Time to dream: Bertone legends to be sold

Published: 17 May 2011

RM Auctions has the task of selling six Bertone-built concept cars at its Villa d’Este auction this weekend on 21 May, part of the Concorso Eleganza Villa d'Este concours.

The cars were part of the Bertone museum collection. Sadly the Bertone museum was caught up in the bankruptcy of Bertone's contract manufacturing arm in 2009. Although Lilli Bertone, Nuccio Bertone's widow, was able to ressurect the Bertone design house (Stile Bertone) and buy back the majority of the museum collection from administrators, the final six cars in the 90-car set are being auctioned off by the court. 

The Bertone classics up for auction

The cars to be auctioned are six notable examples of Bertone's postwar design history. There’s the ’63 Chevrolet Testudo, a bubble-canopied Corvair GT designed by Giugiaro. The ’68 Marzal, a template for the Lamborghini 400GT Espada. The 1970 Stratos Zero, designed like the Marzal by Marcello Gandini, is a radical wedge design which lent its name, mid-engined layout and little else to the production Lancia Stratos HF rally car.

The 1978 Lancia Sibilo (an angular GT concept based on a lengthened Stratos chassis) and the 1981 Lamborghini Athon (a two-seat roadster based on Silhouette/Jalpa mechanicals) round out the group.  But the sixth car is the one I want to focus on.

Time to drool: the Lamborghini Bravo

My personal favourite is the 1974 Lamborghini Bravo, which debuted at the Turin motor show in September ’74. Styled by Gandini and based on a shortened, widened P300 Urraco, it’s one of my all-time favourite pieces of automotive design. The Bravo is a functional prototype, and was said to have covered 40,000 miles in testing, but was a victim of bad timing: the mid-70s were a time of energy crisis and recession (sound familiar?) and Lamborghini lacked the finances or market size to develop such a radical design. The Silhouette/Jalpa replaced the Urraco instead.

RM Auctions estimate the Bravo’s asking price at between £132,000 to £192,000, and like the Sibilo and Athon the Bravo is being auctioned with no reserve price. A Ferrari 458 Italia lists at £173,132 before options, a McLaren MP4-12C starts at £168,500 and the Bravo’s spiritual descendant, the Gallardo starts at £152,280. But none of them is unique, nor do they bear the imprint of one of the 20th century’s greatest car designers. 

Time to start saving then?

Wildly impractical, immensely desirable, relatively affordable and sadly on my modest means, still unattainable. But if you had the money, what would you choose?

>> Modern supercar or one-of-a-kind Bertone Bravo? Share your thoughts in the comments section below