PIETRO FRUA (1913-1983)

I continue my summary of designers whose work I cannot praise enough. They are often left in the background, often underestimated, but they are the first impulse when buying a car. According to trade experts, the vast majority of transactions are decided at first sight.

Pietro Frua, who was born in Turin in 1913, is another prominent figure in the design scene in northern Italy. His father worked for Fiat, which brought him close to cars at an early age. After leaving school, he studied drawing at Scuolla Allievi Fiat, another Fiat-affiliated institution, where he also did an apprenticeship.

At 17 he joined Stabilimenti Farina, one of the most prestigious design schools in Turin at the time. Many credit him with the early designs of the iconic Vespa.

In 1944 he went on to found his own studio. Their first major work was the Fiat 1100C Spyder. Their first longer-term contract was with Maserati. In the 1950s they designed several Spyder and coupé versions. For the factory.

Pelle Peterson designed the Volvo P1800 under the watchful eye of Frua, which is also in our collection.  Not surprisingly, Frua’s pen is often credited with this popular car. Between 1957 and 1959, Frua designed several cars for Ghia-Aglie, the former Swiss subsidiary of Ghia Torino, which was then an independent company. Giovanni Michelotti was his predecessor in this position.

In the 1960s Pietro Frua was one of Italy’s most important car designers. The Frua line was synonymous with good taste. He followed the realisation of each car down to the smallest details of fully functional individual models and prototypes, often to their presentation at European motor shows.

Among his more interesting works, for example, he designed for Glass, Germany’s smallest car assembly plant. These are often referred to as Glaserattis by connoisseurs because of their close resemblance to the Maseratti Frua. They were produced until 1968, under the name BMW GT, because BMW bought Glass.

The Maseratti Quattroporte was one of the factory’s most successful models and was also named after Frua, after a long bad relationship between the two factories. This successful body design brought them closer together.

In 1965, AC introduced the powerful 7-litre AC Frua Spyder with Frua bodywork, inspired by the Mistral. This was followed by a coupe in 1967. In the same year, Swiss racing driver and Ferrari importer Peter Monteverdi began building a Frua-bodied sports coupe, the Chrysler-powered Monteverdi Highspeed 375S. He also designed the Monteverdi 2000 GTI, but it was a one-off. Due to Frua’s limited capacity, production of the next High Speed models was transferred to Fissore in Turin. However, the Monteverdi Hai 450 is believed to have been designed by Frua.

In 1983, a few weeks after his birthday, this engineer of good taste died of cancer. He left an everlasting mark on the hall of designers of the world with his lines.

Ádám Gubán

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