In 1968, it was the dream boat of Italian billionaire playboy, style icon and Fiat president Giovanni “Gianni” Agnelli: an ultra-sleek 37-foot wave piercer that could tear through the French Riviera at 50 knots, or an unprecedented 58 mph.
Powered by an Italian-made 8-liter Vulcano BPM V8 quartet delivering a combined power of 1,280 horsepower, thunder G. Fifty came from the drawing board of go-fast-boat legend Renato “Sonny” Levi. The boat’s look, speed and hoarse roar were ahead of their time – at least 20 years, in fact, until the time the Miami vice era saw performance boats reach their peak.
This week, for the first time since its launch in 1968, this iconic speedster has found a new owner. As part of RM Sotheby’s highly publicized “Open Roads” online program auction, it sold for an impressive price €375,000, or $ 433,740 at the current exchange rate.
The name G. Fifty defined what this sea crier was: G for Gianni, and Fifty, or Italian for 50, as in the formidable top speed of the boat in knots.
When it was launched 52 years ago, an Italian yachting journalist wrote that it is the perfect boat for watching motorboat racing offshore. How to come? “He could not only be there at the start, but could make it to the finish line in time to see the winners arrive.”
Agnelli would have loved the boat and spent a lot of time on board. In his first year of ownership, he covered over 2,000 miles, rushing between Cannes and Saint-Tropez, or east along the Italian Riviera to San Remo. Usually just for lunch.
The man they called Avvocato, or a lawyer, kept it for seven years before gifting it to a family friend and fellow sailor, who has kept it in truly immaculate, moot condition ever since.
G. Fifty looks as good, if not better, today than it did half a century ago. Throwing a rooster’s tail of spray at 50 knots, the boat still exudes Italian style. Her exaggerated deep-V hull with the needle-shaped bow was one of the thinnest and fastest designs on Sonny Levi’s drawing board.
In 1968 the boat broke all the rules. Levi designed G. Fifty with not one, but two cockpits. The front with bench seats for the guests and the rear exclusively for the driver, who had to use eight levers to control the boat, four to change gears and the other four for the throttles.
While Levi came up with the hull and deck design, Agnelli asked his good friend and legendary car designer Sergio Pininfarina to polish the twin cockpits and the small V-shaped cabin below the foredeck. As for the layout of those four thunderous V8s, Levi has placed them in different places. The two forwards are mounted in front of the aft cockpit and the others are mounted at the stern, just in front of the transom.
G. Fifty was built at Cantiere Delta shipyard in Anzio, 40 miles south of Rome. Prior to large-scale fiberglass production, the hull featured four layers of diagonally laid mahogany planks, glued with epoxy to give it the strength of steel. The sides are covered with several coats of gloss varnish. As for that unusually tall and rounded windshield, when the boat was launched it did not have a screen. But after a few races at 58 mph, Agnelli complained of being whipped by the wind and Levi found the solution.
Fifty-two years is a long time for the original engines to continue to operate. That’s why the current owner recently replaced all four engines with more powerful BPM Vulcanos. Now there is a total of 1,440 horsepower, bringing the top speed to 55 knots (63.3 mph). The new engines currently have less than 100 hours on them.
RM Sotheby’s has refused to reveal the identity of the buyer, although there will likely be a trip to Italy in the future for that person. As the list clearly states: “This lot will have to be picked up in Naples, Italy. “
Capri, here we are!
See a cool video of the boat below: