Thursday, 14 April 2011


Who remembers the VW Porsche Tapiro? Prototype on the basis of a 914-6, with engine enlarged by Bonomell Tuning to 2.4 litre and 220bhp @ 7800rpm, quite a lot for 1970.
Giorgetto Giugiaro, motoring Mozart, a talented prodigy. I met him for a one-to-one interview in the early days of Italdesign. He wanted to show journalists his studios and establish himself as Giugiaro, not just an ex-Bertone freelance stylist. He liked to be called Giorgetto, a sort of diminutive of Giorgio. “I was baptized Giorgetto,” he told me. What a charmer, not much English at the time but a highly expressive Italian.
Gullwing doors for the passengers and the engine room.
He already had an impressive portfolio of cars, yet you could tell that he was really more pleased with his real art, his strongly coloured impressionist paintings. His grandfather painted church frescoes and his father did decorative religious art. Guigiaro grew up near Cuneo in north west Italy, polishing his natural artistic talent with studies of technical design. He was ambitious. He loved his rural roots but wanted commercial success.
Styling sketch for Tapiro
Born in 1938, his car sketches in a school exhibition were brought to the attention of Dante Giacosa, Fiat’s great technical director, who hired him at once. Giugiaro was just 17. Talent shows. It was a story Ian Callum of Jaguar would re-write years later.
Made for a motor show. Luggage room over the engine.
Giugiaro didn’t seem to be making progress at Fiat’s Special Vehicle Design Study Department so after three years he went to Bertone. Bert One as Autocar colleagues used to call it. Nuccio Bertone had his 21 year old genius produce the memorable BMW 3200CS in 1961, the Fiat 850 Spider and the Dino Coupe of 1965. After six years there Giugiaro went to Ghia, where his Maserati Ghibli and De Tomaso Mangusto were shown at Turin in 1966. I remember the show. Everybody thought them too fantastic yet they set a standard in sports car design for ten years and more. Ghia-Giugiaro designs were bought by Japan, where cars still looked stodgy, and encouraged he set up on his own in 1968.
Perhaps less of a success. The 1971 VW Karmann Cheetah. Longitudinal rear flat-4 of 1584cc and 50bhp.You almost forget how much he has influenced the shape of cars. I came across an Italdesign archive of 2000, which has long lists, some surprises, yet shows how Giugiaro remained true to the crisp brushwork of his early oils to which, he told me, he would return when he grew up.

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