Gandini: Il Maestro

Cars

It should probably come as no surprise that the designer of the Lamborghini Countach – the most futuristic of cars – has little time for past glories.

He would rather think than talk.

Marcello Gandini creator of the Lamborghini Countach, is a legend of automotive design. His career spans five decades and includes iconic work for Alfa, Fiat and Maserati – as well as the outrageously wedgie Lancia Stratos. His name is, however inexorably linked to Lamborghini and the Countach in particular.

And when he does stop to look back, it’s with modesty.

“I do not have the habit to associate a drawing to the end result obtained,” he has told press. “I am not bound to the success of a particular car, rather the memory of the persons that collaborated to the project and the circumstances under which they were created”.

The son of a musician, composer and conductor, Gandini too was driven artistically, with conventions and practicalities less important to the young designer than the production of something…different.

The Countach was Gandini’s follow up to the era-defining Miura, his first design for Gruppo Bertone since joining in 1965 as a replacement for Georgetto Guigario who had recently left to join Ghia. There is some controversy over the stylistic origins of the Miura, although Gandini is happy to acknowledge the influence of Guigario.

“The Miura was very like a Giugiaro car in some detail,” Gandini says. “Its lines were quite soft and it had similarities to cars he had done previously – the Maserati Ghibli, De Tomaso Mangusta and Iso Grifo. But what shows my stamp, I feel, is the effort to make the car into an integrated shape, not just a top and a bottom, as so many cars of the time had. The side-scoops, in particular, were intended to give the car a kind of global shape.”

But the Countach was pure Gandini, a design that perfectly evoked what it meant to be a supercar in the 1970s and 80s. Exotic. Fast. Quirky. And ridiculously expensive.

Of all the Countach’s unique style points it was the futuristic scissor doors which left an indelible mark, an aesthetic that spoke to the dreamers and the speed demons, the kids with the poster on their wall. Meanwhile the engineers had their work cut out. But ultimately the Countach achieves its status for its style rather than it’s performance. It’s instantly recognisable, unique in many respects & epitomises the brash ethos of the supercar. All perfectly apt for a car named after an Piedmontese expression of delight, usually uttered as a beautiful women walks by, but in the case of the Countach, the response from Nuccio Bertone after first laying eyes of Gandini’s original sketches.

“Coun-tach!”

CLICK TO ENLARGE