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The unlikely cars of Gianni Agnelli, the former boss of FIAT

Giovanni Agnelli, known as the Avvocato, the undisputed and indisputable former master of the Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino left, after his death in 2003, a collection of cars prepared especially for him by the Turin-based company.

But let's first start by knowing the one who had Italy at his feet.

The story of Gianni Agnelli

Roland Bugatti (right) and Gianni Agnelli (left)

Sometimes a man's destiny is played out in childhood. Grandson of the founder of Fiat, Giovanni, born in a cocoon, was certainly not ready to face the first drama of his life.

At 14, he lost his father, Edoardo, decapitated by a propeller in a seaplane accident. For Giovanni, it's a total change of perspective. His grandfather summons him to his office to tell him that he will be the great heir of Fiat. At 14, like an heir to the throne, he now knows that the future of the largest Italian group will pass through him.

Ten years later, his mother, Princess Virginia Bourbon del Monte, also disappeared, strangled by her scarf during a car accident. But already, another tragedy is looming. World War II breaks out. Gianni is enlisted and becomes second lieutenant of the Mussolinian army, in Russia then in Libya. We find him in 1943, fighting alongside the allies.

Coming out of the war, Gianni is determined to apply his grandfather's advice: "Party as much as possible, one day you won't be able to do it anymore." After all, why deprive yourself when you have Italy at your feet and the whole country considers you the greatest seducer in the country?

The seducer then spends a rather tumultuous period of his life and no one saw him taking the reigns of the company.

However, one morning of his 46th birthday, he shows up in the office of the boss of Fiat to tell him that he is coming to take his rightful place. Appointed president of Fiat on April 30, 1966, he became the leader. A supporter of social dialogue, he is also a formidable decision-maker. He sees big for the brand by diversifying the activity into unexpected sectors such as agri-food, the press, insurance, construction or finance.

On the automotive side, Fiat is becoming a giant. Before anyone else, Agnelli sees the concentration of the sector in a dozen large groups. In 1968, he bought 19% of Citroën before selling them to take control of Lancia in 1978. Alfa-Romeo and Ferrari would follow. Agnelli brings robots into Italian factories. Everything would be fine if the threats of the Red Brigades were not daily, forcing the family to live under constant threat. But the years pass and the almighty Gianni is more than ever unstoppable. His days start at six o'clock, before a helicopter picks him up an hour later. Every morning, Agnelli has breakfast with the country's politicians, decision-makers and bosses. He is said to lead the nation every morning, before indulging in a daily 20-minute nap in the middle of the day.

Extraordinary man, extraordinary cars

Among the extraordinary batch of cars bequeathed by the Avvocato and designed specifically for and with the tastes of the Avvocato, we find this Ferrari Superamerica 400. Gianni Agnelli, president of Fiat, was the first tifoso of the Scuderia de Maranello, linked by a sincere friendship with Enzo Ferrari and in love with his GTs.

A controversial man, Gianni Agnelli used to fly by helicopter to the ski resort of St. Moritz, Switzerland.

There, this Panda 4x4 was waiting for him, the perfect machine for the snowy roads. It was his grandson who restored it in his Garage Italia Customs.

Special this copy Fiat Multipla Discoverable which was intended for vacations on the edge of me, Angelli liked to choose his cars according to these places of travel.

For winter sports, Gianni enjoys driving this original Fiat 130 Familiare Woody with a wicker ski rack.

Eccentric taste for a playboy, this Shooting Brake Maremma Fiat 130 designed by Pininfarina.

In this long list of cars, one can easily imagine that his favorite will be a Ferrari or a Lancia, but it is not so, since it is this FIAT 125 that has won the heart of the Avvocato. actually a later S-spec version with an upgraded 100 hp engine. Today it is immaculate in its unique Agnelli metallic blue, and on a cool spring morning in Turin this remarkable car still has just 24,837 kilometers on the odometer. After his car accident in 1952 in which his leg was badly broken, Agnelli preferred a two-pedal transmission, which is why the 125 has a rare automatic gearbox for its day. The 125 feels well-balanced and fairly quick for its age, but the brakes need a firm push to slow the car down. Lovely period details throughout, however, and a very special number plate - A00000 TO, a super exclusive Torinese version of "A1" - to top it all off.

