For its 2020 edition, the Rétromobile Show is holding an exhibition dedicated to Bertone, in partnership with the Automotoclub Storico Italiano. It will be showcasing ten extraordinary prototypes built between 1969 and 2001: the Autobianchi Runabout(1969), the Suzuki Go (1972), the Citroën Camargue (1972), the Ferrari Rainbow (1976), the Volvo Tundra (1979), the Chevrolet Ramarro (1984), the Citroën Zabrus (1986), the Lamborghini Genesis (1988), the BMW Pickster (1998) and the Opel Filo (2001).
These cars, representing a combined worth of nearly €2 million, have been granted special authorisation by Italy’s Ministry for Cultural Assets and Activities to temporarily leave the country, given Rétromobile’s importance and its global influence.
CARS EXHIBITED AT RETROMOBILE 2020
Bertone Runabout (1969)
In 1969, Bertone chose the spirited mechanicals of the Autobianchi A112 to underpin an extravagant, wedge-shaped car that took a number of stylistic cues from powerboat designs. One of the very first vehicles of this type, it is made up of two shells and features headlights mounted on the roll over bar. The idea of switching the mechanics of “everything-at-the-front” models, such as the A112, was used as a test bench for the Fiat X 1/9.
Suzuki Go (1972)
The 1972 Go was one of Bertone’s more eclectic projects from the 1970s. This highly original, versatile vehicle was designed for transporting motorcycles. Basically, it was a sort of flat-bottomed boat mounted on four wheels with a very pure and uncluttered design. The engine was a three-cylinder motorcycle engine: 750 cc delivering 67 hp and differential inverter with Bertone’s own patented chain-driven gearbox.
Citroën Camargue (1972)
Bertone produced a number of prototypes based on Citroën vehicles. One was the Camargue, based on the Citroën GS saloon: an elegant 2+2 hatchback with a sloping rear window, sporting two glass windows separated by a prominent bow. As for the front, it sported a curved windscreen, typical of models from this era.
Ferrari Rainbow (1976)
After the 308 GT4, a mass-produced car designed by Nuccio (one of the first Ferraris not to be designed by Pininfarina), Bertone embarked on a series of experiments based on the same chassis. The result was the futuristic Rainbow model, which featured a “plaque” for rotating the roof so it could be stored between the passenger compartment and the mid-rear-mounted engine. Its design was compact and uncluttered – highly segmented, almost deliberately lacking in harmony at times: a true coupé with lines that harked back to the past.
Volvo Tundra (1979)
Apart from his collaboration on mass-produced vehicles, Bertone’s work with Volvo resulted in the creation of the Tundra concept car in 1979, based on the Volvo 343 (1.4 L engine delivering 70 hp). It was a compact, low-sitting, wide coupé with a highly modern, disjointed design, so much so that several of its stylistic “innovations” would be reused on a number of Bertone’s later models – and not just Volvos (it bears a strong resemblance to the Citroën BX). Generous windows with no divide.
Chevrolet Ramarro (1984)
One of Nuccio Bertone’s major aims was to build a Chevrolet Corvette chassis using criteria deemed revolutionary. He succeeded in 1984 with the Ramarro, an experimental car whose engine was "sectioned” by having the radiator and air-conditioning system moved to the rear. This gave the designers more flexibility to create an ultramodern design that was typical of Bertone – angular lines featured throughout.
Lamborghini Genesis (1988)
For the last dream car based on a Lamborghini, Bertone decided to push the luxury mini-van concept to its limits with the Genesis – which was practically a house on wheels fitted with a rear V12 engine which could deliver 455 hp. Its gull-wing doors at the front were magnificent, as were its two sliding doors at the rear and its modular interior. Although it was a large and imposing-looking car, it had a surprisingly low drag coefficient.
Citroën Zabrus (1986)
Based on the all-wheel-drive BX, Bertone created an elusively-designed 2+2 with an extremely tapered front, counterbalanced by a more voluminous rear. A number of this car's features were later used on the next ZX, while the upwards-opening scissor doors remained a short-lived experiment.
BMW Pickster (1998)
With a low-sitting, wide body that was inappropriate for a pick-up, this experimental chassis built around a BMW engine (3.152 L V6 delivering 320 hp) was provocative. It featured an aggressive-looking front (made up of two colours to make it more attractive), large 21-inch wheels and a flat loading surface surrounded by sinuous lines and a highly visible spoiler.
Opel Filo (2001)
In order to introduce drive-by-wire technology, a new human-machine interface created in collaboration with SKF (there were no pedals), Bertone presented the Filo (with German automobile manufacturer Opel), a compact people-carrier with an uncluttered design, and a luminous and aesthetic interior which would go on to influence Opel's future models (Meriva).