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Marcello Gandini’s father was an orchestra conductor. Italian-born Gandini (1938-2024) would go on to become an artist in his own right: one of the most influential car designers of all time. He died in March 2024, so I’m looking back at some of his most influential car designs. It’s incredible how many cars he had a hand in, from Renaults to Ferraris. But here are a specific handful that all rocked the automotive world.

Alfa Romeo Carabo

Green Alfa Romeo supercar
Alfa Romeo Carabo | Nakhon100 via WikiMedia Commons

In 1968, James Bond was still running around in a front engine grand tourer coupe. And Gandini was inventing scissor doors for is Alfa Romeo Carabo concept. Think about that for a second. The rest of the automotive world was playing checkers while this visionary was playing chess.

Lamborghini Countach

Yellow Lamborghini Countach supercar
Lamborghini Countach | Alexander Migl via Wikimedia Common

Gandini pioneered the mid-engine V12 Lamborghini with his Miura design. He even invented scissor doors on his Alfa Romeo 33 Carabo. And his entire career he experimented with wedge-shaped supercars. But all of these elements came together in the Lamborghini Countach. This long-running design (1974-1990) would define not only Lamborghini itself, but every supercar to come after.

Lancia Stratos Zero

Red Lancia supercar concept
Lancia Stratos Zero | Dustin May via Wikimedia Commons

This is a wildly futuristic concept car Gandini built for Lancia. It took his flying wedge design a step further, deleting even the side glass for a streamlined jet-age look. Don’t get me wrong, Gandini had many incredible concept cars over the years. But the Stratos Zero was influential because some of its designs would end up in the regular Lancia Stratos (1973-1978). And the Stratos’ design, especially the optical illusion of a single piece of glass wrapping from the windows to the windshield, influences design to this day.

BMW Garmisch

BMW Garmisch | BMW

Gandini did not just design suepercars. BMW hired him to build a concept and he whipped up the Garmisch. In 1970. Look at this thing for a second: it is the precursor to the next 20 years of BMWs! Even those oversized kidney-shaped grilles he pioneered are now making a comeback–50 years later.

Audi 50

Woman leans on the hood of an Audi car parked in a field.
Audi 50 | Audi

What do you see when you look at this Audi 50? You’d be forgiven if you say a boring old Volkswagen Rabbit. But this German-only design by Gandini is the forbearer of every boxy car of the 1980s. And he invented it in the 1970s.

See several more of Gandini’s cars in the video below:

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