Legendary designer Giorgetto Giugiaro has sold his remaining shares in tuning house Italdesign to Audi, bringing to an end his participation in the company he founded in 1968 and completing a deal which began with a 90.1% sale to Audi in 2010.
While many of Giugiaro's most recent designs, including the Parcour 4x4 and Clipper MPV - are regarded as the latest in a long line of successes, it's the firm's vehicles from the 1970s and 1980s that are thought of by many as his best work.
In 1988, Autocar celebrated the 20th anniversary of ItalDesign with a look back at the company's greatest acheivements.
Making the master - 20 years of Italdesign
This article first appeared in Autocar on 13th July 1988, words by Stephen Bayley
The Audi 100 is among the most beautiful three-box cars of recent years, a masterpiece of understated excellence. Its proportions perfectly measured, its parts in harmonious relation to the whole, its details pleasingly rational. There are people who say the shape was Giugiaro’s creation, but, bound by some code of motor industry omerta, he makes no claims.
Probably no-one outside Moncalieri or Ingolstadt really knows the truth, but the irony of the situation must be specially poignant as ItalDesign celebrates 20 years in business and Giugiaro approaches 50 years on earth.
It is a part of the professional designer’s contractual obligation to his clients not only to protect their interests by scrupulous confidentiality but also to subordinate his own ego to the corporate will.
Raymond Loewy, the stylist whose self-regard was rivalled in its towering dimensions by Giugiaro’s more enchanting creativity, experienced similar frustrations. One Leonard Lord of BMC commissioned some designs from the cologned and pomaded Franco-American. Years later, Loewy "phoned from New York to ask what had become of them. With patrician disdain Lord replied ‘My Goodness, Mr Loewy! We never intended to use your designs, only to find out what you were thinking'".
As in-house designers in Seoul take credit for his work and as Fiat gives the new Tipo to the new Turin design office, IDEA, in order to keep ItalDesign, as ItalDesign is experiencing the paradoxical pains of success.
Giugiaro was born in 1939 in the little town of Garessio in the province of Cuneo northern Italy. He was taught drafting by Professor Gio Besso at the Academy of Fine Arts in Turin, when in 1956 the great engineer of the Topolino, Dante Giacosa, persuaded the 17-year-old to join the staff at Centro Stile Fiat.
Here he soon distinguished himself by an exceptional ability as a visualiser, but a restless muse provoked him to work outside the manufacturing industry and soon he was at Bertone (where he designed the Alfa Romeo Giulia GT of 1964) and briefly chief executive of Ghia's ‘ufficio tecnico e stile' (which he produced the Maserati Ghibli and de Tomaso Mangusta of 1966) before setting up ItalDesign in 1968 with the three partners.
The fact that he chose a neologism instead of the traditional family name showed that Giugiaro was embarked on a collaborative exercise. The fact that he had a clearly established 'handwriting' from early on showed that ItalDesign was not going to be a traditional carrozzeria, compliant to a manufacturer's whim. The famous Torinese coach-builders - Bertone, Pininfarina, Ghia - all grew out of artisan trades and only later added design and styling to their portfolio.
Still today, Bertone and Pininfarina are involved in producing cars for manufacturers. ItalDesign is different because it only builds prototypes. Giugiaro says he is not crazy about cars, just crazy about styling them. With prototypes, ideas can be turned around in three months; with production, ideas hang around for a long time, as they became locked into an eight-year life cycle.