Innocenti 1100 Coupé by Ghia

Innocenti C 001-1.jpg

As you may imagine, a question I'm asked quite often is, "How do you find so many strange vehicles?" Most of the time, it's pretty simple: look for vehicles that were a result of two automakers coming together at a point in time.

Innocenti started as a factory that made Lambretta scooters, but soon branched out into vehicles, with its first car being an Italian-built British Motor Corporation Mini. This connection helped to provide the platform for the Innocenti Spider, which was based on the Austin-Healey Sprite. The Innocenti C, for "coupë" if you hadn't guessed, was introduced in 1966, six years after the Spider was shown. 

Tasked with dressing both open and closed Innocenti versions of the sportster was Carrozzeria Ghia and one of its young designers, Tom Tjaarda. A nice square take on a small sports car, it's a shame that only 794 examples were made in its two years of production—I'd love seeing these little things around at local car shows.

Though rare, they'd be easy to fix, at least: with a BMC-sourced 1,100-cc 4-cylinder engine and all of the mechanical improvements made to the Spider over a number of years of production, the C was by every measure the one to get if you enjoy driving—and, better still, relied upon pedestrian parts from BMC.

I think it may have influenced another car, as well: the Honda S360 and the firm's subsequent roadsters and coupes. To my eyes, there's something very familiar between the two—and what better way to jump-start your first roadster by borrowing a few lines from one of Italy's greatest design studios?