Mobility design

10 most impressive Giorgetto Giugiaro designs, from stunning cars to well-known cameras

Often named the most influential automotive designer of all time, Giorgetto Giugiaro has left a legacy that continues to inspire and impress even today

Today’s automotive landscape is unimaginable without the cars that have come out of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s hands. His most successful models  – like Volkswagen Golf and the iconic Lotus Esprit – are known by people who take no interest in the automotive industry at all.

Many of his creations continue to be praised even in 2022, while some, for a strange reason, remain in the shadows, despite all their genius. Giorgetto Giugiaro founded the ItalDesign car body shop on February 13th, 1968. After many years of fruitful work for Bertone, FIAT, and Ghia, the designer finally understood the true value of creative freedom.

With the opening of his atelier, the possibilities of self-expression of the master were limited only by time. Between the registration of his company and the opening of the Turin Motor Show was less than a month and a half. For Giorgetto, it was a push to create something spectacular.

Bizzarrini Manta (1968)

It seems incredible, but Giugiaro drew and built a concept car in just 40 days. The Manta represented a new word in the layout of car bodies – Giugiaro dared to make a one-volume coupe!

The car was full of innovative solutions. The sculptural plastic of the body also surprised the public.


Impressive gills near the windshield – and practically straight ascending line, starting from the front bumper and finishing on the roof. Back then, it was something unheard of. Bizzarini Manta had a rare, by the standards of a sports car, large internal volume.

That, in turn, allowed the coupe to be a three-seater. Interestingly, the driver sat strictly in the middle. The base-mounted 330 horsepower V8 from Chevrolet quickly accelerated the car to 330 kilometers per hour.

VW Golf GTI (1973)

ItalDesign started cooperating with its current owner, Volkswagen, back in the seventies. In 1973, Giugiaro designed the first Passat, and a year later, he presented the first Golf.

The model that brought Europe the fashion for front-wheel drive gave the name to a whole class of cars, and in seven generations, it sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. 

VQ Golf GTI _ 10 most impressive Giorgetto Giugiaro designs

The success that came almost immediately (the first million cars were sold in two years) was consolidated by the appearance of the hot-rod Golf GTI in 1976. 

At the same time as the Golf, Giugiaro created the Scirocco for Volkswagen and, by the end of the decade, the Jetta. The fact that all four cars are still sold on the market speaks for itself.

BMW M1 (1978)

The history of the now famous BMW M GmbH division, which produces sports versions of models of the Bavarian brand, began with the medium-engined M1, created at ItalDesign. The construction process was long.

While the concept was invented in 1972 by French designer Paul Braque, the production version, which appeared only six years later, is the work of Giorgetto Giugiaro.  BMW wanted to assert itself as an actual sports car manufacturer, able to compete with Lotus, Porsche, and Ferrari. 

bmw-m1_08 _ 10 most impressive Giorgetto Giugiaro designs

In the beginning, BMW borrowed the technology from Lamborghini. Originally, the production was planned to take place on their premises, but in 1977, Lambo went bankrupt, so eventually, the body and assembly of the interior were also done by ItalDesign. 

Unfortunately, the age of the BMW M1 was short-lived – the car was removed from the lineup already in 1981, not producing 500 copies. Nevertheless, the model has gained a cult status and popularity among collectors, and its design influenced later BMWs.

Saab 9000 (1988)

One of the first truly major joint ventures in the history of the European automotive industry is the Type Four project. Four models – Saab 9000, Fiat Chroma, Lancia Thema, and Alfa Romeo 164 – were built on a shared platform. 

Pininfarina made the body for the Alfa, but the design of the first three was the merit of ItalDesign and Giugiaro. 

saab 9000 _ 10 most impressive Giorgetto Giugiaro designs
Saab 9000

According to Giorgetto Giugiaro’s recollections, the manufacturers turned to him because they feared that if they worked with the same body elements, the cars would be too similar. 

The result was cars that were easy to guess the affinity, but at the same time retained each brand’s individual, inherent style.

Hyundai Pony (1974)

It is generally accepted that the first-generation Volkswagen Golf, which debuted in 1974, was not just Giugiaro’s most iconic work but the car that defined the industry for decades to come. 

But did you know that a seemingly unremarkable hatchback named Pony played no less of a role in the formation of such a giant as Hyundai Motor? In fact, this model began today’s chapter in the history of the Korean automobile industry.

