After Fiat's operations were heavily bombed during World War II, Managing Director Vittorio Valletta needed $35 million in cash to begin the group's reconstruction.
His attempts to get direct financing from international banks were focused mainly in the USA, beginning with a small credit line from the Bank of America. In 1947, Valletta received $10 million from Exim Bank. But the real push began in June 1947, when the US government launched the Marshall Plan to reconstruct the economies of the war-torn European countries.
Valletta made a number of trips to the USA to promote Fiat reconstruction and in four years was able to put together $34 million of the $35 million he had sought. Fiat Group received 21 percent of the Marshall Plan allotment for Italy. In 1949, Fiat was able to launch the 1400 sedan. The US influence on the 1400 was not only on the financial side, but also in the styling and engineering. The reason: Italian engineers, headed by Dante Giacosa, were sent to Detroit to learn about the latest technologies.
But new capital was not the only problem in relaunching Fiat. After the fall of Mussolini in March 1943, both Giovanni Agnelli and Vittorio Valletta were ousted from the company, accused of having cooperated with the Fascists.
Late in 1945, the Italian courts gave a no condemnation ruling. Valletta was almost immediately sent back to Fiat by the Allies, who considered his presence the basic requirement to keep Fiat workers calm and cooperative.
Giovanni Agnelli, disgusted that his company had turned against him, had decided two years earlier not to return to the company in any operating role. He asked the shareholders to accept his grandson Gianni as the family representative on the Fiat board.