Carrozzeria, Italian meaning coachbuilder, is an individual or company that bodies carriages or automobiles. The name in German is Karosserie. These skills were needed during the early part of the 1900's to fabricate enclosures for rolling chassis. The materials used were mostly wooden or metal. As the evolution of automobile production evolved, manufacturers brought the design and development in-house, making individual coachbuilders a dying breed.
Unibody construction has mostly eliminated the need for coachbuilders. Many coachbuilders were purchased or merged by the automobile manufacturers. Others became highly specialized and worked on a contract basis, mostly for high priced, luxury automobiles.
Alfredo Vignale was born in 1913 in the country of Italy. During his teenage years he worked for Stabilimenti Farina, managed by Giovanni Farina, the older brother of the famous coachbuilder, Pinin Farina.
By 1946 he had established himself, built a reputation, and opened a shop in Grugliasco, at Via Cigliano, Turin. His first body creation was a 1948 Fiat 500, followed by a Fiat 1100. His work continued, creating bodies for prominent customers such as Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Cisitalia, Fiat, Maserati and Lancia.
His coach-work was mostly for low volume automobiles. By 1961 he had opened a factory in Crugliasco, Turin for the purpose of automobile production. Most were built atop of Fiat chassis. The vehicles produced include the Vignale 125/Samantha, Vignale 1500, and Vignale 850 - to name a few.
At the close of 1969, Alfredo Vignale sold his coachbuilding business to DeTomaso Automobili. By this point in history, Ford owned many businesses, such as Ghia and DeTomas. So essentially, Ford now owned the Vignale business. The factory was used to build the DeTomaso Pantera super car.
Three days after Alfredo Vignale sold his business, he was killed in an automobile accident while driving a Maserati.
Aston Martin is owned by Ford which now owns Ghia. In 1993, at the Geneva Auto Show, Aston Martin unveiled a concept car dubbed the Lagonda Vignale. The name Vignale was able to be used because of ownership. Since that time, the name 'Vignale' has appeared on a Ford concept car.