It is often said that automotive stylists ‘dress’ their creations, and that the bodywork is the car’s skin. Italdesign seems to have interpreted the idea quite literally with its Formula 4 concept car, exhibited in March at the Geneva show and being reproposed in a second interpretation at Turin.

At first sight the car resembles a barchetta, recalling the sporty 1950s, in which classic and hi-tech details cohabit, with four individual cockpits and a high beltline. In a few seconds, the whole carbonfibre shell of the bodywork can be lifted off, exposing the me-chanised floorpan with cabin inserted and demonstrating the extreme versatility offered by the modular kit-car type structure.

The Formula 4 concept derives from an examination of lifestyle niche cars aimed at a young public. The market offers some veritable gems, but the price is never so low as to render them truly affordable to this type of user. So the initial idea was to take the floorpan of a car in large-volume production and enclose it within two pressed steel sheets (the same result could also be obtained using more craftsmanly techniques) welded onto the floorpan where, on the production line, the car’s flanks would go. For the Formula 4 the floorpan in question, as well as all the mechanicals, comes from the Fiat Bravo HGT, its 2-litre 5-cylinder engine of 147 bhp included.

The customer is left the freedom of choosing which type of bodywork to finish the car with and, if desired, of creating a personalised version with add-on accessories, as occurs with customised Harley Davidsons.

The genesis and development of the Formula 4, and its subsequent evolution on show at Turin, was explained to us by Fabrizio Giugiaro, responsible for the research work under the supervision – as in every project conducted at Italdesign – of his father Giorgetto.

“In our opinion, a vehicle of this type should cost about the same as a big road bike. In fact, apart from construction considerations and the modular structure, we wanted to present a doorless, roofless vehicle in order to underline the similarities with open-top type vehicles. Being a research prototype, we opted for carbon fibre for the bodywork, but you could also use the resin employed in making sailboards.”

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 97