Sunday, July 13, 2014
July 11: Fiat was created on this date in 1899
As a young Italian engineer with few prospects at the turn of the 20th century, Giovanni Agnelli had one stroke of luck: being in the right place when an Italian count decided to explore the new world of automobiles.
For $400, Agnelli bought into the Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino — or Italian Automobile Factory of Turin — on this date in 1899, with its first car, the Fiat 4 HP shown above. A decade later, thanks mostly to Agnelli's engineering and business acumen, Fiat was Italy's largest carmaker and had a factory in the United States; today, Agnelli's heirs still control the company, which has grown to include Chrysler, Ferrari and Maserati.
His grandson, also named Giovanni Agnelli, inherited control of the company in 1966 and became known over the decades as "the last king of Italy." Here's a brief interview with Agnelli by a surprisingly young Jeremy Clarkson: