That Maserati Biturbo interior caused some discussion here and I thought I’d present a little gallery of the possible inspirations for the design (of the seats and armrest).
Actually, it is not as easy a search as you might think. The search term is “Italian sofa 1979” and what you get if you
ask Google nicely is mostly not
something like this:
That said, the correspondence is strong.
The image source explains that the sofa was produced by Poltrona Frau between 1970 and 1979. The designers were Gramigna and Mazza. For some reason the source lists the bloke designer first (Mazza) I’ve changed it around so Giuliana Gramigna is first. Why not?
Who provided Maserati’s leather? My theory is that it was PF back in the day. So, getting from the sofa to the interior would not be a big leap.
Item number two is this one by Mario Bellini: “Camaleonda”. Is this the sofa that kicked off the ruched leather era?
Bellini’s design (above) is from 1971. This furniture stayed in production a good long time so it’s not implausible to think this sofa’s image or feel was also partly the inspiration for the Biturbo. Bellini has had a remarkable career, I realise. You find his work everywhere. He’s one of the greats.
Lastly, from 1976, Tobia Scarpa’s “Soriana”. The chrome bars are probably annoying to bang against when you are sitting on this sofa.
What surprised me was that there is less of this kind of puffy, brown furniture from that era than you would expect, at least to judge by the image search results. In the mid 70s Italian furniture was still quite tailored and geometric. Perhaps this trend did not really take root until the ’80s.
8 thoughts on “The Faint Trails and the Unearthing”
And what about Joe Colombo? To me, he’s Mr Ruched Leather.
I believe to have read somewhere that the Biturbo’s hide was actually sourced from Connolly, but that may merely have been a suggestion, courtesy of de Tomaso, that the press picked up.
Connolly? In a Maserati. Isn’t like bring Kohl to Bonn?
Well, they used to supply Ferrari, too (this I know for certain). I may be mistaken, but I’m under the impression Frau wasn’t doing any automotive business for quite some time, thus forcing Italy’s upper class brands to go shop elsewhere. But that’s my own personal theory.
I seem to remember reading the Connoly thing and thinking it odd.
Ha, nice detective work. I have had a couple cars myself that had an actual sofa for a front seat. I could lay out straight across the front bench seat in my ’67 Wildcat with room to spare, and I am 6 foot. Seeing as the seats might be sofa inspired I will have to dial back my criticism.
The bench seat in my 1984 Buick Century had a lot going for it. I wish these type of seats were still available as an option. I could stuff six people into the car including me.
All the big GM cars were 80 inches wide (the legal maximum) for years up till the downsizing for 1977. Typical front/rear hip room was about 64 inches, which is 5 foot 4. There’s a chart here.
Here’s a ’65 Impala at 62.4/60.9 from Motortrend. Note the outside width of 80 inches.
Also, as a nitpicker of an engineering student in those days over 50 years ago, I well remember tales like yours brought up when foreign cars were under attack as being tiny. A Ford Consul had a 55 inch wide front and back seat same as a ’57 Buick, as measured by me to settle a bet. Its doors however, were only four inches thick each instead of eight on the US car. Much grumbling ensued because illusions were shattered.
Memories play us strange, but that seat in your Wildcat was not 6 foot wide, sir. It just seemed like it. A new F150 without much tumblehome is only 66 inches wide inside today.
Memories do play strange, but you are making the error to assume “lay out straight” to be the same claim as, “the hip-room between the armrests is equal to 72 inches”. I was not confined by the armrests (head above one, feet to the side of the other) and that adds 3 inches per door and we are now at 5 foot 10. Now all I need to is angle myself slightly and we have 6 feet of room and my legs are straight, which is what I been referring to. Very easily achieved.