Marcello Gandini - Automotive Designer

Charlie Magee Tim Andrew

Always curious about the cars that designers actually drive, I wondered what Gandini had in the garage. "A Mitsubishi Colt," he said, going on to explain that when his last Audi had covered 155,000 miles, he needed to replace it, so he went to the nearest Ford dealer and ordered a car, which never came. So, after a few months of driving rentals, he walked into a store near his daughter Marzia's apartment, asked what was ready to go that day, and left with the Colt. He has at times owned cars he designed (two Citroën BX sedans, two BMW 520s, and some Renaults), but he's totally indifferent to the kind of exotics for which he is best known.

Gandini still works with vertical drawing boards and drafting machines, not computer-drawing programs, as is the case for many experienced designers working independently. Those techniques are no longer suitable to mainstream manufacturers with huge staffs of computer jockeys, but they allow an imaginative individual to create with a minimum of equipment. When we visited Gandini last June, he was working on the details for the latch of a huge industrial machine that makes cookies, not a fabulous exotic car. But if he'd been working on the next every-boy-has-to-have-it poster car, we would never have known. Most car company design studios, and most individual design offices, are monuments to paranoia, with electronic locks, demands that you hand over your passport or identity papers before you can enter, and locked doors everywhere. Gandini doesn't need a security team to protect his work. His natural discretion, his extravagant imagination that no one can predict - and those dogs, perhaps - are all it takes.

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