Founded in Turin in 1912 by Giovanni Bertone, the Carrozzeria Bertone can be considered the oldest of the sector.
The first isolated contact between Bertone and Alfa Romeo occurred in the Thirties with the clothing of several chassis of the Tipo 6C2300.
To this same period belongs the entry of Nuccio into the factory. Born in Turin in 1914, qualified in accountancy, at twenty Nuccio began his apprenticeship in his father's company, from whom he would take the reins ten years later, when, showing a strong organisational ability, he found himself tackling the postwar rebuilding of the enterprise, the premises of which had been damaged by bombing.
In the Fifties a close relationship of collaboration between Alfa Romeo and Bertone was born and developed. During this period the association between the two companies gave life to many achievements [paracchie realizzazioni], planned in ever increasing numbers after the birth of the car which represented a turning point in the life of the Torinese carrozzeria: the Giulietta Sprint. The success of this association is credited not so much to studies of the market as much as in the great passion for sporting cars fed by all the group of designs Alfa-Bertone. The faith in this production was the element drawing the collaboration between the two companies.
The fundamental characteristic of all the activity of Bertone, from the '50's onwards, was that of always leaving plenty of space for creativity and the personalities of the designers.
Bertone adopted, "strangely", young designers without much experience for professional training. This is different from other carrozzeria which take on professional designers already qualified [affermati] in order that they would immediately bring about significant contributions to the forms that they would want to develop.
The young designers who themselves were fully trained in Bertone became then undisputed protagonists in world automobile design. This is why Nuccio Bertone has always remained a true [vero e proprio] point of reference for all designers busy in a new project. He still follows today, daily, the project work of his designers to suggest possible modifications, coordinating the work of the team like the conductor of an orchestra who knows well the parts of all the instruments.
Franco Scaglione was the principal design manager [designer director]. In his period of activity at Bertone, between 1951 and 1959, he signed off a multitude of unforgettable classics.
The BAT (Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnico) were aerodynamic experiments applied to the mechanicals of the Alfa 1900C Sprint and Super Sprint. In them would be found numerous stylistic ideas in the parallel quantity production of Bertone.
Other important products of Scaglione for Alfa Romeo were the 2000 Sportiva of 1954, built in spider and coupe versions. This last, the most important stylistically, in its elegant form displayed modern characteristics: it constituted the production interpretation of the 6C3000 CM of 1953 built nevertheless with an engine of four cylinders.
The car would have been able to be produced in series but the necessity of building the tubular chassis by an outside company and the shortage of equipment to build the De Dion axle, which it was given, precluded the initial intention. It was therefore put aside because they believed it would be too expensive to produce. We listen to the memories of Busso on this subject: "The 2000 Sportiva was a car of great importance for Alfa Romeo. In 1967 appeared a requirement for defining the design of rear axle of that (car) which would become the Alfetta. [Nel 1967 si presento la necessita di definire la soluzione del ponte posteriore di quelle che poi sarebbero state le Alfetta.] Some comparative trails were made between the Sportiva and other experimental Alfas, given independent rear suspension. At the end Consalvo Sanesi, the chief test driver, chose the technical solution of the 2000 Sportiva. From this was born the axle of the future Alfetta and therefore that which equipped the 75".
It is important to remember that the rear parts of the car served as the model for the Giulietta Sprint. Following this Alfa Romeo trusted to Bertone the final design of the styling and construction of bodies of the Giulietta Sprint. The car, which had an important role for the development of the two companies, had simple, clean, lines, in which were visible numerous elements derived from the BAT prototypes.
In 1957 appeared the Giulietta SS, judged by experts one of the most pure examples of "industrial design" applied to the automobile. For its production the experience acquired by Bertone in constructing [nelle fase esecutiva] the ideas of Scaglione, from the BAT to the Sportiva, direct ancestors of the Giulietta SS, was decisive.
In 1959 Nuccio Bertone offered the position of head designer to a 29 year-old unknown. It was Giorgetto Giugiaro, who in a few years carried the name of company to the international limelight with models which would become soon famous in all the world. His first car is the 2000 Sprint of 1960, a car important from the stylistic point of view. Its lines were inspired by the 2000 Berlina of 1958 and the Giulietta Sprint. It became one of the cars of reference among the sporting (drivers) of the Sixties. It introduced innovative solutions, which would be taken up subsequently by all manufacturers.
For this car, like the Giulietta SS, Bertone was able to look after also the stages of industrialisation and production.
Three years later, Giugiaro produced the styling of a new Alfa Romeo coupe: the Giulia Sprint GT.
This car represented the consistent development of the characteristic style the Torinese carrozzeria had given to preceding models on Alfa Romeo chassis. Nevertheless, even though the general layout of the design recalled the 2000 Sprint, the detailed design [soluzioni particolari] was the fruit of an expressive evolution that conferred on the car a decisive personal note.
Heir to a glorious tradition, the Giulia Sprint GT was a synthesis of the fortunate past experiences and resulted in one of the most well balanced cars of the time.
In 1964, the Torinese carrozzeria was ready with a new prototype Alfa Romeo, produced on the chassis of the Giulia "Tubolare": the Canguro. It was a car dedicated to competition but aesthetically pleasant and without particular sacrifice of habitability and comfort in respect to the concurrent Giulia TZ.
Marcello Gandini took over from Giugiaro, who in the meantime had decided to leave Bertone and go out on his own.
After dedicating himself, as an independent designer, to the furnishing of interiors and to the elaboration of car bodies, Gandini at the end of 1965 had submitted some of his work to Bertone, a few months before Giugiaro would leave the company. The designs pleased (Bertone) such that the independent designer became responsible for the production of new models.
At just 27 years, this new talent gave proof of being second to none to his predecessors for creative imagination and presented his first classic, the Lamborghini Miura. Gandini made his debut in the Alfa company with a production which had worldwide resonance, the prototype Montreal, which, as we shall see, was devised to be not only an experimental model but also the prefiguration of a car produced in series in thousands of examples.
P. 17 Franco Scaglione designed for Bertone three models of extraordinary aesthetic form: the Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica. Above, the first of the series, the BAT 5 of 1952, built on the rolling chassis of the Alfa Romeo 1900C Sprint. Its form suggests a point of reference for the contemporary quantity production of Bertone.
P.18 The direct ancestor of the Giulietta Sprint: the 2000 Sportiva of Bertone in 1954.
P.19 Above: a prototype of the Giulietta SS of Bertone dated 1957. Characterised by a nose like the "mouth of a shark", the SS was the heir to the ideas of Scaglione, from the BAT to the Sportiva. Of note, at the rear, the sloping profile of the body acting to ensure strong adhesion [deportanze] of the front end at high speeds. At the side, the Canguro of 1964 proposed by Bertone for possible competition use. It achieved in operation limitation of weight and increase in aerodynamic penetration by means of the reduction of the size of the body.