GIANNAI LANCIA........1924 - 2014

Gianni Lancia, a leading figure of Italy‘s postwar automotive industry, has died aged 89, his family announced Friday.

He ran Lancia cars - founded by his father Vincenzo in 1906 - from 1947 to 1955, when his family ceded control of the loss-making business, based in the north-western city of Turin.

Gianni Lancia is remembered for his engineering expertise - poor business acumen. On his watch, Lancia dominated F1 races and produced one of the most technologically advanced cars of its time, the Aurelia, while flirting with bankruptcy.

In 1955, Lancia‘s leading F1 driver Alberto Ascari died in a crash at Monza. In reaction, Gianni Lancia donated the F1 unit of the company to Ferrari - which helped it win the 1956 season - and sold the rest to the Italian cement family Pesenti.

Under the Pesentis, Lancia continued to make critically acclaimed cars, such as the Flavia and the Fulvia, which failed to return any profits.

The debt-ridden company was bought by Fiat for a nominal one lira in 1969, and has been in decline for decades. The current boss of the Fiat-Chrysler group, Sergio Marchionne, has announced plans to gradually phase out the brand.

photo credit: © 2014
text credit: © 2014