Saab History

Interesting Redesign of Saab 96 by Designer Giovanni Michelotti

Giovanni Michelotti was never known outside a narrow circle of Car design professionals and cars enthusiasts. Giovanni Michelotti was born in Turin on 6 October 1921, he died there prematurely on 23 January 1980. The passion for the car, and a bit of luck, led him, in 1937, to the Farina factory, where he was hired as an apprentice designer; after only one year of activity, he is suddenly called to replace the first designer, who was responsible for contacts with a very demanding clientele at that time.

After the war, in 1949, he successfully tried the path of freelance by creating the Giovanni Michelotti Carrozzeria Technical Studio. Until the end of 1960, when he set up his own workshop, Michelotti designed cars for all the most famous coachbuilders. The collaboration with Carrozzeria Vignale is very intense, for which he creates some of the most beautiful cars in automotive history.

Giovanni Michelotti in his studio in Corso Francia 35 in Turin in the 1950s
Giovanni Michelotti in his studio, in Turin in the 1950s

Undoubtedly a significant part of the Ferrari myth is based on the first victories at the Mille Miglia, in which the Ferrari-Vignale concepts had a significant impact. Interesting, At the Turin Motor Show in 1954 forty cars on display were designed by Giovanni Michelotti, but none officially bore his signature.

Between the end of the 1950s and the early 1960s, relations with the big manufacturers began, especially Standard Triumph and BMW and then in the 1960s Hino Motors and DAF. For almost twenty years the style of these two houses was entirely due to his hand and design concepts. The new Italian design of the cars had a considerable weight for the very survival of BMW, in those times in deep crisis.

As an open man without prejudice, he understood, already in the 1950s, that the world of the automobile would have a third pole of attraction in addition to the two traditional ones: Japan. The collaboration with Hino Motors and Prince dates back to this period, thus paving the way for a still massive presence of Italian design in this country.

In the meantime, in the wake of the collaboration with Standard Triumph, relations began with the Leyland Bus & Truck Division for the study of the lines of new industrial vehicles. Among other things, he carries out the study for the “Ergo Matic”, the first trucks in the world to have an ergonomically designed cab.

Saab 96
Throughout his career he would bring an astounding portfolio of cars to the road, including the Ferrari 166, Ferrari 375MM, Maserati 5000 GT, BMW 700, Triumph GT6, Triumph Spitfire, Alfa Romeo 2600, Prince Skyline Sports Coupe and many more. L

Giovanni Michelotti and Saab 96

Although Giovanni Michelotti worked for most of the world’s car brands, he did not have a direct collaboration with Saab cars, but that did not stop him from showing his vision of Saab 96. The redesigned Saab 96 can be seen in the design sketches showing September 1965.

Saab 96 Sketch
Basic sketch of a redesigned Saab 96 with a bowed nose

According to Saab enthusiasts, there are three drawings that were not contracted and commissioned by Saab, but according to some, Saab bought these Giovanni works. After that, Saab printed posters based on sketches, which were distributed among Saab dealerships around the world. In any case, we can see the “Italianized” Saab 96, which with its front end resembles the then Fiat and some of the British cars of that time.

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