Guiseppe Bertone, who has died aged 82, was the godfather of Italian car styling, spending 50 years at the helm of one of Italy’s most famous coachbuilders. Guiseppe, nicknamed “Nuccio”, was born on 4 July 1914. His father Giovanni was a skilled metalworker who made body parts for cars. In 1921 Nuccio produced his first complete body, on a SPA chassis.
With an accountancy diploma under his belt, he joined his father’s firm in 1933, soon applying his sharp mind to expanding it. Nuccio was also a keen amateur racing driver.
After the Second World War, Nuccio landed a contract to design and make 500 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprints, special coupes to be given away in a state raffle. In the end, Bertone built more than 40,000, transforming the company from a craft-based organisation into an industrial one.
What also swung it for Bertone was the amazing design talent of his fiery styling chief Franco Scaglione. Bertone liked to describe himself as a designer “talent scout”. When Scaglione left in 1959, he promoted the talented Giorgetto Giugiaro. When he departed in 1965, he nurtured a youthful Marcella Gandini.
Bertone expanded massively in the ’50s and ’60s, designing the Iso Grifo, Lamborghini Miura and Espada, Lancia Stratos, Alfa Romeo Montreal and Ferrari 308GTB4 among others. In 1971 Nuccio received an Italian knighthood for his services to industry, though the ’70s and ’80s were times of fluctuating fortunes for his company. However, it bounced back by turning family cars like the Vauxhall Astra and Fiat Punto into smart convertibles.
Nuccio Bertone always oozed urbane affluence, a short, foxy-faced man with a penchant for sharp tailoring and sunglasses. He is survived by his wife and two daughters who work for the company. GILES CHAPMAN