Classic Car Designer Of The Day looks at a famous car manufacturer and examines how successful they have been. Bruno Sacco was a man who knew where his life was going from a young age. He oversaw the styling of all Mercedes-Benz production models and some of his most well-known work includes the Mercedes-Benz C111 and E-Class.
Sacco was born in Italy in 1933 and as a boy, was fascinated by Germany’s Marklin electric trains. According to him, he was inspired by car design when he was 18 and saw a Raymond Loewy-styled 1950 Studebaker Commander Regal. He couldn’t get the car out of his head and he knew what he wanted to do with his life.
After studying mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic University of Turin, he tried to get a job with the famous design house Ghia and Pininfarina carrozzerie. He was unsuccessful, so he moved to Germany to find another job. In 1958, he was hired as a stylist by Daimler-Benz.
Car design career
Sacco admitted that it took him years to fully understand the culture at Daimler-Benz, since there was “no written styling or design laws.” He decided to follow Gottlieb Daimler’s “nothing but the best” philosophy and moved forward.
Over the next fifteen years, Sacco moved up through the ranks until he became chief engineer in 1974. He became responsible for the design of every Mercedes car, bus and truck, creating vehicles like the C111 concept car and C-Class W202. He also made a large contribution to the W123, which acquired 2.7 million sales. Sacco’s favourite design was the Mercedes-Benz 190, introduced in 1982.
Sacco advocated ‘vertical affinity,’ which meant a car couldn’t be rendered obsolete by its successor, ensuring a timeless design. Sacco encouraged his designers to think thirty years ahead.
Sacco said “the development cycle of a new vehicle is typically three to five years, which is then followed by a production life of about eight years. The last car off the assembly line on that model will have an average life expectancy of 20 years. That adds up to a product life cycle of approximately 30 years.”
Sacco retired from Mercedes in 1999, but he continued to draw and design. He earned numerous accolades over his career, such as being chosen as Car Magazine’s ‘Designer’s Designer’ in 1996 and being inducted into the 2006 Automotive Hall of Fame.