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The return of Italy’s design houses

2 years ago

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Andrew English | Journalist


15 September 2022

‘We called them the metal bashers,’ says former Aston Martin and Jaguar design boss Ian Callum. ‘They got their skills making armour for soldiers going to war and there seemed to be quite a lot of wars at the time, so they got quite good at it.’

It’s one way of referring to the artistry in metal produced by the great Italian carrozzerie and those designers who first found their fame working with them: Giovanni Michelotti, Nuccio Bertone, Leonardo Fioravanti, Marcello Gandini, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Walter de Silva… And the men (well mostly men but I’ve heard tell of a few women panel beaters, too) who turned their creations into reality were really something special.

I once did help-out work on the famous ex-Ogier racing stables Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, registered 2VEV. This was before at least some of the rebuilds resulting from her numerous forays into the scenery and under each panel you could see the tiny creases, pockmarks and blemishes caused by repeated hammer blows to shape the half-hard aluminium sheet into automotive perfection, as well as the perfect welds that joined each piece to another; signatures of a craft that regarded the English Wheel as a bit of a cheat.

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