Bertone
Source: Bertone

Bertone was founded in November 1912, when Giovanni Bertone, then aged 28, opened a workshop specialising in the construction and repair of horse-drawn carriages. He started out with three workers.

At the beginning of the 20th century cars were a rarity in Turin. The traffic on the roads was nearly all carriages, and the ones built by Bertone stood out immediately for their careful craftsmanship, sturdiness and high quality. The experts soon came to recognise the sound of a Bertone going by on the cobbled streets.
In 1914 Giuseppe, the second son in the Bertone family, was born. Everyone took to calling him Nuccio, the nickname which was to stay with him for the rest of his life, and become synonymous with Italian style throughout the world.
But the joy at Nuccio's birth was overshadowed by the outbreak of the first World War, which spelled hard times for Giovanni Bertone, who was forced to shut up shop.

The end of the war, however, signalled a turning point for Bertone: the company expanded and focused its attentions on the motor-car.
The new offices at number 119 Via Monginevro opened in 1920 with a workforce of 20. A year later the first important job arrived: the construction of a Torpedo on an SPA 23S base, immediately followed by a Fiat 501 Sport Siluro Corsa, the first in a long line of high performing sports cars which would come to represent the Bertone name in the years to come.

The 20s
During the Twenties Bertone formed partnerships with almost all the manufacturers of the day. Turin came to represent the heart of the car industry and Giovanni Bertone began doing bodywork on Fast, Chiribiri, Aurea, SCAT and Diatto chassis. The most important partnerships, however, were those with the two biggest Turin manufacturers: Fiat and Lancia.

Vincenzo Lancia realised straight away that Giovanni Bertone was a skilled craftsman with a great future ahead of him. Affectionately nicknaming him 'Bertunot', he commissioned Bertone to create complete car bodies, above all for the limited series that the companies of the day were not always equipped to produce. This was Bertone's first opportunity to carry out limited production of special cars on standard mechanical bases, and signalled the beginning of a great career.

And while these were great years for Bertone himself, they were also fundamental years from a styling point of view: car body shapes were slowly evolving, losing the angular shapes of previous models, with the wings starting to be joined together.
Giovanni Bertone produced torpedo and saloon bodies for Fiat and Lancia, and also for Itala, Diatto and SPA. And of course he also worked on commissions for private customers eager for exclusivity. Alongside the sports models like the 1928 Ansaldo 6BS, Giovanni Bertone also designed luxury cars like the Fiat 505 limousine and the Itala 51S, both in 1924, and the Lancia Lambda VIII Series in 1928.

The 30s
Despite the fact that the great depression of 1929 had brought many Turin carmakers to their knees, Giovanni Bertone's shrewd management meant that his company was able to carry on creating cars with great appeal. In 1932, for example, he designed the imposingly elegant Lancia Artena. But the most important news for the Carrozzeria came in the following year, 1933, when young Nuccio, then aged 19, officially began working in his father's company.

In the meantime Bertone began working on commercial vehicles too, and as the business grew, new premises were needed. The company moved to 225 Corso Peschiera. There were now 50 people on the staff.

In 1934 Bertone created the extraordinary Fiat 527S Ardita 2500, which was a real turning point in car design, with some incredible new details such as the stunning front headlights with fairing along the bonnet. The Ardita signalled the start of a new kind of style, which was destined to take off towards the end of the decade, with Fiat and Lancia models which were astounding for their day. Examples were the 'six window' Fiat 1500 Aerodinamica, the dignified, opulent Lancia Aprilia Cabriolet and the novel Fiat 1500 Torpedo, with constructional features that had never been seen before, such as the fold-away hood which stowed away entirely inside the car.
With his bold innovations and elegant creations, Bertone was beginning to make a name for himself with critics and motoring fans alike

The 40s
At the outbreak of World War II, the car market experienced a sudden, drastic downturn. Almost all the bodywork manufacturers, including Bertone, reacted to the crisis by turning to military vehicles of various kinds (such as the Bertone ambulance on Lancia Artena base).

