Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este

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A tribute to maestro Marcello GandiniConcorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2024

A tribute to maestro Marcello GandiniConcorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2024

Marcello Gandini explaining his vision of car design.

Automobile enthusiasts around the world learned with great sadness about the passing of Marcello Gandini, aged 85. The BMW Group is taking the occasion of this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este to pay a tribute to Maestro Marcello Gandini with the exhibition of some of his most famous and beloved automobile designs.

Born in 1938, Marcello Gandini is one of the most influential car designers of the 20th century. During his 14 years as Design Director of the Bertone design studios in Turin, he created some of the most daring and revolutionary automobiles of the era, including wedge-shaped concept cars like the Lancia Stratos Zero or the Alfa Romeo Carabo as well as iconic sports cars like the Lamborghini Miura which are sought-after by collectors and celebrated at concours events worldwide. Besides the BMW Garmisch, Marcello Gandini and his team at Bertone have worked on the BMW Spicup showcar and the first generation of the BMW 5 series, which was created under the lead of BMW’s former head of design Paul Bracq.

Marcello Gandini and Adrian van Hooydonk.

His design for the 1966 Lamborghini Miura is considered by many as the blueprint of the modern-day supercar. With his work on the design for the 1968 Alfa Carabo concept he invented scissor doors, a landmark feature of perhaps his most famous design the 1973 Lamborghini Countach LP400. But the list of his design hits at Bertone is long, illustrious and incredibly diverse in style, including works for Lamborghini (Miura, Marzal, Espada, Jarama, Urraco, Countach, Bravo), Alfa Romeo (Montreal, Carabo), Lancia (Stratos HF Zero, Stratos HF, Sibilo), BMW (Garmisch, 5 Series Mk1), plus the Fiat X1/9, Audi 50, Volvo Tundra and Citroen BX.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s he created more groundbreaking work for mainstream brands including Renault (5 Mk2 exterior, 5 Turbo interior, Magnum truck) as well as exotica for Maserati (Shamal, Ghibli Mk2), Bugatti (EB110) and De Tomaso (Mangusta). His influence on contemporary car design has been immense and his famous automobiles are cited by many car designers as the reason to start.

The BMW Garmisch.

“Marcello Gandini’s designs have always been very clear and very clean, but also very dramatic. This is why I find his work so inspiring. He was always able to create something spectacular using very few design elements. This approach of trying to accomplish a lot with less is quite modern still today”, says Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design.

Already in 2019 BMW payed respect to one of Italy’s most influential car designers with the recreation of the BMW Garmisch, a concept car that vanished after its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1970. Fittingly the unveiling of the recreation took place at that years Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este and it is of course part of this years tribute to Marcello Gandini.

“We wanted to create a modern mid-sized coupe that was faithful to BMW’s design language, but that was also more dynamic and even a bit provocative”, said Marcello Gandini in 2019. While the side profile of the car was very sleek and clean, the most distinctive design feature of the BMW Garmisch was its bold, vertical and almost angular variation of BMW’s kidney-shaped radiator grill, which was flanked by square glass-covered headlights. Other unusual details included sports car-like louvres on the C-pillars and the honeycomb-patterned mesh cover for the rear window – a trademark element of Marcello Gandini’s style. According to Marcello Gandini, even the car’s name was chosen to impress: “We picked the name Garmisch because skiing was very popular in Italy at that time. It evoked dreams of winter sports and alpine elegance.”

BMW Group Classic invites the visitors of this years Amici & Automobili – Wheels & Weisswürscht and the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este Public Day – Il Festivale at Villa Erba to reminisce about the fascinating and groundbreaking designs of Maestro Marcello Gandini.

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