This September’s inaugural Grand Basel show will provide the venue for a fascinating motor car design debut, as the 1953 ‘Linea Diamante’ car by legendary architect and industrial designer Gio Ponti is finally brought to life, 65 years after it was designed.
Gio Ponti (1891-1979) created numerous icons, such as the 32-storey Pirelli Tower in Milan – regarded as one of the most elegant skyscrapers in the world – and the famous ‘Superleggera’ chair, which embodied lightness in both aesthetic and physical terms.
In 1928, he co-founded the influential architecture and design magazine, Domus, which celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2018 and supports Grand Basel as a cultural partner.
The ‘Diamond Line’ car
In 1953, Ponti – aided by his colleague Alberto Rosselli – conceived a car that was developed to design principles not yet applied in the automotive industry. Their starting point was an aerodynamic teardrop shape, but this soon developed into the more angular ‘Linea Diamante’ (Diamond Line).
Ponti saw his new design as a necessary reaction to the staid automobile styling of the time, which was characterised by large, swollen shapes with small windows and dark interiors. By comparison, his vision was a more architectural car with flat-form body panels and windows, and a substantial glass area that would flood the cabin with light.
The clever packaging would enhance the utilitarian aspect of the car, enabling a generously-proportioned cabin and a spacious boot. Furthermore, the neat innovation of a rubber bumper running the full circumference of the car – with spring-mounted ‘buffers’ at the front and rear – was to be a special collaboration with the Pirelli tyre company.
Originally conceived to be bodied on the chassis of an Alfa Romeo 1900 saloon car, Ponti first sought a partnership with Milan based Carrozzeria Touring and then turned to Fiat for production of a subcompact model, but the design was rebuffed. Two decades later, many cars would have caught up with the principles embodied in Ponti’s automobile, highlighting his genius and foresight. Until now, Ponti’s car was never progressed beyond 1:10 scale models.
The Automobile by Ponti project
This fascinating car has been brought to life in 2018, 65 years after Gio Ponti first envisaged its shape, thanks to efforts of the ‘The Automobile by Ponti’ project, a design collaboration started in January 2017 by Professor Paolo Tumminelli, director of the Goodbrands Institute of Automotive Culture, under the patronage of Salvatore Licitra, representative of the Gio Ponti Archives and of the heirs of Gio Ponti.
As a fitting tribute to the remarkable design talent of Gio Ponti, the ‘Linea Diamante’ car revealed at Grand Basel will be a full-size mock-up, modeled by a design team directed by Roberto Giolito, Head of FCA Heritage, upon specifications outlined on Ponti’s original drawings. In a nod to its original collaboration with Ponti in 1953, Pirelli supplied period tyres of the correct specification for an Alfa Romeo 1900.
About Grand Basel
Grand Basel is a new global automotive show offering a platform for exchange for car connoisseurs, collectors, restoration and conservation experts, car dealers, manufacturers or just car enthusiasts.
The Show will take place in Basel, Switzerland (September 6 – 9, 2018), and then in Miami Beach, US (February 22 – 24, 2019) and Hong Kong, China (May 2019).
(Source: Grand Basel)