My life in cars
Lapo Elkann When you have petrol in your DNA, you’ll end up exploring the weird and the wonderful end of the car spectrum...
My favourite car memory was being in the passenger seat with my grandfather [Gianni Agnelli]. It was in a Fiat Croma but with the 3.0 V6 Alfa Romeo engine, souped up like every car he had. All his cars had peculiar engines or particular things and particular interiors. My love for uniqueness started by looking at what he had done in his life with his products and his cars. He would drive like a race driver in the cities, so it was always exciting to go in a car with him.
The first accident I had was when I was nine, I took a Fiat Panda and I crashed into a tree. I always wanted to drive; cars are probably the objects in the world I love the most. I remember my grandfather gave us a mini Ferrari F1 go-kart like Alain Prost’s F643 to race, and I was in that car 24/7.
I started driving at 15. My first ticket was in Paris where I drove a car without a licence, and I got severely punished by my mother because getting flashed, without a driving licence, is kind of awkward. I got my licence at 17.
My first car was a Punto HGT – light grey with blue leather interior and baby-blue stitching. Even on a mass production car I already wanted to customise it. Then I had Alfa Romeos – all the GTA versions from the 147 to the station wagon. When I lived in New York, I had a Hummer, I had a Mini, I had the “Little Bastard” of James Dean [Porsche 550 Spider]. The same car, but not actually his.
Then I drove some Porsches. I drove some Lamborghinis. I drove some vintage, some new. I drove some Ferraris. And I always tried at least once a week to have a car from a different brand so I could try, see, smell, touch, to understand who’s doing what, how they are doing it. It’s one thing to see pictures, another thing is to feel it.
I sold part of my collection because... like Enzo Ferrari said, when they asked him what is his favourite car, he would say: “The next one.” I would say the same thing. I don’t usually fall in love with what I have, only a few. I have a few vintage Fiat 500s, and those I don’t sell. On the higher level I now have vintage Ferraris, but the [modern] Ferraris I change all the time.
I love vintage cars now more than I used to in the past. I have four or five Fiat 500s. I have a Spiaggina with wicker seats in lobster colour. I have the Cinquecento which opens the doors like this [motions suicide doors], I have a Seicento Multipla double-tone in light blue and navy blue. I also have vintage Vespas, which I love because they’re iconic.
I love modern cars, and I love speed, so I love to go on the track and go fast. There’s a lot of cars I’m keen to look at, from the latest Ferraris to the latest Lamborginis. I drove a Formula E recently which was extremely exciting.
I think the new hypercars are all interesting in their own way. I would say that McLaren [with the Senna] has been courageous and done an interesting job. But I still don’t get turned on by their design. I think that the performance of their car is incredible, and they’re doing an amazing job in terms of performance.
The one car I regret giving away is the Ferrari 458 Camouflage because it’s a unique piece. I love that car because it’s a representation of pushing boundaries in a brand which is, how do you say, limitless.