But times were hard and the scarcity of work was exacerbated by the lack of raw materials and labour, which meant that it was difficult to meet orders from the army. But even with all the problems, production did not cease in the Corso Peschiera factory, with the luxurious Lancia Aprilias and the unique, extremely elegant long chassis Fiat 2800 cabriolet, the only one of its kind, built on commission for race driver and motoring journalist Giovanni Lurani Cernuschi.

After the war, as the long slow process of reconstruction began in Europe, the big industrial companies gradually upped production levels, and the bodyworks got back to work. During these difficult years Nuccio Bertone created cars like the Lancia Aprilia Cabriolet and the racing Fiat 1100 Stanguellini, cars which were precursors to some of the design trends of the following decade.

At the end of the Forties, Nuccio Bertone turned to racing, at the wheel of a number of different cars, including a Fiat 500 barchetta he built himself. At the end of the decade the meeting with Vittorio Stanguellini led to the creation of a coupé with a Fiat 1100 chassis which was to be a great success with the public.

The 50s
The Fifties brought in the first orders from abroad, in particular from MG and Bristol in 1952. The following year Nuccio Bertone designed the prototype for the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint, which was presented at the 1954 Turin Motor Show. A production of 1000 was originally planned, but in the end nearly 40,000 vehicles were made between 1954 and 1965.

The relationship between Bertone and Alfa Romeo reached its creative peak with the Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica (BAT) concept cars which pushed back the boundaries of car design and aerodynamics: the BAT 5 (1953), the BAT 7 (1954), and the BAT 9 (1955). Research into aerodynamics culminated in the production of the Abarth 750 Record in 1956, built on a Fiat 600 chassis and tested on the high speed track at Monza. This Abarth set an impressive ten world records, including doing 4,000 km at an average of 156.36 km/h and covering 10,125.26 km in 72 hours.

In the meantime, in 1957 the company expanded to take on the production of the NSU Sport Prinz. The factory in Corso Peschiera started to feel a little small, and work began on a new factory in Grugliasco on the outskirts of Turin. The new premises became operative in 1959, with a workforce of 550.

At the end of the Fifties Bertone came up with some sports berlinettas which were to make history, such as the Giulietta Sprint Special, the Aston Martin DB2/4 and the Maserati 3500 GT.

The 60s
The Sixties were the years of the Italian-style GT. Nuccio Bertone came up with five variations on the theme which would always be dear to his heart, in the shape of five extremely racy GT models: the Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint, in coupé and cabriolet versions, two Ferrari 250 GTs, one named 'Wax' after the commissioning client, and the other for the Maestro's personal use, the Aston Martin DB4 GT 'Jet' and the Maserati 5000 GT.

At the same time two new industrial partnerships were getting under way, with the work on the Simca 1000 Coupé and the BMW 3200 CS limited series, as was the important but unfortunate ASA 1000, better known as the 'Ferrarina', or 'little Ferrari' (as the project originated with Enzo Ferrari), which, despite the high expectations of the public, never made it to the market.

The Iso-Rivolta GT 300 and 340 and the Iso Grifo were also created in this period. Nuccio Bertone also designed a prototype cabriolet of the latter and a racing version known as the A3C. The Grifo years were also the years of the Corvair Testudo, driven personally by Nuccio Bertone to the Geneva Motor Show in 1963. The following year saw the Alfa Romeo Canguro, followed in 1965 by the Alfa Romeo Giulia GT, rightful heir of the Giulietta Sprint.

In the same year Carrozzeria Bertone experienced a major turning-point, with the launch of the Fiat 850 Spider. The commercial success of this model led Nuccio Bertone to increase the company's production capacity to 120 units per day (between 1965 and 1972 nearly 140,000 were produced). With the 850 Spider the company took a giant leap forward in terms of production volumes, from the 13,000 bodies produced in 1966 to nearly 30,000 in 1968, an increase of 40 percent.

