This year marks the 80th birthday of Giorgetto Giugiaro, the legendary designer who was named 'Car Designer of the Century' at the turn of the millennium, by a jury of more than 130 journalists. His vast achievements in automotive design include partnerships with nearly every major automotive manufacturer.
At the Grand Basel show in Basel this week a selection of some of the cars he designed have been assembled as a tribute to his lifetime of work.
Giugiaro found his passion in art and design at an early age, and in 1952 he was selected for an apprenticeship by Fiat's chief engineer, Dante Giacosa. By 1955, Giugiaro had progressed from apprentice to employee, working at Fiat's design centre in Mirafiori, Turin.
By the end of the decade he would be working for Nuccio Bertone, with whom his first car would come to fruition – the Type 102 Alfa Romeo 2000 (later 2600) Sprint. A classically elegant two-door coupe, the design paved the way for the legendary Type 105 and 115 "Bertone GT" models that would follow several years later.
Thereafter, the partnership of Bertone and Giugiaro produced an incredible series of landmark automobile designs including the Aston Martin DB4 GT Jet Concept, Chevrolet Corvair Testudo, BMW 3200 CS and the Fiat 850 Spider.
He also designed bespoke versions of the Ferrari 250 GT SWB, one of which was Nuccio's personal car, and which sold at auction in 2015 for $16.5 million.
At Ghia, his next employer, he would create designs for the De Tomaso Mangusta and Maserati Ghibli. The low-slung, sharply-styled Mangusta would prove to be the debut of Giugiaro's signature 'Folded Paper' aesthetic.
The design for the Ghibli – built in both coupe and convertible forms – featured a long, svelte bonnet, with the cabin pushed towards the back of the car, to create a remarkably graceful GT.
In 1967, Giugiaro co-founded the renowned Italdesign studio with Aldo Mantovani and Hideyuki Miyakawa. Since its inception, Italdesign has designed hundreds of vehicles and other products for its global client base.
The company’s back catalogue of designs is arguably unparalleled in its diversity and quality, including the likes of the Alfa Romeo Alfasud, Audi 80, Fiat Panda, Isuzu 117 Coupe, Lancia Delta, Lotus Esprit, Saab 9000 and the very first Volkswagen Golf.
The Panda is regarded as one of the all time great automotive designs and that's being reflected at Grand Basel. Conceived as an update on practical, compact cars like the Citroen 2CV and Renault 4, the design for the Panda was unapologetically simple. Giugiaro famously referred to the car in its launch year as "a washing machine on four wheels", reflecting on its no-frills, utilitarian approach to motoring.
A derelict Panda, one of the first ever built, is on show at Grand Basel in Basel, in the curated frame of Prof. Paolo Tumminelli, chairman of the advisory board. "The Panda was built, bought, used, consumed and abused – and the example of display at Grand Basel exemplifies its huge cultural impact in this respect," added Prof. Tumminelli.
Giugiaro's iconic design for the Esprit is another milestone of automotive styling. It was made famous on the global stage by appearing as the car of choice for James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and For Your Eyes Only (1981).
Winner of the 1980 European Car of the Year, the Lancia Delta was a practical hatchback with clean Giugiaro styling. It is most famously known in its HF Integrale guise, though – a 'hot hatch' that would spawn a multiple FIA World Rally Championship-winning car.
Giugiaro's classic Integrale shape is revisited at Grand Basel in Basel, with both an original 1992 Integrale Evoluzione model, and the debut of the 2018 Integrale Futurista by Automobili Amos.
The latter comes from a boutique engineering company founded by racing driver Eugenio Amos, dubbed Automobili Amos, which has set out to restore and reimagine the iconic Lancia Delta Integrale. The ‘Integrale Futurista’ carries over the familiar design of the rally legend, but features more than 1,000 new components, including a wider body constructed from hand-beaten aluminium panels, and a bespoke carbon-fibre front fascia.
Giugiaro's design expertise is not limited to just cars. He is also credited with shaping designs of cameras for Nikon, motorcycles for Ducati and Suzuki, watches for Seiko and even tractors.
Today, following the takeover by VW of his Italdesign company, Giorgetto Giugiaro works with his son Fabrizio at their new co-owned design studio GFG Progetti in Turin. At the inaugural Grand Basel show, in celebration of his 80th birthday year, Giugiaro presents the GFG Sibylla concept, created earlier this year in partnership with the smart energy management company, Envision.
The Sibylla – named after his mother – showcases a futuristic design with a next-generation powertrain. A four-seater with generous packaging at over five metres long, the Sibylla is also equipped with all-wheel drive.
Its design references the low, provocative and hedonistic cars designed by Giugiaro in the 1960s and 1970s, but it is juxtaposed with an advanced electric powertrain of the future.
Giugiaro is not only lauded as the 'car designer of the century' – he is also a true artist at heart, with a lesser known talent for human portraits. Presented at Grand Basel this week are three original Giugiaro paintings – Sammy Davis Jr (1958), Indian (1958) and Pagliaccio (1970) – which act as a counterpart to the exhibition of his achievements in car design.
The selection of cars that are being shown this week at the Grand Basel exhibition in Basel to celebrate Giugiaro's automotive designs are made up of the Corvair Testudo, BMW M1, Fiat Panda, GFG Sibylla GG 80, IsoRivolta 300 GT, IsoRivolta Grifo IsoRivolta Fidia, Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione and Maserati Ghibli Spyder.
Grand Basel is a new show for automotive masterpieces. Showcasing a top-of-the-range selection of cars from the past, present and future, Grand Basel is the first and only show to present the automobile in the cultural context of art, design, architecture and lifestyle. Grand Basel addresses a discerning audience of collectors, restoration and conservation experts, dealers, manufacturers and connoisseurs, offering a global platform for exchange.
The show is being organised by the MCH Group, a leading international live-marketing company headquartered in Basel, which is also responsible for Art Basel, and following its premiere in Basel in September 2018, further shows in other parts of the world are being planned.
Photos: Grand Basel 2018
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