Five of Giorgetto Giugiaro's craziest car designs
As the Italian styling legend steps down, TG revisits his eclectic back catalogue
1976 Alfa Romeo ‘New York Taxi’
Yep, it’s an Alfa Romeo taxi, designed by Italdesign in 1976 as a ‘pure functional study’. Quite what Alfa - a company renowned for making beautiful, unreliable cars - was doing dabbling in the ugly, reliable word of Big Apple cabs remains a mystery, but ours is not to question.
The Alfacab measures in at four metres long, There’s space for five passengers – about two square metres worth of interior space, apparently – and here’s the kicker: “the beauty of its shape was of secondary importance”.
Um, quite.Advertisement - Page continues below
1982 Italdesign ‘Capsula’
Magnificent, isn’t it? The chassis is said to take inspiration from buses and small industrial vehicles. It is described as completely ‘self sufficient’, and is formed of a platform, and then a 'capsule' stuck to the chassis.
Giugiaro proudly boasted that the Capsule could easily transform into a commercial vehicle, or even an ambulance. We cannot think of a better way to be transported to hospital.
1986 Italdesign 'Machimoto'
Essentially a pram for giants. At the ’86 Turin Motor Show, Giugiaro wheeled out this half car, half motorbike concoction, which, the company notes, ‘immediately divided public and critics’.
It’s based on the MkII Golf platform and uses the lovely 1.8-litre 16V GTI engine. It also features six seats that turn into nine through the addition of a fourth row of chairs, and a steering wheel formed of horizontal bars that can change position.
So Eighties. So good.Advertisement - Page continues below
1988 Italdesign 'Aztec'
This beauty, according to Giugiaro, marked the return of the ‘open-topped sports car’ that would ‘go onto typify the 1990s’. With streamlined rear wheels and detailing straight out of Robocop, the Aztec kept driver and passenger cocooned in separate bubbles, presumably to prevent domestic arguments over map-reading and the like.
And what’s even more impressive – apart from the bonkers body shape – is the fact that the passenger side gets a steering wheel that’s actually a control console, and not connected to the front wheels.
The Aztec was so forward-thinking that a film director called Roger Corman cast it in Frankenstein Unbound, a sci-fi horror film set in a future Los Angeles.
1992 Italdesign 'Columbus'
It features a 5.0-litre V12 BMW engine. It produces 300 horsepowers. It’s six metres long. There is four-wheel-drive, a centrally-positioned driver’s cockpit raised above the passenger compartment, and a VHS system for each passenger seat.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet possibly one of Giugiaro’s (cue Bill and Ted air guitar) excellent moments, the Columbus prototype bus.
It’s a seven-seat, carbon-fibre homage to Christopher Columbus, obviously, and “designed as an ultra high level status vehicle ideal for the urban scenarios of the United States.”
We shall leave you with those sentiments, and this wonderful picture.
Thank you, Giorgetto. Now, TopGear.commers, it’s your turn. Which of Italdesign’s motors is your absolute favourite?