www.carrozzieri-italiani.com

The ultimate italian coachbuilder site

The Chrysler 300B Boano, the Avvocato’s american one-off

Photo courtesy of Rare Classics Restorations, LLC

In the automotive world, certain cars gain legendary status not just for their design and performance but also for the intriguing stories behind their creation and ownership. One such captivating tale involves the Chrysler 300B Boano Coupe, a vehicle commissioned by the Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli, famously known as “L’Avvocato.” The story unfolds in the mid-1950s when Agnelli, then the vice president of Fiat, sought to blend classic British style with a powerful mechanical system, resulting in the creation of an automotive masterpiece.

Commissioning the Masterpiece

In late 1955, Gianni Agnelli entrusted the task of designing the Chrysler 300B Boano Coupe to Mario Boano, formerly associated with Ghia. The brief given to Boano was clear: create a two-seat coupe with a powerful, modern mechanical system, reminiscent of a classic British style. Interestingly, Agnelli explicitly emphasized steering away from a modern shape, opting for a design that would stand the test of time.

Remarkably, within just ten days, basic design sketches were completed. From these sketches, Agnelli handpicked his favorite, which served as the foundation for the creation of a “master model.” Concurrently, a new Chrysler 300 chassis, numbered 3N561171, was ordered and from Chrysler on February 1st, 1956. By the fall of the same year, the body panels were meticulously welded to the chassis, initiating a meticulous two-month hand fabrication process for the individual components.

Photo courtesy of Rare Classics Restorations, LLC

By the end of 1956, the Chrysler 300B Boano was ready for inspection, and Agnelli, upon seeing the finished coupe, was pleased with the result. However, a dilemma arose – Agnelli, who was on the verge of ascending to the presidency of Fiat, was reluctant to be seen publicly driving a foreign car. The Fiat headquarters and factories strictly prohibited the entry of non-Fiat branded cars, posing a challenge to Agnelli’s desire for privacy and discretion.

The Dilemma: Secrecy Surrounding Ownership

In response to this predicament, the decision was made to keep the brand and ownership of the car discreet. To avoid potential unrest among Fiat workers, the Chrysler 300B Boano was deliberately devoid of any branding. The only exception to this rule was designer Giovanni Michelotti, who, being permitted to enter the Fiat headquarters parking lot with a non-Fiat car, stood as an anomaly.

Ultimately, Agnelli decided to gift the Chrysler 300B Boano to his brother, Umberto. The transfer of ownership occurred at the Milan tollbooth on the Milan-Turin highway. Umberto, involved with Fiat of France at the time, took the car to Paris, where he stayed for three or four years. The car was left in Paris upon his return to Italy, maintaining a low profile until its journey to the United States.

Photo courtesy of Rare Classics Restorations, LLC

Originally titled in suburban France in 1957, the Chrysler 300B Boano stayed in French hands for over three decades, passing through two subsequent owners. In 1989, it found its way to the United States, landing in Los Angeles and being sold to California dealer Irving Willems. The car then changed hands, and in 2018, the Bruno Collection acquired it before entrusting Rare Classics Restorations, LLC, with a meticulous forensic concours restoration.

Exquisite Features and Design

The Chrysler-Boano coupe, a testament to masterful craftsmanship, features a chassis shortened by the coachbuilder to 119 inches, enhancing the two-seater layout. The heart of the coupe remains the stock Chrysler 300B high-performance 354 cubic inches (5.8 liters) Hemi engine, coupled with a 3-speed Torqueflite push-button automatic transmission. The vehicle retains its original numbers-matching drivetrain and chassis.

Luxurious amenities include power windows, a power sunroof, and an AM radio with a power antenna. The exterior boasts a variant of Grigo Ingrid, complemented by a leather roof in English Hunt Club Green. Optional Chrysler chrome wire wheels by Kelsey Hays add a touch of elegance. The interior is adorned with English Ivory leather and light green Wilton Wool carpeting, accentuated by green leather on the package tray and a dash finished with Rosewood behind the instruments.

Recognition and Exhibitions

The Chrysler-Boano Coupe has received recognition and acclaim over the years. It was featured in the September 1957 issue of L’Automobile, gaining further prominence in the April 1996 issue of Car Collector. Notably, it was presented to the public at the 2003 Concorso d’Italia and exhibited at prestigious events such as the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the 2022 Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance.

