Lapo Elkann’s Garage Italia to pimp and electrify five Fiat Panda 4x4s
Fiat heir and self-proclaimed father of the modern Fiat 500, Lapo Elkann set up design firm Garage Italia to give that Italian-golden-child flair to cars, boats, planes, watches, or whatever else you might fancy. Garage Italia’s latest automotive venture is a series of five classic Fiat Panda 4x4s, turned electric using local Newtron Group’s powertrain.
The classic car EV conversion business is already booming, and if you think about it, few cars are as suitable for the job as Giorgetto Giugiaro’s boxy classic, upgraded by Austrian Steyr’s four-wheel-drive system.
When more grunt was needed for climbing those mountains, Fiat gave the Panda the 964-cc engine from the Autobianchi A112, which produced 48 horsepower on a good day. These days, Panda 4x4s are more short-distance runabouts than intercontinental cruise machines, so a torquey electric drivetrain perfectly matches their daily routines.
Of course, being a man once listed on Vanity Fair’s “Best Dressed Hall of Fame,” Lapo Elkann wouldn’t stop at a basic powertrain conversion.
Finished in Barberis Brown with a prominent Blue Vitale stripe highlighting its beltline, the Panda Panderis got upholstered by Barberis Canonico, a historic woolen mill based in Biella Vitale. JBL and Harman threw in a generous hi-fi selection, and we are very glad that Garage Italia kept the 13-inch steelies, sprayed gold to go with the brown.
Four more Panda 4x4s will follow to complete Garage Italia’s Icon-e project. The Panda Pandoro will be created with fashion designer Marta Ferri, followed by “Pand’Art” by Arthur Kar of de L’Art de L’Automobile, “Pandina Jones” done with Car&Vintage, and “00Panda,” the Fiat made for the secret agent in you. But can that beat Roger Moore’s off-roading 2CV?