Getting in shape.
By 1965, Giorgetto Giugiaro was already a name of significance amid Turin car design circles – and by the mid-point of the 1960s, there were no design circles more influential or significant than those within the Piedmontese capital. The year in question was a highly significant one for the 27-year old automotive designer, having departed Stile Bertone somewhat abruptly that November, leaving behind several partly completed designs for his successor to complete.
It did not matter, Giorgetto was moving on; first to carrozzeria Ghia where a position awaited him, but he had other, more elaborate plans. His stay at Ghia therefore was brief; a couple of commissions, a pair of designs for the de Tomaso concern, and more significantly, the Ghibli gran turismo for Maserati, making its debut as a prototipo at that November’s Turin motor show.
By the end of 1966, he was gone, this time to set up, alongside engineer, Aldo Mantovani, a new design and engineering consultancy, offering a broader range of services to the industry than simply the outer garment. Two years later, this business was formalised as ItalDesign with its headquarters in Moncalieri, in the suburbs of Turin.
Work came their way, but it was necessary to make an initial statement, a broad signal not only that were they open for business, but that Giugiaro’s creative muse had evolved. Employing the P538 chassis designed by Giotto Bizzarrini, Giugiaro clothed it in an audacious cab-forward bodyshape, which in profile resembled a single, unbroken arc from low nose to high duck-tail, before truncating vertiginously.
Marrying the softness of surface for which he was known with a new geometric sense of drama, the Manta in its lurid turquoise paint scheme certainly gained the nascent carrozzeria the requisite attention.
Events moved swiftly, with a significant commission from Alfa Romeo for their Alfa Sud programme being initiated that year. Further to this, Maserati, seeking a designer to clothe their forthcoming mid-engined GT, looked once more to Giugiaro, who had done such a fine job for them previously.
The Bora’s shape was largely dictated by the engineering package, and like the Manta design, Giugiaro was at pains to not only emphasise the mid-engined layout, with the bulk of the car’s masses set between the wheels, but to minimise overhangs. In his own words, the Bora was “part inspired by the Manta“, which is quite easy to envisage, but viewing the Maserati in silhouette, one can also recognise a slight reflection too of the Alfasud – a design which was also being formalised at Moncalieri – Giugiaro being used to not only working quickly, but on more than one design simultaneously.
Where the Bora design deviated from that of the Manta (or the Alfasud for that matter) was in the treatment of its surfaces, which were crisper and more angular than before, heralding a formal shift in the Giugiaro aesthetic, which would be seen to a far greater extent in the surfaces of the Maserati-based Boomerang study, which made its debut alongside the Bora at Geneva 1971.
While nowhere near as dramatic in form as Gandini’s Countach concept, the Bora’s shape was nonetheless dart-like and purposeful. Instead, it espoused a more refined sensibility, as befitting a more raffish, sophisticated and (relatively) practical sportscar. Unlike the Countach, there was a more delineated series of volumes – bonnet, canopy, cabin and rear deck – but Giugiaro’s handling of these was, as expected, utterly assured.
Lovely touches abounded: the delightful shape of the door openings, the upward inflection of the side glazing – which lent a sense of acceleration to the profile – the dihedral ‘indent’ in the beltline, which bisected the car, visually lightening the flanks. Another powerful feature of the design is the emphasis of the central structure of the car between the angled shutlines of door and rear engine cover. This served to highlight the midship layout and underline a sense of strength and heft.
The Bora was a heavy car, and in the wrong hands a compact design such as this could appear somewhat stubby. Hence, Giugiaro chose to lend as much visual lightness as possible – the glazed rear three quarters and the novel use of stainless steel to clad the A-pillars and roof section above the cabin doing a deft job of (re)directing the eye. This delicacy and visual refinement was carried through to the design of the road wheels, which highly unusually for such a car, were semi-flush in design.
At the nose, the twin radiator grille finishers doubled as bumpers (in a manner of speaking), while a stylised Tridente was positioned in a central recess. Dignified, elegant and subtle. Very Maserati.
