We pick up our Lamborghini front-engine grand touring coverage at a time of design disappointments. Though the exotic Miura gave the company instant notoriety as it simultaneously created the super car class, the company’s other model was due for replacement. A more traditional looking two-door, the 400GT 2+2 was an edit of the 400GT Interim (2+1), which was itself an engine upgrade on the 350GT, the company’s first production car.
Ferruccio Lamborghini anticipated the need for a new design, and went in search of a 400GT replacement around the time it entered production in 1966. Lamborghini turned first to Carrozzeria Touring. But even though they penned the 350GT and 400GT designs, their two-seat shooting brake suggestion, Flying Star II, was not to Lamborghini’s taste.
In fact it was sort of like Touring didn’t read the prompt. An abandoned race car design called the 400GT Monza from Neri & Bonacini was also presented as an option. The firm built Lamborghini’s tube frames a few years before, but that didn’t lend them enough goodwill at Lamborghini to get their design accepted. Time for take three!
We’re strolling through the various sections of our Crapwagon Garage, and are just over halfway finished with this series (unless I can add extra vehicle segments without any hair-splitting). Each week we’ve scaled somewhat upward in either size or utility — hatchbacks came first, then sedans, trucks, and wagons. But in this fifth entry we pare things back down to cover the Crapwagon coupes of your dreams.
In our last Rare Rides entry we had a look at the oddball little BMW Freeclimber, a Daihatsu Rugger as edited by Italian design firm Bertone. Small SUVs has never been Bertone’s forte, however. No, the most well-known Bertone designs fall into the sports coupe category.
And here’s a prime example — the Alfa Romeo Montreal.
We’ve been on a bit of a continental streak lately here at Rare Rides. First, the Cadillac Allanté showed us American engineering with Italian design. Then, the Gordon-Keeble coupe from 1965 mixed British creativity and funding with Italian and American components.
Today we’ve got a different trifecta: A Japanese design, rebodied by the Italians, then powered by a German engine. Open up some shampanya, and let’s learn about the Freeclimber.
Following in the footsteps of last week’s Karmann Ghia article, it seemed natural to take a look at two other lesser-known German alternatives to Volkswagen’s Type 1 Beetle and the ‘Beetle-in-a-suit’ Karmann Ghia.
Like the Karmann Ghia, both were attempts to capitalize on a new and expanding market for automobiles in Germany during the postwar economic boom times. That meant that the models had to incorporate existing technology, yet also appeal to a crowd increasingly interested in performance and style. However, both had to be at least somewhat economical and practical as family cars.
The result was a series of interesting and mostly forgotten air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-drive sedans, coupes and convertibles from both BMW and NSU.
Though it may seem hard to believe, we’re only a month away from celebrating the 50th anniversary of the start of the Wedge Era in automotive designs.
To those of us who still think of the Countach as a sharp enough design to be considered cutting edge, this is a sad reality. Yet the prototype of what would become the 1980s poster child was first shown in a hard-to-conceptualize 1971.
The influence of the angle extended far beyond the Countach in the 1980s. It also started before the scissored doors opened on the stand in Geneva in 1971 and was seen in many more marques than just those wearing the Raging Bull. Even more impressive than its age is the reach of these designs, some of which are still being refined today. So, let’s take a look at some of the interesting and influential doorstop shapes and where they later found a home.
Only 6,622 Volvo 262C Bertone Coupes were built during the Italo-Swedish machine’s 1978-1981 production run, and I’ve found two of them in California self-serve wrecking yards during the last year. We saw this silver ’79 (actually, all ’78 and ’79 262Cs were painted in Mystic Silver) last summer, and now there’s today’s find: a gold ’80. These cars were weird-looking and something of a puzzling marketing move by Volvo, but you’d think that their rarity would give them sufficient value to keep the survivors out of The Crusher‘s jaws. Nope!
Photos: RM Auctions
Back in 2011, as part of its reorganization, Italian design house Bertone auctioned off some of its collection of concept cars in conjunction with the Villa d’Este concours that year. Marcello Gandini’s Lamborghini Marzal, with it’s glass gullwing doors, and its $2,170,369.10 USD sale price, got the lion’s share of the attention in that sale, but one of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s creations also on sale that day, the 1963 Chevrolet Testudo, may have been a more influential design in the long run than the Marzal. Testudo is Italian for turtle, an allusion to the sharp beltline separating top and bottom halves of the car. Though I can see the testudine influence, I’ve never seen a tortoise or turtle look this sleek and fast.