Know Your Designers: Marcello Gandini

Born: Turin, Italy August 26, 1938

Early Plans: To be a musician, like his aristocrat father, who was an orchestra conductor. Attended a Liceo Classico in Turin (a school based around cultural education.)

Discovery: After creating a fresh car body for a friend’s wrecked OSCA 1500 Barchetta, Marcello was nearly offered a job by Bertone in the early ‘60s. Giorgetto Giugiaro, who was Bertone’s head designer at the time, threatened to leave if Gandini was hired.

Biggest hits

1970 Lancia Stratos HF Zero
1970 Lancia Stratos HF Zero RM Sotheby’s

1966 Lamborghini Miura: The first mid-engined supercar. Hosting perfect proportions despite its awkward transverse, mid-engine layout. One of the most beautiful cars ever designed.

1968 Alfa Romeo 33 Carabo concept: Perhaps the first car to feature scissor doors, a feature which later became a Gandini calling card.

1970 Lancia Stratos Zero concept, and 1974 Lancia Stratos: The Zero was of the lowest and wedgiest vehicles ever built. So low, you stepped into it by walking up a ramp built into the nose. The final HF Stratos production car—which was an extremely successful rally car—was striking and rakish in its own right, and Gandini assist in the chassis design as well as the body styling.

1974 Lamborghini Countach: Um, Countach.

1980 Renault 5 Turbo: A prototypical, carbuncular ‘80s rally car, with its engine moved from nose to amidships, turbocharged, and powering the rear wheels instead of the fronts.

1991 Bugatti EB 110: The first modern incarnation of Bugatti, with a quad-turbo V12, all-wheel-drive, scissor doors, and a face that resembles Elliott Gould in Ocean’s 11.

Lasting influence

1972 Fiat X1/9
1972 Fiat X1/9 FCA

Though he was one of the progenitors of the angular “wedge” shape that infiltrated supercar design in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Gandini prided himself on bringing great design to the masses. Witness his use of the wedge in the affordable Fiat X 1/9. There is also a delicacy and jocular humanity to his cars, like the eyebrows on the Alfa Romeo Montreal, the eyelashes on the Lamborghini Miura, and the floating tail-lamps on his Maserati Khamsin. And he was not afraid to revise icons, as in his lovely rethinking of the bathtub-shaped Porsche 911 in the 1966 Bertone Roadster.

Also, scissor doors.

Other notable automotive work

1975 Ferrari Dino 308 GT4
1975 Ferrari Dino 308 GT4 Mecum

Bertone, 1965-1980

  • BMW 5-Series (E12)
  • Fiat X 1/9
  • Ferrari/Dino 308 GT4
  • Lamborghini Espada
  • Lamborghini Urraco
  • Maserati Quattroporte II

Studio Gandini, 1980-Present

1993 Bugatti EB110 GT front
1993 Bugatti EB110 GT RM Sotheby’s

Biggest bomb: The TaMo RaceMo, an angry-eyed, high-nosed, scissor-doored 2017 affordable sports coupe concept designed for high-performance spin-off of bargain Indian automaker Tata, which, due to budget cuts, never went into production.

Other design work: The interior of a 1960s nightclub in Turin, a house in Corsica, the Heli-Sport CH7 Angel ultra-light one-person helicopter, the latch for an industrial cookie-making machine.

Biggest regret: I’m not sure if it’s his biggest regret, but my biggest Gandini regret is the fact that the Cizeta-Moroder never really came to be, not only given its bonkers V-16 engine (two Lamborghini Urraco V-8s) but its brief association with disco producer and pioneer Giorgio Moroder. I also regret that I do not own a Maserati Shamal.

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