Featured: This Is The Man Officially In Charge Of Celebrating And Promoting Italy’s Automotive History

This Is The Man Officially In Charge Of Celebrating And Promoting Italy’s Automotive History

Afshin Behnia By Afshin Behnia
June 13, 2016
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Photos courtesy of FCA & Rosario Liberti

Roberto Giolito is, for many in the automotive world, a man who needs no introduction. He’s been the pen behind the designs that have revitalized the Fiat brand, and inspired a generation of growth at one of the world’s largest automotive conglomerates. In the next phase of his career he will be tackling the challenge of growing FCA’s heritage program to support the classic community’s growing desire for individual brand support, something I know personally will be welcome news for the Alfa community I so passionately belong to.

In person he’s a remarkably humble individual, soft spoken, considerate, thoughtful in every move he makes. He is, without question, one of the most important design figures in Italian automotive history, and it it was with great pleasure that I was able to ride along with him in a Fiat Coppa d’Oro in this year’s Mille Miglia race. Please enjoy this conversation we were able to have together as a look into Roberto’s mind.

Afshin Behnia: Within a huge organization like FCA, how does the Heritage Group find a meaningful purpose and mission?.

Roberto Giolito: Since we opened the Alfa Romeo Museum, La Macchina del Tempo in Arese, (Milan), there has been the need to reestablish a strong connection between our history and what modern culture expects from our brands. Internally, the FCA has made an incredible investment in the new Heritage division, which is why every branch of FCA has taken an interest, because we are the ones responsible for ensuring the heritage of each piece of our brand’s history. Initially we were just organizing events with classic cars, concours, rallies, and so on. But then we expanded our mission to include the restoration of important milestone vehicles, followed by the rigorous preparation of these vehicles for important races like the Mille Miglia,

AB: Many major manufacturers are providing infrastructure and parts supply chains for legacy customers and enthusiasts. What are you planning for owners of classic Alfas, Fiats, Lancias, and Abarths?

RG:  Following the model recently introduced with Abarth Classiche, you will start to see similar programs and infrastructure built around each of our legacy brands. This model has been widely tested by Abarth collectors through accredited certifications and factory restorations carried out on their cars at our brand new facility in Turin, and will be extended to the Lancia brand in the next months, followed by Alfa Romeo and Fiat in 2017. From September onwards we will be offering a dedicated service on request for our customers, providing certificates of originality, matching number verification, service manuals, and so on for most of the classic models from each of our major brands.

Once we launch the new FCA Heritage website, you will immediately begin to be able to purchase a wide choice of parts and dedicated merchandise for select models. This will continue to expand as time moves forward.

AB: What’s it like to go from Chief Designer to head of Heritage?

RG: I’ve seriously dedicated my entire life to the creation of a line of products that stand up to the design integrity of the 50’s and 60’s, the generation of products that gave our brands their lasting affinity that carries them through today. It’s awesome and humbling that my job is now to manage the heritage of these brands that I have worked my whole life to preserve. I’ve admired them all for so long, and have taken such inspiration from them, it’s just incredible to me that I now get to look after them in this next stage of our company’s history.

AB: What is your personal favorite car in the FCA collection?

RG: I think there’s nothing that can really compare to the Lancia D50. It’s a pure race car, but it still has so much sex appeal. It has so much charisma, which is just an echo of the genius of its creator.

AB: What vintage cars do you have your eye on for your personal collection?

RG: Before I took this position it was so much simpler to choose a classic car. I just was able to pick one that was relevant to me in that moment and pursue it. But now, with each day being surrounded by a world class collection, and being tasked with the maintenance of so many of them, and learning the intricacies and beauty in all of them, it’s becoming very difficult to choose one that I would want to drive every day for myself. FCA has done such a good job in my opinion in the youngtimer market at very agreeable prices, but let’s just say I’ve got my eyes on a few vintage pieces.

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