Marcello Gandini, who celebrated his 80th birthday last fall, has made one of the most significant impacts on car design during his more than 60 years long quest for the best design, be it for extreme super cars or for practical city cars. Oh, and he has drawn helicopters, trucks, sake glasses and a villa too, so it would be fair to say that he thinks outside the box.
The excellent national car museum in Turin, Mauto, has for some time been planning a special exhibition to honour the ground-breaking designs of Gandini, and anticipations were running high as the press preview and opening night took place on 23 January. The presentation podium being flanked by a Lamborghini Miura SV on one side and a Lancia Stratos HF on the other turned out to be merely a little something to whet our appetites, as the exhibition presented well-known greats around each corner, accompanied by model cars and a plethora of drawing and sketches.
Marcello Gandini took part both at the press conference and the grand opening, and he shared some of his thoughts on design and on the occasion of the exhibition, communicating with words and gestures that he thought it almost too much of an honour. Gandini is indeed a man who is known for avoiding attention and for always being focused on the present rather than delving in the past. However, his smiling remarks were mirrored by a delighted audience.
The Countach, Gandini’s arguably best known design, was represented by a black-on-white 25th anniversary model, the swan song of the 19-year life span of this outrageous design. Turn the corner to find the working man hero Renault Super 5, of which more than 3 million were made. Next to it, a stand showing a Countach model made of Meccano by Pete Wood, who used 7,500 pieces and 4 years to finish the model, which includes moving mechanical parts and engine.
Miura again, this time a yellow S. On the walls next to it, drawings from 1965 and 1966 that show the development of the daring mid-rear layout and the striking lines from Gandini’s brilliant mind, as well as a video of Ferruccio Lamborghini, whose mastermind put together the team behind this, the first supercar. After the Miura, the Innocenti Mini created sizewise contrast for the Lamborghini Espada, the pair being quite different takes on a people carrier.
The largely unknown Volvo Tundra concept got a taste of the limelight and led me on to the two long drawing board walls, filled to the edges with Gandini’s numerous design ideas. Helicopters, bicycles, trucks, cars, tractors, forklifts, etc – each of the drawings is a gem of its own. At the end of the drawing board, I found myself in a most magical chamber…
In front of me, automotive treasures like no others: Lancia Stratos Zero, Alfa Romeo Carabo and Lamborghini Marzal. To see these three together was almost surreal, as seeing just one of them is considered quite an occasion. They were held company by other familiar names: Alfa Romeo Montreal, Lancia Stratos HF and Maserati Khamsin. I spent an awkwardly long time in this section, taking in the lines and ideas of Gandini. The helicopter and the two-wheelers were a nice addition, as was the one-of-a-kind Autobianchi Runabout, a playful concept.
The vast majority of Gandini’s success emerged from his time at Bertone, working with Nuccio Bertone to create both timeless and era-defining icons, ranging from the curvaceous Miura to the razor sharp Stratos Zero, from the small Runabout to the wide and long Espada. For me as a life-long car enthusiast, witnessing this unique exhibition was an honour.