words and photos by Leo Dijkstra
That's what people say when asked how to define the Germans. Getting things done, making quality products that work, on time, as agreed, that last a lifetime.
But what if we are asked the same question about the Italians? 'Gründlichkeit und pünktlichkeit' are not top of mind. Passion and a strive for beauty in everything they produce may be more descriptive.
And while German quality means that 70 or so percent of Porsches are still on the road, Italian beauty lasts millennia. Try naming a building that's close to two thousand years old in Germany and you'll probably end up with something like the Porta Nigra in Trier, which is, of course... Roman.
"...more affluent car lovers bring some more cash to the table to seduce these 'high maintenance' beauties from the arms of their current lovers."
A BMW CS from the seventies has a nice design as well. But somehow they all show the functional engineering through their pretty skins. It's those little things. Like the oversized indicators on the BMW's fenders. Like Mrs Pfeiffer growing pimples on the nose.
Or the plastic triangles on the door window frames of the 928, designed to guide the window up and in when winding your window up in the fast lane of the Autobahn. Functional, yet you'll notice them every time, like...well, I am sure Ms. Diaz might have some flaws...somewhere...maybe...
Take a Dino. A Fiat Dino Coupé in this case, or better, in my case, because it's this rare car that constitutes my 'Italian link'. It seduced me slowly, but ever so strongly, with all its subtle beauty. What I am about to say, equally applies to its nowadays 'slightly' more expensive cousin, the Fiat Dino Spider. And even more so, the Dino 246GT, of which prices have gone 'Stratos'-pheric, like its Lancia rallying nephew. For us, the Craigslist 'most bang for our buck exotic European car hunting internet dweller’s prices might as well be beyond the Kuiper-belt as more affluent car lovers bring some more cash to the table to seduce these 'high maintenance' beauties from the arms of their current lovers.
The functional purpose of these road-going Dinos was primarily in something completely different than in the design of these models themselves. Its reason for being was linked to the purpose of every road going Ferrari; to support racing—in this case to homologate the engine for Ferrari's formula 2 racers. But they didn't drop that singing V6 named after Ferrari's own son Alfredo (or more affectionally Alfredino, or Dino) in just any car.
But even this least costly and most numerous 'Ferrari' model till then could not master the numbers needed for homologation. And besides the homologation challenge, there was the ever increasing need for more race funds as well. Ferrari needed help, and Enzo did not want it from Ford...
"The Testudo's eyes grew eyelashes on the Miura, and formed the inspiration for one of the most recognisable features of the 928; the pop-up head lights."
And it's this Coupé that forms the 'Italian link'. Designed at Bertone by a man that is the Italian link of this story; Giorgetto Giugiaro. He'd already demonstrated his skills when he was only 25 years old with an earlier design that is the link to our 928's, the 1963 Corvair Testudo, which we featured earlier in flüssig magazine; 1963 Porsche 928. Not only did this inspire Anatole Lapine for the 928 design, but Marcello Gandini found inspiration for a work of art with which he showed them all off;
'Nah, you don't want to do it like that?! Here's how it's done. I will carve a proper mid-engined two-seater supercar out of car clay for you.'
Spot the similarities? The Testudo's eyes grew eyelashes on the Miura, and formed the inspiration for one of the most recognisable features of the 928; the pop-up head lights. The rear of the Testudo grew fatter and rounder in the 928…not that we object. The longer you look at these models, the more you see; and the more you research these designers' work, the more links appear. After Giugiaro leaving Bertone to set up his own Italdesign, Gandini finished his initial Lancia Stratos design, the result of which houses the same Dino engine as my Fiat Dino Coupé.
Well, the Dino Coupé has found its way to my garage, never to leave again, as did the 928. Now all I have to do is find a Stratos and a Miura...
Right, you might say, 'In your dreams Leo!'
Well, the day you stop dreaming is the day you stop living. And did that same nine year old boy not dream of that completely out of reach 928 in 1979 as well? Just saying...
Leo--the Dutch Shark