"Off the peg" tailor mades



The possession of a copy of a picture by a well-known artist holds greater merit to many people than the ownership of an original by a lesser-known painter. This fact has its analogy in motoring which asserts itself in several ways. Some people prefer to own ordinary-looking cars with highly-tuned engines which can pass much more expensive cars, others like ordinary cars with special bodies which are seldom quicker than the standard version, while still more buy old cars, either because they prefer old cars or because they cannot afford a new one of the type they like to drive.

Undoubtedly styling plays as big a part in the selection of a new car with many people as the mechanical considerations, and when one talks of styling one immediately thinks of Italy, which still reigns supreme in the art of styling and coachbuilding. With the idea of discovering just how much an Italian-styled car costs we surveyed the market to find out which cars are clothed in Italy or styled by Italians, and came up with the answer that “an awful lot are, and nany of them cost very little.” Taking them alphabetically we found the following models styled in Italy.

Abarth.—Naturally this Italian marque, which specialises in converting Fiat cars, uses Italian styling exclusively, most of the bodies being by Zagato, Allemano or Ellena.

Alfa Romeo.—Long renowned for their association with the famous Italian stylists, Alfa Romeo use outside stylists for nearly all their models. The classic Giulietta, which is often used as a standard by which others are judged, is styled by Bertone, but then he was also responsible for the ugly Sprint Speciale model. Zagato are responsible for most of the competition Alfas and Farina and Touring for the larger models in the range.

Alvis.—Herrman Graber of Switzerland is responsible for the Alvis 3-litre which is built by Park Ward in England.

Aston Martin.—Aston Martin road cars have, for many years, been styled by Touring of Milan, including the DB2-4 and DB4. Several competition cars and “one-offs” have also been styled by Touring but Zagato have been responsible for the lightweight competition versions of the DB4GT.

Austin.—B.M.C. have an exclusive contract with Pininfarina for his services in Britain, and he has been responsible for the whole range, including A40, A60 (and other variants), the Mini and the Morris 1100. B.M.C. have an agreement with Innocenti for the latter to manufacture the A40, Sprite and Morris 1100 in Italy, the Sprite being an attractively-styled car by Ghia which probably inspired the latest Mk. II Sprite.

B.M.W.—This German firm rely mainly on Bertone, whose Alfa influence can be seen in the 3200CS coupe.

Bristol.—Starting with the 402, Bristol used the Touring method of alloy panelling on a light tubular steel framework but subsequent bodies have also been built by Farina and Abbott’s of Farnham, while Zagato has done design work for Bristol in recent times and Bertone was responsible for the Arnolt-Bristol, a 2-seater sports car selling only in the U.S.A.

Ferrari.—Ferrari has used the services of many Italian coachbuilders in the past but now the standard 2+2 model is styled and built by Pininfarina while Scaglietti is responsible for the Berlinetta 250GT and most of the competition cars.

Fiat.—Pininfarina is responsible for the 1800 and 2300 range of Fiats although Ghia designed the 2300 coupé which is now a listed production car. There are, of course, many variants on the Fiat 600 basis, Abarth being the instigator of most of them.

Lagonda.—Like its stable-make the Aston Martin, the Rapide was styled by Touring.

Lancia.—Nearly all Lancias are styled by various Italian concerns. Farina did the Flaminia and the coupé version as well as the Flavia coupé, while Vignale designed the Flavia convertible. Zagato was commissioned to build the lightweight Appia Zagato in an unsuccessful effort to keep up with the Alfa Romeo Giuliettas. Touring and Viotti also build Lancia models.

Maserati.—Two main models come from Maserati, the saloon and convertible. The saloon 3500 is styled by Touting and the convertible by Vignale.

N.S.U.—The latest Prinz 4 is of course a miniature Chevrolet Corvair but prior to this they employed Bertone to design the Sport Prinz, which is in many ways a scaled-down Giulietta.

Osca.—The very small production of Osca’s ensures that each owner receives a hand-built body, most of which are done by Michelotti, Zagato and Boneschi.

Peugeot.—The resemblance of the 404 model to Austin and Fiat products indicate that Farina was responsible for its design.

Standard/Triumph.—Nearly all buyers of a Standard or Triumph product receive Michelotti styling for nothing extra. He has restyled the Vanguard and been completely responsible for the Herald, Vitesse, Spitfire and TR4, all in a very short space of time.

VW.—The normal VW has not changed its shape basically since its inception but for the man interested in Italian styling there are the Ghia-designed versions on the 1200 and 1500 chassis which are built by the German firm of Karmann.


From this imposing list it can be seen that a large proportion of the World’s motor industry has turned to Italy for its bodies. Some concerns remain aloof, particularly the American groups, although occasional design studies are made in Italy. In Britain, Vauxhall and Ford have no connections with Italian stylists, nor do Jaguar or the Rootes Group, although the last-named have some of their cars built under licence by Touring in Milan. However, the influence of Italian work in this field can be seen in the creations of many of those firms who do not employ Italian stylists.

From our list it can be seen that an Italian-styled car can be bought “off the peg” very easily, the prices ranging from the £447 of the Farina-styled Mini to the £5,606 of the Scaglietti-styled Ferrari Berlinetta.

What of Britain’s efforts in the styling field? Only the name of Ogle springs to mind, although a few re-styling jobs have been done by Harrington on Rootes products, while others have contented themselves with hard-tops or bonnet conversions. Let us hope that this situation is rectified before long.—M. L. T.