Legendary Auto Designer Marcello Gandini Passed Away Last Week. We Remember 10 of His Most Iconic Cars

The 85-year-old automotive visionary passed away on March 13, but he leaves behind a body of work like no other.

By Robert Ross 21/03/2024

Marcello Gandini passed away at the age of 85 on March 13, 2024. To some of us, he was the most influential automotive designer in our car-crazy lives. Gandini created during a time when audacity and rule-breaking were uncommon traits, but desperately needed. Disruption—especially in Italy—was in the air, and Gandini was its agent.

Gandini—working for Bertone from 1965 until launching out on his own in 1980—was responsible for designs that etched themselves into the imagination of every car lover who had a pulse. We all know the most popular among them. His Lamborghini Miura was unsurpassable. But then came the Countach, which outdistanced its Raging Bull predecessor at every turn. His concept cars were greater still.

Gandini was as humble a person as I’ve ever met, yet his legacy, and his greatest automobiles, are titanic. I joined Lamborghini for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Miura, whose guests of honor were the men most responsible for the seminal model, Giampaolo Dallara, Paolo Stanzani, and Marcello Gandini. Only Bob Wallace, its development driver who died in 2013, was absent.

I sat at Gandini’s right side during dinner, and through an interpreter, he shared thoughts about his designs. What struck me was his modesty as we talked about the cars he penned. About the Miura, he remarked, “the wheels are set too far in.” I imagined Michelangelo apologizing for his David.

A shortlist of Marcello Gandini’s masterworks follows. There are innumerable others, but these 10 examples—favourites of this enthusiast—amply illustrate his genius, one impossible to express in today’s automotive world.

Photo: Martyn Lucy/Getty Images

Things were never the same after the first Lamborghini Miura was parked in the Monte Carlo Casino Square in 1966. It began as an after-hours project by Dallara, Stanzani, and Wallace, who presented it to Lamborghini in 1965. Bertone was commissioned to design the body, and the rest is history. With 762 produced from 1966 until 1973—in three successive series of P400, P400S, and P400SV—the Miura is the quintessential low-slung, two-seat Italian sports car of the 1960s. Undeniably beautiful, it was the first road car to feature a transversely mid-mounted V-12 engine. The Miura is the most collectible model in the marque’s history, and Gandini’s design has inspired every Lamborghini since.

Photo: Jean-Marc Zaorski/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

I remember seeing the Marzal at the Los Angeles Auto Expo, circa 1968, on a twirling stage surrounded by young women wearing checkered-flag miniskirts, halter tops, and silver go-go boots. To say that the entire scene made an impression on a then-13-year-old car enthusiast is an understatement. And certainly, few cars have stood the test of time so well as has Lamborghini’s one-off. It’s a testament to the enduring power of daring invention and uncompromising design that the Marzal remains as powerful today as when it shattered conventions 50 years ago. The unique concept car’s less radical doppelgänger was the Bertone Pirana, also by Gandini. Both it and the Marzal hinted at the Lamborghini Espada, yet another Gandini masterpiece.

Photo: National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

Gandini’s Espada was a remarkable exercise in packaging four adults in a long, low, and slippery GT that looked like a spaceship but drove like a normal car. Its resemblance to the Marzal and Pirana show cars was hardly coincidental, and if those had not existed, the Espada itself might have been mistaken for a one-off dream car. That 1,226 examples were made in three series, starting in 1968, through the course of a decade—the longest-running Lamborghini until the Diablo—speaks volumes about its enduring design and the practicality of a car that can transport a string quartet and their instruments at 240 km/ph.

Photo: Stefano Guidi/LightRocket via Getty Images

Bertone’s Alfa Romeo Carabo and Pininfarina’s 1970 Ferrari 512S Modulo (the latter designed by Paolo Martin) were the two most groundbreaking concept cars of the postwar era. While the Modulo’s potential went unrealized, the Carabo became everything a flying wedge could be. Named for a family of metallic-green ground beetles (Carabidae), it shook the stage at the 1968 Paris Motor Show and prefigured Lamborghini’s Countach and nearly every other supercar of the following decade. Unlike most concepts, it was a fully functioning vehicle, built on an Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale chassis and powered by that car’s 2.0-litre V-8 racing engine. It remains on display at the Alfa Romeo Historical Museum in Arese, Italy.

