Designer Of The Day is a segment that focuses on a famous classic car designer. There have been a lot of talented inventors over the years, and Pietro Frua is among the best. The Italian made a name for himself by designing cars during the 1950s and ‘60s. He created memorable vehicles like the Maserati Mistral.
In 1913, Frua was born in Turin. His father Carlo was a Fiat employee, so he grew up around cars. Frua did his apprenticeship at the Scuola Allievi Fiat, which prepared him for a lifelong career in the automotive industry.
Frua joined Stabilimenti Farina as a draftsman at the age of 17. By the time he was 22, Frua had become Director of Styling, leading several hundred people. Around this time he met Giovanni Michelotti, who he developed a close friendship with. Michelotti eventually became his successor after Frua left to found his own company in 1938.
During World War II, manufacturers focused on developing military vehicles. Frua chose to design children’s cars, electric ovens and a monocoque motorscooter. Frua was a practical man who always planned ahead. In 1944 he bought a bombed-out factory, hired fifteen workers and started designing cars.
Frura’s first known car was a 1946 Fiat 1100C Spyder. From 1950 to 1957, Frua built 19 Spyders. His earliest work focused on small cars like the Fiat 1100TV Cabriolet, Peugeot 203 Coupe and Renault Dauphine.
In 1957, Frua sold his coachbuilding company to Ghia and he was appointed the Head of Design. During this time he developed the successful Renault Floride and Volvo P1800. The 1960s offered Frua the chance to cement his legacy. He created the Maserati Mistral in 1965 and designed a number of vehicles for Glas.
The Maserati Mistral inspired several cars, like the AC Frua Spyder. Frua also designed the legendary Monteverdi Hai 450. Frua slowed down in the 1970s because there wasn’t a demand for specially bodied one-off cars anymore.
Frua developed cancer in 1982 and shortly before his death he married his long-time assistant Gina. His reputation as one of the greatest car designers of all time can’t be understated