Just a few months from the launch of the 159, the new medium saloon from Alfa Romeo, Silvia Baruffaldi paid a visit to the brand’s Style Centre at Arese to run through the stages of the project with director Wolfgang Egger. The project got underway in 2001 when the ID was 939, and the base a rather different package from that of the previous model, with an optimised driving position layout, a longer seat pushed further back, a lower H point and the pedal unit moved backwards to position it after the wheel housing.

The interior design was sketched out on this architecture and received its initial approval in December 2001. Meantime the external volumes of the 939 were taking shape. The hypothesis worked on by the Alfa Romeo designers was to keep some of the unmistakable styling cues of the 156 but develop them in a bigger body, as though it was a higher segment saloon. “We wanted to point up some sporty aspects, accentuating the wings, with the wheels flush with the body, a long bonnet and a cabin shifted towards the rear wheels, concepts that were also shared by Giorgetto Giugiaro, who went on to design the externals”, explains Egger.

The 939 project had involved Italdesign Giugiaro for the proposal of design alternatives for the bodywork right from the start.

The turnaround came in 2002 after the presentation of the Brera, the Alfa Romeo-labelled concept-coupé with which Giugiaro stole the show at Geneva. The appreciation for that prototype on the part of Fiat Auto management was such that, even before the decision to develop it into a production coupé was taken, Giugiaro was asked to transfer the design rapidly on to the saloon then being incubated. In July 2002, the Turin designer’s styling proposal for the 939 was frozen.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 154

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