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Bertone, one of the oldest and most prestigious design firms in the automotive sector,
was founded 100 years ago in 1912 by the horse-drawn carriage maker, Giovanni Bertone.

To celebrate Bertone’s centenary, the company unveiled the Nuccio – an extreme sports concept car – at the Geneva Auto Show in March. Designed by Michael Robinson who heads the company’s design department now, the Nuccio has made waves. Enthusiasts say that it “puts an evolutionary imprint on the concept that is built into Bertone’s DNA: the mid-rear engined berlinetta.”

But perhaps the accolades that the car has received come as no surprise. After all, the company is world famous for creating the most iconic car designs ever, such as the Alfa Romeo Carabo and Lancia Stratos (the last word in wedge-shaped car design) and the Lamborghini Countach and Miura.

Bertone entered the automotive industry in the 1920s, when Giovanni Bertone was commissioned to design cars for Lancia and Fiat. During the 1930s the company entered the automotive engineering sector; Giovanni’s son, Nuccio, headed the department at the time. Despite World War II and the recession of the 1940s, the father-son duo kept up the innovation and created some beautiful convertible car designs. The next decade (the 1950s) saw further expansion with orders coming in from carmakers MG and Bristol; Aston Martin came on board in the 1960s.

In the 1970s Bertone reinforced its reputation as one of the most cutting edge auto design and engineering firms with the Lancia Stratos concept and its subsequent prototype. The Stratos become one of the highly acclaimed cars of the decade, winning a number of rally championships and even appearing in Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal video.

The next two decades (1980s and 1990s) witnessed Bertone designing even sleeker cars for big brand names. At the start of the new century, Bertone reorganised itself into a full cycle service company in the automotive, transportation and engineering sectors and it continues to be considered one of the forerunners in car design.

– Romano Karim Yusuf

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on May 27, 2012.