Retrospective

He designed some of the most influential cars of the 1950s and 60s but walked away from it all

Franco Scaglione was tasked with developing the designs for some of the most iconic cars of the mid-20th century including this Aston Martin DB 2-4.

Photo courtesy of Aston Martin

His name isn't highlighted in the annals of car history quite like that of Enzo Ferrari, Battista "Pinin" Farina, or Karl Benz. However, Franco Scaglione's work helped shaped the auto industry in a substantial way.

The Italian was of noble ancestry, born to a well-off family in Florence, Italy the year the first transfusion using stored blood was performed - 1916. His father was a chief army doctor and his mother was the captain of the Italian Red Cross.

His upbringing was by no means extraordinary according to most reports. His father died when Scaglione was young and his favorite hobbies included reading and riding. He went to university to study aeronautical ennginenering and entered military service riding to the rank of sub-lieutenant.

World War II changed his path. Scaglione volunteered to be sent to the front, heading to Lybia where he was taken prisoner by the English at El Duda in the aftermath of the Battle of Point 175 in December 1941. He was sent to the Yol detention camp in India near Dharmsala where the Dhali Lama lives today. He stayed there until he was released in 1946.

After a year of receiving from the war at home, engineering went to the side and Scaglione began seeing styling as his new passion. In 1948 he went to Bologna looking to work in the automobile industry. That type of work wasn't easy to find as the auto industry was in post-war survival and recovery mode, with many of them suffering near-catastrophic damage to plants during the campaigns leveled against Italy.

Scaglione made his living sketching clothing for fashion houses instead. The lucrative work was not enough to change his mind. He wanted to work in the automotive industry.

BAT  Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica Continued coachbuilder collaboration Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

By 1951, he was married with a daughter. That year he uprooted his family ad moved to Turin, the home of major coachbuilding companies including Pininfarina, Ghia, and Maggiora. He tried to work with Farina but it ended up not working out. He then was introduced to Giuseppe "Nuccio" Bertone, an automobile designer who ran Carrozzeria Bertone. This meeting was far more fruitful.

He worked with Bertone for the next eight years, creating a number of iconic vehicles including the Siata 208 CS (1952), Alfa Romeo Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica (BAT) (1953, 1954, and 1955 versions), Alfa Romeo 2000 Sportiva (1954), Aston Martin DB 2-4 (1957), Jaguar XK150 (1957), and the Maserati 3500 GT (1959).

The Siata is notable for its rarity. Just 18 were built - 11 by Balbo and 7 by Stabilimenti Farina. The ones by Balbo were badged as "200 CS" while the ones by Stabilimenti Farina wore "208 CS" badging. The 208 has a 1,996 cc V8 engine that delivers 110-125 horsepower (depending on who you believe). The engine is paired with a five-speed manual transmission. It has an aluminum body and weighted 2,200 pounds.

The Alfa Romeo Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica (BAT) models were all commissioned to study the effect of drag on a vehicle. They were all built on an Alfa Romeo 1900 chassis. Each model is different and achieves a very low coefficient of drag, even by today's standards. All the models survive.

JAGUAR XK150 / XK 150 DHC 1961 - Test drive in top gear - Engine sound | SCC TV www.youtube.com

Only four Alfa Romeo 2000 Sportivas were made but their features made their way into one of the most beloved Alfas of all time - the Giulietta.

The Aston Martin DB2/4 was a slightly more mass market car than the others. The company made 764 of them. Depending on the model year, the cars had 125 or 140 horsepower. The car gained some notoriety after it was featured in the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock film "The Birds"

Jaguar succeeded the XK140 with the Scaglione-designed XK150. It was successful enough but not nearly as iconic as what came next - the E-Type.

By 1959, Scaglione had made enough of a name for himself that he was able to break out on his own and attract clients. He first collaborated with Carlo Abarth and Porsche designing the Porsche 356 B Abarth Carrera GTL, the forerunner of the 911.

Aston Martin DB 2-4

Photo courtesy of Aston Martin

He was commissioned to design the Lamborghini 350 GTV, ATS 2500 GT, and the Prince 1900 Skyline Sprint, among others. The Lamborghini 350 GTV was the predecessor of the 350 GT production model. Scaglione designed its body, which was purposefully reminiscent of the Aston Martin DB4. However, its hidden headlights and six exhaust pipes were unique for its time. However, Ferruccio Lamborghini, founder of Automobili Lamborghini, was said to be unhappy with some of the design so he requested revisions prior to the 350 GT going into production.

The Prince 1900 Skyline Sprint was introduced at the 1963 Tokyo Motor Show. It shared a body type with the Skyline saloon. The Skyline Spirit was a sports car that spurred the development of the Skyline GT-R sub-brand and though decades of mergers, acquisitions, engineers, and designers has led us to the modern Nissan GT-R as its direct successor.

In 1967, he worked with Alfa Romeo to design the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale, which was one of the world's first supercars. The car made its debut at the 1967 Paris Salon de L'Auto and became the first production vehicle to feature dihedral doors. Just 18 of the models were produced

MASERATI 3500GT | 3500 GT 1962 - Test drive in top gear - Engine sound | SCC TV www.youtube.com

His success was also met with a fair amount of chance. As a designer working with Intermeccanica, he had come up with vehicles including the Apollo, Torino, Italia GFX, Italia IMX, and Indra. When finances at the company became tight, Scaglione invested his own money, funding the production of the Indra out of his own pocket.

INTERMECCANICA INDRA Spider 1972 - Modest test drive - Engine sound | SCC TV www.youtube.com

Intermeccaninca went bankrupt and its owner, Frank Reisner, moved to Canada leaving Scaglione disillusioned with the industry. Scaglione retired, moving to Western Italy where he lived in relative obscurity. In 1991, Scaglione was diagnosed with lung cancer and died two years later, leaving a lasting legacy that influenced the way Italian sports cars look like, even today.

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The EQXX Concept features a crazy driving range.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz is putting its century-plus of automotive experience into building electric cars, and the results are impressive. The EQS is an electric flagship with great range, and the automaker has unveiled several concepts to show its future plans. The Vision EQXX concept debuted today as an ultra-efficient luxury EV with astonishing range numbers.

Mercedes-Benz EQXX Concept Mercedes focused on efficiency over power with the car. Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes' focus with the EQXX is efficiency over power, as it says the car is its most efficient it has ever made. The EQXX uses less than 10 kWh per 100 kilometers (around 62 miles), which equates to 620 miles on a single charge. The battery was designed with tech and knowledge from Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team, especially when it comes to size and weight. The EQXX's battery pack is 50 percent smaller by volume and 30 percent lighter than the pack in the EQS, which already featured astonishing efficiency.

The car's impressive range comes at the expense of horsepower, which in this case means just 201 ponies from the EQXX's electric drivetrain. Mercedes says that the system is capable of delivering up to 95 percent energy efficiency - an impressive figure for power delivery to the wheels. Extremely efficient gas powertrains only achieve around 30 percent efficiency and a human long-distance runner can hit around 50 percent.

Mercedes-Benz EQXX Concept The EQXX is impressively slippery, which improves its range.

The EQXX is a slippery car, too, and with a drag coefficient of just 0.17, the car cuts through the air with ease. The typical EV uses up to two-thirds of its battery capacity just to push through the air, so the EQXX's aerodynamics is a big part of its efficiency. The other big part is Mercedes' thermal management system, which uses shutters and cooling plates to maintain an ideal battery and electric drive unit temperature. The plates allow the EQXX to gain about 12 miles of range in its most aerodynamic mode.

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTS My SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTS The pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTS I'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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