The Gandini era

Marcello Gandini was born in 1938. His father was an orchestra conductor. He began as an independent interior and exterior designer and then replaced Giugiaro at Bertone in 1965. He served the the "maestro" for 15 years. The Lamborghini Miura, Espada and Countach were all his design (and as a free-lancer, the Diablo too). The Miura was the first work of Gandini at Bertone. Since the McLaren F1 was introduced we're now accustomed to the sight of road-going racecars but back in the '60s it was quite unique.

Lamborghini was a young sportscar maker: their first model was completed in 1963. They were very daring when proposed a V-12 mid-engined super-sportscar. But the Miura, thanks to its sensational look and clever solutions became one of the classics. It was premiered at the 1966 Geneva Autoshow the: monocoque frame, doors swinging up front and rear, V-12 middle-engine, pumping out 325 bhp and ultra-low body. There was one problem: Lamborghini haven't counted on the runaway success! It took a few months to fully gear up the Miura production.

The next Lambo, the Marzal prototype was introduced a year later and it as the forerunner of the next-generation smaller Lamborghinis.

Gandini didn't sit on his laurels: soon came the Alfa Romeo 33 Carabo - one of the most beloved Bertone prototype. Its height was decreased under 1 meter. The cockpit barely was enough for two passenger. The styling cues are timeless: scissor doors, wedge-shaped nose, front/rear balance. Fiat wanted to replace the 850 Spider with a worthy successor. Giugiaro was out of sight so Bertone and the in-house design team competed. Gandini's design won and the design number became the model's name: X 1/9 (eXperimental, 1st design, 9th version). The X 1/9 was mainly destined for the American market. A spider couldn't pass the strict crash-tests there - so the X 1/9 became a targa. There are Carabo-elements in the car, but other prototypes submitted a few curves too. Bertone didn't leave Fiat to do any manufacturing, they assembled the platforms too! That way they would not be stranded if Fiat stopped supplying the Fiat 128 parts on which the X 1/9 was based. Until 1980 sales were handled by Fiat, then Bertone took over marketing too. After 180000 cars the career of the baby-Ferrari ended in 1988.

By this time Lancia was a member of the Fiat group. Their Stratos dominated the rallyes throughout the '70s. And the third "common" Italian sportscar by Gandini was the Alfa Romeo Montreal. Only 3900 were made between 1971 and 1977 with V8 engine and mini-Miura styling.

Naturally the Lamborghini Countach - for many the epitome of sportscars - was also the work of Gandini.

© Pal Negyesi, Budapest, Hungary. 1997-2006.