The art of coachbuilding is dead, you say? These guys beg to differ.
With so many car companies designing their wares and offering built-to-order-for-a-price boydywork options in house nowadays, it's tempting to think that the days of coachbuilding are now long behind us - especially when brands as famous as Bertone have sadly bitten the bullet in recent times. However, the handful of coachbuilders that have survived are all finding themselves in a mini-resurgence at the moment, with quite a few of them all ready to show off their latest custom-built car designs at next week's Geneva Motor Show.
Perhaps the most anticipated one is from Pininfarina. Even though its services are no longer used by carmakers on production vehicles nowadays (for the first time since 1951, Ferrari no longer sells an auto designed by Pininfarina), the studio still builds limited-run and one-off cars, and is expected to pull the wraps off an example of the latter on March 1. Not much is known about it at the moment, though we have been informed it won't be just a pretty face: Pininfarina states this mysterious car will be "innovative", "stylish" and a "technological jewel". It could all be just PR buzzwords, but we're optimistic it will be something special - especially when the press release parlance is being uttered by a company like Pininfarina.
If you thought Pininfarina was keeping its cards close to its chest with the "jewel" it'll be bringing to Geneva, then Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera is being a ridiculous tease with whatever it will be showcasing at the Palexpo expo center. All the studio has said is that it will be the first "open sports car" built by the company since it was resuscitated in 2007 (which might be a bit of a fib, given it built the Superleggera Vision concept for Mini in 2014). Other than the confirmation it won't feature a fixed roof, your guess on what it could possibly be is as good as ours, though - as 2016 will mark the 90th anniversary of the Touring brand - we wouldn't be surprised if this barchetta will be a homage to the studio's greatest hits.
The last of the "old school" breed of studios with a Geneva Motor Show-bound design study is ItalDesign Giugiaro. As ItalDesign has been showing off concepts at Geneva annually since 2007, it's perhaps no big surprise that it's got something in the pipelines for 2016. ItalDesign's status as one small cog in the giant Volkswagen Group empire means this Giugiaro concept might be revealed in full prior to the Geneva Motor Show's opening day, during the all-encompassing Volkswagen press event that's traditionally held the evening before the first trade day. Until then, though, we can only make almost-certainly incorrect predictions on what this ItalDesign car will actually be.
The coachbuilders mentioned so far may all have long histories, but that doesn't mean the market is devoid of fresh-faced upstarts. One such new kid is Kahn Design, a company that started out making alloy wheels and is now one of the most successful and ambitious custom car firms out there. That ambition can perhaps be best seen in its latest Geneva-bound product, the brilliantly named WB12 Vengeance. It's based on the Aston Martin DB9, with most of the work going into the remodeled cabin and body. Admittedly, it does also look a lot like the DB9 - but, when you're using one of the prettiest grand tourers built to date as a starting point, it's perhaps best to not mess around with such a beautiful formula too much.