The Innocenti C’s handsome design was conceived by American car designer Tom Tjaarda, and the car used Austin-Healey Sprite underpinnings. Tjaarda went on to design a number of important cars, including the Ferrari 365 California, the De Tomaso Pantera, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider and dozens more.
Born in Piscaia, Tuscany, in 1891, Ferdinandi Innocenti began his career by opening a hardware store in Rome. The company expanded and, in 1920, Ferdinandi set up a factory in the Lambrate district of Milan in northern Italy. The factory produces everything from soccer stands to railways, and the reconstruction boom in Rome, in particular, is boosting demand.
The factories suffered during the Second World War, but Innocenti kept them up and running productively for wartime needs, even during difficult times. After the war, factories also began producing for the automotive industry, inspired by military motorcycles. Enrico Piaggio launched the Vespa in 1946, and Innocenti presented its first scooter, Lambro River by Lambretta, a year later. The scooters were a huge success, and were manufactured under license in Spain, India, Argentina, Germany, France and Brazil.
At the end of the 1950s, Italy was experiencing a new economic boom, and for the first time the working class was able to acquire its own car, such as the Fiat 500. Ferdinando’s son Luigi took over the vice-presidency of the company and began exploring the possibilities of manufacturing passenger cars. A cooperation partner was first found in Germany, and a small Iseria car was born in collaboration with Goggomobil. However, production remained very marginal until the early 1960s, when Innocenti signed a cooperation agreement with the British company BMC and began producing Austin and Mini Minor Innocenti models under license.
Innocenti’s first in-house model followed just one year later with the launch of the 950 Spider, based on the Austin-Healey Sprite. Encouraged by Innocenti’s first sports model, collaboration with Ferrari also began, and two 186 GT prototypes equipped with the Maranello V6 were completed, until Ferrari decided to bury the project in 1966.
Undeterred, Innocenti developed its own small Coupé model, which was presented later that year. Ghia used the previous Spider model as a design basis, and Sergio Sartorelli, who had made a name for himself with models such as the Karmann Ghia Type 34 and the Fiat 2300 S, was given primary responsibility for the design. The wheelbase has been lengthened and the rear of the car completely redesigned. Particular attention has been paid to the quality of interior materials, and the GT spirit has also been exuded by the dashboard featuring five gauges, with the oil pressure gauge taken directly from the Ferrari 250 GTE. The new Innocenti C is powered by a BMC A-series 1098 cm3 engine, developing 58 hp with two SU carburetors, which is sufficient for a coupé with a curb weight of just 695 kg.
In the spirit of the Tricolore, the car was initially produced in green, red and white, before Giallo Positano yellow later became an option. This 1968 model was sold new in Sicily, where it was the fourth car for a wealthy family. All the car’s original documents, including the first registration certificate, manuals and service book, are always kept. The car was purchased in 2019 by T. Vilagi, who took it to Finland. The car had only 37,000 kilometers on the odometer at the time, and Vilagi has covered around 10,000 more over the last three summers. The car is still in extraordinary original condition. The interior is completely original and untouched. A Cooper steering wheel has been installed, but the original has been retained.
While Vilag owned the car, a few parking bumps were repaired, the car was overhauled and the clutch and brake master cylinders were replaced. The car has been repainted in Italy in the original Giallo Positano yellow and the bodywork is in very good and impressive condition.
INNOCENTI C ‘1968
CHASSIS NO. 0305713
47,000 KILOMETERS COVERED
ALL THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS, INCLUDING THE OWNER’S MANUAL, SERVICE BOOKLET AND FIRST-EVER REGISTRATION PAPERS. OWNER’S MANUAL, MAINTENANCE BOOKLET, FIRST-EVER VEHICLE REGISTRATION DOCUMENT.