Hyundai Pony _ 10 most impressive Giorgetto Giugiaro designs
Hyundai Pony

The entire annals of Hyundai are divided into “before” and “after” Pony. When representatives of the Seoul-based firm met with Giorgetto in the early 70s, they asked to make the design of the future model as conservative as possible. 

The Pony was not supposed to be a breakthrough but just the foundation for a later breakthrough. Built on a Mitsubishi Lancer chassis, the “little horse” got classic body contours, as the customers asked.

Pure, far-fetched look, free of ornaments, did not cause a desire to ecstatic aghast but looked quite harmoniously against a background of Toyota, Renault, Opel, and Ford cousins. 

The Pony was first unveiled at the 1974 Torino show, and two years later, the hatchback became Hyundai’s first car to enter the world market.

Lotus Esprit (1972)

Although designed by Giugiaro in 1972, this legendary car finally entered production in 1976 in the S1 generation. 

While the bodywork is beyond criticism – it is a Giugiaro, after all – this model had some problems with the transmission. Beautiful, but not very successful.

Lotus Esprit

Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint (1962)

The Alfa Romeo 2600 body, produced between 1962 and 1968, was designed – depending on the version – by different designers. Giugiaro designed the Sprint version shown in the photo, but Giovanni Michelotti is responsible for the 2600 Berlin version. 

In this case, however, it was Giugiaro who stood out. It was the 2600 Sprint version that was produced most often out of the whole Alfa Romeo 2600 range. 

alfaromeo 2600 sprint _ 10 most impressive Giorgetto Giugiaro designs
Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint

The car was equipped with a 2584 cc engine with an output of 145 hp. The vehicle could accelerate up to an impressive 200 km/h – remember, we are talking about the 1960s.

Other industries

Giugiaro’s work as an industrial designer is not limited to the automobile industry. He also had a hand in the design process of several consumer products.

Nikon cameras, Seiko wristwatches, Beretta pistols, shotguns and submachine guns, Ducati and Suzuki motorcycles, and creating a new kind of pasta called Marille – these are just a few examples.

In 1999, a panel of 120+ journalists from around the world recognized Giorgetto Giugiaro as “Designer of the Century,” and three years later, he was inducted into the American Automotive Hall of Fame.

Nikon camera D800

The D800, designed by the renowned Italian industrial designer, is a true masterpiece. In keeping with the Japanese aesthetic, Nikon flagships have always resembled Italian supercars, powerful, off-the-leash wild cats with their graceful contours. 

Particularly striking is the D800, whose lines are sleeker and whose plastic main curves resemble a muscular black panther straining before a leap. 

Nikon D800 _ 10 most impressive Giorgetto Giugiaro designs
Nikon D800

The distinctive red line is particularly impressive, emphasizing the predatory nature of this photo monster. The D800’s body is made of magnesium alloy, which means it can withstand some pretty hard knocks.

Seiko wristwatches

In the early 1980s, Seiko released a number of models with Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. The automotive designer of the century, Giugiaro, created the 7A28-6000 watch for the company, which was worn by Bishop, the android in James Cameron’s Alien.

Seiko re-released this model in 2013. In 1996, the designer also took part in the creation of the Macchina Sportiva model.


Ducati motorcycles

Although Giorgetto Giugiaro is mostly known for his car designs, he also was the mastermind behind the Ducati 860 GT/GTS. Although it was not a sales success in America because of its unusual styling, it gained quite a lot of recognition. It had even more popular successors with even more powerful engines.

Production of the 860GT began in September 1974, while the GTE with an electric start in January of the following year. The total production of these two models was modest – just 2,987 units.


Who is Giorgetto Giugiaro?

For car enthusiasts, the name Giorgetto Giugiaro holds a lot of value. Recognized as one of the most influential people in modern automotive design, his work has changed the way we perceive and think of cars. His portfolio boasts an array of masterpieces, from the strikingly futuristic DeLorean DMC-12 to the sporty elegance of the Maserati Ghibli and the practical charm of the Volkswagen Golf.

During his impressively long career, he has managed to work with almost all the major automotive giants and designed dozens of legendary projects. We love him for the beautiful BMW and Bizzarini Manta, but Giugiaro was and still is a versatile artist whose talent has touched other areas too.

Although his drawing boards were mainly used to create world-famous cars, he also completed many projects outside the automotive industry.

Giugiaro’s signature style seamlessly melds form and function, consistently pushing boundaries while maintaining a sense of approachability. His ability to envision vehicles that captivate not only in the present but also transcend into the future has earned him a lasting legacy as one of the foremost automotive visionaries of our time.


Open full width

Send this to a friend