Sergio Scaglietti: Ferrari designer and coachbuilder

 

The car designer and coachbuilder Sergio Scaglietti created of some of the finest and most beautiful cars ever built.

Enjoying a close working relationship with Enzo Ferrari, Scaglietti designed a series of road and racing cars in the 1950s and 1960s that won prestigious races and were bought by the rich and famous. With an intuitive flair for style and function, the technically brilliant Scaglietti seldom used blueprints or sketches, using "the eyes alone", as he said, to sculpt cars including the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO, the Testarossa, the 750 Monza, the 500 Mondial and the California Spyder. He also built numerous road cars to the designs of Pininfarina. Many of his cars now sell for millions.

The youngest of six children, Sergio Scaglietti was born in 1920 to Ernesto, a carpenter, and Gentilina, near Modena in northern Italy. When his father died, Sergio dropped out of school. Four of his brothers were carpenters, but he wanted to work with metal, and at the age of 13 became an apprentice at a company that repaired bodywork on cars and lorries. He started out sweeping floors, but was soon learning the techniques of panel-beating and hammering out bonnets.

In 1937, he moved to a garage a stone's throw from the Scuderia Ferrari factory, the racing car company established by Enzo Ferrari in 1929 to race Alfa Romeos. Scaglietti's skill was first noted when Enzo asked him to repair a racing-car wing. Thereafter, Ferrari commissioned him to undertake more complex projects.

The Second World War intervened and Scaglietti became a tank driver and motorcycle instructor. In 1951, he and two partners opened a custom coach-building business, Carrozzeria Scaglietti, in Maranello. Initially burdened with debt, the business struggled. However, Scaglietti's break came when the owner of a Touring Barchetta, a two-seater Ferrari sports car, commissioned a new body for his damaged vehicle. Enzo Ferrari was impressed and began sending him more work, and they became life-long friends. By the mid-1950s, Scaglietti had become the carrozzeria [coachbuilder] of choice for Ferrari. Towards the end of the decade, backed by Enzo Ferrari, Scaglietti expanded.

Shunning pencil and paper, Scaglietti worked out his designs in his head, and with his hammer fashioned hisdesigns by pounding sheets of aluminium over bags of sand, making sleek masterpieces out of unforgiving material. The results were some of the firm's most stylish and famous models, many of them driven to victory in important races, including the 250 Testarossa in the 1958 Le Mans 24 Hours and the 250GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione, considered by many as Ferrari'sbest-looking car, which won the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood in 1960 and 1961, as well as blowing away the AstonMartins and Chevrolets at the 1960Le Mans 24 Hours, where it tookthe first four places. Arguably his most famous car was the Ferrari 375 MM, which he designed for the film director Roberto Rossellini in 1954 as a gift for Ingrid Bergman.

With few produced, these cars are now highly sought after – none more so than the 250 GTO, of which only 36 were built, in 1962-63. For many aficionados, the GTO is the ultimate expression of Scaglietti's aspirations: "I worked for racing, for speed, but also for beauty," he said. In 2008, one sold at auction to a British bidder for £15.7m, while in August this year Scaglietti's 1957 Testarossa 250 prototype was sold at auction for $16.4m. Scaglietti is also credited with the "headrest" bump that can be seen on most racing Ferraris of the 1950s and 1960s.

Scaglietti's high-end cars were desired by some of the world's richest people. One European royal gave him two precious, pedigree racing pigeons; unaware of their value, he inquired how best they should be cooked.

Scaglietti sold his business to Ferrari in the 1970s and retired in 1985, although he continued as a consultant for 10 years. In 2004, Ferrari named its new four-seater fastback coupé the 612 Scaglietti; the design, especially the large side scallops and the headlights, pays homage to Scaglietti's 1954 custom-built Ferrari 375 MM.

Sergio Scaglietti, coachbuilder: born Modena 9 January 1920; married 1940 Maria Neri (died 1991; two sons), secondly Loredana; died Modena 20 November 2011.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices