Giorgetto Giugiaro: The Car Designer You Don’t Know You Know

Giorgetto Giugiaro

Does the name Giorgetto Giugiaro ring a bell? It probably won’t, but we’d be willing to bet you’ve crossed paths with some of his work. Giugiaro has designed over 100 vehicles for more than 40 different car companies, many Nikon cameras, and even some Apple computer prototypes.

But car design is his specialty. In 1999, he was named the Car Designer of the Century by Global Automotive Elections Foundation. Some of his most memorable designs include the 1981 DMC-12 DeLorean (from Back to the Future), the 1978 BMW M1, the 1974 Volkswagen MK1 Golf, and the Lotus Espirit S1 (pictured below).

Giorgetto Giugiaro

Giugiaro’s life

Giugiaro, now 78 and retired, was born in Garessio, Cuneo, a province of southwest Italy. His father and grandfather were both painters, so from an early age Giugiaro was exposed to the artistic world. He attended art school to pursue a career in design, and while he was there he began sketching cars. One year while he was still at school, the chief engineer of Fiat saw his work at an end-of-term party, and offered him an apprenticeship.

But Giugiaro’s first car wouldn’t be built for another 7 years. That car was the Alfa Romeo 2000. Two years later in 1961, he went on to design the BMW 3200CS. Giugiaro continued to produce successful vehicle designs throughout his career, but it would be another 12 years before things really took off.

Giorgetto Giugiaro
1959 Alfa Romeo 2000

Between 1973 and 1976, Giugiaro created the Volkswagen Passat, Scirocco, and the Golf; the Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT and Alfasud Sprint; the Maserati Quattroporte; the Hyundai Pony; and the Lotus Esprit. In his opinion, the Volkswagen Golf was his best creation.

Giugiaro had many more notable achievements in his long career as a designer. He didn’t retire until 2010 (when his company was acquired by Volkswagen), meaning he designed cars for more than half a century. Giugiaro’s work serves as an excellent example of what mastery looks like, and how long it can take to achieve it.

Giorgetto Giugiaro

Giugiaro Today 

Today, Giugiaro is kind of mysterious. His company released a statement confirming he had left the company to ‘dedicate more time to his personal interests,’ and since then he has fallen off the radar. We can only imagine a guy like Giugiaro spends his retirement hand-carving flamenco guitars out of pure rosewood, or hanging out with the most interesting man in the world. Either way, we owe him more than half a century of iconic product design.

“It wasn’t an architect or a designer who invented objects, it was an artisan.” – Giorgetto Giugiaro






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