Gianni Agnelli’s custom Ferraris go on show


There are definitely perks to being the boss. As head of the Fiat group which controlled Ferrari, Gianni Agnelli was able to order cars like no other. During his 30+ years at the helm, Agnelli accumulated a unique collection of Maranello-made machinery that is now on display at the Ferrari Museum in Modena and online.

The exhibition is titled “Gianni Agnelli and Ferrari. The Elegance of the Legend.” We’re not quite sure whether the legend referred to is Ferrari or Agnelli, but the word applies equally to both men.

Their relationship began long before Fiat took a stake in Ferrari, with Agnelli falling for the 166 MM at the 1948 Turin Motor Show. Agnelli even came up with a new way to describe the open-topped sports car. He called it barchetta and the name stuck. Agnelli’s first custom Ferrari was finished in green and blue with an interior trimmed to his taste.

Next came a 1952 Ferrari 212 Inter which featured a two-tone paint of 456 “family” blue with a magnolia roof. The car’s massive headlamps were installed so the Avvocato (lawyer) didn’t need to slow down at night. A 1955 375 America designed by Pinin Farina soon followed, with a tailored interior complete with a bespoke hand-made clock in the center of the transmission tunnel.

In 1959 a Pinin Farina-bodied 400 Superamerica joined the Agnelli stable. A three-seater 365 P Speciale followed in 1966, its central driving position preceding the McLaren F1’s by almost three decades. By 1984, with Fiat now owning a significant stake in Ferrari, Agnelli ordered a Testarossa spider and then an F40 with a special Valeo electronic clutch to make it easier for him to drive.

In 2000, Agnelli’s last commission was (fittingly) a barchetta based on the 360 Spider, which was given as a wedding gift to Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari’s chairman. Book-ending the exhibit is the 2003 Ferrari Formula 1 car, which was dedicated to Agnelli after the great man passed away in January that year.

Current Ferrari chairman John Elkann says that the exhibition: “… combines, on the one hand, the excitement that the most beautiful cars in the world evoke in people who love driving, and on the other, the enormous respect and real passion that my grandfather had for Maranello cars. A passion that led him to make every Ferrari he owned special and which we are happy to share with all the enthusiasts.”

Between now and April 1 you can book a 30-minute live virtual tour of this unique collection by visiting the Ferrari Museum website.

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