Marcello Gandini, Legendary Italian Designer, Has Died

by Steven Cole Smith
14 March 2024 2 min read
Marcello Gandini, Legendary Italian Designer, Has Died
(Getty Images)

When you speak of superb Italian car design, and you possibly often do, one of the names typically mentioned is Marcello Gandini. The man most responsible for the look of the seminal Lamborghini Miura, the outrageous Lamborghini Countach, the diminutive Fiat X1/9, the first generation of the BMW 5-Series, and dozens of other cars, died on Wednesday.

The versatile Gandini, a native of Turin, Italy, was the son of an orchestra conductor. Gandini was working as an interior designer when he showed some of his automotive designs to Nuccio Bertone in 1963, but Bertone’s top designer at the time, Giorgetto Giugiaro, didn’t care for Gandini and he wasn’t hired. 

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Giugiaro, responsible for designs of the BMW M1, the De Tomaso Mangusta, the Maserati Ghibli, and the Lotus Esprit S1, moved on to a job with Ghia in 1965, and Gandini was brought on at Bertone.

1976 Bertone Gandini Ferrari Car Designers Together in Studio
A young Gandini (right) designed many famous cars at the studio of Nuccio Bertone. (Wiki Commons/Archivio Stile Bertone)

During the 14 years he was at Bertone, Gandini worked on a massive variety of designs for a long list of manufacturers. He is best known for his exotics—the Lamborghini LP500 prototype, which became the Countach; the confounding Lancia Stratos Zero concept; the remarkable Alfa Romeo Montreal; the grand touring Maserati Khamsin—but he designed many vehicles for everyman, including the original Volkswagen Polo, the second-generation Renault 5, and the Citroën BX.

man observing Marcello Gandini's drawings
(Stefano Guidi/LightRocket via Getty Images)
man observing Marcello Gandini's drawings
(Stefano Guidi/LightRocket via Getty Images)

During his later years, spent in a 17th century home and studio located just outside Turin, Gandini enjoyed designing non-automotive projects, such as the graceful Angel helicopter. There was also a large house in Corsica that he designed, built, and then sold, plus the interior of a nightclub that he’d rather not be remembered for. “Happily, it burned,” Gandini told author and fellow designer Robert Cumberford in a story for Automobile in 2009.

Italian designers are often known for the size of their ego, but Cumberford found Gandini to be “self-effacing, modest, and quiet. He doesn’t attend motor shows and has no use for public relations but is neither particularly shy nor a recluse.”

Marcello Gandini was 85 years old.

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  • Sidney says:

    Thank you, Sr. Gandini. You gave us inspiration we wouldn’t otherwise have had.

  • Albert Barclay says:

    I think his Miura is absolutely fabulous. I think the mid engine was arranged transversely which is unusual for mid engine. Please does anyone know if it’s correct or not & if yes how did they then transmit power to the rear drive ?
    Marcello Gandini; RIP.

  • S J says:

    The Legend will continue forever…

  • Sidney says:

    Clutch on one end, gearbox and differential across the back. Google finds everything.

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