Volkswagen Golf and Volkswagen Passat, Lancia Delta and Alfa Romeo Brera, FIAT Punto and SEAT Ibiza, Lotus Esprit and Maserati Spyder. The portfolio of the great Italian, who once dreamed of a career as a sculptor, has quite a few successful projects. But the listed models are on everyone’s ears, so we decided to remember the cars, which are rarely associated with the name of Giugiaro. Some have been undeservedly forgotten, while others for some reason remain in the shadows, despite all their genius.
Bizzarrini Manta (1968)
Giorgetto Giugiaro founded the Italdesign body shop on February 13, 1968. After many years of fruitful work for Bertone, FIAT and Ghia, the designer was finally able to discover the true freedom of creativity. With the opening of his own atelier, the possibilities of self-expression of the master were limited only by time. And even then, as the example of Bizzarrini Manta shows, not always. The fact is that from the moment of registration of the company to the opening of the Turin Motor Show was less than a month and a half. It was impossible to miss a landmark exhibition for the leading car stylists, but what can be prepared in such a short time? Either total garbage, or a real masterpiece!
It seems unbelievable, but Giugiaro drew and built a concept car in just 40 days. And the Manta represented a new word in car body layout: Giugiaro dared to make a one-volume coupe!
Innovative solutions are everywhere. The sculptural plastic of the body also surprises – the same gills near the windshield – and practically straight ascending line, starting from the front bumper and finishing on the roof. Rare, by the standards of a sports car, large interior allowed making the coupe without discounts three-seater, and the driver sat strictly in the middle. The base mounted 330 hp V8 from Chevrolet easily accelerated the car to 330 kilometers per hour.
Maserati Bora (1969)
Usually the name Bora in automobile lexicon is associated with a compact sedan from Volkswagen. But in the ’70s there was another, much cooler, more powerful and beautiful Bora decorated with a branded Maserati trident.
For the company from Bologna Bora was the first mid-engined coupe, and for Giugiaro – a kind of admission to the high society of “coaching-building”. Of course, he had become famous as a designer long before that, but the contract for Maserati sports car design, in the struggle for which Georgetto beat another famous couturier – Pietro Frua, immediately made a name and cash flow to Italdesign, then quite a young atelier.
Bold slashed lines, powerful center column, trimmed laconic stern – even the smallest details of Bora have well-balanced aesthetics of a sports car. By the way, its name borrowed from strong and at times destructive northern wind, “Bora” justified by really fantastic dynamics. The V8 engine with an output of 310 horsepower accelerated the coupe up to 260 km/h – for a serial sports car of the turn of the 60-70-ies it was so damn fast!
Hyundai Pony (1974)
It’s generally accepted that the first-generation Volkswagen Golf, which debuted in 1974, was not just Giugiaro’s iconic work, but the car that defined the industry for decades to come. But did you know that an unremarkable-looking hatchback named Pony played no less of a role in the formation of such a giant as Hyundai Motor?
In fact, with this model begins today’s chapter in the history of the Korean automobile industry. The entire annals of Hyundai are divided into “before” and “after” the Pony. When representatives of the Seoul-based firm met with Giorgetto in the early ’70s, they asked to make the design of the future model as conservative as possible. The Pony was not supposed to be a breakthrough, but just the foundation for the subsequent breakthrough. Built on a Mitsubishi Lancer chassis, the “little horse” got classic body contours, as the customers asked.
Pure, far-fetched look, free of ornaments, did not cause a desire to ecstatic aghast, but looked quite harmoniously against a background of Toyota, Renault, Opel and Ford cousins. The Pony was first unveiled at the 1974 Torino show, and two years later the hatchback became Hyundai’s first car to enter the world market.
Hyundai Pony Coupe (Asso di Fiori) (1974)
Isn’t it true, this car reminds of something. Something very famous… You are absolutely right.
The design project of the Hyundai Pony Coupe has an extremely indirect relation to the Korean brand. Of course, the base of the concept is the chassis from the Pony-hatch, but originally this car was created as an independent project of the Italdesign studio. However, on the eve of the Turin show of 1974, Hyundai management suddenly decided that this Giugiaro development should also carry the Korean name. The Koreans and Italians struck a deal. However, press releases of Italdesign, in which the elegant concept was called Asso di Fiori, that is “Ace of Crosses”, had already gone to press by that time. So it caused some confusion… five years later, when Giugiaro unveiled another Asso di Fiori, a prototype of the Isuzu Piazza coupe.
But let’s get back to our mystery… Take a look at the Pony Coupe’s skimpy and at the same time elegant lines. Pay attention to the recognizable pattern of the radiator grill, painted bumpers and characteristic silhouette. Don’t you recognize it? Because this very concept-car was the base for the legendary DeLorean DMC-12 – another iconic creation of Giugiaro! Actually, all Giorgetto had to do was to play with proportions and scale of the Pony Coupe a little bit. And of course to add the doors a la “kettle-wing”.