The end of the Sixties saw the beginning of the partnership with Ferruccio Lamborghini that was destined to make history in the car world. The first vehicle to come out of this was the Miura, presented at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show, which reinvented the design concept of a high performance coupé. The Miura was followed by the Marzal (1967) and the Espada (1968). In the same period two other coupés appeared: the Alfa Romeo Montreal and the Fiat Dino Coupé, both out in 1967.
Astounding, ground-breaking cars, inventing their own language for the design of the future: these were Nuccio Bertone's trademarks.
At the Paris Motor Show of 1968 he presented the Carabo concept car, which was built on an Alfa 33 chassis.

The 70s
By 1970 Bertone had a workforce of 1500 and the Grugliasco factory covered an area of 267,000 sq.m. The partnership with Lamborghini led to the development of the Jarama and the Urraco. With the astounding Stratos Zero prototype, built on a Lancia Fulvia 1.6 HF base, Bertone came to represent a new point of reference in modern art, as well as on the international car design scene. The Stratos Zero, which was presented at the 1970 Turin Motor Show, went beyond mere questions of style to create a timeless blend of architecture, sculpture and industrial design.
The following year, with some of the Zero's styling cues as a starting point, Bertone created the Lancia Stratos Stradale, a compact saloon destined mainly for the racing circuit, and which in fact went on to bring home numerous victories in various rally world championships.

In 1972, at the age of 88, Giovanni Bertone passed away.
In the same year, as a kind of tacit tribute to the company's founder, the Maserati Kamshin and the Fiat X1/9 came out. The latter, foreshadowed by the Runabout concept car, was the heir of the 850 Spider, and went on to enjoy the same runaway commercial success. Based on the Fiat 128 chassis, but with a mid-rear engine, the X1/9 went into production in 1972 and 160,000 units had been manufactured by the time production stopped in 1988.

Meanwhile Nuccio Bertone's prolific drawing board saw a succession of supercars, runabouts and provocative style concepts: the Lamborghini Countach and the Dino Ferrari 308 GT4 (1973), the Audi 50 and Innocenti Mini 90 (1974), the Fiat 131 Abarth Rally (1975) and the prototype Alfa Romeo Navajo (1976).

In the same year, the company began working for Volvo, on the 264 TE. The Volvo 262 C, which was presented at the 1977 Geneva Motor Show, was entirely manufactured by Bertone, from the assembly of the basic body to the fitting of the mechanical components and the road trials.
This procedural turning point had a big hand in transforming the company, which was now all set to become a car manufacturer in its own right.

The 80s
From the beginning of the Eighties the Ritmo Cabrio and the X1/9 were produced and sold directly under the Bertone marque, meaning that the company was now responsible not only for production but also for the sales network and after-sales assistance for the two models.

In 1982 Nuccio Bertone turned out another important design, the Citroen BX. After entering into a joint-venture with Volvo in 1985 the company began production of the 780, an elegant two-door saloon entirely created by Nuccio Bertone, from the formal design of the model to the full production cycle.

A new commercial agreement drawn up with General Motors Europe in 1987 saw production of the Kadett Cabrio handed over to Bertone. The partnership with Opel continued with the first generation of the Astra Cabrio, and up to the present with the new versions of the Astra Coupé and Cabriolet.
The end of the eighties saw the Citroen XM, and the Freeclimber off-roader.

The 90s
Without abandoning its commitment to exploring the new languages of car design, Bertone entered the last decade of the century with its focus very much on technological innovations.
Capturing the attention of public and experts alike at the 1992 Turin Motor Show was the aggressively futuristic Blitz barchetta, a showpiece which featured an electric engine and avant-garde construction solutions: a tubular chassis in special steel integrated into sandwich-structure fibre glass panels, bodywork in composite materials and carbon interiors.

