Who Is Giorgetto Giugiaro, and What Cars Has He Designed?

Giorgetto Giugiaro has designed many iconic cars. For 55 years, the Italian car designer has influenced the auto industry through his unique perspective and ideas. Here’s a look at his career and the most famous cars Giugiaro has designed.

Giorgetto Giugiaro’s car design career spans 60 years

Giorgetto Giugiaro car designer
Giorgetto Giugiaro draws a Bugatti EB 112 in Italy in February 1993 | Raphael Gaillarde /Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Giugiaro’s career in car design began in 1955 when he presented some sketches of vehicles at a student exhibition. Fiat’s technical director, Dante Giacosa, recruited Giugiaro based on those sketches’ creativity. After four years, he moved to another Italian automobile manufacturer, Gruppo Bertone. Eventually, he partnered with Aldo Mantovani and founded the company ItalDesign/Giugiaro, of which Lamborghini Holdings bought 90% in 2010.

Giugiaro’s impressive six-decade career has seen the now-84-year-old designing over 200 cars for various companies. In 1999, he was named Designer of the Century, and in 2002, he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

These are some of the cars Giorgetto Giugiaro had a hand in designing:

  • Alfa Romeo Alfasud
  • Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint
  • BMW M1
  • Bugatti EB112
  • DeLorean DMC-12
  • Fiat 850 Spider
  • Lexus GS
  • Lotus Esprit
  • Maserati Ghibli
  • Saab 9000
  • Subaru SVX
  • Volkswagen Golf
  • Volkswagen Passat
  • Volkswagen Scirocco

Details about famous cars Giorgetto Giugiaro designed

Giorgetto Giugiaro cars
Giorgetto Giugiaro in 2020 | Emanuele Perrone/Getty Images for Lamborghini

Some of the most beautiful vehicles Giorgetto Giugiaro has designed are concept cars that were never mass-produced. However, he designed many models for mass production. For example, beginning in the 1970s, Giugiaro’s signature design for production vehicles was a wedge-shaped style inspired by the angular lines of origami. That look became the style for cars in the ’70s and ’80s, including the Volkswagen Golf and Lotus Esprit.

Let’s look at several cars with Giugiaro’s inspirational styling:  

Lotus Esprit (1972)

Giugiaro’s original design of the Lotus Esprit had aerodynamic problems that would cause the car to lift at high speeds, making it difficult to steer. He also had to tweak the design to comply with worldwide regulations, such as reducing the windscreen rake and U.S. rollover requirements.

BMW M1 (1977)

Giugiaro took inspiration from the BMW E25 Turbo concept sports car that the German automaker built to celebrate the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. He then incorporated his signature angular look. Unfortunately, only 450 of those cars sold.

DeLorean DMC-12 (1981)

The DeLorean DMC-12’s look was inspired by a 1970 Porsche concept car Giugiaro designed. Unfortunately, John DeLorean made several mistakes with the final product. One mistake was that he put the engine in the back of the car, diminishing the handling capability. As a result, DeLorean built only 9,000 of these cars.

Subaru SVX (1991)

Giugiaro moved away from his signature sharp-angled style to give the Subaru SVX a rounder look. In addition, the paint was two-toned, with the midsection painted one color and the bottom and roof painted contrastingly.

Lexus GS (1993)

The Lexus GS moved away from a Japanese-forward design in favor of a European look. However, with modest sales, the new-generation Lexus GS reincorporated the Japanese-forward design with a quad-headlight layout in 1998.

Giorgetto Giugiaro’s impact on car design

Today’s cars no longer have the angular, wedge look but a more curvy design. The move from the ’70s and ’80s style was because the focus had shifted to better aerodynamics for fuel economy. However, Giugiaro’s aesthetic in the ’70s and ’80s helped develop the hatchback style still found on modern SUVs and crossovers.