At the last edition of the Geneva Motor Show Bertone presented an innovative and well received concept car based on the Fiat Panda and which was dubbed the Barchetta.

Bertone's precarious situation is finally being resolved with Chairwoman Lili Bertone announcing last night that she had signed an option to sell the struggling group to Domenico Reviglio, the founder of Gruppo Prototipo. The statement was completely unexpected as it was widely believed that negotiations to sell the historic Turin based engineering firm to the former Telecom Italia and Zanussi President Gianmario Rossignolo were entering the final stages.

On 29th December the Italian government had agreed to a 2 month extension to the worker redundancy payment scheme which was due to expire on 31st December having arrived at the maximum 2 year period that is allowed under law. It was expected that the contract with Rossignolo would be publicly outlined on 12th January, after being shown to government ministers and the unions, and would include new assembly contracts that would safeguard 1,000 of the 1,300 jobs at the Grugliasco factory which are under threat from the lack of orders.

However last night Lili Bertone issued a statement which said that she had signed an "option for purchase of the Bertone Group in favour of Domenico Reviglio, founder of the Gruppo Prototipo." Nothing is known of Reviglio's plans for the engineering firm but the Turin-based entrepreneur knows the automotive field well. In the 1990s he was involved with Gruppo Prototipo which took over much of the management of testing activities of the Fiat Group. Gruppo Prototipo manages the facilities, and the jewel in its crown its the Narḍ Ring, a perfectly circular, steeply banked high-speed test track which is used for testing by many of the world's leading car manufacturers'.

© 2008 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed