Despite almost dying in a Ferrari (he was driving his mistress home having been caught by his wife, and crashed into a meat truck at 120mph), Fiat patriarch Gianni Agnelli spent his life pursuing and driving motorcars by the marque, several of which were one-off commissions. He loved being behind the wheel so much that he would often make his chauffeur sit in the backseat, and he once evaded a terrorist completely by accident, unknowingly driving too fast for the criminal to keep up.
Agnelli’s personal collection included a 166MM Barchetta, which, like his immaculate Caraceni suits, was tailor-made to his taste with a distinctive two-tone paint job and teardrop-shaped rear lights. With its instantly recognisable tube frame, designed by engineer Aurelio Lampredi, competitive engine and light build, the car became historical as the manufacturer’s first successful sports car.
Now, 70 years after the 166 model was victorious at the 1949 Mille Miglia and 24 Hours of Spa, Agnelli’s very own chassis is gracing the UK for the annual Concours of Elegance. It will be joined at Hampton Court Palace by three other remarkable examples of the 166 Barchetta and accompanied by more than 60 of the rarest vehicles ever built, in one of the UK’s most exciting motoring events.
Tickets from £40, 6-8 September, Hampton Court Palace, Molesey, KT8, concoursofelegance.co.uk