Italdesign is another Italian coach-builder or design house to move into limited edition supercars. Pininfarina have also said that they were moving down this path and shows that the world still has lots of discretionary spending dollars available on ultra-luxury toys! Italdesign though, beat their Italian rival by at least 12 months to the market.
Italdesign started in 1968 with Giorgetto Giugiaro and Aldo Mantovani who both had respected careers in automotive design before combining their talents. Giugiaro has designed some of the most famous cars ever produced – for Bertone, Ghia and his own company. The list includes Alfa Romeo, De Tomaso, Maserati and Ferrari at one end of the spectrum and AMC, Renault, Hyundai and Suzuki at the other. Mantovani was a respected engineer who provided input into many vehicles as well, although he was the lesser known of the two.
Italdesign today, is owned by Lamborghini who are owned by Audi AG who are in turn part of the VW Group. In fact Giugiaro’s most commercial design could have been the Mark 1 Volkswagen Golf! Interestingly, being owned by Lamborghini hasn’t stopped them creating their own cars. In some ways it is a similar situation to HWA who upscale AMG’s after they have upscaled a Mercedes!
Italdesign Automobili Speciali created and launched the Zerouno hypercar last year which was designed to be a racing car for the road – as Brabham have also done recently with their BT62. The Zerouno though, is far more exclusive: just five will be built and each one will be bespoke for the owner, meaning each one is truly unique. It is built from carbon fibre and aluminium with power coming from a 5.2 litre V10. Design wise: it has lots of Lamborghini cues. To make it even more unique, Pirelli has made a special version of their P Zero tyre just for this vehicle. I wonder how much each one costs – they would have to be specially ordered! The car alone costs $3M, so you can imagine what each tyre would be!
The Lamborghini connection even crosses into the marque logo – it includes a bull’s head, although the company says that it comes from the city of Turin, where the company was founded. The company has specialised in ultra low volume manufacturing for decades – they built the BMW M1 for example and have created many prototypes for VW Group marques over the years.
The Zerouno has spawned a spyder version known as the Duerta, which is conceptually like Pagani and other supercar/hypercar manufacturers who now seem to provide both open and closed cars. With Pininfarina now entering the market, I wonder if Italdesign will start developing SUVs or whether the group feels that the Lamborghini Urus or Bentley Bentayga are the pinnacle of that marketplace – with Rolls-Royce Cullinan just released, maybe there will be buyers for an even higher spec model from the group!
However, Italdesign have gone down a different path: a redesign of the Nissan GT-R NISMO, known as the GT-R50, limited to fifty units. Costing €900,000 a unit and (again) built exclusively for the owner, it takes the reliability and efficiency of Japanese technology and wraps around it an Italian flair for style and substance, however …. the design was created by Nissan themselves!
Italdesign’s input has been in the construction, engineering and testing of the car prior to starting the limited production run. The car has a NISMO sourced 3.8 litre V6 providing over 700hp and is a throwback to the limited run cars coming out of Italy in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when a well-heeled buyer could get a limited edition sports car based on a production vehicle.
Italdesign is the type of company that every fan of Italian design would want to work for, it is basically a high-end skunkworks using the most advanced materials available.