Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera – of Flying Stars and Saucers

The last two years have brought me close to the world of Touring Superleggera in various occasions and settings, from factory visits to a ride in a one-off Lamborghini by Touring. It’s fair to say that Touring has made its mark on Italian car history, being active from its start in the late 1920’s until the mid-1960’s and again in the modern resurrection of the brand, which now keeps the coachbuilding tradition alive in its factory just outside Milan.

May of last year presented me with my first factory visit, where head designer Louis de Fabribeckers gave a presentation on the challenges and ideas behind the design of the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante in both coupe and spyder form. His live sketching emphasized the main features of the different design approaches.

An October morning in Paris would then turn into a magical experience, as I was offered a ride in the one and only Lamborghini 400 GT Flying Star from 1966, the last car Touring made before having to close down the business. The unique design of the Flying Star combines features of a shooting brake and a coupe, and the car itself is somewhat surprisingly only a two-seater. Several design traits found their way to the Lamborghini Islero, designed and built by ex-Touring men.

Less than a month later, I found myself in the Italian National Automobile Museum in Turin, where the main attraction was a special exhibition on – you guessed it – Touring Superleggera. In addition to several unique creations, I was drawn towards a display of design scale models. This display ranged from early designs to recent ones, and I was stunned to see the original model for the Flying Star, a model which hardly had been out in public before. In addition there was the mythical Tigre scale model, apparently intended as a design study for a Lamborghini sports car.

Come May of this year and I’m once again paying attention to Louis de Fabribeckers words and drawings at the Touring factory. He presents two pieces of automotive royalty – a Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta (notice the trademark barchetta “water line”) and a Lamborghini 350 GT, the latter once owned by Ferruccio Lamborghini himself. A few days later, I find the very same 350 GT parked at Villa d’Este, ready for scrutineering by the jury of the Concorso d’Eleganza.

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