Fiat Chairman John Elkann has been turning to an unusual source for advice on the car business. While speaking during an interview with The Detroit News, Elkann said he often asks Bill Ford Jr. for advice on how to proceed with the turnaround at Chrysler. "It's great to have the opportunity to share this with someone like Bill, who has experienced many things and gone through many things ... especially linked to Detroit." Elkann said.

As the Agnelli family heir, Elkann has inherited a long and fruitful friendship with the Ford family. While Giovanni Agnelli built his first Fiat four years before Henry Ford created his first vehicle, it was Ford that showed Agnelli the benefits of mass production and helped pave the way for what would become the Fiat empire.

Giovanni's grandson, Gianni, helped mentor Bill Ford when he was elected chairman of Ford Motor Company. Now, Ford is returning the favor by helping Elkann navigate the automotive industry's tumultuous waters.

"I have a lot of admiration for how Bill handled things," Elkann said. "He's been very candid and I'm very curious by nature, so being able to listen to real-life experience ... is very valuable."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      Can Bill Ford mentor him how to get a hair cut??
      • 2 Years Ago
      All these people at the top, including former Presidents of the US, all get along mostly and have a connection that us mortals don't understand. You may think they dislike each other or whatnot but the reality is they grew up differently and have a bond together for being a select few. Really it's a good thing between Ford and Fiat getting along. If they respect each other and want to both succeed there's room for everyone. You can do business in a cheap way that may get you somethings in the short term, like lying and stealing ideas but long term it's better to do the right things. That's how Ford and Fiat both have made it through. I'm sure Bill and John know this and while they might not share their plans for the future, their talk is probably more generalized and beneficial for both of them. Deep down Ford wants Chrysler to be strong since that helps the supply costs go down for them as well.
      • 2 Years Ago
      With all due respect to Bill Ford, the best question Elkann could ask him is \"What\'s Alan Mulally\'s number?\"
      • 2 Years Ago
      BTW, John Elkann is an American, born in New York City!
        Brian Bragg
        • 2 Years Ago
        Nope. He was just born in NYC. He is an Italian citizen and really didn't spend much time here.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Brian Bragg
          How is he related to the Agnellis?
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Brian Bragg
          If you were born in the US, you are American. The US is one of the only countries in the world where anyone born on it's soil is automatically American. So John Elkann is indeed American. He is obviously also Italian but that is not mutually exclusive, plenty of people have multiple nationalities.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Quite interesting from an automotive history perspective. Both individuals are the still involved descendants of the original founders of car companies now over 100 years old.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wouldn't necessarily say Bill Ford's an unusual source. If he's open to giving advice Elkann would be foolish not to take it. Bill Ford was there in very bleak times and knows a thing or two about how to turn things around.
      • 2 Years Ago
      \"Bill\'s best advice is get someone who knows what he is doing to run your company. I did.\" And that is what makes Bill one of the 5 smartest guys in the industry. He may not have done a great job running Ford himself but he didn\'t waste a buttload of money on accepted industry leaders that didn\'t do any better with GM or Chrysler. He knew he was mediocre but he didn\'t take any real paycheck while he was doing it, and he turned over the reins as soon as he found the right guy so he didn\'t let ego get in the way.