The company founder, Giovanni Bertone was born in 1884 in a small town of Mandovi. In 1907 he moved to Turin and quickly joined the business life of the informal capital of the Italian industry. Five years Bertone worked with the«Diatto» company, and in 1912 decided to open his own business. Thus, in a small work-shop down the street of Villarbasse, 32 they began repairing and the building carriages and coaches. Same year the family had a son, Giuseppe Bertone, who, however, everyone called Nucci. Under this name he will go down into history of the world automotive design of the twentieth century.
Family business has evolved slowly like dozens of similar workshops in Turin and its surroundings. That all changed when, in 1921, Giovanni built a body for a car SPA 9000 Sport - his first car body. A new kind of transport fascinated Bertone to such extent that he decided to switch completely to cars and even little Nucci so liked it that it was impossible to pull him off the steering wheel. Seeing such a zeal for technology, the father began gradually introducing the boy into the affairs of the workshop. When Nucci was 18, he officially joined the family business. By 1934 he had a diploma of an accountant in his pocket but he wanted a very different thing - to create a beautiful car. By this time the workshop of D. Bertone gained some fame because of the excellent quality of custom bodywork on the chassis of Lancia and Fiat. As for style, it has not yet become so characteristic and expressive, for example, the model was very similar to Arditta Ford in 1934, and the luxury convertibles on the chassis of Fiat were carried out under the obvious influence of the famous repairer Mario Rivelli.
A wave of orders made them to expand production. Nucci has very smartly managed with 150 employees, and it has further strengthened confidence of his father that he would make an excellent director, or, as one would say today, a design manager. Later it happened this way and meanwhile Giovanny decided to gradually withdraw from his business having realized that the era of Italian coach makers has come to its end and that the future belongs to the industrial production, in which the younger generation is better focused.
Immediately after the war Nucci built a factory in Grulyasko nearby Turin, where in 1954 he carried out his first commercial program - design and production of Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint car. 36,000 cars produced have brought the money that gave the opportunity to participate with the conceptual models in the transatlantic and European shows. It was from this time when the history of the phenomenon by the name of Bertone began.
His credo Nucci expressed in the famous series of B.A.T. Concept - Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica (a car with better aerodynamics). Materialization of his idea, he entrusted to the unknown at the time engineer Franco Skalene, who at first (as a kind of test) was given a task to make a design of Abart Coupe for the Turin Salon in 1952.
It was with this car how the European air style started, and from then the inspiration of designers had been fed by jet aircraft elements. Later Skalene manifested himself as a remarkably fine artist and a great stylist. He seemed to know a secret that helps him to perform miracles out of ordinary steel sheet.
Besides there is one of the manifestations of the phenomenon of Bertone: in addition to that the maestro had a unique gift to gather talented people around himself, he also knew how to anticipate the fashion and style that would be required tomorrow.
Like many others, Nucci immediately began working with sports cars of Ferrari, which are like a magnet attracted stylists from the “Pininfarina” studio, «Vignale» and «Ghia». Bodies by Bertone, different from the other production studios by classical elegance and harmony of proportion lines were recognized immediately.
For all of these the company, of course, was beholden to Scalione, whose design work, in just eight years of working with Nucci, enabled the company to create over 40 models! However, most of them have not been able to free themselves from the romantic imagery of a series of BAT, though, these samples and the development studio made from a workshop in the center of the design with the industrial production of cars.
The next stage in the Bertone history began with the coming of Giorgio Giugiaro into the company in 1960. During only the five years of his work in the design studio he managed not only to find his own manner and style but to develop that unique conciseness and clarity of the picture, which will continue distinguishing products of the studio.
However, Giugiaro, while doing concept designs was still inclined to designing mass cars. And soon, he created his own studio «Italdesign», which worked such giants as Fiat, Volkswagen and Daewoo. But meanwhile Giugiaro Bertone made designing for series Alfa Romeo 2000 Sprint, as well as the concepts of Piranha, Canguro and famous Testudo.
It is the form and the plastics of Testudo which became a kind of quintessential style of the second half of the 60s and which took place under the guidance of the new maestro of the «Bertone» company - Marcello Gandini. "It was a great time – remembered Marcello. - To work for 22 hours a day, make at least two fundamental changes within a day and get paid less than the rest employees.
"During this period there was born the unsuccessful Alfa Romeo Montreal and a car that has brought Gandini a worldwide fame, - Lamborghini Miura. For the development of the car expressing the new ideology of the great tourism the customer gave total only four months. We had to hurry, because the competitors Ferrari and Maserati were not going to wait. Despite very soft outlines of Miura, which was unusual for a super car, normally distinguished by sharpness of lines and aggressive look, the car has won all hearts. It was the highest point of Gandini, and concept cars were rolling out of the gate of the studio in Gruliasco as from the assembly line. And the most striking thing was that almost every one of them became a prototype of a series car!
Thus, the concept of Autobianci A112 Runabout three years later was embodied in the design of Fiat X1/9, while Carabo has defined the outline tune of the legendary Countach. By the way, Countach, as well as Stratos became the most favorite creations of Gandini.
Many years later, the maestro had always found something that could be corrected in all of his works, while these two cars he considered perfect.
In 1971, Bertone built a new facility for car-body styling in the town of Capri near by Turin. The remoteness of the town was not accidentally chosen. Being a great opponent of any kind of social unrest, Nucci tried to protect his stylists from public shocks.
In 1979, in connection with the departure of Gandini and his start of his own business Bertone invited Mark De Champ to the position of a chief stylist - a Frenchman who had worked for Renault before.
De Champ was the last of the key persons who created the foundation of today's style of Bertone which is unmistakably recognized by everyone who understands at list something in automotive design. The best of that time became prototypes of Aton – Spider based on units of Lamborghini Urraco 1981 and Zabrus based on Citroen BX.
It was striking that the shape of both cars, at first glance was entirely made of planes and straight lines, but it was just a masterfully performed illusion.
In fact, the composition consisted of the finest nuances of the plane and the hard curved surface, horizontal and molding curve. The highest level of skill of designers of Bertone became particularly evident when they found a plastic key as the formal set of fashion things – which was later used by others. It seemed that imitators had all the same but the pattern looked boring and circumferential, and body outline looked featureless and lifeless.
In the mid-90s Nuccio Bertone decided to make quality upgrade of the business. To do this he created and implemented a program of «Design Machine," which includes the full method of development of a style of an industrial product (not just only the car), as well as its production. The first test of the «Design Machine" became a concept of Pickster. The system worked well and smoothly: the car was designed and built for 141 days! And only during a year a designer team of Grulyasko developed 31 scale models, 22 full-size layouts, 13 layouts of interior, built nine prototypes and completed one personal order. All this was done thanks to efforts of 1500 designers, engineers and stylists. During the same period the 1200 manufacturing workers produced 70,000 cars of Opel Astra and Fiat Punto with Cabriolet bodies.
By the end of the 90 the major stylists of the company become Luciano D'Ambrosio and Eugenio Paglia, who bring solidity and weight of form and large mass into the style Bertone. The new stylistics has been most explicitly expressed in the design of the concept of Lancia Kayak in 1996, Pickster and Alfa Romeo Bella in 1999. Nuccio Bertone did not see the last two cars - he died in 1997. Receiving that news, many people thought that it was the end of the company, the end of the great House of high automotive fashion. But this, fortunately, did not happen.