In 1993 the Opel Astra Cabrio and the Fiat Punto Cabrio went into production, with the entire production cycle for both cars at the Grugliasco factory: assembly of the bodywork, fitting of the mechanical components, paintwork and fittings. A complete production cycle, ending with the final testing process, which is carried out according to the procedures and standards of the commissioning companies.

Continuing its research into low environmental-impact vehicles, in 1994 Bertone presented the ZER (Zero Emission Record), a futuristic reinterpretation of the unforgettable Abarth 750 Record. Expressly conceived and created to yield the highest performance levels in the electric car sector, the ZER (which boasts a Cx of 0.11) set the world hour speed record (199.822 km in 60 minutes), and broke the 300 km/h barrier, setting a new world speed record for electric cars (with a top speed of 303.977 km/h).

In 1994, Carrozzeria Bertone became the first manufacturer in Italy to be awarded ISO 9001 quality certification. Meanwhile Nuccio Bertone did not turn his back on a past dedicated to bodywork and continued to design working prototypes: the Karisma (1994), a four-seater berlinetta on a Porsche base, the Kayak (1995), a coupé on a Lancia K base, the Slalom 'coupé de chasse' on an Opel Calibra base, and the Enduro 4x4, an SUV on a Fiat Brava floorpan.

Today
On 26 February 1997, on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show, Nuccio Bertone passed away, leaving the world to grieve 'one of the greatest coachbuilders of the century, and international Maestro of Italian style' in the touching words of Fulvio Cinti, motoring journalist and car historian.

