Paolo Martin: My First Car, Fifty Years On

The first lockdown forced him to stay at home, in his villa in the hills of Turin. But Paolo Martin, the creator of some of the most innovative concept cars designed by Pininfarina in the Sixties and Seventies, isn’t the sort of person who sits back and watches. In order to give some meaning to that suspended time, he decided to reproduce the drawings of the cars he created in over sixty years of professional activity - drawings that were fading as the years passed. We’re talking of cars like the 1967 Dino Berlinetta Competizione, the 1968 Alfa Romeo P33 Roadster, the 1969 Ferrari Sigma Grand Prix (a pioneering Formula One car for its safety features), the 1970 Ferrari Modulo (considered to be the most beautiful concept car ever built), the 1975 Rolls-Royce Camargue and Lancia Beta Montecarlo, to name but a few of the most famous. A unique opportunity for looking back over the career of a man now “over 70”, who during his professional life worked for illustrious names of the calibre of Giovanni Michelotti, Nuccio Bertone, Sergio Pininfarina and Alejandro De Tomaso. He offered some of his thoughts exclusively to SpeedHolics, and we in turn offer them to you.

Photos courtesy of Paolo Martin Archive

Paolo Martin
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

When I was sixteen, in 1959, it was easy to find a job. I started working at the Alfa Romeo dealer “Dario & Vico” in Turin. That was where I learned everything: from cleaning the toilets in the workshop to overhauling cylinder heads, brakes and gearboxes. I was their mascot; they would call me over to remove the 13 mm upper nut on the gearbox bell housing of the Giulietta Sprint because I had small hands and I was the only one who could do it.

Years later, I began to use pencil drawing as a way to express myself, but I never put down the spanners and bolts. It's in my blood!

I still use a drafting machine today, and I’m never far from a lathe. Then I did a five-year apprenticeship with Maestro Giovanni Michelotti, followed by a grey period with Bertone and then on to Pininfarina. I could draw in 1:1 scale with no problems, and after my experience with Michelotti I was very quick at drawing.

Now, thanks to the pandemic, I have had time to dust off my drawings, which on average are half a century old.