Gianni Agnelli, the fashion-forward Fiat chairman, always wore hiking boots with his impeccably tailored suits. Why? Because the Italian industrialist — and consummate style icon — once sustained a leg injury so severe that the sturdy choice in footwear was forced upon him. The accident? A car crash — while speeding away from an intimate encounter with a woman who was neither his wife or girlfriend.
That was 1952. But, despite giving himself a life-altering injury behind the wheel, the old cad wasn’t put off motoring. In fact, in the decades to follow, Agnelli spent thousands and thousands on his automotive obsession. He ordered Pininfarina-designed Ferraris. He thrashed his modest Fiat 125 sedan about Turin. The businessman was even known to drive his own chauffeur around — such was his desire to get behind the wheel.
And it didn’t end with cars. Yachts and speedboats, too, were a known vice of L’Avvocato, or ‘The Lawyer’, as Agnelli was widely known. Below, we’ve rounded up the finest vessels and vehicles that this fascinating, fashionable man ever owned…
1992 Lancia Delta Integrale Spider
Let’s start with a car Agnelli kept until the end. L’Avvocato drove his one-off Lancia Delta Integrale until his death in 2003. And, though it now resides in the Museo Nazionale dell’automobile di Torino, you can see why he loved it. Commissioned to ensure he felt power at his fingertips and wind in his hair, this was a unique four-wheel-drive convertible — complete with two doors, 250 horsepower and a front design as immediately recognisable as the original.
1986 Ferrari Testarossa Spider
Perhaps the most famous car of the Italian industrialist, his 1986 Testarossa Spider was a present from Agnelli to Agnelli. He commissioned the one-off drop-top to commemorate his 20-year anniversary as president of Fiat — and the car was meticulous engineered by Ferrari, who solved the problem of fitting a folding roof around a mid-mounted, 5.0 litre, 12 cylinder engine in style.
A 12-metre mahogany yacht, Tomahawk
Agnelli’s first yacht, Tomahawk was a sight to behold. Bought in 1956, she sported an all-steel and mahogany construction and was stuffed to the gunnels with style. A 12 metre vessel built in 1939 to a Charles Nicholson design, Tomahawk was originally crafted to compete in the America’s Race. But Agnelli cooled on his investment in 1962, and sold it to his sister Susanna.
1993 Fiat Panda 4X4 Trekking
Now this may be our favourite of Agnelli’s many, many motors. Not only is it the most recent commission we’ve included on this illustrious list — it’s also one of the most unassuming. Humble and practical, the businessman wanted a trusty runaround to drive about St Moritz. The Panda fit the bill. Decked out in his preferred silver and blue colour scheme (like the Testarossa above), it’s a pocket-sized joy.
An 82-foot yawl, Agneta
A true Mediterranean legend. Agneta, originally launched in 1951, was bought by Agnelli in 1959 — who took her to Europe, where she remains to this day. With a Burmese teak deck, Canadian silver spruce spars and even a marble fireplace in the owner’s stateroom, this 82 foot yawl is perhaps the most decadent of all of Agnelli’s vessels. Our favourite feature? Those distinctive, rich red port-wine sails.
1950 Ferrari 166 MM
Back in 2015, this handsome 1950 Ferrari 166 won the Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este. It’s a prestigious prize — and one which we’re sure would make its ex-owner, Agnelli, smile. Number 24 of only 25 ever built, this gorgeous little old Barchetta is a masterclass is simple styling. And it can back up that beauty under the bonnet; the same model won the 1949 Le Mans and Spa 24 hour races. No wonder he wanted it in his collection.
1971 Fiat 130 Familiare ‘Villa d’Este’
This is a fun one. The Fiat 130 sedan was the Italian carmaker’s flagship model for a time. And, in 1971, the brand used the car as the basis for the 130 Familiare estate. Only four were ever built — and all were owned by members of Agnelli’s family. This, the ‘Villa d’Este’, had imitation wood on the side — a style quirk borrowed from the US, and a large wicker basket to carry Agnelli’s skis in back from St Moritz.
A 37 foot speedboat, G. Cinquanta
In 1968, Agnelli took delivery of G. Cinquanta — a sleek, super speedboat designed by Sonny Levi. With four BPM V-8 Vulcano engines, the 37 foot cruiser never acted its age — and is currently up for sale through RM Sotheby’s 50 years later. No wonder the Italian loved it; with one of Levi’s signature ‘Delta’ hulls, a central cockpit designed by Pininfarina and 1,280 horsepower, what’s not to like?
1959 Ferrari 400 Superamerica S1 Pininfarina Coupe Speciale
Soon after he became the chairman of Fiat, the 400 Super America was designed by Pininfarina and built specifically for Gianni Agnelli. With its type 163 engine and near-prototype status, it was the car that cemented his deep respect for the Ferrari marque, and was painted once more in his preferred colour scheme of blue and silver.
A 36 metre maxi yacht, Extra Beat
Imagine, for a moment, commissioning your first ever bespoke yacht — overseeing its design and construction — and then feeling a little unattached to it when it finally bobs into view? Because that’s what happened with Agnelli’s Extra Beat. Built in 1988 by Abeking & Rasmussen, the Italian industrialist was a little lukewarm on the 36 metre maxi yacht when it was finally delivered. Well, if you’ve got the money to try again…
A 93 foot high performance yacht, Stealth
To make up for the disappointment of Extra Beat above, in 1996 Agnelli deferred to naval architect Germán Frers, who had created a revolutionary hull and designed Stealth for the businessman. Crafted from carbon fibre, the yacht sported white seats, black sails and a teak deck — the very height of opulence. Today, she is owned by Lapo Elkann, Agnelli’s grandson.
1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale
And finally, to round things off, yet another Ferrari. But not just any Ferrari. Above, you’ll see one of only three 365 P Berlinetta Speciales ever made. Two went to Agnelli. And it’s not only the first road going mid-engined V12 Ferrari ever made — it also has a three-abreast seating arrangement, with the wheel in the middle. What else did you expect to round off the car collection of such a pioneering man?
Want more from Ferrari? Here’s why the Ferrari F355 Berlinetta helped supercars shift gear…
Become a Gentleman’s Journal member. Find out more here.