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Marcello Gandini: A lifetime of automotive art

4 months ago

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Ian Callum | Designer


19 March 2024

We all had our heroes as teenagers. Apart from the occasional rock star or racing driver, mine were all car designers. People such as Bill Mitchell, the 1960s master of General Motors design, and Giorgetto Giugiaro. And then there was Marcello Gandini who sadly passed away last week at the age of 85.

Growing up during the ’60s and early ‘70s I was privileged to witness, with great eagerness and anticipation, the art of Italian coachbuilding, the carrozzerie. The Italian design houses would be responsible for many of the most memorable production cars, but their real art forms – not to mention their calling cards – were the concept show cars, created to demonstrate exactly what they were capable of. Often these led to ideas that did make it onto the road, but many remained just concepts. These were the cars that were my inspiration, and the maestros who created them were my tutors.

Bertone was one such carrozzeria and, amongst other duties, became the chosen design house for Lamborghini. Gandini was the fantastically inventive man who eventually headed up the studio. But what struck me about Gandini throughout his career was his inconsistency of design philosophy. While his great rival Giugiaro was very measured, his work evolving systematically through a natural process of design evolution, Gandini was more random, but probably more creative. He was never afraid to try things that were more daring and some great designs resulted, but only alongside others that were less successful.

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