TURIN, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Fiat's honorary chairman, Gianni Agnelli, died on Friday as the company his grandfather founded battles through the worst crisis in its 104-year history.
Following are some of the milestones along Fiat's bumpy road:
1899 - Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (FIAT) founded.
1900 - First Fiat plant opens with 35 staff; makes 24 cars.
1921 - Gianni Agnelli born.
1939-1945 - Agnelli is a tank commander in Mussolini's army during the Second World War but switches sides following the fall of Italian fascism and assists in Allied liberation.
1946-1962 - Agnelli joins Fiat as vice-chairman but spends much of his time away from work, playing with the jet set.
1953 - Agnelli marries princess Marella Caracciolo.
1963 - Agnelli knuckles down to work, becomes Fiat's managing director.
1966 - Agnelli becomes Fiat chairman.
1969 - Fiat buys Lancia carmaker and half of Ferrari. Growing labour unrest sparks 15 million hours of strikes.
1973 - Fiat suffers first operating loss as result of worsening strikes and the first oil price shock.
1976 - Industrialist Carlo De Benedetti recruited as managing director to reverse a sales slump; only lasts four months. Libya buys just under 10 percent of Fiat, sparking outcry at sell-off by Italian institutions.
1976 - John Elkann, Agnelli's grandson and heir, born.
1980-1985 - Fiat cuts more than 100,000 jobs.
1986 - Fiat beats Ford to buy Alfa Romeo from the Italian government, making it Europe's largest automaker. Libya sells its stake back to the Agnellis and a consortium led by investment bank Mediobanca .
1991 - Agnelli appointed life senator for his part in building nation's wealth and being an anchor in its turbulent politics.
1996 - Agnelli steps down as chairman and is made honorary chairman. Cesare Romiti, a Mediobanca ally, takes over as chairman and Paolo Cantarella as managing director.
1997 - Romiti convicted for tax fraud, falsifying accounts and making illegal political contributions.
1997 - Agnelli's nephew Giovanni Alberto Agnelli, groomed to take over Fiat, dies of cancer at the age of 33.
1998 - Romiti retires as chairman, replaced by Paolo Fresco. Fiat Auto punished by slump in key Brazil market and price war in Italy; group net profit halves to 1.77 trillion lire.
2000 - Banks, including Mediobanca's powerful leader Enrico Cuccia, urge Fiat to sell Fiat Auto to DaimlerChrysler.
July 2000 - Fiat sells 20 percent of Fiat Auto to General Motors Corp. for $2.4 billion in GM stock. Fiat agrees an option to sell GM the rest between 2004 and 2009.
November 2000 - Agnelli's son Edoardo commits suicide.
March 2001 - Fiat sells one third of its Magnetti Marelli auto parts unit. Further sell-offs delayed by economic slowdown.
August - Fiat leads takeover of Montedison, Mediobanca's prize asset, to gain Italy's number two power company Edison.
December - Fiat Auto CEO Roberto Testore resigns, replaced by Giancarlo Boschetti. Fiat cuts 6,000 jobs around the world and says selling non-core businesses in favour of car assets.
February 2002 - Fiat posts 2001 pre-tax loss of 497 million euros ($536 million) vs. 1.05 billion euro profit in 2000 after car sales slow. Worse to come as Fiat cuts unprofitable sales.
May - Fiat says to list sportscar maker Ferrari. Fiat Auto cuts 3,000 jobs, sparking strikes; slashes 2002 sales forecasts.
May - Fiat clinches a 3.0 billion euro loan from banks IntesaBCI , Capitalia , Sanpaolo IMI and Unicredito . The banks offer to buy Fiat investments to cut its debt. If Fiat cannot pay the money back, or if it misses debt-cutting targets, the banks can convert debt into equity, worth about a third of the group.
June - Paolo Cantarella quits after 25 years with the group. Gabriele Galateri, head of Agnelli family holding company IFI, named CEO.
June - Fiat sells 34 percent of Ferrari to a Mediobanca-led group, a warming of relations after the Montedison raid.
September - Fiat CFO Daniel Clermont loses his job, replaced by Ferruccio Luppi.
October - Fiat asks for crisis status from government; says to lay off 8,100 workers across Italy and shut down its Sicilian plant. Workers strike, blocking airports, roads and buildings.
October - GM writes down Fiat Auto stake to $220 million.
October - Fiat recapitalises the auto unit by cancelling intra-group debts.
December - Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi openly criticises Fiat management. He adds he would gladly take the helm of the company if he were not already busy as premier.
December - Fiat gets go-ahead to lay off thousands of workers; rushes through asset sales to meet creditors' debt targets.
December - Galateri quits as CEO, goes back to job at Ifi.
January 2003 - Various industrialists pen plans for Fiat.
January - Fresco confirms group considering splitting Fiat Auto away from other units and recapitalising business.
January - Agnelli family tries to quench rumours of internal bickering. Gianni Agnelli hands over voting rights in family holding to wife and sister. Names grandson John Elkann as legal representative.
January 24 - Fiat says Gianni Agnelli has died. Younger brother Umberto takes over as head of family holding.