Legendary Design Firm Bertone is On the Ropes
There's been some reporting recently that Bertone is shutting its doors completely, but that appears to be a bit premature. Nevertheless, the legendary design firm, which penned the Alfa Romeo Giulia GT, the Lamborghini Countach, the Lancia Stratos and the Lamborghini Miura is in serious financial trouble. The most accurate report notes that the company has laid off 165 workers and 11 interns, and is in the process of being sued by its creditors. A Turkish firm is said to be interested in purchasing the company at a bargain-basement price of $2.7 million, and seven other Italian firms are reported to be interested in purchasing the company. Here's hoping the name lives on in some fashion.
Bertone has styled cars for Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Citroën, Ferrari, Fiat, Iso Rivolta, Lancia, Lamborghini, Mercedes Benz, Opel and Volvo Cars over the years.
The company is based in Grugliasco in northern Italy. Gruppo Bertone was founded as Carrozzeria Bertone in 1912 by Giovanni Bertone. Designer Nuccio Bertone took charge of the company after World War II and the company was divided into two units: Carrozzeria for manufacturing and Stile Bertone for styling. The company is currently headed by the widow of Nuccio Bertone, Lilli Bertone.
Here's a look at several of Bertone's most provocative designs:
Alfa Romeo BAT
The Alfa Romeo BAT is an Italian concept car. The car originated in a joint collaboration project between Alfa Romeo and the Italian design house; Bertone that began in 1953. Of the successful project came three cars: the BAT 5 in 1953, the BAT 7 in 1954, and finally the BAT 9 in 1955.
PHOTOS: See More of the Alfa Romeo BAT 5, 7 and 9
Here was a machine straight out of the future with sensuous yet aggressive styling by Marcello Gandini, from the styling studio of Bertone, of Turin. Gandini, while still in his early twenties, was to become the de-facto chief designer at Bertone following the departure of Giorgetto Giugiario, who left to launch Ital Design. This was the first time the new car bore the name Miura; it was inspired by Ferruccio Lamborghini’s birth sign, Taurus, as well as the name given to a brilliantly fearsome and courageous strain of fighting bull bred by one Don Miura.
PHOTOS: See More of the 1966 Bertone Lamborghini Miura
Lancia Stratos HP/HF
A true legend of motorsports, launched in 1971 the Lancia Stratos HF would win in the coming years as many as four world rally titles, with drivers such as the unforgettable Sandro Munari.
PHOTOS: See More of the 1971 Bertone Lancia Stratos HP
Bertone Corvair Testudo
The Testudo was driven to and presented at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show by Nuccio Bertone himself. Designed and built in just two months, it revealed a revolutionary and brave concept, with defiant innovations. The car was based on the floorpan and machanics of the Chevrolet Corvair, the provocative sports grand tour displayed a very futuristic architecture.
PHOTOS: See More of the 1963 Bertone Corvair Testudo
At the 1973 Geneva Auto Show, the production version of the Lamborghini Countach was presented as the LP 400 (LP: “Longitude Positioned” engine). The tubular space frame structure and the peculiar location of the gearbox in front of the engine, had no noticeable changes compared to the prototype of 1971, but some interventions were made for the vehicle’s engine cooling needs. Although air intake boxes on the sides behind the windows and NACA ducts within the doors were added to aid engine cooling, the body has still a bold and provocative style.
The LP 400 is built on a wheelbase of 2450 mm, is 4140 mm long, 1890 mm wide, 1070 mm high, and weighs 1065 kg. The Countach reached a top speed of 315 km/h and after a long production run, ceased in 1987
PHOTOS: See More of the Original Bertone-designed Countach
Alfa Romeo GT Sprint Veloce
Launched in 1963, the Giulia Sprint GT featured classically stylish four-seater coachwork designed by Bertone’s Giorgetto Giugiaro, with production moved from Bertone to Alfa’s new production facility at Arese. Beneath the skin, the new coupé utilized the five-speed manual gearbox from the recently-introduced 105-Series Giulia TI saloon, as well as an independent front suspension, a coil-sprung live rear axle and – early cars excepted – disc brakes at all four corners.
PHOTOS: See More of the 1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Veloce