Car Culture

Giorgetto Giugiaro's Designs Revolutionized The Auto Industry

We celebrate 50 years of Giugiaro’s automotive design achievements

Giorgetto Giugiaro, the man behind one of the most successful automotive design firms of the 20th century will be celebrating his 80th birthday this August. Giugiaro set up his first design and engineering company back in 1968, the company was originally called Studi Italiani Realizzazione Prototipi, very loosely translated it meant: Italian studies in prototypes. Eventually it was renamed Italdesign Giugiaro and while the company has been involved in numerous design projects, it is their work in the automotive field that most will remember.

The firm has been under Lamborghini’s control since 2015 and Giugiaro has moved on to create a new company that focuses mostly on concept cars. But his legacy remains and we take a look at some of the most impressive and remarkable creations to come out of Italdesign over the years. To put things into perspective this firm has worked on over 90 concept cars and has been credited with the design of over 70 production models from manufacturers as diverse as Alfa Romeo, BMW, Daewoo, Fiat, Bugatti, Maserati and Volkswagen. The original Volkswagen Golf, or Rabbit as it is called here, was one of the first collaborations that Giugiaro had with VW.

It was also one of the most successful, the sharp lines and innovative packaging solution of this small hatchback was copied the world over and the silhouette of the original remains in the newest generation too. The first Passat and Scirocco models were also Giugiaro’s design and he also built some amazing concept vehicles like the W12 Syncro and Roadster in the ‘90s. There were plenty of bread and butter models along the way, cars like the Fiat Punto, Audi 80 and a brace of Hyundais and Daewoos too.

The Alfa Romeo Alfetta, Brera and Alfasud are still classically beautiful today but the ones that really stand out are game changing sports cars like the Maserati Bora and Merak and the first mid-engined BMW supercar, the M1. Of course, one of the most recognisable cars of this era is the DeLorean DMC-12, thanks to its movie franchise links and that unforgettable stainless-steel bodywork, the DeLorean is still a head-turner today. Then there was the Lotus Esprit, a car that ushered in the age of wedge-shaped sports cars. There were Italdesign’s own concepts too.

The Italdesign Cala was a Lamborghini-based concept that could have been the forerunner to the Gallardo if Lamborghini had not been in the midst of another takeover and actually put it into production. It was fully functional, equipped with a 4.0-liter V10 engine and 6-speed manual transmission. Such attention to details is not something that is always a given in the world of fanciful concept cars. Another beautiful design that sadly never made it into production was the Italdesign Nazca C2. This streamlined sports car was intended as a replacement for the original BMW M1 and it too was built with functioning running gear.

It had an Alpina-tuned 5.0-liter V12 giving it close to 200 mph performance capabilities. BMW decided against putting it into production so only a mere 3 examples are thought to exist. Both this and the Cala featured in Need For Speed III, a late ‘90s computer game that only made us want these concepts turned to reality even more. After the sale of Italdesign to VW, Giorgetto and his son Fabrizio founded GFG Style in 2015 to further their automotive designs. In recent years their automotive influence has been a little less high-profile, but recent concept vehicles such as the Zerouno and Techrules show that they are still looking towards the future and experimenting with the latest design and technology solutions out there.

To celebrate Giorgetto’s birthday they have collaborated with Envision, a smart energy management firm, to build a one-off concept named the Giugiaro GFG Sibylla EV Concept. The Sibylla EV is more than just a pretty face though. According to GFG Style it showcases some cutting-edge thinking and uses Envision’s EnOS energy IoT platform. This allows the vehicle to be intelligently integrated into the wider energy ecosystem. We are not quite sure what that means but we are sure that the lifting front cockpit glass and rear gullwing doors look pretty amazing.

The GFG team mentions how the choice of an electric drivetrain allows for this innovative accessibility solution as well as the ability to develop new ergonomic designs both inside and out. The name Sibylla is both a reference to a figure from Latin mythology that could predict the future as well as being Giorgetto’s mother name. The futuristic design incorporates some interesting tech ideas too, such as a large display inside the front grille that displays information on charge status and alerts other road users and pedestrians when it is braking or turning. The backrests of each seat also incorporate sensors that detect an occupants physical condition.

Fanciful ideas, maybe, but today’s concepts are tomorrows production cars and many ideas seen in the Sibylla EV Concept could well be in your next EV. This may well end up being the case as many of Giugiaro’s earlier designs that were initially deemed too outlandish ended up as production models. Their ground-breaking ideas too have often served as inspiration for upcoming models. With the Giugiaro family embracing the next step in auto evolution, we can expect many more such concepts in the future and perhaps a few production models too.

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