At Geneva 1971 however, there was only one word on everyone’s lips – a Piedmontese expletive. The Countach was unsurprisingly, a sensation, a matter which must have caused some dismay at Viale Ciro Minotti – after all, Maserati would have hoped for a strong reaction. Not that the Bora was poorly received – quite the contrary in fact, but despite the presence of luminaries from Viale Ciro Minotti, Quai de Javel (including Monsieur le Président himself) and designer, Giugiaro, all eyes were on the Bertone stand.
Matters were not to improve later that year when the Bora made its home debut at Turin. For once again Maserati was overshadowed by an Emilian rival, in this instance, none other than the prancing horse of Maranello. Despite the earlier advent of mid-engined Ferrari racecars, roadgoing versions had hitherto remained locked in hidebound tradition; 1968’s 365 GTB/4 Daytona, while a logical stylistic and technical progression from its 275 GTB/4 predecessor, was by comparison to the svelte Miura, something of a shire horse.
The partial takeover by Fiat Auto in 1968 would change everything however. Under l’avvocato Agnelli’s patronage, Maranello would be transformed, both as a racing outfit, but also as a carmaker. Investment money poured into the Scuderia, while the floodgates would also open from a product perspective. But while 1967’s Dino would merely act as something of an antipasto, the principale was being readied for its 1971 preview.
The first production Ferrari-branded car with a mid-engined layout, the 365 GT4 BB represented a total shift in Maranello engineering practice for its road car flagship. Reflecting Grand Prix practice, its 4390 cc four-cam engine was rather unusually at an included angle of 180°, leading many observers to suggest it employed a horizontally opposed layout. But according to Pininfarina’s Leonardo Fioravanti, who lead the design, it was simply “a flat V12“.
This in itself was enough technical novelty for anyone, but in order to keep the package as compact as possible, the gearbox was mounted beneath the crankshaft (albeit in a separate casing), a neat idea in theory, but with knock-on effects to the car’s centre of gravity and polar moment of inertia in extremis, ensuring the BB would not be quite the car its layout promised.
Nevertheless, from a purely stylistic perspective, the BB was considered an unqualified success, Pininfarina navigating a fine line between drama and elegance. The work of Angelo Belli, Sergio Scaglietti and Fioravanti, the 365 GT4 BB and the identical 512 model which supplanted it, while clearly an evolution of the Aldo Brovarone’s unbearably pretty 206/246 GT Dino, was more muscular and aggressive in demeanour, as befitting a successor to the brutish elegance of the outgoing Daytona model.
A defining characteristic of the design would exhibit a marked similarity to how Giugiaro treated the Bora’s flanks, but was most likely a case of convergent thinking. This indent line which bisected the body, the lower half being finished in satin black, added a distinctive graphic element. The overall form was more voluptuous, more classical than either Maserati or Lamborghini, and while the Bora appeared almost dainty in this company, Giugaro’s was the more modernist shape than the undeniably attractive, but not outstanding Ferrari. Shown only as a prototype on Pininfarina’s stand, the BB would not enter production until 1973.
Against the dual pincers of Sant ‘Agata and Maranello, the Bora, with a lowly V8 against rival V12s would find itself at a material disadvantage – in the cylinder count wars at least – because despite ingegnere Alfieri’s protestations, the auto press viewed all three as direct rivals. Maserati had the benefit of being first of the trio to market, but was the Bora too demure for its own good?
Read part one here.
 The de Tomaso Mangusta and another design which Giugiaro dismissed as being “of lesser importance”.
 The shape of the Manta was remarkably prescient for its time, previewing the cab-forward shape of today’s mid-engined bolides.
 Do we see reflections of the Miura here as well?
 In a 2021 interview for The Road Rat magazine, Leonardo Fioravanti revealed that the 365 GT4 was named BB in honour of French actress and lust object of the time, Brigitte Bardot. The Berlinetta Boxer name was in fact a marketing construct.
 But not only did the Bora look more compact than its rivals, it was considerably more space-efficient as well.
Source: Maserati // The Citroen Years 1968-1975: Marc Sonnery. Eau Rouge Publishing ISBN 978-0-9573978-0-4