sets the day’s wheels in motion.
“When I started off, I was working with cars that just had carburettors. Now the new models are controlled powered by computers, so I have had to learn completely new technologies. It’s taken me years to get to where I am today, but it’s all been worth it. I’m proud of how far I have come.”
And not only is the technical aspect of the job tough, dealing with clients can be challenging too.
“Sometimes we have to work with very tough customers. Some come in and demand that they need their vehicle sorted the very same day - and it’s something we just have to do. There is no questioning a customer.”
He’s also been called out on weekends to help clients.
“Sometimes I am having lunch with my family on a Sunday and I have a customer asking me to come and sort out his car. There’s nothing I can do but head over and help. You have to think about protecting the brand; when you are working for Lamborghini you need to give your customer the best and nothing less.
“Also if it means me staying here till the evening, it’s something I have to do. You have to give a hundred percent and nothing less.”
One of the more exciting parts of Pisanti’s job, however, is being able to test-drive the cars.
“It’s really exciting to test drive these machines," he says. "But in all honesty it’s also very scary; when I'm on the road, all I'm thinking about is bringing the car safely back to the dealership. It’s worth millions of rands and you don’t want anything happening to it - the experience can be more stressful than exciting.
“One of my colleagues once took a Lamborghini out for a test drive and a taxi drove straight into him; the car got damaged so badly that it cost R350 000 to repair. So we're always wary when we drive the cars. Sometimes I even tell someone else to take the car out for a drive because its just so stressful.”
He feels more comfortable in the Fiat that he drives to work every day.
“As much as I love supercars," he says, I don’t think I'll ever own one, even if I had the money. It’s a lot of money and there’s a lot more I could do with all those millions.”
Passion for cars
While Pisanti has worked with Lamborghini for the past 19 years, he's been in the motor industry for four decades. After matriculating from Edenvale High School and a short stint in the army, he began his journey in the motor industry, working for brands such as Renault and Ferrari, and has even owned his own workshop with his brother Gennaro, who now works at Lamborghini with him.
But his passion for cars has been there since he was a little boy.
“As a kid I spent most of my weekends together with my older brother Gennaro at my uncle’s place. He was a mechanic back then. He used to do engines and stuff on the weekends. We always use to sit around him and help him out, that’s where we got the passion.”
He says his first car was an old “banged up” Lancia Fulvia that he bought so that he could rebuild it from scratch to see how well he worked with cars.
“The first car I bought was a two-door Lancia Fulvia 1.6. The engine and gearbox were b****red, so I made it my challenge to rebuild the car; I stripped it down to the bone and rebuilt the whole car, which took me about two years. I love working with my hands and always have and I think that is why this career suits me perfectly.”
Pisanti says he hopes to retire at Lamborghini.
“It’s been the journey of a lifetime, with many challenges along the way. It’s been an extraordinary 19 years and being part of the Lamborghini family is like a dream come true. I’ve grown tremendously, every day I learn something new and every day I am thankful. If my health still holds up, I would love to work here for a few more years before I retire.”
After a long busy day at the workshop, it’s time for Pisanti to leave behind the supercars, step into his tiny white Fiat and head home.
“ I’m looking forward to making a delicious pasta," he says, "and winding down with a lovely glass of wine.”