Eight Great Volkswagen-Italdesign Collaborations

1973 Audi Asso Di Picche
Italdesign and Karmann teamed up once again in 1973 to craft a Volkswagen concept car, but the finished product would have a much more profound influence on other production vehicles than the Cheetah before it.

Although Audi was enjoying the fiscal stability provided by new parent Volkswagen, it was Karmann who approached Italdesign with the idea of creating a concept coupe built off the Audi 80. At the very least, the company had a vested interest in the project -- should VW/Audi brass enjoy the proposal, Karmann felt it could attain a contract to mass-produce the car.

Dubbed the Asso di Picche (Italian for Ace of Spades), the finished product looked nothing like the humble 80 it was built upon. Giugiaro envisioned a sleek, wedge-shaped coupe with a slender nose, long hood, and a short, angular fastback. The show car looked nothing like any other Audi model at the time -- arguably, the only visual link to the 80 was the front fascia, which sported a full-width grille housing large quad headlamps and the fabled four-ring logo.

VW executives liked the car, but didn't push it into production exactly like Karmann hoped. Instead, it called upon Giugiaro to pen the first-generation Scirocco, which bears a striking resemblance to the Asso di Picche -- gaping grille and all. Lucky for Karmann, it found a way to score a contract building the bodies for the little sport coupe.

Giugiaro eventually extrapolated the Asso di Picche into a line of "Ace" concepts. The Asso di Quadri (Ace of Clubs), shown in 1976, was built from a BMW 320i, and bears a remarkable resemblance to the second-generation Scirocco. The Asso di Fiore, unveiled in 1979, was a dead ringer for the 1982 Isuzu Piazza/Impulse.

The front of the car doesn't look very "pedestrian-friendly". If someone was hit by the car, the injuries would be serious. It would be surprising if European regulations didn't outlaw such a configuration. Furthermore, it really isn't an aerodynamically advantageous; a small change is relative wind could cause the car to lift, as been the case with many race cars, even at moderate speeds.

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