Photo: John Lamm/The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images/Getty Images

The most radical Gandini concept car of them all has got to be the Lancia Stratos Zero, unveiled at the 1970 Turin Auto Show. Walk up the rubber deck mat and into the cockpit, pull the hatch, and settle into a car whose roof is only 33 inches tall. Using the chassis of a crashed Lancia Fulvia HF1600 rally car, the Stratos Zero features a rear-mounted V-4 engine—which was nothing to write home about. The shape, however, was so essential, beautiful, and radical as to never have been equalled before or since. It was sold at auction in 2011 when Bertone liquidated its assets, a pity given the significance of this design milestone. The Zero’s influence can be seen in the series-production Lancia Stratos HF. That successful rally car was also designed by Gandini, and incorporates design cues from the Miura that are immediately recognisable.

Photo: Martyn Lucy/Getty Images

More rewarding to look at than to drive, Lamborghini’s Countach is still the poster car to beat. More kids went to sleep dreaming about a Countach than any other car in history. The successor to the Miura had a V-12 engine positioned longitudinally behind the two-seat cabin. The 1971 prototype LP500 was informed by Gandini’s Carabo and Stratos Zero. Fewer than 2,000 Countach examples (in several variants) were made through 1990, and of those, the first series LP400, with 158 built from 1974 to 1977, is the purest in form and by far the most collectible. The bloated 25th Anniversary Edition models, from 1988 through 1990, recall Elvis in a white leisure suit.

Photo: Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Styling house Bertone is almost a total stranger to Ferrari, whose cars from the 1960s onward were predominantly designed by Pininfarina. The first production Ferrari powered by a mid-engine V-8, the GT4, was also a 2+2 design made from 1973 through 1980. Its wedge shape was pure Gandini, and a resemblance to his Lamborghini Urraco was not coincidental, which might explain why he was never hired to design another car for Maranello. Launched as a Dino, it finally got its Prancing Horse badge in 1976, and today is considered a full-fledged Ferrari. Its design, initially shunned by Ferraristi, has not only worn the years well, but looks better than ever in comparison to most of its contemporaries.

Photo: Stefano Guidi/LightRocket via Getty Images

The first Maserati designed by Bertone was unveiled at the 1972 Turin Auto Show. Its elegant shape reflected the wedge-focused design sensibility of Gandini, who added a brilliant asymmetric flourish to the hood louvers and brought up the rear with a transparent glass Kamm tail. A 2+2 GT, it was the final car developed under Giulio Alfieri, Maserati’s head of engineering during the period, who used the drivetrain and V-8 engine from the Ghibli. Maserati’s owner Citroën brought its unfortunate hydraulic systems to the party, which probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Thankfully, none of that detracted from the beauty of the Trident’s most elegant GT. Only 435 examples were made through 1982.

Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP via Getty Images

It wasn’t just Italian cars that flowed from Gandini’s pen. His work for Citroën and Renault was especially notable, and the pugnacious Renault 5 Turbo—launched in 1980—broke new ground as the hottest hatch of its era. Appearing almost as wide as it was long, the squat hatchback was designed at Bertone by Marc Deschamps under the guidance of chief designer Marcello Gandini. Although based on the quotidian Renault 5 (called Le Car for the U.S. market), it was designed for rallying, and it was an entirely different machine beneath its flared bodywork, featuring an inline-four, turbocharged engine behind the driver.

