"Giovanni Michelotti was a fascinating designer. And in his years drawing designs for the Triumph four-wheel department, he came up with a huge number of one-offs, test-beds, concepts and prototypes. And despite our being boringly obsessive about rare motors, Michelotti "
Michelotti & Austin Rover
The 1972 Leyland-Crompton electric car prototype was a response to the Oil crisis by BL, with a Michelotti body on a Mini chassis
The collaboration between the lesser known carrozzeria Michelotti and British Leyland goes back to the mid fifties. Like many Italian stylists, Michelotti had been under great pressure since the end of the war. Money was tight though creative design talent was everywhere. Consequently, Italian pensmen had to look all over the world for commissions. Triumph’s Harry Webster was one of the earliest takers for Michelotti’s functional but appealing designs.
The Turin-based pensman an take credit for the designs which became Triumph’s most successful models. The Stag, the Dolomite and the 2000 series were all down to Michelotti’s vision, as well as the love it or hate it Spitfire and the quirky and feminine Herald.
But there were also some very interesting but lesser known designs that never quite made it to the streets, but whose influence you can easily detach on subsequent generations of Leyland vehicles.
The Lynx project of the late sixties calls to mind the Reliant Scimitar shooting brake
Stay tuned for September’s feature thread on all things automotive and Italian.
Images via AR Online.
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