Sadly, Sergio Scaglietti has died at the ripe old age of 91. Famous and loved for his sweepingly beautiful Ferrari designs in the 1950s and 1960s, Scaglietti died in his home town of Modena in Italy on 20th November 2011.
Born in 1920, Ferrari’s “maestro of aluminium” was compared to Michelangelo in his day, a comparison that would be preposterous if it wasn’t so apt. For Scaglietti amazingly hand crafted his wonders of the automotive world with just a hammer and sheets of aluminium, shaped over bags of sand.
The relationship that developed between Scaglietti and Enzo Ferrari began when Scaglietti and his older brother set up a coachbuilding company across the street to Enzo’s Scuderia Ferrari shop. Soon after, they began to repair the Scuderia cars themselves. This budding relationship was briefly interrupted by the 2nd World War, but later continued it’s development when the young Sergio repaired a racing Barchetta. Enzo Ferrari saw this piece of work and thus ignited a spark that first began before the onset of war.
By 1954, Scaglietti was a sanctioned coachbuilder for Ferrari and producing some of the most iconic and arguably the most beautiful car designs the world has ever seen.
Probably the most famous Ferrari Scaglietti designed was the 250 Testa Rossa. This race car was dominant in the 1950s, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times in 1958, 1960 and 1961. Amazingly, only 34 Testa Rossas were built. Inspired by the Formula One racing cars of the day, Scaglietti designed purely by eye along with his own deep understanding of vehicle aerodynamics. I think you will agree that his eye was pretty good.
Maybe if his father hadn’t died when Scaglietti was just 13, forcing him to drop out of school to try to support his family, we may never have seen the iconic automotive designs that he went onto create for Ferrari. We may have fate to thank for that.
Sergio Scaglietti eventually sold his business to Ferrari during the 1970s and retired shortly after. The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, produced from 2004 – 2010, is named in his honour.
Today, it is unclear how many of his designs remain, but those that do, tend to sell at auction at premium prices. With classic car insurance at the ready, August this year saw the sale of the Testa Rossa prototype for $16.4 million (around £10.5 million). It is said that any signs of Scaglietti’s hammer on the bodywork of his designs actually increase the car’s value even further.
The true measure of an artist is in the timelessness of the creations that they produce, whether it be music or a more static art. Scaglietti’s designs are still modern, and remain the benchmark for every beautiful car to come.