Within the space of just two years, he created three automotive icons: the original Golf and the first-generation Passat and Scirocco models. Having worked side by side with Volkswagen for almost 40 years, his company Italdesign became part of the Group in 2010. We spoke to Giorgetto Giugiaro at the Autostadt in Wolfsburg.
Mr. Giugiaro, how did your cooperation with Volkswagen start 40 years ago?
The heads of Volkswagen at the time visited the Turin Motor Show together with a number of specialists and journalists and selected six models that they felt were particularly outstanding. Four of these cars were mine. That’ show it all started.
You designed the original Golf, which made its world premiere in 1974. Did you ever own one?
But of course. In 1977, Volkswagen built two Golf GTI special edition models with an even more powerful engine, four doors and an exclusive interior. I got one and the other went to the famous conductor Herbert von Karajan, who was a real car fanatic. I used the Golf in Turin – it was a lively family car that was perfect for the city. These cars were very much sought after at the time – so much so, in fact, that my GTI was stolen. Luckily, we found it again after a while. Today, it has pride of place in our car gallery.
What is the main focus of Italdesign Giugiaro’s work these days?
Italdesign is a think tank and development center whose prime focus is on engineering. Our decades of experience mean we are completely at home with the complex development processes involved in automotive production. As a result, we can deliver turnkey vehicle concepts that can be implemented directly in production. The work involves taking the form for the vehicle shell and interior and using it as a basis for developing blueprints for all the individual parts. This means, taking into account norms and safety standards but also keeping production as cost-effective as possible. Multifaceted development capacities like these are in great demand today.
Most people are familiar with you on account of your spectacular designs ...
Twenty percent of our work is devoted to automotive dreams, studies, or concept vehicles. They make the headlines because they evoke emotions. And they also serve as a flagship and calling card for our company. However, of the more than 800 people who work at Italdesign Giugiaro, only ten percent or so are actually employed as designers.
What made you ultimately decide to join the Volkswagen Group?
Volkswagen doesn’t leave anything to chance and takes an uncompromising approach in its vehicle development. Three things are important: the product, the product, and the product. The success of a carmaker ultimately depends on the people behind the company, on their resoluteness and commitment. The key factor is people. And as I have known the people at Volkswagen for over three decades now, we have built up a solid foundation of trust. So I can rest assured that Italdesign is in good hands.
Born in 1938, Giugiaro is one of the most important names in Italian industrial design. He began as a designer at Fiat in 1955. After spending time at Bertone and Carozzeria Ghia, he formed his own design studio in 1967. Under the brand name “Italdesign Giugiaro”, he designed over 200 vehicles that went into series production. Today, “Italdesign” is run by his son Fabrizio Giugiaro.