After the passing of Nuccio Bertone, Bertone continues to be a successful company, entering the third millennium with an exploration of state-of-the-art technologies such as drive-by-wire. It has been manufacturing the new generation of the Opel Astra Coupé since 1999, and the Opel Astra Cabrio was added in 2000, both designed by Stile Bertone in Caprie. Bertone also produces the C1 scooter for BMW, opening a brand new chapter in the history of individual mobility.
Vehicles Associated With Bertone
2013 Aston Martin Rapide Jet Concept
2011 Jaguar Bertone B 99
2011 Jaguar Bertone B99 GT
2010 Alfa Romeo Pandion Concept
2007 Bertone Barchetta Concept
2007 Alfa Romeo GT 3.7 Super
2006 Fiat Suagna
2004 Aston Martin Vanquish Bertone Jet 2
2003 Alfa Romeo GT Coupè
2001 Opel Astra
2001 Opel Astra Extreme
1999 Alfa Romeo Bella
1998 BMW Pickster
1996 Fiat Enduro
1996 Bertone Slalom
1995 Lancia Kayak
1994 Bertone Porsche Karisma
1992 Bertone Rush
1992 Bertone Blitz
1991 Bertone Emotion
1990 Volvo 780
1990 Bertone Corvette Nivola
1990 Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary
1990 Lamborghini Diablo
1989 Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary
1988 Lamborghini Countach 5000 Quattrovalvole
1987 Fiat X1/9
1986 Fiat X 1/9
1985 Lamborghini Jalpa P350 GTS
1985 Volvo 780
1985 Fiat X1/9
1985 Lamborghini Countach
1984 Fiat X1/9
1984 Lamborghini Countach
1984 Fiat Ritmo
1983 Alfa Romeo Delfino
1982 Lamborghini Countach LP 500
1980 Lamborghini Athon Prototype
1979 Volvo 260 Series
1979 Ferrari 308 GT4
1978 Maserati Khamsin
1978 Lamborghini Countach LP400S
1977 Lamborghini Countach LP400
1977 Lamborghini Urraco
1976 Alfa Romeo Navajo Concept
1976 Lancia Stratos Stradale
1976 Lamborghini Urraco P300
1975 Lamborghini Urraco P250
1975 Ferrari 308 GT4
1975 Maserati Khamsin
1975 Fiat X1/9
1975 Lancia Stratos HF
1974 Lancia Stratos
1974 Lancia Stratos Group 4
1974 Lancia Stratos Stradale
1974 Maserati Khamsin
1974 Ferrari 308 GT4/LM
1974 Fiat X1/9
1974 Lamborghini Countach
1973 Fiat 850 Spider
1973 Alfa Romeo Montreal
1973 ISO Grifo
1973 Fiat Dino 246GT
1973 Lamborghini Miura
1973 Lamborghini Countach
1972 Lamborghini Espada 400 GTE
1972 Alfa Romeo Alfetta
1972 Fiat Dino
1972 Lancia Stratos HF
1972 Lamborghini Miura
1972 Alfa Romeo Montreal
1971 Alfa Romeo Montreal
1971 Lancia Stratos HF Prototype
1971 Lancia Stratos
1971 Lamborghini Miura P400SV
1970 Alfa Romeo Montreal
1970 ISO Grifo
1970 Lancia Stratos Zero
1970 Fiat Dino
1970 Alfa Romeo GTA 1300 Junior
1970 Lamborghini Miura P400S
1970 Lamborghini Urraco P250
1969 Bertone Runabout
1969 ISO Lele
1969 ISO Grifo GL
1969 Lamborghini Espada 400 GT
1969 Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA Jr.
1968 Lamborghini Espada 400 GT S1
1968 Lamborghini Miura
1968 Alfa Romeo Carabo
1968 Fiat Dino
1967 ISO Grifo GL
1967 Lamborghini Miura P400
1967 Jaguar Pirana
1967 Fiat 850
1967 Simca 1000
1967 ASA 1000 GT
1967 Fiat Dino
1967 Lamborghini Marzal Concept
1966 Fiat Dino
1966 Lamborghini Miura
1965 ISO Rivolta
1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Speciale
1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT
1965 BMW 3200CS
1964 Alfa Romeo 2600
1964 Alfa Romeo Canguro
1964 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Sprint Speciale
1963 ISO Grifo A3/L
1962 Alfa Romeo Giulia
1962 Ferrari 250 GT
1962 Chevrolet Testudo
1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Bertone Jet
1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale
1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale
1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB
1959 Arnolt DeLuxe
1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce
1959 Ferrari 250 GT SWB
1959 Alfa Romeo Sprint Speciale
1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce Sprint
1957 BMW 503
1957 Fiat 1200 Stanguellini Bertone
1957 Siata 208 S
1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale Prototipo
1956 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce
1955 Siata 208 S
1955 Siata 300BC
1955 Arnolt MG
1955 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Prototype
1955 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 9
1955 Arnolt Bolide
1954 Aston Martin DB2/4
1954 Bentley R Type
1954 Siata 300BC
1954 Arnolt Bolide
1954 Arnolt MG Bertone Coupe
1954 Siata 208 S
1953 Aston Martin DB3
1953 Fiat Stanguellini
1953 Siata Daina
1953 Aston Martin DB2/4
1953 Siata Berlina Prototype
1953 Dodge Storm Z-250
1953 Siata 300BC
1953 Arnolt MG
1953 Siata 208 S
1952 Siata 300BC
1952 Bentley R-Type
1952 Siata 400L
1952 Fiat 1500 Biposto
1942 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500
1962 - 1967 ASA 1000 GT Coupe
1962 - 1967 ASA 1000 GT Spyder
1967 - 1972 Alfa Romeo 1750 Berlina
1967 - 1971 Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider Veloce
1962 - 1965 BMW 3200 CS
1984 - 1987 Alfa Romeo 90
2008 - 2008 Alfa Romeo BAT 11
1974 - 1990 Lamborghini Countach
1961 - 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Bertone Jet
1974 - 1980 Maserati Khamsin
1969 - 1974 ISO Lele
1970 - 1977 Alfa Romeo Montreal
1962 - 1974 ISO Rivolta