Maremma is a picturesque region in Italy comprising the bucolic olive groves and wineries of southern Tuscany, long-lost Etruscan tombs, metalliferous hill sides and your choice of the black sands of the Lazio beaches or the golden sands of the Torre Mozza. It’s also the name given to one of the most perfect pieces of automotive design ever created.
This Pininfarina wagon.
Carrozzeria Pinin Farina would most certainly have been commissioned to build the odd shooting brake for its well-heeled clientele in the 1930s. But it was not until 1955 that Maestro Battista decided to create a showcar using the longroof form. No doubt inspired by the Chevrolet Corvette-based Nomad seen at the 1954 GM Motorama, the 1955 Fiat 1100/103 TV Break (top row) was followed in 1956 by the Fiat 1200 Sport Wagon (bottom left) that was actually built in small numbers. The most populous Pinin Farina ‘short’ longroof from this period – the Austin A40 – was not quite a wagon, but is enough to qualify. This prototype from 1956 pictured lower right featured thin pillars not seen on the eventual production models.
Although Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina was preparing to hand over the business to son Sergio and son-in-law Renzo Carli, he was still the guiding light of this iconic firm. Continually brimming with ideas, this sketch from 1959 in his own hand shows he was thinking about the longroof as a purely aesthetic form.
The Dino provided Carrozzeria Pininfarina with many opportunities for interpretation. Above is the Fiat Dino Parigi, a front-engined (and hence Fiat) showpiece first seen at the Paris Motor Show in 1967. It is catalogued as a berlina, which is technically a saloon, but the longroof form is clearly part of the intent. Those shutlines around the rear window appear to be some sort of hatch opening, but I’m not sure if it’s really functional. It was joined in 1968 by the Fiat Dino Ginevra, on which the roof line falls towards a lower-set rear plane.
This Fiat 132 Giardinetta appears less exotic. Take a closer look at the rear glass and you’ll see why it was never going to reach production, but that’s not to say Pininfarina weren’t able to produce practical wagons. A host of Peugeot wagons successfully manufactured for production, featured here, demonstrate the carrozzeria’s mastery of the subject. Fiat availed themselves of a variety of names for their wagons; familiare, giardinetta, panorama and break – a generic term also employed by the French and originally the name for heavy carts used to break-in horses.
It was with a Peugeot that Pininfarina created the first of three iconic sports wagons. The 1971 504 Break Riviera was derived from the 504 coupe and cabriolet, and makes an interesting svelte counterpoint to the overfull volume of the saloon-derived 504 wagon. Catalogued as a one-off, it appears to have been resprayed from this blue to a less attractive brown and had short roof-rails placed in the stepped roof plane. Or else there’s another 504 Riviera out there (fingers crossed).
The third of this Pininfarina wagon triumvirate was the Lancia Gamma Olgiata. Derived from the 1976 Gamma Coupe, the 1982 Olgiata was demonstrating how fresh this design language was six years later. And still is today.
The second iconic wagon found its origins in the 1969 Fiat 130 sedan. This in-house styling effort from Fiat came equipped with a 2.8 litre V6, later enlarged to 3.2 litres. It was conceived to compete against the best of the European luxury marques, but ultimately fell short of its ambitions.
A coupe version of the 130 was commissioned from Pininfarina. When it was shown in 1971 this shape was immediately lauded by the styling community and the public alike. Penned by Paolo Martin, it was the spiritual successor to the influential Florida II. I will be covering the Fiat 130 Coupe in depth sometime soon.
In 1974, Pininfarina presented two variations of the Fiat 130 Coupe. The four-door Opera and three-door Maremma were both uncompromising extensions of the franchise.
Paolo Martin had left Pininfarina by the time these variations were being prepared. Lorenzo Ramaciotti styled the Opera, and I assume it was his hand guiding the markers for this rendering of the Maremma as well.
