Gruppo Bertone is an Italian automobile company, which has specialized in car styling, coachbuilding and manufacturing. Bertone styling is distinctive, with most cars having a strong "family resemblance" even if badged by different manufacturers. Bertone has styled cars for Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Ferrari, Fiat, Iso Rivolta, Lancia, Lamborghini, Mercedes Benz, Opel and Volvo Cars among others. In addition the Bertone studio were responsible for two of the later designs of the Lambretta Italian motorscooter. In the late 1980s, Bertone styled the K20 motorcycle helmet for Swiss bicycle and motorcycle helmet manufacturer Kiwi.
The company is based in Grugliasco. It was founded as Carrozzeria Bertone in 1912 by Giovanni Bertone. Designer Nuccio Bertone took charge after World War II. The company was divided into two units: Carrozzeria for manufacturing and Stile Bertone for styling. The company is currently headed by Lilli Bertone, widow of Nuccio.
By 1970 Bertone had a workforce of 1500 and the Grugliasco factory covered an area of 267,000 sq.m. The partnership with Lamborghini led to the development of the Jarama and the Urraco. With the astounding Stratos Zero prototype, built on a Lancia Fulvia 1.6 HF base, Bertone came to represent a new point of reference in modern art, as well as on the international car design scene. The Stratos Zero, which was presented at the 1970 Turin Motor Show, went beyond mere questions of style to create a timeless blend of architecture, sculpture and industrial design. The following year, with some of the Zero's styling cues as a starting point, Bertone created the Lancia Stratos Stradale, a compact coupè destined mainly for the racing circuit, and which in fact went on to bring home numerous victories in various rally world championships.
In 1972, at the age of 88, Giovanni Bertone passed away. In the same year, as a kind of tacit tribute to the company's founder, the Maserati Khamsin and the Fiat X1/9 came out. The latter, foreshadowed by the Runabout concept car, was the heir of the 850 Spider, and went on to enjoy the same runaway commercial success. Based on the Fiat 128 chassis, but with a mid-rear engine, the X1/9 went into production in 1972 and 160,000 units had been manufactured by the time production stopped in 1988.
Meanwhile Nuccio Bertone's prolific drawing board saw a succession of supercars, runabouts and provocative style concepts: the Lamborghini Countach and the DinoFerrari 308 GT4 (1973), the Audi 50 and Innocenti Mini 90 (1974), the Fiat 131 Abarth Rally (1975) and the prototype Alfa Romeo Navajo (1976).
In the same year, the company began working for Volvo, on the 264 TE. The Volvo262 C, which was presented at the 1977 Geneva Motor Show, was entirely manufactured by Bertone, from the assembly of the basic body to the fitting of the mechanical components and the road trials. This procedural turning point had a big hand in transforming the company, which was now all set to become a car manufacturer in its own right.
From the beginning of the Eighties the Ritmo Cabrio and the X1/9 were produced and sold directly under the Bertone brand, meaning that the company was now responsible not only for production but also for the sales network and after-sales assistance for the two models.
In 1982 Nuccio Bertone turned out another important design, the Citroen BX. After entering into a joint-venture with Volvo in 1985 the company began production of the 780, an elegant two-door saloon entirely created by Nuccio Bertone, from the formal design of the model to the full production cycle.
A new commercial agreement drawn up with General Motors Europe in 1987 saw production of the Kadett Cabrio handed over to Bertone. The partnership with Opel continued with the first generation of the Astra Cabrio, and with the Astra Coupé and AstraCabriolet. The end of the eighties saw the Citroen XM, and the Freeclimber off-roader with mechanical components by Daihatsu and BMW engines.