The Grand Torino Rooftop Racetrack
The Fiat Headquarters remains at the historic Lingotto factory in Turin, Italy. I spent a couple of days assisting on a photo shoot in this delightful city. The Lingotto building was once an avant-garde automobile factory with a test track on the roof. Built and designed for Fiat, it is unlike any other car factory to date. The factory's assembly line began at the ground floor and ended up on the top level, where the Fiat cars were taken for a test run around the track. Spiralling ramps inside the building allowed the cars to drive back down into the showrooms.
The architect was Giacomo Matte-Trucco, a marine engineer, he was fascinated by the form of modern factories, and in 1923 he created the Fiat factory, Europe's largest and most modern car-making plant, which employed 6000 workers.
The roof top test track was not a novelty, but an integral and important part of the manufacturing process, culminating with the track with its banked corners so cars could be driven at speed.
The new factory put Turin on the map and boosted Italy's standing as a country of innovation, and the country's leader, Mussolini, loved all things modern.
Fiats Lingotto car factory was one of the most adventurous and bold buildings of the 1920's. For over 50 years every single Fiat car produced was tested on this roof track. Thankfully the spiralling ramps and the roof track remains, and is an icon of Italian invention.
The rooftop track was featured in Michael Caine's 1960 film 'The Italian Job', racing around in a Mini Cooper. The scene featuring the cars racing around the rooftop track, demonstrated the idea still remained spectacular.
Descendent of Giovanni Agnelli, who founded Fiat in 1899, is John Elkann who leads the Agnelli empire from Turin. He was the chosen heir of his grandfather Gianni Agnelli. He is an Italian industrialist. An extremely charming, courteous gentleman, it was a pleasure to spend time with him as he explained the history of this iconic building.
and finally some time to visit the beautiful city centre of Turin, immersed in culture and history.