Speaking purely subjectively, I find it almost impossible to improve on the Coupe’s shape. Yet somehow the Maremma manages to do exactly that. The C-pillar has been widened with a muted metal plate setting silver against the deep gold of the body work. A sculpted spoiler was incorporated into the rear of the roof panel, apparently to keep rain off the rear window. The side window featured a small ‘venetian blind’ at the trailing edge, reducing some of the visual length of these panes. Everything fits. Perfectly.
The prototype was a fully-functioning car. The rear seats folded down to give a generous, luxuriously-appointed, cargo space. The thick gold velour on the seats was complemented by centre panels in patterned blue fabric – a feature not seen on the Coupe. The Reliant Scimitar GTE, Volvo 1800ES and Lancia Beta HPE were downsized versions of the same concept that met a public demand. The Maremma, however, was something more; closer to Radford’s shooting-brake Aston Martins in scale and ambition (even though it was still ‘just’ a Fiat). What type of purchaser was this car actually conceived for?
Gianni Agnelli, like Henry Ford II, was the grandson of the founder of a car company. He was the princeling heir to Fiat who had lost his father early in life. But the similarities end there. Before he died, Gianni’s grandfather told his grandson to ‘Have a fling for a few years and get it out of your system’. With Fiat in the capable hands of Vittorio Valletta, Gianni Agnelli became the epicentre of the emerging European jetset and enjoyed a twenty-year fling before duty called in 1966.
He partied hard and bedded many; in 1952 he was apparently caught in flagrante and crashed his car while fleeing the scene, breaking his leg in six places. Despite the pain this injury inflicted upon him for the rest of his life, his love of driving never diminished.
His taste in cars was informed but idiosyncratic. He would order Pinin Farina-bodied Ferraris with instructions to the maestro that the car look like no other Ferrari. The first of these bluff-grilled beasts was a 375, which was followed by a 400 Superamerica (top left). This 400 was twinned with an almost identically-bodied Maserati 5000GT. Another of his famous Ferraris was the 365P (top right). This ungainly interpretation of the Dino body housed a V12 engine and three abreast seating, with the driver in the centre.
Despite his vast wealth, this medicine-bottle blue Fiat 125 was one of his favourite cars; perfect for the man without peer to thrash about the streets of Turin. Another car he enjoyed was a pre-production Fiat 130 Coupe in a unique cherry-red light metallic hue. This car would take him from Turin to Rome and back the same day. Agnelli’s chauffeur was known to spend his time in the passenger seat talking soccer.
Agnelli ordered an extra special Carrozzeria Introzzi-bodied Fiat 130 Familiare. Four of these Introzzi wagons were produced; one went to his brother Umberto, another was said to be used on one of the Agnelli estates and the fourth was owned by an associate of the family. Only one, known as the Villa d’Este, had the wooded sides and wicker basket used for ferrying passengers, skis and poles to the slopes of St Moritz. Gianni’s.
When Gianni Agnelli laid eyes on the Maremma, he determined that it was to be his. Registered under his name in April 1975, it earned the sobriquet ‘curbside concept’. With an unlimited operating budget, Agnelli would not have spared this rare beauty at all from his driving proclivities. How or where he used it is not clear, and it only re-appeared publicly in a Veneto garage in 2004 – I assume in someone else’s ownership.
As with many of their more pragmatic concepts, Pininfarina was hoping the Maremma and Opera would become production models. The 130 Coupe’s antecedent, the Fiat 2300 Ghia Coupe was originally a show-car without commission. Fiat picked it up and it became a success, selling more than twice as many examples as the 130 coupe within a similar timeframe. Ghia also produced the 2300 Club, pictured above. The parallels between this model and the Maremma are obvious. Ghia went so far as to spruik the Club in brochure pages, but I’m not sure how many were produced.
As for the Maremma, journalist Martin Buckley – who knows much about PF and the 130 Coupe – writes that three Maremmas were built, which would suggest that two of these went immediately into private ownership. I have never seen images of these other two, but I’m hoping one of them will appear for sale here in Australia in an obscure classified unseen by anyone else. Fingers crossed.