On this day in auto history - October 19th

Tue 19th Oct 2021

It was on this day in 1932 that visionary Italian entrepreneur Giovanni Battista Pirelli - founder of Pirelli tyres - passed away at the age of 83.

Born into a family of gentry on the banks of Lake Como in 1848, Pirelli won a prize engineering scholarship which enabled him to witness the latest industrial developments throughout the world. On his return to Italy, he concentrated on those related to Indian rubber.

Having initially started the pioneering Pirelli company in 1872 with just 45 employees, the Milan-based business enjoyed rapid growth and within three years was supplying over half of Italy’s consumption of rubber commodities. After specialising in producing tyres from 1900, Pirelli made history in the 1920’s when becoming the first Italian company to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

At the time of his death, the reclusive Pirelli was rumoured to be one of Italy’s wealthiest men.

He was succeeded by two of his eight children, Piero and Alberto, whose first notable post-war act was to commission the building of the 32-storey Pirelli Tower in Milan which stood for decades as Italy’s tallest skyscraper.