Photo: Martyn Lucy/Getty Images

Gandini’s last series-production Lamborghini was a clear departure from its predecessor the Countach, although the Diablo was initially a wedge-shaped aggressor that would become yet another poster car. The production version was softened (emasculated) by Chrysler’s styling team when the American manufacturer took control of the foundering Italian marque in 1987. Gandini, disappointed by the compromises made to his original design, saw his initial ideal realized by the short-lived Cizeta-Moroder V16T. Still, the Diablo was Lamborghini’s most successful model until the advent of the Murciélago, with more than 2,900 units made in a multitude of variants from 1990 to 2001. Ripples from the impact of its design lasted well into the 21st century, and it’s impossible to imagine contemporary supercars without there having been a Diablo that came before them.

 

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The Boldest, Most Exciting New Timepieces From Watches & Wonders 2024

Here are the highlights from the world’s biggest watch releases of the year.

By Allen Farmelo, Carol Besler, Paige Reddinger, Oren Hartov, Victoria Gomelsky, Cait Bazemore, Nick Scott, Justin Fenner 10/04/2024

Watches & Wonders, the world’s largest watch show, is in full swing in Geneva. The highly anticipated cascade of new releases is marked by confident individual brand identities — perhaps a sign that watchmakers are done scrambling through the violent collision of restricted supply and soaring demand for high end watches. All seem to be back on solid footing.

Steady confidence is a good thing. Consider Jaeger-LeCoultre offering up traditionally styled grand complications or Vacheron Constantin revamping the classic Patrimony with smaller cases and vintage-inspired radially brushed dials. Consider TAG Heuer celebrating the 55th anniversary of the square Monaco with a skeletonized flyback confidently priced at US$183,000, or Moser similarly showing off a fascinating skeletonized tourbillon in its distinctive 40 mm Streamliner at US$86,900. IWC has leaned hard into their traditionally styled Portugieser line, including an astounding Eternal Calendar complication. We find the storied French houses of Cartier, Chanel and Hermes blurring the lines between jewelry and watchmaking with the technical prowess and artistic whimsy that originally earned these brands their exalted place in the hearts and minds of sophisticated aesthetes. Confidence abounds in 2024.

We could go on and on with examples, but the watches below will demonstrate that for 2024 the big watch brands dared to be themselves, which appears to have given them the confidence to take some seriously compelling horological risks. We have separate coverage of off-show releases and, of course, Patek and Rolex, so keep and eye out for those.

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A Gucci Garden Blooms in Sydney

On a rainy Sydney night, the drinks talent from Maybe Sammy mixed with guest bartenders from Giardino 25 in Florence, for a night of liquid magic.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 13/04/2024

Since hanging out its shingle in 2022, Giardino 25, the all-day café and bar located in Gucci’s palatial, multidisciplinary space in Florence, has been a boon to stylish tipplers. Taking inspiration from one of its previous tenants (a longstanding florist), the garden-themed joint (Giardino is the Italian word for garden) serves delicious aperitivi and dangerously addictive cocktails.

 

Umbrian native Martina Bonci is in hair-to-brogue Gucci for her artful bartending session at El Primo Sanchez. 
Aurora cocktai at Giardino 25, Florence.

Giardino 25 took bloom this past Tuesday at a pop-up at El Primo Sanchez in Paddington. The Maybe Cocktail Festival in Sydney is a series of 20 events scattered throughout the city curated by the award-winning Sammy’s Cocktails team. The festival aims to spur knowledge-sharing and foster excellence in Australia’s drinks scene.

“Last year we held 16 events and they were all packed,” says Stefano Catino, director of hospitality at Public, the management company behind Maybe Sammy venues and bottled drinks, “so this year we’ve curated extra events and flown out even more international bars and bartenders.”

“Nineteen of the 21 events are free to attend, which is very important to us,” he continues. “The cost of living is high, and it’s very expensive for Australians to travel overseas, so this festival allows people to drink cocktails from an amazing bar in Rome or try a Tommy’s Margarita from the gentleman who created it without the cost of a plane ticket.”

Dressed head to toe in Gucci,  and using the bar as her personal catwalk, Giardino 25’s special guest, Martina Bonci, looked every bit the star behind the bar. “We have brought our mix of classic Italian influences and innovation,” she told Robb Report, “so guests in Australia get a little slice of what we do in Florence.”

