Journal: The Designer's Story: Sergio Scaglietti

The Designer’s Story: Sergio Scaglietti

Benjamin Shahrabani By Benjamin Shahrabani
April 22, 2014
8 comments

At a time when series car making was still in its infancy at his company, Mr. Enzo Ferrari would manufacture only the rolling chassis and drivetrain. For the bodies, Enzo employed several different coach-builders to “clothe” his machines. Performance was Enzo’s utmost concern and thus, styling came second. Still, he was acutely aware of how styling impacted peoples’ perception of his company and the cars that bore his name. Luckily Ferrari’s victories on racetracks caused the industry’s bespoke coach-building companies to want to work with the firm, and show what they could do on the Ferrari chassis. One of these firms was Carrozzeria Scaglietti.

Mr. Sergio Scaglietti, got his start working on Scuderia Ferrari’s Alfa Romeos (then Alfa’s racing arm) before World War II. After the war he opened a repair shop in Maranello, not far from the Ferrari factory, where he primarily repaired the bodywork of damaged race cars for gentleman racers. When one such racer brought his damaged race car to Sergio’s workshop, the quality of the repairs and rebodying caught Enzo’s eye, and by 1955 Sergio was put in charge of bodying the majority of Ferrari’s competition cars. Additionally, Sergio secured a loan from Enzo himself to start his own coach-building film, the aforementioned Carrozzeria Scaglietti. This was quite an honor because at the time there were quite a few established coach-builders who already worked with Ferrari including Bertone, Zagato, Vignale, Touring, and Pininfarina. Sergio won Enzo’s trust not only because of his skills with metal, but also because of his relationship with, and support for, Enzo’s son, Dino, who died in 1956.

With Scaglietti now an officially sanctioned Ferrari coach builder, he received chassis’s directly from the Ferrari factory for coachwork. By his own admission, he designed all his shapes “by [his] eyes alone,” letting his own “good taste, understanding of aerodynamics, style, and function” dictate his designs. He rarely drew out his designs in advance, instead preferring to shape the body directly over the chassis. The fruit that was borne of this collaboration includes some of the most memorable, and today coveted cars, including the 500 Mondial, 250 Monza, and the Testa Rossa. Additionally, he transformed many of Pininfarina’s drawings into reality, vehicles such as the 1957 California Spyder, 1962 250GTO, and 1967 275GTB.

In the late 1960s, however, with his firm struggling because of labor troubles (this was Italy after all), Sergio took the opportunity to join Enzo in a sale of his business to Fiat. He continued managing his coach-building firm until his retirement in the mid-1980s. Today, the Scaglietti brand is wholly owned by Ferrari. Ferrari’s 612 Scaglietti model, and the Carrozzeria Scaglietti customization program, were named for Sergio.

Scaglietti died at his home in Modena on November 20, 2011 at the age of 91. Whilst he may not have been the most varied or prolific of coach-builders or designers, it may be said that he was responsible for arguably the most beautiful era of Ferraris.

Images courtesy of Ferrari North America

Graphic Design by Becca Clason for Petrolicious

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8 Comments on "The Designer’s Story: Sergio Scaglietti"

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Raul Andrei
Raul Andrei

aaaaaahh…lovely…what a romantic age in automotive history

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

Nice piece on the great Scaglietti. Personally my favourite of his designs is the Ferrari 375MM ‘Rossellini’ http://www.coachbuild.com/index.php?option=com_gallery2&Itemid=50&g2_itemId=36656

One correction and a common mistake made; the 62 Ferrari 250GTO is not a Pininfarina design. It was done in house initially by Bizzarrini and after he walked out of Ferrari it was finished by Mauro Forghieri in conjunction with Scaglietti. The later 64 GTO was a Pininfarina design though.

Clayton Merchant
Clayton Merchant

Matthew, I have to agree with your observation and recently had the opportunity to see this magnificent car up close and personal. It is quite impressive in person and a beautiful example of Scaglietti’s work.

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson

That’s a really beautiful design and one of the few (I hope, but at the same time don’t) ultra rare obscure early Ferraris I haven’t seen yet. Also nice bit of information. You really seem to know just about everything about the mark. This in-dept knowledge is one of the reasons I enjoy the comments almost as much as the actual stories themselves. Although, I do like the design articles, as I’ve stated time and time again.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

There have been V12 Ferraris in my life since I was 1 years old (which was er 39 years ago) and I’ve forgotten the number of books I’ve read about them. Love the history and enjoying this series of articles Petrolicious is running which will hopefully include a video or two?

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson

That explains a lot and one could see from the Daytona article you were in that you’re passionate about Ferraris. Personally I haven’t been around enough of them, but I keep dreaming about getting (a “cheap”) one. I absolutely agree on the article series, I can’t seem to get enough of the make no matter how much I see or read. Even though we’ve already had three videos about 250’s (GTE, Lusso, GT SWB Berlinetta), I could certainly go for another one.

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle

Another great designer and another great story this is easily becoming one of my favorite articles on this site among many others. It is truly amazing what those designers like Sergio could do back in the day with just their eyes and their minds and their hands. There are plenty of great Italian designers out there that are very well known and Sergio was one of them but when you ask car guys about great Italian designers his name rarely comes up. I think if a few more people would read this article it might change some people’s mind.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

Thanks for sharing this nice little tribute to this true designer, working directly with the materials with mind, hand, heart, long before the filter of computers and simulations.

Love it.

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