It was 46 years ago on November 3rd at the Turin motor show that Maserati pulled the wraps off one of the greatest concept cars of all time: The Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed Boomerang. It has been described as the greatest car never to go into production, but such was its aesthetic impact that its razor-sharp lines and wedge shape went on to influence the next decade of vehicle design from supercar to supermini.
In fact, so influential was the Boomerang that when the fully functioning car came up for auction in 2015, Bonham’s European head of motoring Philip Kantor said quite simply that: “It’s considered by many to be one of the most remarkable designs of the 20th century.” Little surprise then that the eventual hammer price was $3.7 million.
To mark the anniversary, and to show that you don’t always have to be a multimillionaire to own a piece of Giugiaro automotive art – after all, between between 1960 and 2015 he was commissioned by everyone from Alfa Romeo, Audi and BMW to Buick, Daewoo, Fiat, Ford, Hyundai and Mazda, as well as the Maserati, Lamborghini and Bugattis of this world – here are six of his most influential designs from the last five decades.
With the mark I Esprit, more than any car on this list, the resemblance to the Boomerang is at its most clear. Low to the ground, rejecting curves in favour of angles reminicent of folded paper, and with incredibly short overhangs front and rear, the Esprit was destined to become a classic even before its starring role in the James Bond firm “The Spy Who Loved Me.”
This is the car that ushered in the age of the hot hatchback and had the unenviable task of replicating the VW Beetle’s phenomenal success. Yet it achieved both, thanks to perfect interior packaging and with an exterior that offered an acceptably angular version of the automotive future. And, 42 years on, the car has achieved true iconic status.
From an icon to a Rally Legend. Giugiaro designed the Lancia Delta that looked like a sensible family hatchback but ate sportscars for breakfast on the road, and won everything going in various world rallies during its 20 years in production, during which the original lines were never changed and simply refined.
The finished car may have been absolutely terrible in terms of mechanics, reliability and performance, and the man behind the company arrested on fraud and drugs charges, but none of that stopped the DeLorean from looking amazing upon its launch and just as futuristic today.
Alfa Romeo Brera
When it debuted as a concept in 2002, Alfa fans got very, very excited as it was a thoroughly modern interpretation of many classic Alfas of the past, many of which had also been Giugiario designs. Best of all, when the car did go into production in 2005, the only real change aesthetically was the decision to ditch scissor-opening doors for traditional doors. And while its performance didn’t quite live up to its looks, it quickly found a host of fans that loved it for its looks alone.
Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale
No piece on Giugiaro can be complete without mentioning the “What if” car. His design company, Bertone, only worked in an official capacity with Ferrari once and the result – the 1973 Dino 308 – was anything but a classic and this aesthetic blip led to Ferrari sticking exclusively with Pininfarina for its design needs.
However, 11 years previously Giugiaro was approached by the head of Bertone, Giuseppe “Nuccio” Bertone, to work his magic on his own stock Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta. The idea was take the resulting car to major events to showcase the company’s design and coachbuilding capabilities.
Nicknamed the sharknose, the resulitng Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Bertone Speciale was truly unique and when it came up for auction at Pebble Beach in 2015, it fetched an eye-watering $16 500 000.