Mario Felice Boano
Felice Mario Boano is one of history's unappreciated and unknown coachbuilders. His work is mostly remembered for the Ferrari's that bore his name, but many of his other contributions are forgotten. During the 1930s, Boano created many of the great designs of Viotti, Bertone, Ghia, Farina and Castagna. Those marques affixed their names to his work and Boano continued to be hidden in the shadows.
When Giacinto Ghia was on his deathbed, he instructed his wife to contact Felice Mario Boano to save the company. Boano stepped in, along with Giorgio Alberti, and purchased the company. The work done while under the Ghia name is often remembered for their low-roofline designs such as the Alfa Romeo 2500CC, Lancia Aurelia, Karmann-Ghia, Chrysler K200, Alfa-Romeo 1900Ss and a few Ferrari 166 Berlinetta models.
Boano left the Ghia Company and surrendered his interests in the company after his relationship with Luigi Segre deteriorated. Boano's work was still in high demand and soon was tasked by Pininfarini to create the first designs for Ferrari's series production automobiles. when Batista 'Pinin' Farina left Stablimenti Farina to work under his own name, he brought Boano with him. This relationship would prosper for many years.
In 1954 Felice Mario founded Carrozzeria Boano in Grugliasco which remained in production until 1957. He and his son, Gian Paolo Boano, were responsible for some of the gorgeous bodies that were given to the Ferrari 250 GT Series. Other memorable work of the Carrozzeria Boano Company was for Carlo Abarth and the Fiat-Abarth 207 series.
Gian Paolo had gained knowledge of the family craft from Liceo Artistico and then apprenticed in his father's company. The wealth of knowledge and experience of the skilled artisans and the family business were nurtured from one generation to the next. One of his first series production vehicle designs was the Lancia Aurelia 2000 while working at Ghia. His designs had Italian style with influences of the contemporary American automobile.
The coach-building craft was in desperation after World War II. Many of the marquee's had brought the styling, designing and building of the vehicles in-house. The availability of suitable chassis also dwindled. At this time, many prominent coachbuilders worked hard to form alliances with marquee's, especially the American Companies who had deep pockets. Ghia created a relationship with Chrysler; Bertone with Packard; and Touring with Hudson.
This companies looked to the coachbuilders for new designs that were bold and inspiring. Felice Mario Boano had acquaintances in the Ford Motor Company who were instrumental in aiding Boano in securing projects. Henry Ford II had just recently taken control of the company from his father, Edsel Ford. He was anxious to bring the Ford Company into a modern era and so, supplied Boano with a Lincoln chassis. Felice Mario gave the job to his son, Gian Paolo.
The project was intended for the 1955 Turin Motor Show. It was given the name 'Indianapolis', after the legendary race. The design was very futuristic, and was probably inspired by airplanes and aviation. The result was a flamboyant and bold, but elegant concept. The design was graceful and full of detail. Little time had passed from when Ford commissioned the car to be built, to when it was on display at the Motor Show. The result was stunning, and led to Ford extending a contract to Boano. Felice Mario informed Fiat of the contract, which led Fiat to form the Centro Stile department. Boano was select at its leaders. Boano sold their coachworks to Ezio Ellena who was the husband of Gian Paolo's sister.
While working with Fiat in their design and styling department, they created such prominent vehicles as the Fiat 600 and the Simca 1000.