If this Fiat 125 was Agnelli's favourite, our favorite from his collection is this unique Lancia Delta Integrale Spider. To win the bet, it was necessary to meet the constraints of a convertible, namely rigidity. The wheelbase is shortened, the rear doors are now absent, and the entire body is reinforced to do without an unsightly arch. For the rest, it's a Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione, boxer front end, muscular fenders, domed bonnet, finally mechanically, the Lampredi has increased to 250 hp and is associated with 4-wheel drive. Along the way, it loses its 4 doors to keep only two, its roof, and the whole thing is stiffened, allowing you to do without a roll bar. Under a tonneau cover hides a relatively basic canvas roof: it seems certain that this somewhat special Delta would drive most of the time with the top down to make the journeys between Turin and St Moritz, one of its favorite vacation spots.

One of the curiosities of the collection and also one of only three 365 P Berlinetta Speciales ever made. Two went to Agnelli. And it's not just the first mid-engined V12 Ferrari has ever made - it also has a three-seat layout, with the steering wheel in the middle.

This Ferrari Testarossa spider is Gianni Agnelli's latest special car. It was built especially in Maranello for the anniversary of the Avvocado Gianni Agnelli taking over in April 1966 from the multinational FIAT Spa. For this occasion, the gift had to be worthy of the event and the greatness of the character. According to the Ferrari archives, the construction of its body began on February 27, 1986; it is ready and delivered four months later, on June 16. It will be registered in Torino with the very personalized plate TO 00000G!

Rodolfo Gaffino Rossi, guardian of Gianni Agnelli's cars, remembers receiving the spider and delivering it to his home at Villa Frescot, a magnificent 18th century residence overlooking Turin. "He went up to Saint-Moritz twice with this car then put it back in the garage," he continues. This spider developed from the Ferrari Testarossa berlinetta revealed at the Paris Motor Show in October 1984 is his last bespoke Ferrari. A billionaire's capriciousness, an aesthete's appetite for distinguishing himself, an immoderate taste for personalization, a symbol of elegance: there are many reasons that led this big curly-haired crook to have his Ferraris made to his own specifications, for example he has a very special gear change system. By pressing one of the buttons on the central console, between the two seats, the clutch pedal retracts to make room for the Valeo system. Gianni Agnelli had a serious car accident in his youth which left him with a slight handicap on his left leg. An automatic clutch system had therefore been developed to allow the Avvocado easier handling of the gearbox. We find this specificity on the F40 having been built especially for him three years later. On the Testarossa, the driver will therefore have the choice of manual gear change or, by pressing a button, the activation of the Valeo system, a clutch that he also has on his Ferrari F40.

In addition to cars, Gianni Agnelli also liked boats like this speedboat. The Renato "Sonny" Levi, is a 37-foot long outboard named "G. Cinquinta" designed according to the wishes of Giovanni Agnelli. This boat, built in 1968 in the Cantiere Delta workshops in Anzio, Italy, has a cabin designed by Pininfarina and powered by four BPM V8 8.0-litre Vulcano blocks developing a total of some 1,280 hp, power that propels it on the waves at a speed of 50 knots (92 km/h).

Alongside this particular outboard, around a hundred prestigious and collector's cars are presented at this sale, including a rare Fiat 8V Coupé from 1954 (114 examples produced) which remains the only model of the Italian brand to have this day was equipped with a V8 (in this case a 2.0 liter V8). It is a V12 3.0 Colombo on the other hand, which is installed under the bonnet of the Ferrari 250 GT Coupé of 1959 bodied by Pininfarina, chassis 180/353 which is presented with its Ferrari Classiche certification.

The list of his cars is not exhaustive as the man with a rich automotive past has made acquisitions.

A collection that was partly auctioned while the other part remains visible today at the Auto Museum in Milan and in exhibitions such as that of "Gianni Agnelli and Ferrari" at the Museo Enzo Ferrari.


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