Photo courtesy of Rare Classics Restorations, LLC

The Unanswered Mystery

Despite the car’s undeniable magnificence and Agnelli’s evident satisfaction with the final product, the mystery remains as to why L’Avvocato did not take delivery of this extraordinary automobile. One can speculate that the foreign origin of the car, deviating from the Fiat norm, might have played a role. However, the result is unequivocal – the Chrysler 300B Boano Coupe stands as one of the finest personal luxury cars to emerge from post-war Italy.

The story of the Chrysler 300B Boano Coupe is a captivating journey through the vision of Gianni Agnelli, the skilled hands of Mario Boano, and the craftsmanship of the creators involved. The car’s journey from conception to discreet ownership and its eventual restoration and recognition highlight the timeless allure of automotive masterpieces. L’Avvocato’s decision to gift this extraordinary creation to his brother, and the subsequent odyssey of the Chrysler-Boano Coupe, adds an enigmatic layer to its already fascinating history, leaving automotive enthusiasts to ponder the secrets behind its creation and the reasons behind Agnelli’s decision not to embrace this masterpiece publicly.

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
LowRider
LowRider
2 years ago

By looking at it i thought it was a Ghia, nice job Boano

As Lamborghini approached the twilight of the 1980s, it faced the daunting task of succeeding the iconic Jalpa. The result was the internal project P140, a venture that transcended the mere replacement of a model; it was an ambitious exploration of design, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of the unmistakable Lamborghini spirit.

The Need for a New Icon

With the Jalpa bowing out in 1988, Lamborghini found itself in a market where German and Japanese competitors vied for attention in the same price range. The P140 wasn’t just meant to fill a void; it was a statement – a bold proclamation that Lamborghini would not only match the performance of its rivals but surpass them with an unparalleled fusion of speed and distinctive style.

To bring this vision to life, Lamborghini collaborated with Carrozzeria Bertone, Chrysler Design Center, and the acclaimed Marcello Gandini. Preliminary scale models hinted at the design possibilities, and Lamborghini sought to encapsulate the essence of the Miura and Countach in the new P140. The goal was clear – an attention-grabbing design that oozed speed and remained unmistakably Lamborghini.

Innovative Engineering

The P140 wasn’t content with a mere aesthetic overhaul; it demanded cutting-edge mechanics. Lamborghini’s engineers embarked on a seven-month sprint to create the heart of the P140 – a revolutionary V-10 QuattroValvole engine with electronic fuel injection. Lightweight, compact, and modern, the engine underscored Lamborghini’s commitment to performance excellence.

The design journey took an interesting turn with Marcello Gandini’s involvement. After initial proposals from Bertone, Gandini, a designer with a storied history with Lamborghini, reshaped the P140 into a wedge-shaped 2-door coupé. The result was a harmonious synthesis of Lamborghini’s heritage and a forward-thinking aesthetic, featuring a 4.0-litre V10 engine, an ergonomic dashboard, and extensive use of aluminum.

As the project advanced into the 1990s, Lamborghini’s parent company, Chrysler, faced financial headwinds due to the Gulf Oil Crisis. Concerns about the P140’s ability to justify its development costs and attract customers in uncertain economic times led to a momentary halt in its progression.

Despite financial challenges, Lamborghini managed to produce 3 to 4 P140 prototypes. Each prototype, whether painted orange, red, or white, embodied the spirit of innovation. These prototypes, though initially forgotten, became a testament to Lamborghini’s commitment to pushing boundaries, reaching top speeds, facing crashes, and later being enshrined in Lamborghini’s official museum.

The Unexpected Turn: The Lamborghini Calà

By 1992, the P140 was temporarily shelved to prioritize other Lamborghini models like the Diablo. However, in a surprising twist, the P140 story found a new chapter in 1995 at the Geneva Auto Show. Italdesign unveiled the Calà, a rebirth of the P140. The Calà showcased a departure from the wedge-themed design, introducing a curvaceous carbon-fiber body with a targa top, reaffirming Lamborghini’s commitment to innovation.

While the P140 project did not materialize into a production model, its legacy lived on through the Lamborghini Calà. The prototypes, once forgotten, became a testament to Lamborghini’s resilience in the face of challenges. The subsequent introduction of the Lamborghini Gallardo in 2002, with an evolution of the V10 engine used in the P140, marked a triumphant return for Lamborghini’s entry-level model. The P140 project remains a captivating chapter in automotive history, a tale of ambition, setbacks, and the enduring spirit that defines the Lamborghini legacy.