Gandini and Lamborghini are two inseparable entities, and together they have developed authentic style legends, including the Miura, the Countach and the Diablo, but there have been some hiccups along the way. Luigi Marmiroli pays homage to the extraordinary Turin-based designer
Pictures courtesy of Luigi Marmiroli Archive
When I met Marcello for the first time, the name Gandini “still” rhymed with Lamborghini. Marcello Gandini, the historical father of the Lamborghini style, began working with the manufacturer from Sant’Agata Bolognese a few years after it was founded by Ferruccio. He joined the staff at Carrozzeria Bertone in Turin as a young man, and designed their first flagship car: the Miura. Then, after moving on to the legendary Countach, he reached the Diablo and some of its many versions.
Then - and here we take a leap to our times - for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Countach, Automobili Lamborghini launched the new Countach LPI - 800 - 4 on the market. To many, the car seemed more the result of a commercial operation than a celebration car. And the main critic was Marcello Gandini himself, the father of the original model. As explained by the managers of Lamborghini, not only he was not involved in the project, but he was also rather disappointed with the result.
As the media told, Gandini stated that “his” Lamborghinis were based on different concepts, and for him this new Countach was the denial of the founding principles of his DNA as a designer. I have no idea how the disagreement ended, but I think that from that day on, after exactly 50 years of cooperation, Gandini no longer rhymes with Lamborghini…
In the past, there had already been an episode of misunderstanding that I can tell you, because I saw it with my own eyes. When I was appointed to design the Diablo and the time came to choose the style, I was firmly convinced that the final choice would have been made by the historical designer Marcello Gandini, considering his brilliant past with Lamborghini. But I was told that he had already been contacted and had refused the job. Apparently, before commissioning a new car from Gandini, the person who contacted him, who probably was not very familiar with his history, asked him to demonstrate his skills, showing him some sketches of supercars.
It seems that Gandini wasn’t too happy about this, and sent him off with a flea in his ear saying that his sketches were already on the market: Miura, Countach, Urraco, Espada…
Despite this misguided attempt, it wasn’t too hard to bring Gandini back to design the new Lamborghini, that which was to become the Diablo. The Diablo which - as already mentioned in another article - was the only Lamborghini to bear his name on the bodywork.
On the cover, I wanted to show off the “Trilogy” of Lamborghini flagship cars, also because it seems that the media often neglects the Diablo, preferring its predecessors the Miura and the Countach. Beneath the bodywork, all three cars have equally thrilling mechanics, and for this reason, I think it’s only right to underline the style of the three different engineers who were their main designers: Giampaolo Dallara, Paolo Stanzani and myself.
I must acknowledge that Gandini always facilitated the work of the mechanical designers, as his creativity was based on his significant engineering culture. This meant that whenever he became aware of the inevitable problems found during the prototype tests that could affect the style, he always came up with some very clever aesthetic solutions.
This is why I believe that we owe the philosophy of the Lamborghini style to him, that love at first sight on seeing the car, the celebration of the mechanics and the direct communication of power and speed, even when the car is parked.
Furthermore, the low, streamlined body, the strong, pure lines and the aversion to parts added merely for aesthetic purposes, such as chrome-plating, two colours, mouldings, etc., highlight the aggressiveness, exclusivity and that fantastic difference compared to the cars of the competition.
The only thing I still have to investigate, and I promise to do it next time, is that peculiar and distinctive shape of the rear wheel arches, which he repeated on many of his designs.