We pay little attention to the work of designers. Ultimately, they are the ones who make the car look good, and it is their work that we come into contact with visually.  They generate emotions, passion, love, hate or contempt. They work as outsiders for many big name car manufacturers. They fill orders. But more often than not, it’s their work that sells the goods. All the technical parameters, industry buzzwords , experience come after them. They are the artists along with the engineers and the commercial experts.

The company was based in Grugliasco in northern Italy. It was founded in 1912 by Giovanni Bertone , as Gruppo Bertone. It was an industrial design company specialising in car design , body design and production. In the beginning it was called carrozzeria Bertone.

They borrowed Bertone’s style from companies such as Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, BMW , Citroen, Volvo, Opel, Mercedes-Benz and were also responsible for the later designs of the scooter Lambretta.     

In the 1920s, Turin was a centre of excellence in the automobile industry. Bertone was at its centre and formed partnerships with almost every manufacturer of the time. Giovanni Bertone began to produce bodies on Fast, Chiribiri, Aurea, SCAT and Diatto chassis. The most important and long-lasting relationships were with the two largest Turin manufacturers, FIAT and Lancia.

Their name was associated with the design of the Fiat 501 Sport Siluro Corsa range, which was to characterise the brand’s direction in the years to come. 

Friendship with Vincenzo Lancia

Lancia immediately recognised that Giovanni Bertone was a highly skilled craftsman with a great future ahead of him. He affectionately named him “Bertunot” and commissioned Bertone to produce complete coachwork, especially for the “limited series” which the companies of the time could not always produce. This was Bertone’s first opportunity to produce a limited number of special cars on a standard mechanical basis. 

These were exciting years for Bertone and for the development of industrial style and design. The body shapes of the car slowly but steadily changed, the angular shapes began to fade and the wings began to interlock. Giovanni Bertone produced torpedo and sedan bodies.

In the 1930s, Nuccio Bertone , Giovanni’s son, started working for the company. Then came the big success models like the Lancia Artena, Fiat 527S Ardita or Lancia Aprillia.

In the forties, the bitter post-war reconstruction and slow march forward began.  In the 1950s, orders began to pour in from overseas, including from General Motors.

The studio’s biggest launch of the era was the Alfa Romeo Giullietta sprint. Perhaps the most audacious and outrageous study cars in the history of design were created in collaboration with Alfa under the name Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica.

In the 2000s, the company was in financial turmoil and sold its concept cars, filing for bankruptcy in 2014 and being bought by an architectural firm.

The AKKA Technologies group then sold the Bertone brand to Ideactive, owned by Mauro and Jean-Franck Ricci. In 2022, the two Ricci brothers revived the Bertone brand. The first of a series of limited edition vehicles, the GB110, was launched in December 2022.  We look forward to the latest and most exciting developments.

Ádám Gubán

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