Presented by Romano Pisciotti – ITALMOTOR
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Italy is a rapidly changing agricultural country under the pressure of the second industrial revolution. The first establishments of the modern era were born in Milan and Turin, many of which were dedicated to the nascent automotive sector. The production is still modest and in the city streets are still the animal-powered carriages to ensure mobility. This is how the “Carradore” workshops were born, which repair and build carriages to move around the city. Like the one inaugurated in 1912 by a young man who arrived under the Mole from the province of Cuneo in search of fortune, it was Giovanni Bertone, who was busy repairing carts.
Nuccio Bertone, son of Giovanni, was born on July 4th 1914
In 1918 Giovanni opened a new office in via Monginevro 119, hired 20 workers and decided to focus on the sector that considers the future: the automobile. The first important order arrives early: build a torpedo on 23 S mechanics, a sports model of the SPA (Società Piemontese Automobili) of Matteo Cerano and Michele Ansaldi. The work is carried out with care and passion and attracts an order for a high-performance model, the Fiat 501 Sport Siluro Corsa.
Followed by agreements with other small companies, such as Fast, Chiribiri, Aurea, SCAT and Itala, and soon contacts with the two brands are becoming more and more important: Fiat and Lancia.
More and more appreciated models are coming that allow Bertone to come out unscathed from the Great Depression and to expand acquiring the new factory of Corso Peschiera.
After the war events of World War II, Giovanni, now 61 years old, gradually left the reins of the company to his son Nuccio, just forty years old but already for twenty years in the Bertone world. Its imprint does not wait and within a few years come out some specimens that mark the new stylistic trends of the next decade, such as the Lancia Aprilia Cabriolet and two fascinating variants of the Fiat 1100 made with Vittorio Stanguellini, a racy coupé and a discovery from competition.
In the Fifties,
Italy finds new vitality singing the songs of the newborn Festival di Sanremo and enthusiastically following the challenges with pedal strokes between Coppi and Bartali. The liberated Europe becomes a great market and the first foreign orders arrive at Bertone. In 1952 those of MG and Bristol, in 1957 is the turn of the NSU, a German brand that entrusts Bertone with the production of Prinz Sport, a small two-cylinder “dressed” with grace by Franco Scaglione, recently at the court of Nuccio. An increase in work that leads the management to think of a larger plant to house the new plants and the employees, which have now reached 550. The building will be ready in 1959 in Grugliasco, just outside Turin. To mark the decade, however, is the collaboration with Alfa Romeo. The first approach is in 1953, when Nuccio entrusted Scaglione with the design of the Giulietta Sprint prototype, a model for which a production limited to 1000 units is planned.
The Sixties are the period of the “Dolce Vita”, of the widespread wellbeing, of the mass motorization that runs on the new Autostrada del Sole and crosses the Alps from the newly inaugurated Mont Blanc Tunnel. And they are the years of maximum lightning of Italian touring, the “GT”. A sector that the whole world envies us and that Nuccio and his designers contribute to make famous. From this period some extraordinary models like the Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint,
in coupe and cabriolet version, two Ferrari 250 GT, one called Wax from the name of the client and the other used by Nuccio himself, the Aston Martin DB4 GT “Jet “and the Maserati 5000 GT.
There are also many prototypes to remember, such as the Chevrolet Corvair Testudo, a concept destined not to have an industrial following and which Nuccio personally guides up to the 1963 Geneva Motor Show, or the 1964 Alfa Romeo Canguro made on the basis of Giulia TZ and Giulia GT in 1965. Without forgetting the “Ferrarina”, the ASA 1000 born from a project by Enzo Ferrari that will never land on the market despite the great interest that aroused. Industrial plans are also going well. From abroad the requests of BMW arrive to realize the 3200 CS
and Simca for the 1000 Coupé. From Fiat those for a small discovery based on the 850.
The seventies are still beginning in the name of Taurus with Jarama and Urraco (Lamborghini). But to shake the engine enthusiasts is a futuristic concept created by Gandini on the basis of the Lancia Fulvia HF, the Stratos Zero. A specimen that appears at the Turin Motor Show in 1970 arousing great fanfare and that will have a great competitive future with its road evolution, the Lancia Stratos HF.
The years of industrial consolidation begin. 1500 employees work at the Grugliasco plant and production is more intense than ever.
Merit of the Fiat X1 / 9, small sport signed by the usual Gandini replacing the 850 Spider surpassing it in units produced: 160,000 from 1972 to 1988. And the new agreement with Volvo for the production of the 264 TE limousine and the refined coupé 262 C. Model exhibited for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show and for which Bertone is responsible for the entire production cycle, from the assembly of the raw body to the assembly of mechanical parts and the related road tests.
The eighties / nineties are a decade of events that will change the course of history, from the explosion of the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, from the discovery of the ozone hole over the Antardite to the fall of the Berlin Wall. In tale trambusto la Bertone prosegue la strada del rafforzamento industriale e finanziario rinunciando in parte alla realizzazione di concept spettacolari per concentrarsi nella produzione. D’altronde gli impegni sono sempre più severi. Dall’inizio del decennio la Bertone vende direttamente con il proprio marchio la Ritmo Cabrio e la X1/9.
Sono di questi anni pure gli accordi con Citroën e General Motors. Per la casa francese segue lo stile di due importanti modelli, la BX e l’ammiraglia XM. Con la filiale europea del colosso di Detroit Nuccio sigla nel 1987 un accordo commerciale per la produzione della Kadett Cabrio, seguita poi dall’Astra Cabrio e, negli anni seguenti, dalle versioni Coupé e Cabriolet della compatta Opel.
The last decade of the millennium opens with the commitment of Carrozzeria Bertone for the development of innovative technologies.
Eco-compatible expedients that Bertone puts into practice with another prototype with excellent aerodynamics (CX of 0.11): the ZER, acronym of Zero Emission Record.
In this period there are plenty of style car shows like the Karisma of 1994, a strange sedan made on a Porsche basis, or the 1995 Kayak, a sleek coupe with the Lancia brand that some have defined the 2000 Aurelia B20.
An unusual coupé-wagon based on Calibra, which was exhibited in Geneva in 1996, the Slalom, and the less enthusiastic sport utility derived from the Fiat Brava platform. On the production front, Bertone obtains, first in Italy in the automotive sector, the ISO 9001 quality certification of its Grugliasco plants. Where the top models are the cabriolets built on Opel Astra and Fiat Punto. To make it more sad the decade is the disappearance of Nuccio Bertone on February 26, 1997, a few days before the Geneva Motor Show where an unlikely Suv Alfa Romeo is exhibited.
The novel centenary of the Bertone family has entered by law in the history of Italy with the decree of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities which attributes to the Bertone Collection of historic cars held in Caprie (TO) the recognition of “national artistic heritage”.
… the story continues