Among her tantalising pours were powerful dirty martinis decorated with shimmering gold leaf and Aurora, a transparent twist on the Negroni.

Reflecting on her whirlwind trip down under, Bonci said their visit to Bondi Beach and the cocktails at Maybe Sammy were the highlights.

“The bartenders at Maybe Sammy are world-class,” she explained. “There is a good reason they win awards and have a respected reputation overseas. And El Primo Sanchez has such a fun atmosphere—we had a great night.”

Martina Bonci, Bar Manager at Gucci Giardino 25, has been honored twice as ‘Best Bartender in Italy’ by both the Bargiornale and Blue Blazer Awards. 

Bonci, who came to prominence in a long string at Milanese hipster joint Gesto and is known for her use of agave, favors drinks dripping with seasonal fruits and citrus flavors. Having tried her creations, we do, too.

She made a serious impression on Sydneysiders, who would do well to make a pilgrimage to see her in action on home turf. As if any of us need another reason to visit Italy.

The Maybe Cocktail Festival, continues this weekend in Sydney, with the public welcome to attend a Bartenders Brunch at Sydney’s Alpha on Sunday from 11.00 am – 3.00 pm, hosted by George Calombaris. 

View the program: Maybe Cocktail Festival @maybe_cocktail_fetsival

All images courtesy of Gucci.

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Patek Philippe Brings Back Collector Favourites at Watches & Wonders 2024

Both the Nautilus Chronograph and Aquanaut Travel Time receive a welcome return.

By Josh Bozin 10/04/2024

If you’re a watch fan, there’s every reason to believe that a Patek Philippe Nautilus, Patek Philippe Aquanaut—or both—would be high on your wish list. Both collections are of historical significance, helping pave the way for the influence of the steel sports watch category—and subsequent chokehold on the market today.

So, when Patek Philippe unveiled its newest releases at Watches & Wonders in Geneva, it was a pleasant surprise to see the return of two of the best past iterations of the Nautilus and Aquanaut collections.

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph

First, we get a new Nautilus Chronograph, with the return of the revered 5980, now replete with a new case in white gold and a denim-like strap (a contentious issue among watch pundits). Discontinuing all Nautilus 5980 models earlier this year, including the collector-favourite 5980/1AR in Rose Gold, left a sombre feeling among Nautilus fanatics. These celebrated chronographs, renowned for their distinctive porthole-inspired design and air of sporty elegance, are some of the most sought-after watches in the Patek Philippe catalogue. Thus, the revival of the 5980, now in white gold, is a cause for collectors’ celebration.

The new offering retains its chronograph function with mono-counter tracking 60-minute and 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock on the dial, but now comes on a new denim-inspired, hand-stitched fabric strap with a Nautilus fold-over clasp in white gold—some will love it, some won’t.

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe

The Calibre CH 28‑520 C/522 powers this new Nautilus with its flyback chronograph, all of which is visible through the transparent sapphire crystal caseback. The dial is also incredibly eye-catching, with a beautiful opaline blue-gray hue accentuated by white gold-applied hour markers with a white luminescent coating. It is priced at approximately $112,000.

Also returning to the fold is the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time, now with its own bluish hue dial—similar to its Nautilus counterpart. After discontinuing the Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A this year, as well—a watch often regarded as the greatest Aquanaut to date—Patek Philippe surprised all with the new 5164G in white gold. Its greatest attribution is the clever Travel Time GMT function, which clearly rivals the Rolex GMT-Master II as perhaps the travel-friendly watch of choice (if acquiring one was that simple, of course).

For those who prefer the Aquanaut’s sportiness and easy-wearing rubber strap, this newest iteration, with its Opaline Blue-gray dial and matching rubber strap with a deployant clasp, is undoubtedly an icon in the making. The new 5164G has a 40mm case and features the Calibre 26‑330 S C FUS movement, which can also be viewed via the transparent sapphire crystal caseback.

Expect to pick up the new Aquanaut Travel Time for around $95,250.  

