Nuccio Bertone passed away on February 26. 1997 after transforming a small coachbuilding facility into one of the world’s most important automotive design companies with a massive factory in Grugliasco that could build 70,000 cars per year (right now there are Maserati being built there after the factory was sold back in 2011 already)
The family business was founded in 1912 by Giovanni Bertone and he managed to keep the company alive during two World Wars and the Italian depression, but it would be Nuccio that made the Bertone name famous all over the world with the Design House … in the end Nuccio Bertone would have been responsible for over 90 different models, factory specials, prototypes, one-off concepts and many, many production cars built in his own, over 300,000 square meters factory with at one time 2,500 employees.
Note that Franco Scaglione was a designer at Bertone when he created the very first Lamborghini car ever, the 350 GTV prototype … the Lamborghini 350 GT production car would be designed by Carrozzeria Touring however … but Bertone would be back to Lamborghini soon … with the legendary Lamborghini Miura designed by Marcello Gandini, and that was only the start of a long term relationship between Ferruccio Lamborghini and Nuccio Bertone … with cars like the Marzal, Espada, Urraco, Silhouette, Athon, Bravo, Genesis and naturally the innovative Countach and a design for the Diablo.
By the late Nineties the Bertone Holding consisted of various companies, a Carrozzeria, Stile Bertone, Bertone SpA and a safety-glass business, in fact no less than 21,000 cars left Carrozzeria Bertone in 1997 and the company was making money and several multi-year contracts for production of convertibles were in place … but by 2003, when these contracts came to an end it would become difficult for Bertone to get new models for his workers, and many were put on temporary leave.
Problem was that the custom coachbuilding industry was going downhill, many of the large car companies would build their own convertibles or special model in-house, so the need for the artisan workforce at Carrozzeria Bertone just vanished … in the end the factory would be bought by Fiat that would start building the Maserati Quattroporte there.
Stile Bertone wasn’t doing much better either, and what started out with 200 designers fell to only 95 in a matter of years, in fact 2008 would be the first year Bertone would be absent during the all important Geneva Auto Show, three years later things would become even worse and several of the more important concepts and prototypes created by Bertone were put up for auction to pay debt.
On May 11. 2013 six milestone, one-of-a-kind prototypes including the Lamborghini Marzal, Lamborghini Bravo and Lamborghini Athon, were sold during an RM Auction event for a total value of $5,300,000, money that was needed for the bankruptcy court … 84 remaining cars from the Bertone museum collection were bought by Nuccio’s widow, Ermelinda ‘Lilli’ Bertone for $3,400,000 and put on display at the Stile Bertone headquarter in Caprie.
In June 2015 the modern Stile Bertone buildings including the new museum were put of for sale … and the 79 remaining cars are now being put up for auction once again, but this time with a twist:
The Italian government has decided the Bertone collection is a National Treasure, so even if you do manage to buy this amazing collection of cars you will not be allowed to move them outside of Italy, and more importantly you can-not split up the collection … it has to remain intact, which might make things a little more difficult to sell … what could account for the rather low starting price of the auction: around €2,000,000.
The auction will be held on September 14 2015 and includes masterpieces like the original 1967 Lamborghini Miura, a pristine 1987 Lamborghini Countach, the unique Lamborghini Genesis … an MPV powered by a V12 Countach engine and a silver metallic Lamborghini Espada … the Miura alone is worth the starting price of €2,000,000 for the entire collection, and then there is the Bertone Nuccio … the 100th anniversary model created in 2012 … which let’s face it, is priceless.