The Italian masters of design are gone, but not forgotten.
Gruppo Bertone, or more commonly just Bertone, was one of the great Italian coachbuilders. The Bertone studio had a long list of customers that included, amongst others, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lancia, Lamborghini, Fiat, Abarth. Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, and even Volvo. The company was founded by Giovanni Bertone in 1912 before Nuccio Bertone took charge after World War II. The company was then split in two with Carrozzeria set up for manufacturing and Stile Bertone for styling. The company lasted 102 years and it was family-owned all the way. It was Lilli Bertone, the widow of Nuccio Bertone, who ran the company up until its eventual bankruptcy in 2014.
In the 1920s, Giovanni Bertone built relationships with all the Italian manufacturers at the time, but the important and long-lasting relationships were FIAT and Lancia. Vincenzo Lancia realized Bertone's talent immediately and commissioned him to create complete car bodies for the company. That's where the evolution of Bertone's style began, but over the decades Bertone cars still managed to be distinctly Bertone.
At the time of the early 1970s, Lancia traditionally used the Pininfarina design house for its styling. Bertone knew Lancia was looking to replace the Fulvia for use in rallying, and had Marcello Gandini, the man behind the Lamborghini Muira and later the Countach, to come up with a design to impress Lancia. They did, and the landmark rally car came onto the scene looking as insanely beautiful as it was fast. The Lancia Stratos was the first purpose-built rally car designed from scratch, and while winning the 1974, 1975, and 1976 World Rally Championship titles it started a new era in the sport.
The fact the Lamborghini Countach became the most famous poster car on the planet was one hell of a way for Bertone to put its name on the map in the 1980s. Marcello Gandini was actually working on the Countach's design while working on the Stratos, and it uses the same design language as the Lancia Stratos Zero concept. The Lamborghini LP500 concept car first appeared in 1971 at the Geneva Motor Show, and its production run started in 1974 to last all the way through to 1990. The Countach is easily Bertone's most iconic car.
This is, again, from the pen of Marcelo Gandini. However, the Alfa Romeo Montreal moves away from sleek lines and sharp edges to become more of an Italian take on the classic American muscle car. It came about when Alfa Romeo was invited to create " a conceptual exhibit of man's aspiration" for the1967 International and Universal Exposition, held in Montreal. The headlights being hooded by louvers give it a particularly dangerous look, and under the hood was a 2,5-liter DOHC V8 making 230 horsepower.
Stanley H. "Wacky" Arnolt was a Chicago industrialist who imported foreign cars to the United States in the 1950s. Five of those imports were sequential Aston Martin DB2/4 chassis that he then had sent to Carrozzeria Bertone to be fitted with custom coachwork. Franco Scaglione went to work on the chassis and came up with something achingly gorgeous. Three of the chassis got the body you see below, with two being minimally equipped for sports use while the other was fully loaded for luxury.
Aston Martin quickly put a stop to the project, so the three cars are incredibly rare and sought after and this one sold for $3,080,000 at Pebble beach in 2016.
What you're looking at here is a one-off coachbuilt Ferrari by Bertone, for Bertone. Specifically, Nuccio Bertone, who commissioned it for his own personal use and had it designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. The standout feature is the aggressive shark nose front-end. It would be a tough proposition to argue that it's one of the best Ferrari 250s, but its overall shape and lines are something special. As far as coachbuilt Ferrari's go, this is one of the most desirable out there and was last seen changing hands for $16,500,000.
Ferruccio Lamborghini himself didn't like the idea or want the Miura designed, but his engineering team went against him in their spare time. The end result was a true game-changer that landed Lamborghini in the spotlight of the entire world. The boss liked his powerful cars to be more like grand tourers rather than race-derived monsters, but the car's styling by Marcello Gandini and the revolutionary mid-engined design of the Miura sucked the press and the public in. It remained in production from 1966 to 1973 before being replaced by the Countach.
From the automaker that gave the world the bubble car, the Iso Grifo was something completely different. The limited-run coupe was produced from 1965 to 1974 with the aim of competing with Ferrari and Maserati GT cars. The design had to be up to par to go head to head with the huge Italian names, so the Bertone styling came from the pen of Giorgetto Giugiaro. It was powered by a 5.4-liter Chevrolet Corvette small-block 327 until 1970 when the styling got sleeker and the engine changed to a 5.8-liter Ford Boss 351 engine.
The final year of the Grifo was also the final year of the Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A company as well, as in 1974 the company was suffering financial problems and went bankrupt. The 1973 oil crisis was the final nail in the company's coffin as the circle completed and demand for V8 engines shrunk.
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