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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.

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2 years ago

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

Tribute to Marcello Gandini with the Prototype Unveiled at the 1972 Geneva Motor Show: A Unique Model Exuding Elegance and Personality

From May 24 to 26, the BMW Group Classic and the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este will host the legendary Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. The most spectacular cars from different eras and around the world will compete in various categories to win prestigious awards. Among these are the coveted BMW Group Trophy awarded by the Jury, the traditional Coppa d’Oro based on public votes, the Design Award for concept cars and prototypes, and the special ASI Trophy for the best-preserved post-war vehicle.

The presence of the Automotoclub Storico Italiano (ASI) at this unmissable international event is highlighted by the display of the Citroën GS Camargue prototype from the ASI Bertone Collection. This car enriches the theme dedicated to Marcello Gandini – the recently deceased master of car design – set up in the park of Villa Erba on Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26. Also at Villa Erba, as part of the “Amici & Automobili” event, the ASI-affiliated Veteran Car Club of Como will accompany the Camargue with a precious selection of historical cars from its members.

The Citroën Camargue was first presented at the Bertone stand at the 1972 Geneva Motor Show, where it was met with great enthusiasm from both the public and the press. Built on the innovative Citroën GS platform, which was launched in 1970, the Bertone coupé, styled by Marcello Gandini with the assistance of Marc Deschamps, retains the compact sedan’s layout and dimensions. The car features distinctive front and rear overhangs – the front being much more pronounced to enhance the car’s dynamic look. Lower and wider than the GS, the Camargue boasts a wedge-shaped front typical of Gandini’s style, contrasting with a truncated rear end supporting a broad, panoramic canopy with amber-tinted glass, paired with a chic metallic champagne-colored body. Despite its striking and original design, the Bertone proposal did not reach commercial production due to Citroën’s economic crisis during those years, which led to its merger with Peugeot in 1974.

The format of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este includes a double location in Cernobbio, on the shores of Lake Como. On Saturday, May 25, the exclusive Hotel Villa d’Este’s park will host the display of all competing cars, the jury inspection, voting, parade, and the awarding of the Coppa d’Oro and special prizes. Simultaneously, Villa Erba will host the “Amici & Automobili” meeting with an exhibition of historical cars from clubs and enthusiasts.

On Sunday, May 26, the event will continue at Villa Erba with a festival celebrating automotive passion: all cars in the competition will be displayed in the park until the concluding parade, where the Design Award, class prizes, and honorable mentions will be awarded.