Asgard, Aspid, Aztec (1988)
The Turin show of 1988 turned into Italdesign benefit. Giugiaro prepared not one, but three concepts for the company’s 20-year anniversary – as they say, one is more beautiful than another. The roadster Aztec, coupe Aspid and minivan Asgard challenged the basics of car design, presenting graphic, functional body panels instead of smooth streamlined surfaces.
In the era of “Star Wars” craze, the shocking trio’s futuristic predatory shapes multiplied by revolutionary “curved” glazing and aerodynamic extravagances like screens on the rear wheels looked as topical as ever. But the control panel placed on a sidewall turned out even cooler. Here are the keys to enter a secret code, which opens access to the cabin, and external sensors, and even a very advanced information interface, controlled as it should be in the era of the 80’s with predetermined digital combinations. That is really on-board computer!
Subaru SVX (1992)
“For the first time in automotive history, customers can buy and drive a concept car!” It’s understandable that a company still unknown at the time, Subaru, would want to make a bigger name for itself. But you know, there was more to this bombastic SVX coupe advertisement than just the self-confidence of a young automaker.
Japanese really took a risk, launching a conceptual sports car in series practically without changes. By the way, by the standards of the early 90’s Subaru SVX, which absorbed features of many previous works of Giugiaro, looked more than brave. The most stunning was revolutionary glazing of a body. The whole side surface, starting from the shoulder line up to the roof, was transparent! However, only a small part of the front windows turned out to be sliding – not the most practical solution. But the unique appearance of the coupe and excellent visibility in any projection were worth it.
By the way, Subaru SVX also rode pretty good: a 3.3-liter gasoline oppo engine with 230 horsepower catapulted the car up to 248 km per hour.
Italdesign Columbus (1992)
The early 1990s were the heyday of the single-engine car. Giugiaro was in the very center of the trend, introducing luxury minibus. Columbus, named after the 500th anniversary of America discovery by Christopher Columbus, is more than just a van. Appearance at the junction of crazy experiments of Luigi Colani and vehicles from fantastic blockbusters is only half of the song.
The other is the body made of carbon fiber, 5-liter V12 from BMW with 300 horsepower, all-wheel drive transmission with four steering wheels. And the two-deck layout of the saloon – how could it be without it. The driver sat on a real throne, located above the engine in the center of the cabin. On each side there were the VIPs such as a flight engineer and a stewardess. VIP guests share four luxury seats in the rear cabin. A TV set and… a VCR!
FIAT Lucciola (1993)
One look at the photo is enough for a dozen questions. Chief among which: “Why is the Matiz called a Fiat?” But there is no mistake here. Before us is the proof that good design is bound to find an appreciative fan.
Actually, well-known to us Daewoo Matiz began its way of life as the car of absolutely other brand. Actually, Giorgetto Giugiaro developed a prototype of new urban FIAT Cinquecento. However, the charming concept car Lucciola (translated from Italian as “firefly” or “butterfly”) did not appeal to the management of the company from Turin. Fortunately, bosses of Daewoo later became interested in the talented project, just looking for a replacement for primitive microcart Tico. Korean businessmen were 100% satisfied with design of Luchiola.
Italdesign Touareg (2000)
No, this amazing all-terrain vehicle has nothing to do with Volkswagen Touareg. The similarity is only in its name. The concept car was named after an African nomadic tribe for a reason. After his trip to Libya, Georgetto conceived a perfect vehicle for the Sahara. Ideal not only and not so much in its consumer qualities, but stylistically perfectly blending in the cultural landscape of the desert. At least, in the way it is presented to a civilized European eye.
Italdesign Touareg partly looks like a cross-country vehicle assembled from a children’s construction set on a giant scale. The strong frame made of welded pipes and body panels of stamped and in some places perforated aluminum make the exterior similarity. And the “mesh” hood, which was useful for cooling the engine and allowed to admire the classic brutality of the American V8 engine.
By the way, the Touareg was not just a sophisticated exercise in design. This fully functional prototype was presented to photographer Helmut Newton, who had just shot a scandalous nude ad for Italdesign.
Toyota Volta (2004)
The largest motorcar manufacturer on the planet rarely spoils public with supercars. Even conceptual ones. Well, what do body shops need then? At the Geneva Motor Show 2004, Italdesign presented an effective prototype of Toyota Volta named after the same Italian to whom the world is obliged for the invention of batteries. The iconic concept car clearly anticipated the boom in hybrid supercars, which now appear on the market like mushrooms after the rain.
Italdesign specialists designed the car from head to toe, using hybrid drive from Lexus RX400h – gasoline V6, two electric motors and planetary gear. Volta has made a great noise in Geneva and probably Jujaro expected that Japanese, flattered by attention of “the best designer of the century”, would decide to develop the project further.
Alas… Having grasped the prompted idea and without even saying thank you, Toyota began independent development of its own supercar, and Giugiaro made strong friends with the Volkswagen concern a few years later.