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Scaglietti: The Artist Who Gave Ferraris their Shape, Dies at 91

Sergio Scaglietti was probably Ferrari’s favorite coachbuilder, as he designed some of the most famous and expensive cars ever.

He designed a few of the most beautiful and famous Ferrari road and racing cars the world has ever seen. However, the name Sergio Scaglietti, who died this week in Modena, Italy at age 91, is known only to a small circle of Ferrari fans and industrialists. Scaliegtti began his car design career after the World War II. Before his talent in metal work was spotted by Enzo Ferrari, then the owner of a small auto manufacturer start-up, he worked at a car repair shop just across the road from the Ferrari factory in Modena.

Ferrari soon gave the young, talented, and ambitious Scaglietti his big break into the prestigious and hard-working world of coachbuilding. His life would be changed forever. At the time there were quite a few established coachbuilders, such as Bertone, Zagato, Vignale, Touring and Pinin Farina (who became Pininfarina just a decade later), to name just a few. However Scaglietti, who designed each car in his head and applied the shapes to the aluminum sheets with a hammer, became Ferrari's favorite coachbuilder and in 1954 got the top job officially.

Up until that time, Ferrari only built the chassis, manufactured the engines, and then shipped the cars' skeletons to various coachbuilders who manually built the cars' bodies (and therefore no Ferrari from the '50s is identical to another one). Scaglietti won Ferrari's trust and respect not only because of his artistic skills, but also because of his relationship and support for Enzo's son, Dino, who died in 1956. Ferrari was the guarantor for Scaglietti's loan from a bank when he built his workshop and later helped him become part of his company when Fiat acquired 50 percent of Ferrari in 1969. Today, the Scaglietti brand is owned by Ferrari.

Throughout the '50s and '60s, Scaglietti designed legendary Ferrari models such as the Testa Rossa, the 250 GTO, the 500 Mondial and the California Mondial. However, he wasn't averse to American cars and in 1959 built three beautiful Corvettes for three Texas-based racers: Gary Laughlin, Jim Hall and Carroll Shelby. They were trying to duplicate Ferrari's lightweight construction with inexpensive Chevrolet power. Nowadays, Ferraris designed by Scaglietti cars are collectable items worth millions of dollars each, though they are seldom sold at auctions. Last August a Scaglietti-designed Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa was sold for a world record $16.4 million.

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