Think of the work of Italian carrozzerie in the 1950s and many images may flit across one’s mind, but a wood-panelled station wagon is unlikely to be among them. It was a style pioneered post-war by Carrozzeria Viotti of Turin, a company which drew inspiration from across the Atlantic while remaining distinctly Italian.
Viotti was one of the first coachbuilders in Italy to establish a proper production line and, between 1933 and 1939, supplied bodies for thousands of Fiats while also undertaking one-off commissions on exotic chassis.
Viotti’s factory was destroyed by Allied bombing during the War and, from 1946 it was a niche supplier though it remained a constant source of new ideas. In 1946 it build a wood-panelled station wagon on a Fiat chassis and, in 1950, Fiat bought Viotti so it would have first call on its services as a consultant. Viotti made styling studies for Fiat until 1964.
Fiat did allow Viotti, however, to continue to make hand-built bodies on other chassis and they created 47 stations wagons on a Lancia Aurelia base of which this car is one of two survivors. The ‘Giardinetta’ name was in fact patented by Viotti.
The Lancia Aurelia was the most advanced production car of its day and the long chassis B53 had the 70 bhp, 2-litre version of Lancia’s ground-breaking V6 engine which drove through an all-synchromesh 4-speed transaxle.
This car was found in a field in Sardinia and, though it had been neglected, it was complete. It therefore remains remarkably original despite having undergone a full restoration by KCA of Milan.
Bonham’s Sale of #1004
At their Les Grandes Marques a Monaco in 2005, Bonhams sold #1004. The top bid was 181 000 EU ($228 000 USD).