At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Giovanni Michelotti – car designer


The many Triumphs of Turin sports car genius


One of the most prolific designers of sports cars in the 20th century, Giovanni Michelotti died on this day in 1980 in Turin.


Michelotti's iconic Triumph Spitfire
Michelotti's iconic Triumph Spitfire
Photo: Luigi Rosa (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Known for his hard work and creative talent, Michelotti has been credited with designing more than 1200 different cars.

He worked for Ferrari, Lancia and Maserati in Italy but car firms abroad soon got to know about him and he also designed for Triumph and BMW.

Michelotti was born in Turin in 1921 and worked for coach building firms before opening his own design studio in 1959.


The first of his designs put into production was for an Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 in 1947.

Among the legendary sports cars designed by Michelotti in Italy are the Ferrari 166 MM and the Maserati Sebring.

In Britain he was responsible for many successful Triumphs, including the famous Spitfire, Stag and TR4. He also designed buses and trucks for British Leyland.


The Shellette beach car with wicker seats
The Shellette beach car with wicker seats
Photo: Brian Snelson (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Under his own name he designed a beach car, the Shellette, with wicker seats. Only about 80 were made, but among the buyers were the Dutch royal family, who used it at their summer property in Porto Ercole, and Jacqueline Onassis.

Michelotti carried on working until the late 1970s and passed on his knowledge to future generations of car designers. He died in his home town of Turin on 23 January 1980 at the age of 58.

Travel tip:

Turin, the home town of Michelotti, is the capital city of the region of Piedmont in the north of Italy. It is an important business centre, particularly for the car industry, and has a rich history linked with the Savoy Kings of Italy. Piazza Castello, with the royal palace, royal library and Palazzo Madama, which used to house the Italian senate, is at the heart of royal Turin .


The Dutch Royal Family had a summer home in the harbour town of Porto Ercole
The harbour at Porto Ercole in Tuscany
Photo: Mac9 (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Travel tip:

The harbour town of Porto Ercole, where the Dutch royal family used a Michelotti beach car at their summer residence, is in Tuscany, about 40 kilometres from Grossetto. The resort is known for its good fish restaurants, its lovely old quarter and for being the place where the painter, Caravaggio, died of fever and was buried there while travelling to Rome in 1610. 

More reading:



The engineering genius behind the track success of Alfa, Ferrari and Lancia

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