LUCA CIFERRI

French car – with Italian ties – is tops with 6 famous designers and 1 humble reporter

Luca Ciferri is chief correspondent at Automotive News Europe.Luca Ciferri is chief correspondent at Automotive News Europe.
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When you're a kid, the first car that you can remember riding in usually has a special place in your heart. For me it was a Citroen DS, which I recently learned is not only my favorite. Six well-known Italian designers picked the iconic large sedan -- penned by Italy's Flaminio Bertoni -- as the car they most wished they had created.

DS lovers include Giorgetto Giugiaro -- the man named car designer of the century in December 1999; Marcello Gandini, his successor at former Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Bertone; as well as Aldo Brovarone and Leonardo Fioravanti, two of Giugiaro's rivals who used to work at Pininfarina. Rounding out the DS fan club is Giugiaro's son, Fabrizio, and their current boss, Volkswagen Group head of design Walter de' Silva.

Altogether, 12 living stylists who are natives of Italy or work/worked in Italy were asked the following questions: Which model was the greatest inspiration for your work? Which of the models that you have designed is your greatest success? Which model do you wish you had designed?

The designers' opinions were revealed during the re-opening of the completely refurbished Museo dell'Automobile Giovanni Agnelli car museum in Turin.

Besides the DS, the only other car that more than one designer said he wished he had created was the 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero concept done by Gandini while at Bertone. The Stratos Zero was picked by current Bertone design director Mike Robinson, who moved to Turin from the United States 25 years ago, and Ferrari head of design Flavio Manzoni.

All 12 of the designers who answered the three questions were inducted into the museum's hall of fame, which is great, but it is bizarre that the museum didn't decide to add deceased legends to the hall.

Those who were excluded by the museum's strange thinking include two Pininfarinas (company founder Pinin and his grandson Andrea), two generations of Bertones (Giovanni and Nuccio), some Zagatos, plus Dante Giacosa, the father of the original Fiat 500 (1957) and the man behind 40 years of Fiat models, and Pio Manzu, who penned the first modern hatchback subcompact, the 1971 Fiat 127. Also forgotten were DS creator Bertoni as well as a Ettore Bugatti, who was a true design genius.

How can those game-changers be left out while little-known Andrea Zagato as well as Brovarone and Tom Tjaarda get in? And what about Chris Bangle? He spent just a fraction of his career at Fiat before moving to Munich to work for BMW.

But there was an even worse offense. The museum directors left a true living legend off the list of inductees: Lorenzo Ramaciotti. The man who successfully led Pininfarina styling for more than 20 years and now heads design at all of Fiat Group should have had a seat at the table with the other 12.

Who knows, he might have even picked the DS as the model he most wishes he designed.

Welcome in
Designers inducted into the Museo dell'Automobile Giovanni Agnelli Museum Hall of Fame
Chris Bangle
Aldo Brovarone
Walter de' Silva
Leonardo Fioravanti
Marcello Gandini
Fabrizio Giugiaro
Giorgetto Giugiaro
Flavio Manzoni
Paolo Pininfarina
Mike Robinson
Tom Tjaarda
Andrea Zagato

You can reach Luca Ciferri at lciferri@crain.com.

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