When the world’s top automakers need a design that’s capable of captivating the public’s imagination, they turn to the master craftsmen at boutique design firms.
Over the last 100 years, few firms have penned more memorable and striking designs than Gruppo Bertone.
Sadly, the famed Italian design firm behind some of the most iconic cars in automotive history, has confirmed it has entered bankruptcy proceedings.
According to BBC’s Top Gear, mounting debt forced the firm to shutter its operations last month and send its 120 employees home.
“The problem is many debts and very high costs. At the moment everything is blocked,” a company spokesperson told the Telegraph. “People haven’t been coming to work for a month and a half now.”
The fate of the famed design house, known for its adventurous and avant garde concepts, should be clear by the end of April when the court will either announce a buyout deal or the liquidation of its assets.
This isn’t the troubled firm’s first brush with financial peril. Bertone faced similar financial troubles in 2007, 2008, and 2011.
It was able to stave off collapse by selling off its prized manufacturing assets and famed design prototypes. But stripped of its most valuable assets, Bertone does not seem to have the stamina to withstand another barrage of creditors.
As Bertone once again teeters on the brink of collapse, here’s a look back at some of its greatest artistic contributions to automotive history.
In the supercar gospel, the Lamborghini Miura is Genesis. The Miura, which catapulted designer Marcello Gandini to stardom at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show, is credited with pioneering the mid-engine form that's since become synonymous with supercars.
The 1974 Lamborghini Countach and its iconic upward-hinged doors became the go-to bedroom poster for a whole generation of teenage boys. If the Miura is the car that made Gandini a star, then the Countach is the car that made him immortal.
The futuristic Alfa Romeo Pandion Concept debuted at the 2010 Geneva Auto Show, to celebrate Alfa's 100th anniversary. The Pandion features Bertone's signature upward-hinged doors.
The 1973 Lamborghini Uracco, or 'little bull,' is as close to practical as you're going to get from the crazy imagination of Marcello Gandini. This practical Lambo features seating for four and a 2.5 litre V-8 engine.
The Rapide Jet 2+2 is Bertone's vision of what an Aston Martin station wagon should be, complete with handcrafted coach work, a 6-liter V-12 engine and custom Foglizzo leather.
The first of three design studies on aerodynamics commissioned by Alfa Romeo led to the 1953 BAT 5, created by Nuccio Bertone.
In 1963, a young Giorgetto Giugaro crafted the elegant body of the Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint. In its day, the twin-cam, 6-cylinder 2600 Sprint was the company's flagship sports coupe.
The 2011 Jaguar B99 Concept is Bertone's take on a British Jag featuring a hybrid drivetrain and suicide doors*.
*Urban Dictionary defines suicide doors as 'doors that open in the opposite of the regular direction - hinges are at the back and the front of the door opens. Many cars before WWII had those and now it is a popular conversion on tuned trucks. Suicide doors are considered far more dangerous than normal doors because of the possibility of opening during movement.'
Bertone introduced the 2009 Mantine to the public through a series of YouTube videos called Inside Project M. It's an American Corvette ZR1 with an Italian body.
The 1972 Stratos High Fidelity is Marcello Gandini's wildly successful rally racer with the body of a supercar.
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