For more than a quarter of a century, Auto & Design has been reporting on the topical aspects of car design, the people involved in design, their creations and products, their industrial and cultural intrigues. Now issue no. 153 inaugurates a section that aims to take a new, closer look at car design. This series starts with Flaminio Bertoni, so honouring him on the fiftieth anniversary of his masterpiece: the Citroën DS 19.
The portrait covers the entire lifespan of this Italian designer, from his birth in Lombardy in 1903 to the start of his career as an apprentice in the Macchi brothers’ bodyworks to his move to France in 1923 to the Fleber bodyworks.
In France Bertoni’s career prospered and led him, in 1932, to join Citroën, where he designed his masterpiece, the DS.
This was the most advanced car ever marketed in France. Its styling was dazzling, with its twin body aerodynamic profile, its smooth sides bereft of ornament, its sloping grille-less bonnet, its flat floorpan, its receding rear, faired wheels, window surfaces without dark corners. The interior of the cab was also unusual with its unusual dashboard, its one-spoke steering wheel and the massive amount of space given over to the rear seats, a solution made possible by the wide wheelbase.
When it was presented at the Milan Triennial in 1957, the Italian architect Giò Ponti paid homage to it in these terms: “The DS 19 has the courage to be a sincere car. It does not seek, as do the products of the American school, to seduce the buyer with multicoloured, gaudy horrors abounding in chrome: everything is done to conceal. The European School, on the other hand, pays heed to technique”.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 153