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How many car designers can you name? Unless you are a bona-fide car enthusiast – probably very few. See our list of the Top 10 (in our opinion) to learn more; or for the those ‘in the know’ to disagree with.

Part 1

1.Giorgetto Giugiaro: Born in 1938 into an artistic family in Garessio, Cuneo, Piedmont; Giugiaro has had a phenomenal career in automobile design. He is known for both supercars and everyday vehicles – too vast a portfolio to name them all – but if I say they include the BMW M1, the Lotus Esprit, the Maserati Bora and the Delorean DMC-12 – you can understand why he was named Car Designer of the Century in 1999. And Giugiaro hasn’t limited himself to car design; he is also prolific in other areas – including aircraft and watch design. He has even developed a new pasta shape: Marille.

bmw m1

From the age of 14 Giugiaro attended a design school, it was here that Fiat’s chief engineer saw his drawings and immediately hired him to work in the Fiat Special Vehicles Styling Centre. Unfortunately, during his time at Fiat, none of his designs were built and, in an effort, to correct this he approached Nuccio Bertone – gaining a test design that became his first car: the Alfa Romeo 2000.

volkswagen scirocco

In 1968 Giugiaro founded Italdesign Giugiaro with Aldo Mantovani; primarily known for its automobile design work the company also offer product design, project management, styling and packaging. Since the early 1970s Italdesign has forged a relationship working with Volkswagen; designing the Volkswagen Golf (1974), Volkswagen Scirocco (1974), Volkswagen Passatt (1973) and Audi 80 (1974). Giugiaro left the company in 2015.

Giugiaro’s influence stretches beyond car design - to sunglasses, Nikon cameras, planes, guns, boat and motorcycle design.

2.Battista Pininfarina: Was born Battista Farina in 1893 in Cortanze, Italy; his nickname ‘Pinin’ – meaning the youngest brother (he was the 10th of 11 children) was later officially incorporated into his name in 1961. His interest in car design began at the age of 12, when he started working at his elder brother Giovanni’s body shop – Stabilimenti Industrali Farina. Only 5 years later he would win his first commission to design the new Fiat Zero.

ferrari sports car

Battista would continue to work for his brother for many years, before founding the Carrozzeria Pininfarina Coachbuilding Company in 1930. Gaining prominence as one of the best-known post war sports car designers, Battista later ran the company with his son Sergio. One of his most popular designs was the 1947 Cisitalia 202 Coupe; but the company are most famous for their work with Ferrari - this relationship began in 1952 and Pininfarina have designed over 200 vehicles for them to date.

alfa romeo spider

In 1961, Battista handed over the firm to Sergio and his son-in-law Renzo Carli; generally spending his ‘retirement’ film-making and doing cultural and charitable work – Battista still managed to design his last car during this time: the 1600 Duetto Alfa Romeo. He died on the 3rd April 1966, less than a month after the car was first unveiled in public at the Geneva Motor Show. The company is currently run by Battista’s grandson Paolo Pininfarina.

3.Marcello Gandini: Born in Turin in 1938, Gandini is yet another Italian automobile designer from an exceptional era. He is best known for his work with the design house Gruppo Bertone, but he nearly didn’t work for them at all; because Giorgetto Giugiaro (the company’s chief designer at the time) was against his hiring when Gandini approached them in 1963. After Giugiaro left 2 years later, Gandini was hired and achieved great success working for Bertone – which he did until 1980.

Gandini is credited with developing the ‘scissor door’ concept in sports cars, with the 1968 Alfa Romeo 33 Carabo prototype - and if this were his only contribution in the field, he would have ensured his place in automobile design history. But there was plenty more to come.


His most famous vehicle was arguably THE original supercar of the 20th century – the ground-breaking Lamborghini Miura. His designs also include the Lamborghini Countach, the Bugatti EB110 and the Lancia Stratos. The more ‘practical’ cars include the Citreon BX and the Renault Supercinq.

Since Gandini left Bertone in 1980, he has worked in interior design, domestic architecture and even the body-styling of a helicopter.

In an interview with Automobile Magazine in 2009 Gandini said that it was not appearance that drove his designs – rather he ‘focused on vehicle architecture, construction, assembly and mechanisms.’

To be continued

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Posted on 10th June 2019 at 11:35 AM

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