The Designer’s Story: Sergio Scaglietti
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