Felice Mario Boano and his coachworks may be little known but the influence that he, his son Gian Paolo and their companies had on the evolution of modern automotive design is vastly out of proportion to their size.

Felice Mario Boano and his coachworks may be little known but the influence that he, his son Gian Paolo and their companies had on the evolution of modern automotive design is vastly out of proportion to their size.

In the post-war Italian economy, which was struggling to rebuild from the devastation of World War II, coachbuilders recognized that an alliance with the intact, powerful, and rich American automotive industry was the key to survival. Boano, through a well-placed friend who worked at Ford, arranged to build a futuristic design on a Ford chassis. Ford supplied a Lincoln chassis and Boano embarked upon a fast-track project to complete the car in time for presentation at the 1955 Turin Motor Show, the coachbuilders' preeminent showcase.

After its appearance at the 1955 Turin Motor Show the Lincoln Indianapolis was shipped to the United States, consigned not to Ford but to Henry Ford II. It is believed that he gave the car to Errol Flynn. The subsequent history has the car passing through a number of hands and being involved in a fire before being acquired by the present owner over 20 years ago.

Two years were spent restoring the 1955 Boano Lincoln and the result is breathtaking. The extended nose, with vertical-quad headlights and no visible cooling air intake, only starts the extravagant Indianapolis design. Displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and other top- ranked concours, the Indianapolis is a stunning exercise in creativity and imagination rendered to contemporary standards by an owner and restorer determined to do it right regardless of cost.

SCM Analysis


Years Produced:1955
Number Produced:1
Original List Price:n/a
SCM Valuation:$1,375,000, at least
Tune Up Cost:$300
Distributor Caps:$20

This 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis by Boano sold for $1,375,000 at the Gooding Pebble Beach auction on Sunday, August 20, 2006.

Restoring a car is an expensive, arduous, and frustrating undertaking. What starts out being just redoing chrome, paint, and interior quickly evolves into parts hunting and fabrication, panel reconstruction, and all the other unknown gremlins that raise their ugly heads.

Restoring a concept car only compounds these problems. The parts are not available on any table at Hershey; the other examples, if there are any, are in museums or factory displays and the owners are not likely to take some part off for you to copy. There sure aren’t any manuals for direction.

Up the ante a bunch when the car is the only one in existence, the interior has been destroyed in a fire, and a portion of the car arrives in boxes as a result of a previous owner’s attempted and uncompleted restoration. If that doesn’t scare you off, throw in the fact that the car, when constructed, was being built against a tight deadline and there was little time to do it right, only to make it look good and get it done.

As a result there were numerous shortcuts on this 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis; for instance, the hood-release clamps were constructed of pieces of Quaker State oil cans that were bent to fit and painted. The driver’s fender was an inch and a half longer than the passenger’s, the roof was not straight, and the hood was not aligned properly. In addition, sheet metal was used for chassis bracing rather than cast iron and the windshield was held in place with adhesive. Due to the lack of time when the car was built, large amounts of lead were used to achieve fit (the eventual restorer said that he removed enough to fill half a 55-gallon drum).

The most recent owner of this 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis turned it over to Jim Cox at Sussex Motor and Coachworks and instructed him to restore it the way Gian Paolo Boano would have-if he had the time. Cox has restored several of the owner’s rare Packards, so he understood the standard that was expected.
Two years later (and after untold expense) the result is stunning. The styling is so extreme that it’s a personal preference, but the quality of the restoration cannot be questioned. So what do we have? A car that weighs two tons, seats two, has no trunk or luggage storage, does not even have a rear-view mirror, and has a gas tank with a five-gallon capacity. Air intake is through a small cut-out below the front bumper, so over-heating is a problem. The car was obviously not designed for driving comfort or, for that matter, driving at all. But it was designed and built as a concept that touted the capabilities of the Boano firm, and that end was achieved.

The market for concept cars has been well documented of late. The Oldsmobile F-88 that sold at Barrett-Jackson in 2004 for $3.2 million set the tone, but even the fortuitous seller of that car will admit that was a moment in time when the sun, the stars, and the moon were in perfect alignment. Dramatic styling, impeccable restoration, and a fascinating history that may have included Errol Flynn would make this the cornerstone of any collection. Was the price paid reasonable? In my opinion, absolutely, and no one will ever be able to say they found one for less.

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