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Tribute to Marcello Gandini

Our colleague the engineer Luigi Marmiroli has devoted a simple but fond tribute to the Master designer Marcello Gandini. Words Luigi Marmiroli

Photography Courtesy of Luigi Marmiroli Archive

Marcello Gandini left us on 13 March at the age of 85. His unmistakeable signature on the style of 20th century cars remains immortal. An infinite number of words, books, articles and web files bear witness to his style genius. His designs run from sports and road cars to trucks and even an original helicopter.

Here however I will only mention the designs for Automobili Lamborghini.

Having joined the famous Carrozzeria Bertone very young, from 1966 to 1978, Gandini designed icons including the Miura P400, Marzal, Espada, P250 Urraco, 400GT Jarama, Countach, Bravo and Silhouette. Going freelance in 1980, he was appointed to design the style of the future Diablo (technical code P132).

For over a decade from 1985, Gandini remained Lamborghini’s stylistic and philosophical benchmark.

Despite the corporate trials and tribulations and the style inputs of various shareholders, the Italian managers at Lamborghini always admired his work.

This is why I’m sure that the fans of SpeedHolics will not mind if I devote these few lines to him.

This tribute aims to recall Gandini’s huge contribution, especially to the Diablo project, which gave me the opportunity to have contacts with him for over ten years as the Technical Manager of the “House of the Bull”. His style genius, along with his in-depth engineering skills, made him unique. I was very pleased when Turin Polytechnic awarded him an honorary degree in Mechanical Engineering.

I was present at the ceremony and listened to his “Lectio Magistralis”, which, who would know, was to be his professional testament. Unfortunately, he passed away peacefully just two months later. I recorded his speech, although the audio quality is poor. However, you can look for it online if you wish.

I shall never forget his exceptional human qualities. Gandini was a real gentleman, and a modest man despite his calibre.

Only after a lot of insisting he accepted to sign the design for the Diablo bodywork, the only design of this type. I promise that in future we will examine all the other designs for Automobili Lamborghini, including the sketches, models, prototypes and concepts.

However, to conclude, let me highlight one of the 17 Diablo “children”.

The Lamborghini Diablo Roadster Concept, showcases all of Marcello's stylistic quality.

Historically, Lamborghini had explored open-top versions including the 350GT and the Miura Spyder, which Ferruccio Lamborghini considered too affected. However, the temptation to propose an open-top Diablo was irresistible.

An extreme car, with no roof and a very limited windscreen, was not a mere exercise in style.

The Roadster’s beauty concealed long engineering studies to maintain the rigidity of the roofless chassis.

The oversized air intakes, the shorter gear ratios and the new engine electronics made the car easier to drive, with no overheating problems at relatively low speeds. The aerodynamics were not designed for very high speeds, but for those looking for thrills, with the 12-cylinder engine singing and the wind in their hair. Once again, Gandini exalted the mechanics while maintaining the Lamborghini design philosophy.

Farewell Marcello, we will miss you.


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