Gianni Agnelli's own Fiat Panda 4x4 has been touched up – the exterior looks stock, and there's gorgeous new fabric upholstering the cabin – but that's just the start
Garage Italia Customs owner, Lapo Elkann, has a passion for cars. Particularly older vehicles bearing connections to his grandfather, Gianni Agnelli – the former leader of Fiat.
In a new undertaking for Garage Italia Customs, the firm sourced the very Fiat Panda 4x4 that Agnelli personally commanded across the snowy roads of St. Moritz in Switzerland. The team set about restoring Agneli's modest little hatchback to former glory, yet spiced things up in the cabin. Gifting the Panda a better interior than anything offered from the factory, the underrated 4x4 now boasts the Armani suits of car interiors.
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Agnelli used to fly by helicopter from Italy to the famous Swiss resort town and kept this all-wheel-drive Panda on site to traverse the mountain tracks. The little car was fairly basic transportation for the ritzy place, yet where other 4x4s found themselves beached, the 1.1-litre Panda ruled the roads. Producing a mere 53 horsepower (40 kilowatts) and mated to a lightweight frame, the gutsy Fiat proved that size wasn't everything.
Garage Italia Customs focused on tweaking the Panda's aesthetics and left the mechanical parts completely standard. The exterior wears a subtle (some might say boring) shade of silver paint, with contrasting dark blue and black pinstripes running the whole length of the body. The original Panda all-wheel-drive-system supplier – Steyr Puch – emblems are at the back, and Garage Italia Customs has added its own logo, too.
The more significant tweaks are on the inside. Garage Italia Customs works with Italian fabric mill Vitale Barberis Canonico to get the dark blue patterned cloth – a personal favourite tint of Agnelli's preferred colour – that adorns most of the interior, including the seats, rear bench, the lower portion of the dashoard, and the door panels.
Garage Italia Customs also puts its emblem on the leather sides of the seats. There's still quite a bit of original black plastic in there, too, but it's the perfect blend of 1990s chic styling and steadfast contemporary Italian fashion. Armani don't craft vehicle interiors, but if they did - this would be it.
Boasting a quilted effect usually found on the interior stitching of an expensive dinner suit, even the door cards take on the mantra of the well-dressed bouncer outside a fashionista's nightclub. It appears fabulously decadent yet retains an air of practicality. If Lara Croft required a city car, you'd find her in here.
This creation is a one-off, but it's not exactly clear what Garage Italia Customs intends to do with it. Perhaps Elkann can follow his grandfather's lead and take the boxy hatchback for a drive around St. Moritz.
Source: Garage Italia Customs