Born on 7 August 1938 in Garessio in the Piedmont region.  

In 1999, he was named Car Designer of the Century. In 2002, he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Detroit.

In many ways, automotive designers are like musicians: by the time they are first introduced to the general public, they have already been in a few bands and have been in the industry for a decade. Giorgetto Giugiaro’s career has followed a similar pattern. By the time the world got to know him, he had already designed some great cars for various design studios.

Giugiaro’s most profound imprint on pop culture was undoubtedly the design of the DMC Delorean, the car from the Back to the Future movies.

Commercially, however, his number one design was clearly the Volkswagen Golf 1. He was tasked with paving the way for VW’s post-Bug era.

Coming from a family of artists, he was originally planning his future in this field. Until his sketches were seen at the 1958 Turin Motor Show by Nuccio Bertone, who was so taken with the styling that he lured the then 22-year-old design genius to his home.     

His first major project was the Alfa Romeo 2000/2600 Sprint Coupé.Over the next six years, Giugiaro produced 20 successful designs – including the Giulia Sprint GT, Fiat 850, Fiat Dino, Chevrolet Corvair Testudo, Alfa Romeo Canguro and BMW 3200CS – and returned Bertone to the forefront of design.

In the 1960s, it changed design agencies, signing with Ghia, which tried to rebuild itself from a new foundation. It was here that the Maseratti Ghibli’s rougher lines were born.

In ’67 he left Ghia and set up his own design agency, Italdesign. It was no longer just making car bodies, but also Ducatti motorcycles and a range of home furnishings and objects.

What made Italdesign different from its competitors was that it not only created the designs, but also the prototypes, helped the engineers and even did its share of the testing. This meant that car makers had to worry about production. All thanks to Giugiaro’s unconventional working methods. His greatest strength was that he could come up with the basic idea for a new car design very quickly. Moreover, he did not make a clay model of his ideas on a drawing paper. He considered this a waste of time unless the new body was to be tested in a wind tunnel. The 1:1 scale models were made of wood, covered in plaster. Finally, he made the prototypes in steel, unless the customer paid for a carbon fibre body.

The company’s most productive period was the years between 1973 and 1976, when in a relatively short period of time it produced a number of highly successful models such as the Alfa Rome FTV and Alfasud Sprint, the Volkswagen Golf, Passat and Scirocco, and the Maserati Quattroporte. It was during these years that Giugiaro reached the peak of his career. Although many consider that this point was clearly reached in 1978 with the design of the BMW M1.

‘When it comes to criteria for artistic design, proportions are always at the top of the list. It’s all like a mathematical game’ – Giorgetto Giugiaro

Adam Gubán

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