Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 28th September 2017

Classic Car Designer Of The Day looks at the life of a famous car designer and how they’ve contributed to the industry. Giorgetto Giugiaro was arguably the most influential car designer of the 20th century, as he was named Car Designer of the Century in 1999. The 79-year-old created memorable cars like the Lotus Esprit, Lancia Delta and DeLorean DMC-12.

Early life

Giugiaro was born in Garessio, Italy on August 7th 1938 and his father Mario produced decorative religious art. This may have inspired Giugiaro’s artistic pursuits and he moved to Torino to enroll in the Golia design school in 1952. He studied fine art in the day and technical design at night.

Car design career

In 1955, Giugiaro’s automotive drawings caught the attention of Fiat’s chief engineer, Dante Giacosa. Giugiaro was only seventeen at the time and Giacosa signed him to the Fiat Special Vehicles Styling Centre in Mirafiori. However, during his time at the company, none of his designs were approved. This caused Giugiaro to move on to Bertone in 1959 after he showed his work to Nuncio Bertone. The design that Bertone bought became the Alfa Romeo 2000.

Giugiaro’s natural talent allowed him to progress quickly at Bertone and at 22 he became head of styling. While part of the company he worked on cars like the Ferrari 250GT, SWB Bertone, Maserati Ghibli, Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint and Mazda Familia. He spent six years there before moving to Ghia. However, Giugiaro felt constrained by Ghia management and left to found his Italdesign firm in 1968.

By 1971, Italdesign had become a global icon. Giugiaro expanded his industrial design division so it provided prototypes for all kind of products. These included motorcycles, furniture, watches and cameras. But cars remained the main focus.

Giugiaro created some of his greatest cars with Italdesign, such as the Lotus Esprit. This showed off his distinctive ‘folded paper’ design to a British audience. It went on to become one of the most memorable British classics of all time.

Perhaps his most famous car was the 1981 DeLorean DMC-12. The car became a part of pop culture through the Back To The Future series.

Later years

Giugiaro ran Italdesign up until he retired in 2015. Throughout his career, he won numerous awards. These include the 1995 Golden Steering Wheel, a Compasso D’Oro for his work on the Fiat Panda and the 2013 Antonio Feltrinelli Prize. He was also inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2012