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time

 

Follow @robbreportau for all your Watches & Wonders coverage, and more!

 

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Rolex Kicks Off Watches & Wonders 2024 with a New GMT-Master II

The new stainless steel GMT-Master II has already been dubbed the “Bruce Wayne”.

By Josh Bozin 09/04/2024

It may not be the GMT that watch pundits were speculating on—or that collectors were hoping for—but the new Rolex GMT-Master II with a new grey and black ceramic bezel adds dazzle to the revered Rolex collection, which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary.

The idea of a new Rolex GMT launching at the world’s biggest watch fair is cause for a little madness. While the watch community eagerly awaited what was thought to be the discontinuation of the highly sought-after GMT “Pepsi” and the return of the GMT “Coke,” the luxury Swiss watchmaker had other plans.

Instead, we’re presented with a piece that, on paper, hasn’t changed much from previous GMT releases. That’s not to say that this isn’t an impressive release that will speak to consumers—the new GMT-Master II ref.126710GRNR, dubbed the “Bruce Wayne,” is definitely a sight for sore eyes.

Rolex
Rolex

This new GMT retains the same dimensions and movement as the other watches in the GMT collection, along with its 40mm size case and the option to fit either an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet. The obvious changes, albeit subtle, come in the way of its mostly monochrome return; a fact that will appease traditionalists. If you’re opposed to the attention-drawing “Pepsi”, “Sprite”, or “Batman” iterations, this model is a stealthier pick—much like pseudonymous Bruce Wayne.

The other noticeable change is the “GMT-Master II” now applied in green text and a 24-hour hand in green; perhaps a nod to the 2007 Basel World GMT release.

Like many Rolex timepieces, this will generate great hype and attention, so don’t expect allocations to come easily.

Rolex
Rolex

Model: GMT-Master II
Reference Number: 126710GRNR

Diameter: 40mm
Case Material: Stainless steel
Dial Colour: Black
Lume: Chromalight on hands and hour markers
Water Resistance: 100m
Bracelet: Oyster or Jubilee

Movement: Caliber 3285
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Winding: Automatic

Price: $17,150 (Oyster); $17,500 (Jubilee)
Availability: Now. Non-limited edition

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Moments in Time

Silversea’s Kimberley adventures transport passengers into a different dimension.

By Vince Jackson 09/04/2024

Whoever refuted the theory of time-travel has clearly never set foot in the Kimberley, a geological relic where craggy landscapes forged hundreds of millions of years ago remain untouched, and dinosaur footprints are still etched into the ochre terrain. And while traversing one of the planet’s last great wildernesses in a 4X4 holds rugged appeal, a more refined way to explore the Western Australian outback is by cruise liner. 

Enter the Silver Cloud, one of Silversea’s most luxurious vessels, available for 10- or 17-day expeditions. Upon arrival via private executive transfer, expect a level of intimacy that’s often conspicuous on other cruise experiences. With a maximum of just 200 guests, attended to by 212 staff, the Silver Cloud can lay claim to the greatest passenger-to-crew ratios operating in the Kimberley. Twenty-four-hour butler service is standard for every suite, along with ocean views—no matter if you plump for a modest 22 m² Vista Suite or supersize to a 217 m² Grand Suite.

Yet bigger is not necessarily better on water; the ship itself is compact enough to manoeuvre into isolated coves and waterways that larger vessels—or, indeed, four-wheel-drive Land Cruisers—are unable access. Each sunrise brings the promise of an unforgettable adventure, whether hopping on a Zodiac at Koolama Bay to witness the cascading thunder of the 80-m-high, twin King George Falls, or embarking at Swift Bay to scramble over rocky standstone and view the disparate rock-art forms on display at the sacred Wandjina art galleries—some reckoned to be up to 12,000 years old.

Another example of the Kimberley’s ability to propel you back through time.

Prices from $15,500 pp (10 days) and $23,900 pp (17 days); June 9-19, and August 8-25 or August 25- September 11 respectively; silversea.com

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